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Thread: The "Tan Brick" aka my 1997 Express Cobra conversion

  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post
    You know, as I read this I'm almost remembering you doing this. It sucks to get old.


    Yes. You will notice the additional mass. But no more worries about bearings chewing through axles or spiders letting go.


    Nice. That would probably be 5 states if you were here in the northeast!

    We've only seen a couple of cracked manifolds. I know it's a problem for people but I believe the combination of in-town driving, relatively low average speed, and less than full load trips keeps the heat down. I've considered headers (those sure are purdy!) but the cost including shop time to install was fairly high compared to used manifolds and I really have to watch spending for projects like that. Most of our 5.7 buses are approaching end of life. If I get three more years out of the '99 and '00 models I'll be lucky. It's a shame to let them go because we're literally throwing them away. Local scrap yard gave me $300 for a complete one last week. Dually rear, 4L80EHD, running 5.7, 0411 ecm. Two weeks ago we sent one down with no engine, trans, or other parts and they gave me $200. If only I had a place to store component parts!!
    Rust is a pain!! The plastic trim and rubber components go the fastest here. Mine is mostly rust/rot free.

  2. #47
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    New parts are here, Old parts cleaned up and they are assembled and ready for mockup.

    Last edited by Fast355; 08-19-2015 at 04:45 AM.

  3. #48
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    I also picked up a donor with a rust free and straight chassis. My Express was hit in the passenger front wheel and repaired at a young age. The frame was tweaked and stretched but it has never been right. I noticed a while back I could fit my thumb between the right front body bushing and the body!!! 303K on it runs and drives. 5.7/4L80E/3.73 GM 10.5 FF 14-bolt for $1000 with clean Texas title. The 5.7 is claimed to have about 100k on it, the 4L80E was allegidly rebuilt about 40K ago and shifts solid. I plan to hold onto it as a spare but sell the engine and all accessories and scrap the body. I plan to send the chassis to the powder coater and have it blasted and coated. I am really suprised how well it runs. It still has a completely bone stock exhaust system on it even. Nice mandrel bent dual 3" pipe to the muffler setup with the massive 1-ton cats and the weird resonator on the passenger side bank mounted before the cat.





    The body and interior is trashed but I am honestly only after the chassis which is in great shape. I also noticed 1-ton vans have a factory body lift in the body mount/bushings.

  4. #49
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    Nice. I wonder how many of us there are that appreciate what you're doing with your van. Our cutaway chassis vehicles don't have any resonators. FYI if you decide to do a "Rear disk swap" to the van rear there are some special gotchas. That axle is known in the 4X4 world as "the bastard rear" because the axle length, hub depth, and bearing to bearing dimensions are different from most other 14 bolt axles.

  5. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post
    Nice. I wonder how many of us there are that appreciate what you're doing with your van. Our cutaway chassis vehicles don't have any resonators. FYI if you decide to do a "Rear disk swap" to the van rear there are some special gotchas. That axle is known in the 4X4 world as "the bastard rear" because the axle length, hub depth, and bearing to bearing dimensions are different from most other 14 bolt axles.
    No idea on that one....Same idea can be applied to a pickup truck or SUV or any car for that matter.

  6. #51
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    Nice deal of the parts van. That's going to be quite the undertaking swapping the frames. How do you plan on lifting the body? I can't imagine its lightweight.
    79 Jeep Cherokee, AMC 401, T-18 manual trans, hydroboost, 16197427 MPFI system---the toy

    93 Jeep YJ Wrangler, 4.0L, 5 speed, 8.8 rear, homebrew hub conversion and big brakes, hydroboost, 2.5in OME lift, 31x10.50's---the daily driver

    99 Jeep WJ Grand Cherokee limited, 4.0L, auto, 2wd, leather and power everything, 99% stock---the long distance highway ride.

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeepsAndGuns View Post
    Nice deal of the parts van. That's going to be quite the undertaking swapping the frames. How do you plan on lifting the body? I can't imagine its lightweight.
    Access to a 2 post lift with enough overhead would be quite painless. Have done a few frame/body swaps this way on a handfull of fullsized 60s cars. I thought these g-vans were unibody? I know the previous body style was.

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by tayto View Post
    Access to a 2 post lift with enough overhead would be quite painless. Have done a few frame/body swaps this way on a handfull of fullsized 60s cars. I thought these g-vans were unibody? I know the previous body style was.
    Express vans are body on frame. I actually got the donor van running today without spending a dime. No knocks, no ticks, runs smooth.

  9. #54
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    Here is the reason for the 1-ton frame.

    Last edited by Fast355; 08-26-2015 at 03:01 PM.

  10. #55
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    The frame donor fading fast!


  11. #56
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    Work on the chassis donor is progressing. Sold my spare 4L80E for $450. Up about $700 of the $1100 I spent on the van and getting the van to me. Still have a running L31 and a ton of small parts to get rid of.




    I am looking at picking up a new engine this week. 80K miles on this dirty junkyard pull. Its out of a 2001 Express cutaway that was a party limo van. I am guessing the hours are pretty low too as all the harness loom is still in place. The yard wants $1000 for it. A bit steep but 8.1L Express engines don't pop up often, especially low mileage.







    I am thinking of running it on a modified 2006 6.0L Express tune, Harness, PCM, and TAC.
    Last edited by Fast355; 09-21-2015 at 03:55 PM.

  12. #57
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    Interested in shipping the L31 ? P/M me if so , might be Interested.

    Good find on the 8.1 , I have a few , seems not many really want them up here , nor do they realize their potential .

    TOM
    1994 3500 Dually , 502 (509) , 264HR , Edelbrock MPFI , PFI '7427
    2006 Forest river-Sierra 37' 5th wheel
    1999 Astro Van, L31 Vortec , 4x4 conversion
    1994 Pontiac Sunbird "Work ride"
    1993 K-3500 "Ex-diesel" 454/4L80E - '7427
    1992 454SS "Eh Stock" , Blower & '7427 swap .
    1992 S-10 434 SBC/Tremec - '7427
    1984 S-10 , SAS, 496/700R4/205 , D44/14BFF -'7427
    1980 Z-28 454/700R4
    1977 Olds 98 Regency 403/700R4

  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nasty-Z View Post
    Interested in shipping the L31 ? P/M me if so , might be Interested.

    Good find on the 8.1 , I have a few , seems not many really want them up here , nor do they realize their potential .

    TOM
    I sent you a message. I am hoping I can acquire the 8.1 before it sales. I found a $548.00 check in my mailbox today when I got home. Refund after refinancing my car with a new bank. Really made my day because I thought the paperwork for the transition was accurate. I am hoping I can ditch the 2nd A/C compressor easily. If you notice in the 1st picture it has a Sanden style compressor mounted backwards under and in front of the main compressor.

    Should be a monster of a tow vehicle with the 1-ton chassis, 4.10s, and Tuned 8100!

    If I can get the 8.1, the Marine Intake/Marine cammed L31 from my Van is going into my boat. 0411along with Coil per Cylinder and all.
    Last edited by Fast355; 09-21-2015 at 06:56 PM.

  14. #59
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    I now own an 8.1, picking it up tomorrow.

  15. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fast355 View Post
    I now own an 8.1, picking it up tomorrow.
    NICE

    TOM
    1994 3500 Dually , 502 (509) , 264HR , Edelbrock MPFI , PFI '7427
    2006 Forest river-Sierra 37' 5th wheel
    1999 Astro Van, L31 Vortec , 4x4 conversion
    1994 Pontiac Sunbird "Work ride"
    1993 K-3500 "Ex-diesel" 454/4L80E - '7427
    1992 454SS "Eh Stock" , Blower & '7427 swap .
    1992 S-10 434 SBC/Tremec - '7427
    1984 S-10 , SAS, 496/700R4/205 , D44/14BFF -'7427
    1980 Z-28 454/700R4
    1977 Olds 98 Regency 403/700R4

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