Bought a 1997 Astro van with clean title for $300 + $95 tow. Non-running with the whole front clip removed and stuffed inside the van. Come to find out the engine was in the middle of being replaced and the transmission appears to be fresh as well. The older gentlemen that owned it had bought it to repair and resale, but became ill and passed away before the project was finished. The new owners of his property wanted to reclaim their backyard awning. Once I started making my way from one end to the other inside the van I found a stash of new parts for the thing. New radiator, trans cooler lines, a/c compressor, idler and tensioner, and alternator. It has not been registered or inspected since 2007 and when the title was transferred in 2006 it only had 102K on it. To read the actual mileage I will have to reconnect all the wiring but its not a huge concern at the moment. I pulled the 4.3 that had been rebuilt by a machine shop out of the van as it had been open to the elements for several years without valve covers or timing cover on it. I found numerous hacks along the way and could not believe it when I found the oil pump pickup tube packed with the thickest grease you have ever seen in your life! (I usually put a little petroleum jelly in the pump body itself and leave it at that. Luckily the hood and van enclosure looks to have kept the 4.3 in good shape. The 4.3 is getting sold though and a L30 305 with about 150K from an 01 Express van is finding its way under the hood after getting rings/bearings and resealed. I may put a F-car cam in it if I can find one reasonably. I am going with the L30 over the L31 because I feel the 4L60E will live a little longer behind the L30 and the factory L30 tunes are all built for the same exhaust/02 sensor configuration the Astro 4.3 uses. That is an o2 sensor near each manifold, one after the Y-pipe before the single cat and one after the cat. The 305 will also be a nice bump in HP/TQ over the 4.3 and run smoother without hurting mileage much if any. The 4L60E has the factory 4.3 high stall converter in it and 3.42s with an open differential. Really do not feel the 350s added power could be effectively used. I have a nice pair of shorty headers that look like they will fit nicely on the 305 too although the rest of the exhaust is staying stock. I have two thoughts on using the V8 over the V6. The rebuilt V6 is worth more than the 305 V8 and the van is worth more with a V8 swapped in. Its a no brain, win/win IMO. I also need quite a few parts to complete the V6 install but have EVERYTHING for the V8 minus the $58.00 V8 conversion engine mounts. I thought the ones I had in my garage for the 4.3 to V8 S10 would work, but they end up about 1" too narrow on both sides. If you bolt one side in, the other side is 2" from bolting int. Was going to rework those mounts but I am just ordering the Astro specific mounts and I will keep the S10 mounts for a V8 S10 in the future. I may just build this one to flip, have not decided yet. I will take plenty of pictures of the engine build and swap.
I cleaned the whole 4.3 engine out and sprayed it with white lithium grease to keep it from rusting any further but it has never been fired. The oil pan had about 3 table spoons worth of water in it.
The L30 short block, will probably wait until the short block is in the van to put the heads on it as it was much easier to get the V8 short block in than the V6 long block out and there is plenty of room to install the heads/headers in-chassis.