After the tires and shocks, came a set of 3"+ custom leaf springs which were obtained through Steve at Overland Vans in Michigan.  along with the springs were a set of custom shackles for an additional 2.5" of lift.  I installed a set of 2" lifting blocks between the body and subframe to bring the front up a bit.  The limiting factor there is the steering center link.  If I ever get off my lazy butt and figure out if I can use a parts shelf shaft or buy a custom Borgeson unit I can go another inch on the body lift for more tire clearance.  A set of 3" coil springs were also installed to get the front end closer to the height of the rear.
I have made many changes to the drivetrain, suspension, and interior.  On this page I will explain what I have done, and provide pictures when available.
One of the first things I did was to purchase a set of good tires.  As I was prepping this van for trail use, I started with a set of BFG Radial All-Terrains, in size 235/75R15.  This was the biggest tire I could get to fit in the wheel wells at the stock height.  Eventually, I realized I wanted a tire with a little better mud traction, so when the rears wore out I installed a set of BFG Mud Terrains, in the same size.
In this picture, you can also see one of the Bilstein shock absorbers I installed.  At about $75 each, they certainly aren't cheap, but provide a huge improvement in stability and control, along with a substantial reduction in body roll and nose dive under braking.
The Chevy Astro comes equipped with a four speed overdrive automatic -- The TH700 R4.  In later years it became the 4L60, and then the electronically controlled 4L60E.  As you may know, trail driving usually means creeping along at low speeds and lots of uphill stuff.  This continuous slipping of the transmission builds up tremendous heat, and can destroy a transmission very rapidly.  I installed this 96 plate Empi cooler, along with a 10" Spal HO electric fan.  With this setup, I'm able to keep it cool under even the most punishing conditions.  On a 90 degree day I tested it by pretending to be Ivan Stewart, and rally racing to the top of a steep mountain pass out at Los Coyotes Indian Reservation.  Through all the punishment I could put it through, the trans never topped 190.
I installed an Autometer 2 1/16" Phantom trans. temp. guage to monitor the situation, which allows me to regulate the temperature of the transmission by operating the cooling van via an electronic toggle mounted on the dash.  In this picture you can see the toggle just above the steering wheel at about 10:00.

Also, to the right of the ventilation controls, I mounted a 4 5/8" Autometer Tachometer to keep RPM under a watchful eye, and a matching 2 1/16" coolant temperature guage.  The factory guages have little or no markings, and are virtually useless for close monitoring of this important information.  The Autometer guages are fast, accurate, and look good to boot.  At night, the Trans guage lights up red, the coolant guage lights up green.  Kinda silly but I figured hey, trans. fluid is red and coolant is green, so hey, I just went with it.  Now I need an Oil temp guage with a black light ;D
Please ignore the wiry mess, I have since added some spiral loom to hide the wires and clean up the dash.  When I took this picture I was waiting for some back-ordered pillar mounted guage pods...  about 1 year has passed, still waiting...
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Other mods include a 2.5" Borla stainless muffler, Carsound 2.5" hi-flow cat, K&N filtercharger, PIAA 40 series 55(85) watt driving lights, Auburn Hi-performance series posi unit with 4.10 gears  UPDATE -- Currently, the Auburn is out, due to the breakage shown on my damage page.  A boneyard axle was installed, and lucky me I found out it is a G-80 (factory Eaton locking diff) with 3.73 gearing.  Also, it is a 28 spline axle which is a major upgrade!!!, Poly sway bar bushings and heavy duty end-links, Carbon metallic brake pads, on board air supply for airing up tires (3000 psi scuba tank), Pioneer 1.5 DIN head unit with remote, sorta halfway decent panasonic speakers (soon to be upgraded), cool upholstery <G>, sporty Chevy Steering wheel from a boneyard Astro,  and a 14" Perma-Cool Electric fan mounted as a pusher on the front of the A/C condensor.  The fan is operated by a relay which only kicks on when the A/C is in use.  So far I haven't needed to use it any other time.  Most recently, I constructed a custom fan shroud from 4" plastic bender board, some vinyl tubing, and a tube of silicone.  I'll post some good pictures of it all soon.  The shroud works like a charm to force all that great cooling air through the condensor and radiator, rather than just bouncing off like it used to.
I've only spent a couple hours of a few days working on this site so I still have many pics to take and insert to these pages.  Check back often for more updates!!!
[Modifications] [Future Plans] [Adventures] [Damage] [Links]
[Modifications] [Future Plans] [Adventures] [Damage] [Links]
This isn't really a modification but for a lack of a better place to put it, here it is.  This is my setup for airing up tires, an aluminum 80 SCUBA tank with adjustable regulator.  I usually run it at about 120 PSI and it will inflate tires so fast your head will spin.  No aftermarket compressor can even think of keeping up with this setup.  This isn't the best picture and I have since upgraded the hose and fill assembly.  I'll try to get some better pics posted soon.
[Project lifting coils]
This is what I use to light up the night when its dark and lonely out.  Hella H3 conversion headlamps which kick ass over regular sealed beams, 130 Watt Ice-Blue Titanium Slimlites by KC for long-range, and 55 Watt Ultra-white bulbs in PIAA 40s for in-close and out-wide.  Now, I need something on the roof to kill the shadows, but that will wait until I get the roof rack for mounting.
I recently purchased a full set of Super Swamper TSL SSR radials in size 31x10.50.  Some fender trimming was required, but they look tough.  Put your mouse pointer on the tire pic to see what they look like.
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