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 Post subject: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:26 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
I'll be moving from Alaska to Colorado soon, and I have too much stuff. I need to upgrade the suspension on the 2003 AWD Astro so it will be better able to handle all the weight in the van and my 5' x 10' trailer.

I considered a 2" front lift, cranking the torsion bars, and adding a leaf to the rear springs. I decided against that because: 1. I'm a lousy mechanic and hiring someone to do the work is cost prohibitive (Anchorage is expensive, and I just retired). 2. I really like the looks of lifted Astros (and a GTRV top is cool too), but I don't really NEED a lift. I'll drive on dirt roadsto get to a base camp, but no off road. I have a mountain bike, XT225, and soon, another Montessa trials bike for the tougher terrain. Plus, I know myself. If I lifted it, I would be tempted to go places I shouldn't, and probably break something, and be really stuck! I needed the AWD for snow (skiing, ice climbing).

After reading everything I could find on the internet (this forum, RV forums, plowing forums, towing forums, etc), I settled on Timbren SES for the front and rear suspension. I'm very pleased with the result.

Timbren site
http://www.timbren.com/

Front install instructions (pdf) 2003 Astro AWD
http://www.timbren.com/timbren-applicat ... MFAST4.pdf

Rear install instructions (pdf) 2003 Astro 2000lb springs...not the commercial 6000lb.
http://www.timbren.com/timbren-applicat ... MRASTB.pdf

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2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


Last edited by Pablo1960 on Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:39 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
After the install, the edge of my front wheel well is 1/2" higher than before due to the bumper lightly engaging the suspension (I don't think I'll brag about my "1/2 inch lift kit").
The front of the van doesn't dive under braking as much as before. It doesn't feel as top heavy going around corners. I can now feel the road much better. It rides much more like a light duty pickup truck (which I like). I was worried they would create a harsh ride, but I'm really pleased.
The rear bumpers are not engaged all the time. There should be about 3/4" between them and the frame after installation (I had about 1/2" on my van because I carry too much crap around all the time). I had read on other forums, warning of really harsh engagement. I do not find that to be the case. I believe I read that on a towing forum, from a contributor who had them on a one-ton pickup truck. Maybe the bumpers for one ton trucks are so solid that the engagement is really harsh? I installed the 2000lb bumpers on my Astro. Maybe the commercial version, 6000lb bumpers would create more of a problem?

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2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 1:57 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
I'll add more description tomorrow. For now, here are the pictures.

Attachment:
1. Stock rear overload spring (right rear lookin aft)..JPG
1. Stock rear overload spring (right rear lookin aft)..JPG [ 262.62 KiB | Viewed 932 times ]


Attachment:
2.  Assemble Timbren.JPG
2. Assemble Timbren.JPG [ 280.21 KiB | Viewed 932 times ]


Attachment:
3. Right rear Installed.JPG
3. Right rear Installed.JPG [ 213.04 KiB | Viewed 932 times ]

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2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:00 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Fronts.

Attachment:
4. Front Timbren GMFAST4 right side.JPG
4. Front Timbren GMFAST4 right side.JPG [ 275.92 KiB | Viewed 932 times ]


Attachment:
5. Lift, Jack stands, remove tire.JPG
5. Lift, Jack stands, remove tire.JPG [ 277.97 KiB | Viewed 932 times ]


Attachment:
6. Locate stock bump stop.JPG
6. Locate stock bump stop.JPG [ 265.04 KiB | Viewed 929 times ]

_________________
2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


Last edited by Pablo1960 on Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:02 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Front continued

Attachment:
7. Use a 9-16ths long socket and short extension.JPG
7. Use a 9-16ths long socket and short extension.JPG [ 285.72 KiB | Viewed 929 times ]


Attachment:
8. To get the nut out, use a little grease in the socket..JPG
8. To get the nut out, use a little grease in the socket..JPG [ 244.24 KiB | Viewed 929 times ]

_________________
2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


Last edited by Pablo1960 on Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:03 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Attachment:
9. Attach Timbren (see helpful hints).JPG
9. Attach Timbren (see helpful hints).JPG [ 269.37 KiB | Viewed 930 times ]


Attachment:
10. Install tire, remove jack stands, lower Astro.JPG
10. Install tire, remove jack stands, lower Astro.JPG [ 257.29 KiB | Viewed 930 times ]

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2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 3:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:45 am
Posts: 2008
Location: Selah, WA
Hmm, I like the idea of the front set. Might have to consider them if I don't jack up my torsion bars when I lift mine.

Thanks for the pics and details.

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Matt
Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
-07 Can-Am Outlander XT -->My yellow 4x4 quad for work & play
-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


No new projects until the current ones are done!


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:57 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 9:22 pm
Posts: 694
Location: Pioneer Valley WMass
Good post interesting and well done.
Good luck on your trip back down to 'The 48' !
Post pics, always wanted to make that drive.

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1999 LS AWD 3" Lift,4.10's,Snowplow,9500lb Ramsey winch


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:17 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Rear install: 5-10 minutes per side. I found it easier to lift/jack stands the back end to give me more room to work. 1.Unbolt old overload springs 2. Assemble Timbren bumpers 3. Bolt onto the truck.

I saved the old overload springs. In case the ride was too harsh, I was planning on swapping them anytime I needed to carry a load. The ride is fine (for me) with the 2000# bumpers.

I read on another site a comment on the grade 5 hardware included with the kit. He suggested getting grade 8 hardware from your local store. I didn't.

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2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:35 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
Front install: 30-45 minutes/side (for mechanically challenged me)

1. Jack up the front, jack stands, remove wheel.

2. Find the stock bump stop and try to figure out how it is attached???? Turns out that basically, they welded a steel square box to the frame, with a hole in the top barely big enough to fit a 9/16 long socket (and deep enough that you need a really short extension or a swivel on top of the long socket), and the main bolt hole to attach the bump stop through the bottom. See Pictures 6, 7, 8.

3. Insert the socket (put grease in the socket so the nut stays in the socket after you remove it or it will be lost in the welded steel square box forever) and unscrew the nut. Remove the stock bump stop.

4. Look at the directions. Now ponder how to insert the long bolt into the bottom of the Timbren bumper and out it's top, then place that assembly into the bolt hole on the bottom of the welded steel square box, holding the assembly in place (without the bolt falling out), all while magically getting the new washer and nut somehow threaded onto the bolt, which has to happen inside the steel square box welded to the frame, and the access for the nut/washer/socket is through the slightly bigger than a 9/16 socket hole in the top of the steel square box of death welded to the frame. To top it off, all this is happening in restricted space and deeper than my fingers can reach. (Hmmm, no beer in the house. I hate it when that happens) :withstupid:

5. Ignore step 4, you'll just get a headache.
To get the bolt to stay in the Timbren, I ripped a piece of duct tape 3/8" x 2" and wrapped it on the base threads next to the head of the bolt. Insert the bolt into the Timbren and hopefully the bolt stays put. Insert the Timbren/bolt in the hole in the frame and hold it in place.

6. After a lot of trial and error, I found one way I could maneuver my hand so my finger could reach down and touch the top of the bolt. I practiced it a few times, then put some grease on the tip of my finger, touched the washer to pick it up, and carefully inserted it into hole on top of the welded square death box and onto the bolt.

7. Step 6 could work for the nut, but how do you get the nut threaded on the bolt when you can barely touch it? Any mistakes, and the bolt is, you guessed it, lost forever.
I took the plastic bag that the bolts came in, and stuffed it into the 9/16 long socket, leaving just enough room for the nut. Then I put more grease in the socket. Then I placed the nut in the grease, in the end of the socket.
OK, it's do or die time, CAREFULLY insert the socket/plastic/grease/nut into the hole (you know, the one slightly bigger than a 9/16 socket on the top of the death box) and hopefully onto the top of the bolt.
Turn the socket and hope it threads onto the bolt. (I slightly varied the angle of the socket and the timbren bumper/bolt as I turned the socket.....and it eventually worked!)
After it's threaded, remove the socket, remove the plastic from the socket, clean up the grease, and then go back and tighten the nut. Whew! See picture 9.

8. Replace tire, remove jack stands, lower vehicle. See picture 10.

9. Drive to the store to pick up your choice of celebratory beverage while noticing how the van doesn't wallow around corners as much as before, that you can actually feel the road, and the front end doesn't dive as much when braking. :cheers:

Really though, I make everything more difficult than it needs to be. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

_________________
2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:37 am 
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I finally get the smurf thing
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Posts: 217
Location: kamLOOPs, BC, Canada
Awesome post! Thx :cheers:


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:10 pm 
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Location: Pioneer Valley WMass
=D> again great!... thanks for taking the time to explain the process ](*,)
I loved the comic relief attitude,.....'death box' / just ignor post 4' :cheers:
"You will go far old or aging grasshopper"

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1999 LS AWD 3" Lift,4.10's,Snowplow,9500lb Ramsey winch


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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 12:21 pm 
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mdmead wrote:
Hmm, I like the idea of the front set. Might have to consider them if I don't jack up my torsion bars when I lift mine....



Be nice, Peter. Don't say a word. You're back after a lengthy hiatus. Not the time to be stirring $hit. Be nice......... :whistle:

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"Just keep swimming..."
97' 4wd Safari
ZZ 502 Ramjet
4"L"80E/NP241C
Ford 9"


Kinky is using a feather.
Perverted is using the whole chicken.

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither
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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 2:28 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
I made the trip from Anchorage to Colorado a few weeks ago. The Timbrens really saved me....I've got too much stuff. Here's a picture of the (over)loaded van and trailer somewhere outside Whitehorse, Yukon Territories. I cut out foil-bubble insulation to fit the windows all around. It takes about 3-4 minutes to put up, block out the windows for privacy, and keep some heat inside. I'm comfortable sleeping in the van down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
The van and trailer are riding really low, but there is still a fair amount of travel left. I didn't hurry and never bottomed out.


Attachments:
tn_004.JPG
tn_004.JPG [ 410.41 KiB | Viewed 841 times ]

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2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.
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 Post subject: Re: Front and Rear Timbren SES install on '03 AWD
PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 2:39 am 
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I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van

Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:14 pm
Posts: 16
My home for 3300 miles/61 hours of driving (it took me 4.5 days to get home). Cooler, box of food, and TUNES! I kept the speed between 60-65mph for the majority of the trip. The road is really nice most of the way. The worst parts are 100 miles between Glennallen and Tok Alaska (slow down to 45-55mph), the 100 miles from the USA-Canada border to Destruction Bay, Yukon Territories (really bad...35-45mph), and the freeway between Edmonton and Calgary (50-60mph).


Attachments:
tn_005.JPG
tn_005.JPG [ 500.05 KiB | Viewed 840 times ]

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2003 Astro AWD, Timbren SES (front and rear), temporary rear platform/bed for camping.
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