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"Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
#781876 September 08th 2021 12:17 am
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
journeyman
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journeyman
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
Hello everyone! I'm new to the site, and to vans, but I'm not new to tinkering with automobiles. In fact my first love is my 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, the car I learned how to drive on and just never let go of. It's under a major renovation right now so we weren't really looking for another project but, with our second baby on the way, we needed a larger vehicle. After looking at a new Palisade we thought it might be better to get something more... Comfortable... Not to mention cheaper!

"Buckeye" is named in honor of it's original owner, now in his late 80's and unable to drive. It was originally bought as a retirement gift to himself so that he and his wife could travel to all of the Ohio State Buckeye games and to Florida for the winters. I'm glad it was garage kept and fairly well maintained, though with 101,379 miles it does have a few "needs." Here it is parked outside the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky on our way home from picking it up.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

That's a story in and of itself. We found it on Friday night, August 13, 2021. I saw it on Facebook marketplace for $9800. My heart jumped and I showed my wife. Her reaction said it all, and we weren't even contemplating a van! I messaged the seller and anxiously waited for a response. At one point I even thought it was a scam... But by Saturday morning I had paid a deposit and booked flights for zero-dark-thirty Sunday morning to go get it and drive it back to Austin. What a whirlwind, but what an exciting and fun trip! We took 3 days getting back, getting to know our new van, falling in love mile after mile.

Stay tuned as I try to get caught up with everything I've already done to it... We've had it almost a month and I think I've put about 2 months work into it. You'll see ;)

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Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781877 September 08th 2021 12:38 am
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
journeyman
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journeyman
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
One of the first things I wanted to do was replace some of the burnt out instrument panel lights, particularly the shift indicator light. I'm used to column shift, I can feel it and know where I'm at without thinking... But dang, when you get off the "click" and can't feel if you're in overdrive or drive it helps to be able to just look down and confirm.

I'm a "might as well" insomniac who dreams about what can be improved on a car, as I'm sure you'll see. So instead of just replacing the bulbs I decided red LEDs (homage to my AH64D days) would help preserve night vision and also match the red van - or maybe priority should go to matching the van with the added benefit of preserving night vision. That's probably more accurate...

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Anyway, one of the things I love about this thing is that I get to learn new things about a vehicle I've never owned. When you own a car for 26 years and restore it twice you pretty much know what you're gonna know about it. So with this project I just followed the advice I got from a YouTube video and went to the junk yard to get 194 bulb sockets (replaceable bulb sockets) from a 98-2003ish Chevy truck instrument panel. I didn't know that the bulbs in my panel were "replace entire assembly" but I'm happy these are so plentiful. I left the junk yard with enough sockets to last a lifetime, especially when using LEDs.

While I was there I saw some other conversions and went on a bit of a shopping spree to get trim that ours didn't have. One cool thing I found was this Coke bottle opener mounted on a back door. Unfortunately I had to crawl through the junk van to get it because the doors were locked but I think it was worth it. Matches our red van perfectly. I also got this map holder to use as a cell phone holder or whatever else fits snuggly inside.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

I went ahead and pulled the door panel and stretched the fabric since we won't be replacing it for some time. Really only the back was loose, but I'll do others as needed.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

And I mounted the map holder. I lined it with closed cell foam so I could put stuff in it without it rattling around...

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781878 September 08th 2021 12:59 am
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
journeyman
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journeyman
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
Up next was shocks... The van was floating on it's original shocks. Did I mention this van is all original? So I installed 4 Bilstein's to get it under control.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

It rides so much better now, although even after resetting both calipers it's still pulling to the left with any urgent braking. I guess I'm gonna have to do brakes next ;)

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

But first, let's throw on those new A/C Delco polyurethane sway bar bushings we ordered on a whim... Because, you know, you might as well...

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781879 September 08th 2021 1:23 am
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
journeyman
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journeyman
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
One of the instrument panel "fixes" I performed was getting rid of the ABS light bulb since I can't get the part I need to fix the front passenger side wheel speed sensor. So to ensure the fault is permanent (and disables ABS) I got rid of the wires connecting the WSS to the dust shield. I unpinned the connector on the body and used weather pack seals to seal it off from the elements in case I ever decide to look for unobtainium again.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

The same day I thought it might be nice to have a fresh transmission filter and some new fluid to reset the clock so to speak... Who knows when it was done last? Well, I guess I do now because I did it. And, because you might as well, I put a Hughes deep pan on it. Heat kills transmissions mkay, I had to 😂 Pro tip: wipe raw aluminum parts down with mineral spirits and coat with high heat automotive clear coat so they shine for a very long time. Grease wipes off with ease and it looks perpetually new.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Also, my books came in so I'm gonna make sure I torque everything to the proper spec... Except for transmission pan bolts. They get 13 ft/lbs because I know better than the manual. Lol


[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]


Here it is after install and wiped off after my filthy hands were all over it trying to get it into place. Fun fact, my 15 month old daughter hid one of the Energy Suspension transmission mount bolts for the trans mount on my '72 Cutlass (Wild Bill) - it takes two bolts at the crossmember, so I just used it on Buckeye because it only takes one. So new trans mount too, yay!

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Last edited by ah64pilot; September 08th 2021 1:27 am.
Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781880 September 08th 2021 1:51 am
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
journeyman
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journeyman
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
Well, when we picked it up I saw that the exhaust pipe was halfway blocked by the fiberglass flares but I didn't figure it would melt and crack so fast. Not to worry, I had another insomniac moment and came up with a solution. I cut it out and made space for a dual tip that I had ordered as soon as I hatched this idea...

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

I had also been dreaming, almost incessantly, about getting wheels and tires for this thing. The tires on it were fine, the tread was fine, but they were 15 years old (left). It was time for them to go...

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Since I was a teenager I always wanted a set of these wheels... But they just weren't the look I was going for on Wild Bill. It's more of a pro touring car and needs modern rubber. But the van? Whoa buddy, the van is the perfect candidate for some Torq Thrust II's and some BFG's.

15x8 (3.75" BS) with 245/60r15 and 15x10 (3.77" BS) with 295/50r15 BFG Radial TAs. Sizes for future people who are interested...

Before:

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

After:

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

I figured the 5.7L 350 vin K engine could use a little help, it was struggling with the 29" tires on our way back from Ohio so I didn't doubt that the 27" 295/50 would help a little and it surely did. The thing at least gets off the line a little better now. It has a 3.42 gear, same as my Cutlass, and I run 305/35r18's on that, roughly the same diameter as the 295/50's and I know it works well on the street. Also, I'm not too fussed about keeping the floor surface level so we're going to do something about that front end ride height sooner rather than later...

And maybe we'll do something about that hub cap that won't fit because the brake rotor / hub sticks out too far. We can't have that with a new set of wheels.

Oh! And remember that fiberglass repair I did earlier? I hired a shop to cut the original catalytic converter off and install a 14" Magnaflow muffler in it's place. They also installed the tip I had ordered... It sounds incredible! So much more mellow than Wild Bill, but still just as beautiful!

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781881 September 08th 2021 2:14 am
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
journeyman
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journeyman
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
Decided pretty early on that if the rotor reset didn't fix the brakes I was gonna fix the brakes...ALL of the brakes. Some of the new shiny parts include slotted and drilled rotors, CPP modular drop spindles, AC Delco Gold calipers and master cylinder, A1 Cardone hydroboost, gates power steering hoses, new drums, new drum cylinders, pads, shoes, hoses and, because I might as well... New energy suspension control arm bushings, AC Delco Gold ball joints, tie rod ends and coupler, and Moog idler and pitman arms.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

I got it up on stands this morning and started pulling the front end apart. Peekaboo! Wild Bill in the background...

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

You'll notice the grill and headlight bezels are off. I ordered a grill because ours is cracked in the usual place but I can't really seem to find a GMC emblem that fits it because it's not really molded properly. No worry, we've got a plan to make a custom grill... More on that later.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Painting the headlight bezels to match the custom grill I'm making out of the new repop grill that's not exactly perfect... I'm picky, sorry. In fact they're sending me another because the ends of the first new one were cracked, go figure.

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

So here we are, up to date, with a load of parts headed off to sand blasting and powder coating in the morning...

[Linked Image from i.ibb.co]

Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781883 September 08th 2021 3:12 am
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 2,119
Likes: 91
veteran
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veteran
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 2,119
Likes: 91
Good grief, the TX hoodlums are taking over the forum! lol

I just made three trips down there over the past year myself, love visiting TX. Wife is deployed down there, and I'm disabled vet, so I got to play Mr. Mommy for 13 months. Just thankful we got to go see her some on this deployment.

Gorgeous van and looks like it's in good hands. Thanks for sharing and make sure to keep us posted on future fun and travels.


[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]
Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
kursed #781897 September 08th 2021 7:41 am
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
journeyman
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journeyman
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 92
Likes: 12
Originally Posted by kursed
Good grief, the TX hoodlums are taking over the forum! lol

I just made three trips down there over the past year myself, love visiting TX. Wife is deployed down there, and I'm disabled vet, so I got to play Mr. Mommy for 13 months. Just thankful we got to go see her some on this deployment.

Gorgeous van and looks like it's in good hands. Thanks for sharing and make sure to keep us posted on future fun and travels.

Hey thanks for your service! I'm a disabled vet as well, retired CW3, former AH64D Longbow pilot. Killeen isn't too far from us, we're in Round Rock (North Austin). If you ever need anything lmk, I love helping out fellow veterans.

There's plenty more to come as I am in the middle of the brakes overhaul and suspension overhaul. After those I'll have to cool it for a bit with the baby on the way 😅

When do I tell my wife about the LS swap? It's that a good push present? 🤣

2 members like this: Rusty Pancelode, frscke1
Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781898 September 08th 2021 7:43 am
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 9,375
Likes: 63
carpal tunnel
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carpal tunnel
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 9,375
Likes: 63
Our passenger side WSS was the same way. May be a common thing IDK. I reconnected the wiring and sealed it.
Nice work on the GMC. Got More Chrome.

Re: "Buckeye" - '95 G2500 StarCraft Conversion
ah64pilot #781899 September 08th 2021 9:26 am
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 2,846
Likes: 30
M
veteran
Offline
veteran
M
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 2,846
Likes: 30
Nice work you are doing, van looks great, and Thank You for your service to our country.

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