Looks are everything

Making it pretty

t appears that this is the NEW Bob's Garage Official vehicle. It was aquired through a trade. And it is big and ... well.... BIG. Way BIG!

Initial External Trim

Upon arrival every section of the lower body trim was releasing from the body. And I decided to make it go away. Some judicious application of heat and some careful prying got all the raggedy trim off.

At the same time I decided to eliminate the logo trim on the rear doors also. Same technique and the same result. A quick clean up with some solvent and it was good to go. There was some paint damage under the trim but no biggie. I smoothed it out as best I could and that's where it stands now.

OEM Splash Guards

I installed my newly acquired OEM splash guards. Easy install and a very nice add on. Because this is a one ton it does start out a wee bit higher than a regular van. That also creates one hell-uv-a-mess when driving in Detroits' goofy weather.

GM offers them in a full set - front and rear. So I got a set and they went on nice in factory mount holes. One thing I did notice and liked was that they were significantly longer and wider than your normal flaps. And they are molded with some built-in support ribbing so they are solid, no flapping around.

Sliding door handle

NOTE: I purchased a used set of GM manuals for this beast soon after its' acquisition! Pricey but they have paid for themselves many times over!

Another annoying problem from day one is that it would not open from the outside at all. The fix wasn't really that hard but it did require some research and finagling to get accomplished.

The main part was getting all the trim removed. There is an upper bezel around the window and then the big piece at the bottom. There is also a couple of small trim plates that remove to get access to the latch mech Once all that was out of the way you have a direct view of the whole inner latch mech.

A quick viewing of the assemblies and the issue was found. It appears that at some point, I am not sure if it was intentional or what ever, the outer door pull rod was not connected. And on further inspection it was noted to be in upside down (backwards). At that point the task was to get access to the little bugger. 7 screws later the latch mech was swung down and I was able to retrieve the small [ 2" ] rod and thread it back into the correct position.

The last step proved to be a bit frustrating but I finally got all the rods and levers to allow me to swing the mech back unto place. And once it was screwed back down I was able to fish the little bugger back into place. A couple of test openings and a quick check of all the lock functions [ kiddie lock, lock button, electric lock/unlock and the key ] everything was working as it should.Ta Da! Fixed! Excellent!

Door Handle Fix

Another nagging problem was a passenger door handle with a broken mount. This is another common problem on this generation GM truck/van. While not a major issue it was more of a preemptive fix before it came off in my hand.

The plastic handle is pretty unimposing and cheap to replace but the actual replacement is a real project. The short version is de-shelling the door in order to get to the mount screws and lock bars. No biggie. The biggie is having to unbolt the door latch and displace the window guide rail and the latch in order to finagle the mount plate from behind the door handle itself. Working up inside the door frame and not having 3 hands is a problem. Then you get to do it all in reverse. So for now the handle is tight and usable without fear of breaking it off.

The manual was a great help and there are some videos out there on this and I suggest watching them before attempting this seemingly simple 2-bolt fix.

Bumper Replacement

When I got the van the rear bumper had lost a battle with something and looked pretty bad. On a trip to my local parts yard I located a decent straight chrome bumper at a great price. And it went straight home to have the few small blemishes reworked. With the dimples removed and the bumper polished it was off with the severely mangled one and on with the nicer straight one. Then the undamaged top cover was transfered over and simply snapped on and it was almost as good as new. And way nicer looking.

Full Width Air Dam

On another trip to the salvage yard I came across a full front air dam with some small issues but was definitely serviceable and way cheaper than a new replacement so I snagged it. Other than having some paint on it and one crack it was totally usable. So into the shop it went. I picked up some paint stripper for plastic components at the store and went to work.

And I must say now that this stripper is phenomenal! It works immediately and with a couple of passes it removed all the paint over the original black ABS plastic. A quick scrub with soap and water and it was ready for install. I removed the flat short air dam section that was on my bumper and substituted the new full width air dam in its place. Only four additional screws and clips were required for the swap because of the width. But it all lined up with factory holes.

Once in place I gave it a shot of trim gloss and it was nice. The said crack actually lands directly behind the front license mount so it is virtually unseen.

I recently found the air dam extension that mounts to the bottom of the air dam. This extension has been discontinued by GM so I snagged it when I came across it. 12 push clips and it is fastened on. No biggie just a nice $6 find.

Front Licence Plate Mount

And speaking of the front license mount ... It did not have one but GM does offer a super nice unit that also acts as a bumper guard. Found one on Ebay and got it. And like the splash guards it went on flawlessly. A nice addition to the front bumper. And it even holds a licence plate!

Rack'em Up

What's a van without a roof rack? Right!? Not that this van isn't big enough I decided to add a roof ladder rack system. That way I could haul big stuff. Even 4 x 8 sheets of whatever and long materials.

I got the HD rack set from a customer at work. A super heavy duty 2 rail roof rail set that was excess for him. But he did make one comment that they whistled at speed. It wasn't until they were refinished and installed that I found this to be very true!

They were solid but the paint was trashed from many years of use and neglect. So I disassembled them and stripped and painted all the pieces machine gray, Then I reassembled them with all new plated hardware.

Winter Front

I finally got around to getting a winter front for my diesel van. It has been super cold here in Michigan and it takes forever for this bad boy to heat up when it goes below 30 F. I had seen them before and after talking to some friends at Northwest Diesel Service and Performance LLC in Livonia, MII was convinced that it would be a good investment. They recommended the FIA products. It is a WF921-6. 

After ordering it on Amazon it finally arrived and I braved the bitter cold to put it on. I chose to use the screw-on snaps instead of the stick-on ones for more security. A bit of cautious measuring and then drilling was actually pretty easy. Despite the cold weather. I wanted to get it installed so I could give it a test run. It should work as advertised. I will let you know.