Fixing the van taillights


I finally made some time to fix the taillight issue in Wun Tunn Zoop


My issue with my taillights is pretty common. What happens, at least in my case, is that when I hit the brakes with the headlights on one side dims out. It comes down to a short in the harness. These harnesses are readily available because of this very common issue on the Express vans. I have had the two new pigtails for a while now but have put off putting them in. And I am replacing both just because. I like my brake lights to work right!

It wasn’t too hard just a lot of trim to remove in order to get t o the inner structure where the cable hooks to the harness. Once that was all removed then it was a pretty simple r&r of the individual taillight harnesses. Then a quick light check validated that all the work paid off and the stop lights work as advertised. Excellent!

So I feel a whole lot better and can drive at night with no issues. On to the next project.


Wun Tunn Zoop doesn’t want to get up!

Wun Tunn Zoop

Wun Tunn Zoop

Some sort of charging issue

It appears that the rear battery is getting short changed

I have had some issues with the diesel not cranking up the way it should.It has been intermittent at best through the winter. I have not had a chance to check out the factory block heater for functionality to see if that will help in cold weather starting. For now I will attack it as a charging / battery issue.

So I decided to tackle it since I had a nice day at hand. I started by taking out both batteries. The main one in the engine compartment and the other on the rear frame. Both are relatively new and premium Group 78 batteries. After taking them in for testing at the local O’Reilly where I work I discovered that the primary battery was actually OK but the rear battery was way run down. They both checked good so I went ahead and got them both fully charged and headed back to the garage.

I made a concerted effort to clean and reset the rear battery ground. It is a simple 12″ cable that bolts to the chassis. After removing the mount bolt I cleaned the contact area down, cleaned the terminal end and remounted the battery and box. And let me tell you, this is no small task. You have to mount the battery into the box and then lift the assembled pair up onto a pair of frame bolts. I have to use a jack to lift them because it is tight and the battery alone weighs in around 40 lbs !

Then I went up front to the engine bay. The van has a 3-way post setup on the core support that splits the feed and battery cables up. It appears that it has never been disassembled or cleaned. So I did it. Now all the cable ends are clean and snug. It didn’t appear to have ant issues but it is better now. After reassembling the cable block I hooked all the batteries back up.

I gave it a test start and run which went off easily. But that is with freshly charged batteries. I will have to give it a road test, maybe tomorrow, and then recheck the battery status to get a better picture on if I did fix the issue. If I did, sweet! If not, then I have more work to do. I am even considering changing out the starter  as a preemptive measure. We shall see!

The spare is back where it belongs!


The spare tire on Wun Tun Zoop is back under the chassis in it’s factory home.

Wun Tunn Zoop

Wun Tunn Zoop

This is thanks to the acquisition of a spare tire hoist from Ebay. After a bit of prep work with wire brushes and red scotchbrite the pieces all got a nice coat of primer and black epoxy. Once it was all dried I headed under the van to mount the unit and put in the frame bushings for the winder tube. Basically one bolt and one pin. Then it was time to wrestle the monster 1-ton spare under and get it positioned on the lift cable. With that done it was a simple task of winding it up into place with the factory tools. That takes a bit of cranking but it ended up in the spot it belonged in.

So now i have a whole bunch more room in the van . Nice! Well on to the next project. Replacing the damaged passenger door handle which arrived in the mail yesterday.

Maybe tomorrow! We shall see.

Parts for the One Ton


Spare tire carrier and passenger door handle

Parts are on the way

Well, in reality the spare tire carrier winch assembly is already here

The spare tire winch issue has been around since I got the beastie. I know it was so silly of me to see if a) it had a spare and b) if I could get it down from under the van.  The answer to a) was Yes, it had a spare and b) was Heck NO! It was stuck in place. And it didn’t look like it had ever been down. With the help of a cutoff tool and a pair of sturdy jacks I cut the monster free. And I went ahead and removed the frozen winch assembly. After a quick cleanup the wheel was reconditioned and the tire was cleaned and prepped. Since then it has been on the floor of the van. And let me tell you this 1 ton wheel and tire bad boy is heavy and huge,


After some assistance from some forum friends it was decided that if I could find a decent winch get it and put it back under the van where it belonged.  So the search began and via Ebay I quickly came across good used one in Florida. Got it! And it is fully functional. Really clean but I am going to clean it up some more and paint it for good luck since it is going back under the van. And this is Michigan!

I have already stripped and cleaned the tube, mount clips and grommets. I can do that whire its still cold out. The paint will have to wait for a couple of days till we get painting weather.. above 45. Which will be in a few.

the door handle is on it’s way


As for the door handle.That too has been a problem from the get go but not earthshaking. One of the mount studs is broken. And that is a major problem with all late model door handle made of plastic. Especially in the cold weather like Michigan. So I found one on Ebay cheaper by half than the same unit I can get through Murrays! So Bing! Bam! Boom! I got it on the way . I will tackle it a bit later because you have to de-shell the door to get to the mount bolts. Another project for another day!


Wun Tunn Zoop is being cranky


Well, actually, no cranky!

The dreaded start then shutdown issue is back

I took the beastie out for a refuel Monday and initially everything seemed on the up and up. Unfortunately Once i was fueled up and restarted I got just a few feet and it shutdown. After a couple of attempts at restarting it was obvious that things were way not right.

A case of PMD

After tangling with this a ways back I resigned myself to the fact that the injector driver [PMD] would have to be replaced. The down side to this is where this piece is located on the engine is a pecker wood to get to. [ Read that labor intensive = $$$ ] This is a common failure on these diesels and because of it’s being mounted directly on the injector pump, in the center of the engine. under the intake, it dies of heatstroke. It is a notorious bad boy and there are a variety of relocation kits on the market that relocate it to a cooler climate. Some move it above the intake, some to the fender well and some to a location behind the front bumper.

Normally if it were in a pickup you can simply finagle the connector off and plug in an extension cable and mount the new PMD and heat sink to its new location. No actual part retrieval required. After the last episodes I actually bought the Dorman 904-113 PMD Relocation Kit as a preemptive strike. But because this is a van the logistics of getting to that connector are way worse. And it was that factor alone that made me grab both my head and my wallet in pain!


Curt’s Service

But I do have an awesome shop in the area that is great with service so I called Curt’s Service and started the ball rolling.  They came and got the disabled van and delivered it to the repair shop. It wasn’t long before I got the boomerang phone call  with the confirmation that it was indeed the PMD and they could fix it in return for a bag of money. And I was pleasantly surprised when they told me that the shop was going to relocate the new unit to a remote location in the process. Excellent! I was impressed! Like I said these guys are good! So they are in the process of making Wun Tunn Zoop all better. So I should have it back tomorrowish.

The sad part about this whole scenario is that I was kinda dancing with the devil on this one and it was only a matter of time before it bit me in the wallet. OUCH! But I should be good till the next disaster. But I do know where to get it fixed right.


Parts Hunt


Stick that thing back up there!

Putting the spare back where it came from

I had to cut the spare out from under the van in order to get it off. And apparently it is a common problem with these crank-down spare mounts found under a whole pile of trucks and vans. You’ve seen them going down the road with the cable dangling under the bed. Unfortunately this spare is humongous!And takes up a whole lotta space in the van.

I had the wheel and tire separated by my friends at Mighty Mo Auto and went about cleaning up the wheel after many, many years stuck under the van. It wasn’t a complete redo. like bead blasting, but a good cleanup with a nice new coat of rust deterrent paint. Then my same friends at Mighty Mo were kind enough to remount the tire on the freshly coated rim.

Looking for a new tire lift unit – DORMAN 924-510 Replacement Spare Tire Hoist

A place to put your stuff


I found a neat quick add-on to put a storage bin under the passenger seat in the Express van

On one of my latest forays to Parts Galore unearthed a nice slide out, latching storage bin under the passenger seat of an Astro Van. On first glance it was about the right size and dimensions to possibly fit under an Express passenger seat. After undoing the four 18MM nuts that hold the seat base to the floor I was able to extract the complete unit. There just happened to be an Express conversion van in the yard so I wandered over to it to check the fit.

With access to the four mount studs it was alarmingly obvious that this was a prime candidate for the swap. It was odd that the Express has a shorter front to back dimension by about 3/4 of an inch but a dead match side to side. So it went home with me.

Once home I set out dimensioning and re-drilling the rear mount holes. No biggie. Then a test fit exposed an interference with the seat base shell on the inside rear bracket. A quick cutaway of the inside bracket, actually to match the profile of the outside bracket, solved the interference issue. So with a quick edge cleanup on it went. The seat was dropped in on top of it and bolted down with the 18MM nuts. It works like a dream and snaps shut when pushed in. NICE!

Now I have some much needed hideaway storage that is relatively easy to get to. And when it is extended it clears the doghouse.EXCELLENT!