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-   -   2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan (https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/forums/f24/2010-express-awd-build-the-gnarvan-15242.html)

TeleSteve 06-11-2015 09:18 PM

2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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Hello, first post to the forum, been lurking for a while as I searched for a van. I just recently picked up a 2010 Express Cargo AWD. I plan to convert it primarily for winter camper use. I am a pro telemark skier and spend much of the winter roaming in search of good snow. It will also be used for my other more leisurely outdoor activities including mountain biking, rock climbing, fly fishing, and getting to trail heads for backpacking.
Here it is as I brought it home.

I have been searching since February for one that had the options I was looking for. This was the closest I found within a reasonable distance. It has 3.73 gears, G80 locking differential, remote power locks, power windows, barn side doors, wraparound headlights , and as a plus it isn't white. Most of these are hard to find in a cargo model.
The only things I was hoping to get but will add or live with out are rear push out windows, side door windows, cruise control and tilt steering.
I have a long to do list that seems to keep growing the more I look through these forums. At this point I am hoping to insulate and build out the interior in RB-50 like layout, install a passenger seat swivel, house batteries with solar charger, a heater, cold and possibly hot water system, and a power inverter. I will likely upgrade to a double din stereo with backup camera, and replace/add some speakers
For the exterior I am doing a 4-5" of lift and probably around a 33" tire. I will likely build a rear swing out spare tire rack, a swing out storage box & rack, a roof rack and ladder. The stock chrome bumpers will be painted black and possibly some fog lights frenched into the front.
I will be adding a hitch receiver, trailer brake controller, and 7-prong trailer wiring. For medium size trailer use, small boats and snow mobiles.

TeleSteve 06-11-2015 10:31 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
So far I have installed a suspension lift using torsion keys, front shock spacers (temporary until I buy longer shocks probably Bilstein 5100 #24-186643), 2" rear lift blocks, and longer KYB 3/4 ton Express rear shocks (KYB 554348). I might upgrade rear springs to 3/4 ton suburban springs, but will wait to see how it rides once it is built out and loaded, drives well empty. This was all pretty easy and most of the information came from this forum. Thank you for that!
Here it is with the 2-3" suspension lift

I also did a 2" body lift. This was a little more to bite off, I wasn't able to find any aftermarket kits or information for more than a 1" body lift (zurens build). The body lift was pretty straight forward using twelve 2" body lift spacers and 12- M14.2 x 150mm long bolts. A few modification are needed to make everything work properly. I had to make 2" fan shroud spacers to drop the lower shroud down. This required some minor trimming of the bottom two corners to clear the bottom of the core support and two new holes drilled in the shroud. For spacers I used about 3 feet of 1"x2" .095 wall aluminum tube cut and mitered to follow the shape of the shroud seems. Six longer M6 x 170 mm bolts are needed to connect the upper and lower shroud. The steering intermediate shaft was not long enough so it was cut, sleeved and welded to extend it 2". Aftermarket extensions may be available through Performance Accessories, but cost around $150. That is all that needs modifying.
A 2" body lift creates some big bumper to body gaps so the bumper mounting brackets needed modifying. The fronts were the most work. I removed the bottom two lips and welded new pieces in to create the 2" rise, A 2" square tube is used to space the top down. This requires a tiny bit of trimming to the front frame horns, about 1/4". If you don't mind trimming more (about 1.5" you could just remove the bottom lip and drill a hole in the bottom of the bracket.
Before:

After:

TeleSteve 06-11-2015 10:34 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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The rear bumper was pretty simple, It only requires one new slot in the end of the frame horn and one slot on the bumper bracket lengthened. The bolt spacing needed to get a little closer so I used the bolt tabs from the side support brackets. The side support brackets can just be moved up one hole and only use one bolt instead of two. The spare tire will likely be mounted to swing out carrier, but if not I will either move the hole mount up for more ground clearance and to utilze the lowering hoist hole in the body. A hole could be drilled in the plastic bumper cover to allow it to work in its current location.
Middle slot was added to frame


Bottom slot was extended up and down on bracket



Here is the van with 2-3" suspension lift and 2" body lift:

The bumpers were test fitted with the modified brackets but left off so I can strip the chrome and paint them black, I will also paint the chrome grill while it is off.

I am currently shopping for wheels and tires will probably go with the new BFG All Terrain KO2 around 33" tall.

Thank you to all you AWD Express/Savana guys who have shared your builds!

jtek 06-12-2015 08:45 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Looks like you are off to a great start. Is that your final lifted-height?

rockbender 06-12-2015 12:51 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Amazing find on the non-white cargo with LTZ front and 3.73 gears! Those were a few of the things on my wish list, but unfortunately came away with none of these!

That gearing will end up perfect with a 33" tire I think. Looking foward to the continued progress!

carringb 06-12-2015 02:55 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Another GnarVan!

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/gallery...0a4e492410.jpg

TeleSteve 06-12-2015 07:04 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jtek
Looks like you are off to a great start. Is that your final lifted-height?

Yes, but those are still the stock size tires (roughly 30" tires) With 33s it will sit about 1.5" higher.

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:20 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
I have been slowly working on the van. A lot of wiring for seat heaters, stereo, backup camera, trailer lights, trailer brake controller, and fog lights.


Seat Heaters:


TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:25 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
2 Attachment(s)
Stereo installed, and added switches for seat heaters and fog lights:

Back up camera:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:29 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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I added a seat swivel to the passenger seat while the seat was out. Since the swivel plate added 1 5/8" to the seat height I cut down the seat base.



TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:31 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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Painted and installed:



TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:33 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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It works:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:39 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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With the inside back together I could pull the van out of the shop and get back to the bumpers. I frenched in some fog lights in the front. I am installing LED fog lights for a Jeep JK. They are 4" round so I used two 4" to 5" exhaust adapter for the buckets.

I used a piece of 4" PVC to test the angle to cut the buckets:

Cutting to 30 degrees:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:44 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
Once the bucket was cut it was used to trace the cut out on the bumper:


Cut the hole using a jig saw:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:48 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
The bucket placed and welded:


All sanded in with a flap disc:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:53 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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Test fit with the fog light:

Add mounting tabs:

Then sand the whole bumper to prep for paint:

TeleSteve 07-12-2015 11:56 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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While I was cutting, welding and grinding on the bumper I pie cut the sides to allow more room for the bigger tires.


Closed up and tacked:

TeleSteve 07-13-2015 12:00 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
All welded up:


All ground and sanded and ready for paint:

rockbender 07-13-2015 12:38 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
You guys that can work magic with metal always impress me - nice work! Your Express is coming along great.

I'll be interested to know how your seat heater install turns out. I was looking for kits for our rig as well. Any extra details you can provide would be great (which kit you got, how hard the install was, etc.)

Is that a Shop4seats swivel? It looks like what I should have gotten, but they totally botched the offsets so I sent them back. Your seat base mod is perfect - I didn't like the way the seat sat with the swivel plate installed on the stock base.

I see a Webasto box - did you get a gas fired unit? Looking forward to seeing more!

MadScience 07-13-2015 01:05 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
I'm always surprised that there isn't more love for the GM platform in the 4x4 conversions. Sure, the ford chassis is a bit more stout, but every time I end up driving, or even just riding in something with a mid or higher end GM engine I question my sanity.

FWIW: I've not done any winter camping in the van (just in huts, also, I'm a wimp on AT gear, so feel free to ignore anything I write), but I really don't love the extra height of my van in the snow. I've seen plenty of big burly SUVs and trucks on their roofs after running up on snowbanks, while subarus and other AWD wagons just end up with some dents in their side panels, if they ever even make contact at all. So anytime I'm driving the van rather than a wagon in the snow I slow way, way, down.

TeleSteve 07-13-2015 02:51 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rockbender
You guys that can work magic with metal always impress me - nice work! Your Express is coming along great.

I'll be interested to know how your seat heater install turns out. I was looking for kits for our rig as well. Any extra details you can provide would be great (which kit you got, how hard the install was, etc.)

Is that a Shop4seats swivel? It looks like what I should have gotten, but they totally botched the offsets so I sent them back. Your seat base mod is perfect - I didn't like the way the seat sat with the swivel plate installed on the stock base.

I see a Webasto box - did you get a gas fired unit? Looking forward to seeing more!

I found these seat heaters on amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008D ... UTF8&psc=1
I was a little skeptical about the price, but I figured they aren't that hard to change. I was a little disappointed with the wiring harness, I was expecting a high and low heat. It has a three way switch so you can turn on one or both pads. I set it up for back only or both. Also the harness had relays to allow the separate functions, but not for battery and switched ignition power. Not a big deal to add a relay. I did have to lengthen some of the wiring to reach the dash. Installation was pretty simple with the express seats. Pull the seat out loosen the bottom cover, unbolt the top half and open up the covers to slide the heating pads in. If your doing GM van seats this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxVIvXT79lM

shows how easy the covers come off. I found that for just adding the heaters you don't need to remove the arm rest or the base from the seat.
The seat swivel is from discount van, hardly a discount and not as clean as I hoped for, but it works. It did need some grease on the bearing.
Yes, I picked up a Gasoline Webasto. I am still working on the best place to install it. I still have some decisions to make for the interior layout and where to place house batteries, inverter/charger, and water system. I am leaning towards a RB-50 type plan and I would like to keep the space below the back seat/bed open and large enough to store skis and gear. So I need to try and get all the permanent fixtures in the sides around the wheel wells or in the front cabinet.

TeleSteve 07-13-2015 03:04 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MadScience
I'm always surprised that there isn't more love for the GM platform in the 4x4 conversions. Sure, the ford chassis is a bit more stout, but every time I end up driving, or even just riding in something with a mid or higher end GM engine I question my sanity.

FWIW: I've not done any winter camping in the van (just in huts, also, I'm a wimp on AT gear, so feel free to ignore anything I write), but I really don't love the extra height of my van in the snow. I've seen plenty of big burly SUVs and trucks on their roofs after running up on snowbanks, while subarus and other AWD wagons just end up with some dents in their side panels, if they ever even make contact at all. So anytime I'm driving the van rather than a wagon in the snow I slow way, way, down.

I spend a lot of time driving on snow covered roads chasing powder. I feel just as comfortable driving my big Ram 3500 with 35s in the snow as I do the wife's Subaru. I have seen several Subarus on there lids in the snow, it has more to do with the drivers then the cars. Most people who choose a Subaru have more experience driving in the snow.

TeleSteve 07-20-2015 09:59 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
2 Attachment(s)
I was able to get the bumpers painted last week and cured over the weekend.
Etching primer on the bumpers and adhesion promoter on the grill:


TeleSteve 07-20-2015 10:01 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
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Epoxy 2K primer on everything:


TeleSteve 07-20-2015 10:05 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
After wet sanding and washing the single stage black was sprayed:


Out in the sun the next day to speed up the curing:

TeleSteve 07-20-2015 10:08 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
Rear bumper assembled and installed:

Front bumper assembled and installed w/ fog lights:

Testing the fog lights:

TeleSteve 07-20-2015 10:11 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
And a few shots out of the shop:



TeleSteve 07-20-2015 10:13 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
2 Attachment(s)
A few more:


TeleSteve 07-20-2015 10:24 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Next up wheels and tires, I am hoping to get some slack time at work to get down the hill during business hours to get an alignment and the tires installed. We'll see how it goes during the test fit, but looks like I am going to go with 275/70R18 BFG KO2 (around 33.5") although I may go with GY Duratracs.
After that I have a MaxxFan ordered and I will start on sound deadener, insulation, paneling, and some house wiring.

boywonder 07-20-2015 10:51 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Excellent fab and paint work!

Onefin 07-21-2015 04:32 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Nice van, nice bumpers, nice view from the shop and great build thread so far.
What's not to like?

wadewaydo 07-21-2015 05:08 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
Nice. I love the view from your paint shop. :b6:

TeleSteve 07-25-2015 05:22 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
Finally had some time to get down the hill for wheels and tires. They fit with no rubbing. Still drives great.

Stock:


TeleSteve 07-25-2015 05:24 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)



TeleSteve 07-25-2015 05:26 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
2 Attachment(s)


TeleSteve 08-10-2015 11:09 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
Slowing ticking items off my list. I picked up a used tilt steering column and installed it with a new leather steering wheel with cruise control switches. This was a pretty straight forward swap. The donor column was from a 2008 and only had a 2 wire airbag, my 2010 had a 4wire, but a simple swap of the clock springs from my old column was all that was needed. The column wiring harnesses were identical part numbers so all the wires are there even in the base vans. This means you could just swap a cruise steering wheel to any van. The next step is to take it to a dealer and have the BCM reflashed to activate the Cruise control. The new steering also has the radio controls, I had already swapped the stereo and didn't buy the adapter to allow steering wheel controls ( I didn't have them at the time) so I can't confirm weather these would work or not. From my research they seem to work in most GM cars with just the steering wheel swap without any dealer reflash. Hopefully the cruise control works, I haven't found any information for this swap on a van.
New Steering Wheel:

Tilt Column:


TeleSteve 08-10-2015 11:17 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
I swapped the ignition core to keep my original key that matches all the doors. This is pretty simple just insert a small pin, I used a allen key in the top hole with the key in the start position. You will need the key to the donor column.
Allen key in ignition core:

Core removed:

Old column and deteriorating rubber steering wheel removed:

TeleSteve 08-10-2015 11:35 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
3 Attachment(s)
I also picked up a used rear bench seat that folds down for the bed (found on this board). It's tan and I my van has grey interior, but the price was good. It will get recovered or dyed, the headrest will definitely get recovered I am not feeling the embroidery. I also installed CLC tiles for sound deadening. The sound deadener made a huge difference.

This weekend it took its first trip out to our lake cabin. We didn't camp in the van but we did get to try out the suspension on the rough logging roads that take us to the cabin. Also used it to haul some gear down to the boat docks on the loose sand beach. The shock extensions up front are definitely causing the front shocks to bottom out so I have some Bilstein (24-186643) 5100 series shocks coming. Although it took some pretty good size bumps to notice and the ride was still good.


TeleSteve 08-10-2015 11:49 AM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
I am hoping to get started on the insulation this week. I am using a combination of Reflectix, ridged foam, and foil lined coarse denier nonwoven polyester fiber. I have a MaxxFan roof vent, a Webasto Airtop 2000t Gasoline Heater, a Blue Sea Systems BatteryLink 120A ACR, and a Magnum MMS1012 1000w inverter/charger all ready to install and wire. I will only be running a small 600w microwave (800w consumption) and powering/charging computers cameras on the inverter. Still working out all the details and locations for these if anyone has any suggestions. I will likely go with a single 4D house battery mounted underneath on the driver side.

TeleSteve 08-12-2015 10:28 PM

Re: 2010 Express AWD build,The Gnarvan
 
I just got back from a trip to the Chevy dealer. Cruise control is activated and working. For anyone else going this route, the only part you need to buy is the steering wheel with cruise control switches. When you go into the dealer let them know they need to list the part numbers for the steering wheel, clock spring, and column wiring harness on the RPO. Other than the steering wheel none of these parts need to be changed. The service tech will have to call GM and fax a copy of the RPO into GM to get a activation code to reflash the BCM. There is a $50 charge to the dealer for the activation code. A tech should be able to do everything for the one hour shop rate. I didn't ask but the steering wheel could probably be changed in this time. It only took me 10 minutes. The total cost at my dealer was $139 just for the activation code and BCM flash.


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