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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

Figured I'd share what I'm up to with, Bonnie, my new toy / winter project for the other 2nd gen enthusiasts out there who like this stuff. I bought her sight unseen from a charity auction, and she was provided by the Car Donation Foundation.

She arrived just as the big storms Thursday were coming in, but luckily the heavy rain waited until I was in the driveway. My delivery driver wasn't the easiest to understand, but he was a really good guy. She fired right up, sounded great, and drove off the trailer without any fuss.

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First looks around, she was smoked in, but not too much. There's no typical round burns in the driver or drinker's side door panel, thankfully. Just some ash in the visors. I think the radio cost half what I paid for her... Someone hauled some trees in the back and left a ton of the longest pine needles I've ever seen... The fluids all are in a great range and aren't suspiciously off color, smelly or clean like they're hiding a problem.

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First off, let's remove what I feel like is an entire tree's worth of junk...

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Much better!

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Let's get her in the garage to see how much weight reduction there is...

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Overall, the back is a little worse than I expected and the front is better. It almost seems like she was parked on a hill for a while. The muffler and rear axle aren't surprising to me having owned a 95 T&C several years ago. The brake lines aren't inspiring much confidence...

But, that was it for Bonnie's first day. A good cleaning and look around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The past few days, I wanted to figure out why she doesn't want to stop and start dealing with the weight reduction.

I was planning to use this as a test patch, since it really isn't visible most of the time, but I quickly got impatient and started working on the bottoms of the doors, too.

Wood Amber Automotive exterior Automotive lighting Road surface


I'm sure there was a better way to do this, but... I don't overthink anything, and ******* everything

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The drinker's door and slider have a bunch of rot where the metal was folded over, but the bottoms of the doors are still perfectly straight.

Wood Gas Bumper Automotive exterior Tints and shades


Wood Automotive tire Tints and shades Gas Automotive exterior


I'm grinding them with a wire wheel, scrubbing them with a wet S.O.S pad, cleaning them off with water / brake parts cleaner, and once dried I'll paint them. I'm trying this Rustoleum rust converter stuff. I've never tried it before, but I reckon it's worth a try before shelling out the money for POR15.

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The color I got is... similar, but not quite right. It was the closest thing I could find at O'rilley's. I don't really care, honestly. As long as it's close and not rusting.

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Bonnie's roof was also rusting through in a bunch of spots, so I started working on those, too.

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I'm spraying them with primer and the final color now, so we'll see how they look soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The brakes are the only major problem with Bonnie so far. One of the tanks on the brake cylinder was totally empty, so I filled it up and gave the pedal some pumps. It got stronger, but weaker again. Probably air right? Nope... I know it might be hard to see in the picture, but there's a tiny leak here.

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The rear brakes on both sides look pretty good, though.

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I'm planning to replace a lot of these lines. Running and driving is great, but being able to stop is more important.

I was also starting to grind and spray the rust converter at the back end. I didn't really get pictures of that, because it's miserable... lol. When I got Bonnie, jacked up and the rear wheels off, I found a spot I never really knew about before behind the wheel well on the driver's side where the fuel tank filler tube is. I believe I've seen a few other vans rot from there, so I cleaned it out good and sprayed the rust converter and some primer in there.

Gas Metal Electrical wiring Machine Wood


Next job though is probably replacing the brake lines at least up to that distribution block thing. That'll take me a few days, but I'll get some pictures. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yea, the most important stuff looks pretty ok.

The rear metal crash bumper thingy is pretty bad, and I might take her plastic booty off to deal with that. There's one rot through spot up front that is really bad in one particular like 2x2 inch spot, but everything else around it is fine. I'll have to get a picture of that, but it doesn't look like it needs an immediate repair done, and like some drain down spot or drain hole in the frame was clogged there or something. That piece that the brake line distribution block thingy is mounted to is the worst rotted piece under there otherwise.

The fuel lines look like they're out of a horror film, but the tank looks worse than it is. I'm fixin to take it down and check the sock, pump and replace the lines. I don't feel good about using a wheel on it with it half full, either. Also, get up under there and clean and spray any other rust spots it might be hiding.

I'm going to go to one of the local auto stores today and see about brake line parts and tools. I haven't flared brake lines before, but I've flared other types of lines before and I'm not too worried about that. The fittings are all rust welded on, so that'll probably take me some time to deal with. My plan is to snip the line at the fitting and try to use a deep socket on it after oiling / heating it. I'm sure I'll snap something off I didn't want to... lol

My main goal in the short term is eliminate the weight reduction going on and make it safe to drive where ever... 5 or 500 miles, so if anyone sees something I should work on, feel free to let me know!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here's a couple extra pictures I forgot to add.

Here's the fuel lines... I mean they work, but they're lookin a little crusty.

Wood Gas Fender Brick Metal


This one's a bit blurry I see, but some of what I started with the rust converter stuff is visible here, and especially the rear axle. I reckon if this Rustoleum I'm using is crappy and doesn't work, at least that's a pretty easy place to spot problems without climbing underneath. I did wire wheel and clean the painted spots, but the can ran out on me in the middle of doing this little spot.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After reading your latest post, and going back where you mentioned it before, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "weight reduction".
Oh, I'm jokingly referring to rust when I say that. But, you're not kidding, the rear seats in these vans are shockingly heavy... I know years ago when I had a 95 TC and was still in my teens, I carried the rear seat down the basement stairs myself, but wow I have no idea how I managed that then after hauling Bonnie's out.

Bonnie has the 3.0 Mitsubishi engine. I realized I forgot to mention it, but I also haven't really done anything to it yet, but clean of the fancy shiny valve cover and check for the oil leak I knew would be there...

Car Motor vehicle Vehicle Hood Gas


Yea, there's a leak, but from where I haven't really looked into yet. Maybe the valve cover? Not sure.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, crap...
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Brown Wood Tints and shades Gas Metal


Seriously, of all the metal parts on this old van, THAT's what's broken. I know others on the forum have posted about swapping the rear leaf's, and I'll look into that, but I'm open to suggestions if anyone has them. I'm not a mechanic, so this'll be pushing my abilities a bit maybe, but in general, I have no idea what I'm doing anyway. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
the one think i'll point out to you right away is if that van has been sitting for a while ? is you pointed out it has the 3 litre engine it doesnt have a regular timing chain. it just has a big rubber band and the engine is zero tolerance meaning if you're driving it at any speed and it breaks ? guess what ? not good news. so be sure not to drive it much before you look at that. so onward
Yea, timing belt is on my list of things to do. It started and ran great, but I only drove her down my driveway and into the garage. I've heard people say they're interference and not, but I'm just gonna replace it anyway and not take chances.

and you replaced that back axle. so did you have to remove the shackles and everything to do that ? the tube looks new where did you find that
Nah, I was just fooling around really with a wire brush and some of this poor man's POR15:

Liquid Bottle Mammal Drink Font


My intention was to spray there because it's pretty easy to see how it's holding up without climbing under, but I decided I only want to paint it once, so I bought the real stuff.

you have to watch the corrosion on the gas tank the walls are pretty thin and if you start scraping rust off with a wire brush it will develope a leak. so a heads up there to.
So far, it feels alright. It looks probably worse than it is in the pictures because I had both a headlight on and the flash from the camera. I've found replacements for around 100 bucks, so if I see anything that looks too bad, I'll just junk the tank.


if theres a leak in a brake line you're wasting brake fluid it wont pump up again until you fix that leak
Yea, I had no idea it was leaking that bad. Usually out in my shop I have hearing protection on all the time because I got ones that play music... I took those off and heard the "tttsssssssssssssssttt" and then saw the brake juice carnage under there haha.

paint color is the least of your worries at that stage of the game
That's mostly just me looking for excuses to stay outside longer. At that point, I knew the brakes were shot, didn't know why yet, and figured they'd be easy to deal with. That's mostly true, but then I saw those fuel lines and figured they're getting replaced, too... Then, I saw where the leaf on the drives side is snapped clean off, and that's what I'll consider a major repair. I'm no mechanic. I work on tractors and stuff, but not cars till now.

do you know what part of the country ? with some of that heavy corrosion i i think it was somewhere they used road salt ? old betsy is like that all over. top and underside.
That I don't know. I bought her from an auction held in upper Kentucky, and had her shipped here to Tennessee. I was too cheap (AKA stupid) to run a Carfax or similar, but I reckon she's been around that general area. Some salt probably, but there's a lot of places having owned a 95 T&C I expected to see rust that there wasn't much / any. I bought her for a winter project mainly, but I intend to drive her for my forever, at least. So, as nuts as it sounds, I'm probably going to go through and remove every spec of rust I reasonably can. The short term goal is to be able to get in and drive 1000 miles without being worried about anything really, and so far I think that's totally realistic after I deal with the fuel lines, brake lines and busted leaf spring.

Speaking of... I managed to get everything at least ready to remove the rear axle. Those parking brake lines are tough though, wow...

I decided it'd be easier to take off the rear brakes and pop them out where I wasn't on my back on the floor
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I found out that a 14 M&M's wrench... whatever that is in American... works pretty good to get these out if you tug on the cable and twist the wrench around.

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The leaf's I'm fixin to get so far are these 1100 pound rated ones from Rock Auto:

More Information for DAYTON 33377

I'm looking for a smooth enough ride, but I might want to put some heavy-ish stuff in there once in a while. Nothing too crazy though.

After looking through the forum though, predictably the U bolts are a problem. I can't find them anywhere, which I expected, but tried anyway. I reckon I have to take them off and get measurements to get anywhere, but I really want new ones. This picture is way zoomed in and crappy, but the threads on some are just absolutely shot...

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Well, down another rabbit hole, but if I find anything useful out about the U bolts, I'll post it here because I know others have been looking for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I could totally see making a trailer out of these rear axles, yea... Cool idea.

My van, I reckon, if I completely fail at getting it back on the road, at least I have a new mobile chicken coop... haha. I don't plan on failing, though. I see General Spring has a U bolt thing based on dimensions... does anyone happen to know the dimensions of the leaf spring U bolts?

U Bolts

I'll search around to see if I can find anything before I take them off to measure myself, but mine are so bad it's going to take a while to crack them loose I reckon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
False. The 3.0 is a non interference engine on the Chryslers, it's only the Mitsu variants that are interference, that's due to the Chryslers only having 8.9:1 compression instead of the 10:1 the Mitsus have. The factory belts on these can easily go 2-300k miles so long as the water pump doesn't start leaking or the tensioner fails.
Good to know.

I'll get to the engine and transmission soon, but nothing major has jumped out at me yet. Just a small oil leak which I'm guessing is the valve cover gasket. There was a 2 inch spot on the garage floor the day after I brought it in, but it hasn't leaked anything since. So, I reckon some leaked out and the rest drained back down to the pan, but I'll find out more once I'm done working on the rear suspension stuff.

Anyway, about an hour ago I got a really important delivery for the van. I need all kinds of rear suspension parts, so I did the right thing and ordered a driver's seat from a 94 TC instead...

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It's in great shape, and my bony butt and crumbled back are already in love with it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Valve covers are notorious for leaking on 3.0s, it's pretty much a 30k mile maintenance item.
Yea, I thought so.

A buddy of mine had white 3.0. At the end, our start-up procedure for it was dump a quart or 2 of old lawnmower oil in and fill the radiator back up with water. It had head gasket problems too... It must have burped out a good 3 foot wide steam cloud as we drove around and oil drops every few inches. Hahaha...

Anyway, he ended up selling it to a mechanic who apparently fixed it in a couple hours and felt bad enough he tried to give my buddy more money for the van, lol...
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
They're stupid easy to work on. I can do HGs in them in about 6 hours start to finish. I kinda always regretted pulling my 3.0 out.
The 99 3.8 I had under the hood was fun, but it lacked any potential and couldn't handle the abuse the 3.0s just take without question.
Nice. I had the stock 3.8 in my 95 TC, and it never gave me an issue really. It was sluggish and stuff though I suppose. This 3.0 though seems like it wants to just go if you breathe on the gas.

I did manage to get the rear axle off today. Probably in the wrong order, in terms of removing the shocks after the shackles, but it did work out. I had wanted to put the jack stands in front of it, but I couldn't get the exhaust off and that was in the way of the frame, so I put them in the rear, which seems fine.

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You can see the snapped off leaf closest on the left. The shackle stayed stuck to the frame for most of the time I was workin the axle out from under the van too.

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Anyways, I think that's most of the major excitement for a bit. I need to wait on some parts to show up and the torch and PB blaster to work some magic on these rotten U bolts. Otherwise, I think I'll probably take the fuel tank down and either paint it or replace it, and just work on cleaning up rusty spots and painting the underside in the meantime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
It was good that I had a service manual, because the shop owner wanted nothing to do with it at all - said he didn't work on Japanese stuff.
Chrysler... it does sound almost not at all Japanese huh? What a weird interaction that must have been... "git yur 'mericanese waygon on dawon the road hawss... tha'ain't whalcome hrr." Well, that about how I'd say it if I laid it on thick... lol

Anyway, the past 2 days I've been working on getting the leaf springs off. I actually didn't own my own breaker bar. I borrowed one from my neighbor to get the axle out, but I didn't really want to break my neighbor's tools. I felt that was a semi smart move when I started twisting these off, feeling like an Oxford rower or something:

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The first U bolt cooperated and came out in one piece, although slightly bent. The second one either completely screwed me over or did me a favor and snapped off. I still haven't found a suitable replacement for these, but now with something to compare to, I feel it will be a bit easier.

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The other side, I said screw it... if I can find 1 replacement, I can find 3. I snapped most of those threads clean off and sawed the last one off. I had both completed and created another job here. What a mess...

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Yesterday I hit a few small spots with POR 15. I had one of those crappy black foam brushes and it started falling apart by the time I painted this section. Some of this was ground down, some wasn't really... but none of this rust was really like awful. Mostly light and some moderate. I'm not completely sold yet, but apparently it needs 2 coats, so we'll see.

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I'm hoping it does work decently. If so, I'm thinking I can pour some in the rocker(?) plugs or drains (whatever the bottom of the body's called.) Since her backside is jacked up, maybe I can just run it all the way down in there and coat the insides that like to rot out.

Side little experimentation. I bought this Rustoleum rust delete spray today and tried it out. I've never heard of it, but I wanted to try it out. I put an old impact socket in a shopping bag with some on it, and this is the result 45 minutes or so later. (there's another socket that is about what this one was.)

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That's super fast, but maybe too strong. I left the socket on the right sitting in it, and we'll see if it's just slime tomorrow or something.

Worth mentioning, I washed that socket on the left off really good and sprayed some wd-40 on it, but I think some of the dissolver was still on my nitrile gloves. I'm pretty sure they were smoking. I didn't think phosphoric acid would react with nitrile... maybe it was something on the gloves. Also, I had the shop closed up because it's cold out, but I think I felt a tinge of burn when I was breathing, so I opened the doors. I'd say respirator with the pink/red-ish filters(i think), acid proof rubber gloves and goggles are a smart idea with this stuff, especially if you're using it inside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I didn't get a chance to measure it yet. My back was done after that "rowing" exercise and getting a few of the shackles loose.

General Spring has a size selector thingy I was fixin to try for actual leaf spring U bolts. Tractor Supply had something that looked close, but I didn't have the whole U bolt in hand at the time to compare and the measurements on the package were crappy. Either way, I'll document exactly what I settle on so others can track them down if needed, since the original Mopar number doesn't seem to cross or be available anywhere.

U Bolts

when working on the brake lines or fuel lines u can avoid flaring them by using compression fittings if u run into a length issue. only use the flare ends at the wheel cylinder or the junction block.
I'm fairly good at working with small, soft metal lines, actually. I've never done brake lines, but I've done plenty of refrigerant grade copper pipe for over 400 PSI of gas pressure systems. (Mini splits have very small, thin lines that can carry a ton of pressure when doing heating)

I bought a few rolls of the copper-nickel line, which sounds pretty similar to what I'm used to. I bought a bender, because copper loves to kink, and I reckon I'll have to fasten it down a bit better to the frame/axle to avoid metal fatigue at the fittings and stuff, though. I don't know for sure though. I'm no white coat metal scientist.

Anyway, I'm planning to do all full runs from the rear brake power reducer block thingy to the soft lines, then to the cylinders. I reckon, less connections, less points of failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
DO NOT under any circumstances (except dire emergencies) use compression fittings on brake lines. Period. Use only proper double flair connections.
Yea, that's where the rear brake problem started was that kind of fitting. I want to be able to get in and not "what if" myself to death before taking a drive, so they'll all be solid runs.

I'm just disappointed I didn't try this to at least drive her around the yard and stuff a bit more... lol! (this is just a random internet picture. not my cars!)
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That's a limp it home hack if I've ever seen one, or maybe to do burnouts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
But I'm also waiting for an excuse to buy a good quality flaring kit.....
The one I got was pretty cheap at Advanced Auto. It's almost certainly crap, but flaring isn't a new concept to me, so I'm sure I can get something decent out of it. The flares I've done for mini splits, I test with nitrogen around 200 PSI and then pull a vacuum as low as my pump can go (usually 50-70 microns)

Anyway, I haven't tried it, but if I think it's decent, I'll post a part/item/whatever number.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
So you’re in HVAC also?
Hmm... Let's just say "jack of all trades, master of just a few..." and I'll know if Bonnie's AC is leak proof soon enough.

Mini splits and simple central units aren't rocket science. I look at it like, if you know basic plumbing and electrical work, you're about 1/2 the way there already, and a lot of the rest is common sense. The "DIY" mini's anyway have a lot of bad information on the U tube. You really need to pressure test with nitrogen and vacuum the lines. I saw one guy splice a plug on a 120 volt unit, not shorten the lines to the right size, and worst of all, not even vacuum the lines at least. Poor compressor and awful information for others considering installing one.

I mean, if it was your own, wouldn't you want to test the crap out of it? :D
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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
We've already got the same taste in vans I was starting to think I'd found a long lost brother, or maybe doppelganger!
Well, you know what someone said... great minds think alike... but I doubt he knew of lemmings.... jk

I reckon most people can honestly say they've loved riding in or owning one of these at some point. I loved my 95 T&C because of how unbelievably comfortable it was driving that thing. One of the end goals with Bonnie is to kind of reinvent that, and have a comfortable, reliable van that I love to own and drive.

I mean, let's face it... usually vans are exceptionally boring, in general. So enjoying driving them comes with the bonus of always having all your stuff with you too :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Vans are only as boring as their driver ;)
Haha, you called it... I'm rather boring :D

Anyway, a little research this morning came up with some possible candidates for replacement U bolts. I reckon I just have to throw money at something and try it to know for sure. I'll try the local Napa first though.

5U-1209S 1/2 X 2-1/2 X 4-3/4S 12 Square U-bolt with nuts and washers (1 U-bolt with nuts and washers)

5U-1208S 1/2 X 2-1/2 X 3-3/4S 10 Square U-bolt with nuts and washers (1 U-bolt with nuts and washers)

Anyone have any opinions on these, though?
 
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