Chevy Astro Component Weight

Astro airbags on scale
Astro airbags combined weigh in at 11lbs 0.2oz. Goodbye extra weight.
A notable concern for the Astroliner project is final weight. I’m building in stages, so I get to adapt/change as I go along, but the final goal is to have about 10 people pedaling with one driver and a vehicle weight of 3000 pounds. Chevrolet didn’t market this vehicle to be converted into a party bike, so this is some serious repurposing. People also aren’t publishing weights for all this because some of it is odd data. How much does the top of an Astro weigh?! That’s an odd thing to know.

Here is a table of weights from things I have weights from so far. I’ll update this as more data becomes available. Some of the pieces were removed by someone else (like the exhaust) so I don’t have data for that. The seat belts were gone before I got a weight for them, so no data there. A few of the lines are reported weights I haven’t and won’t confirm. I’d say “all weights are approximate” but the ones from the postage scale should be pretty darn accurate.

Item Approx weight (in lbs) Source and/or notes
2000 Chevy Astro 1/2 Ton V6 Cargo Van 3,916 NADA Guides
4.3 liter Vortec V6 430 Online report (unconfirmed)
GM 4L60E transmission 170 Source had a range. Low confidence in this number.
Top of Astro cut off 230 Scale at scrapyard
Dash (empty with dash pad) 38 Weighed while balancing
Driver door 84 Weighed on people scale, manual window
Passenger door 84 Weighed on people scale, manual window
Back half door (driver side) 51 Weighed on people scale, has window
Back half door (passenger side) 51 Weighed on people scale, has window
Side sliding (passenger side of course) 63 Weighed on people scale, has window
Passenger seat 41 Cloth upholstery
Dashboard gauge cluster 3lbs 3.8oz Weighed on postage scale
Delco AM/FM radio model 16255315 (stock) 3lbs 0.6oz Weighed on postage scale
Driver side airbag 2lbs 12.0oz Weighed on postage scale
Passenger side airbag 8lbs 4.2oz Weighed on postage scale. Includes breakaway interior panel.

What does this mean for a pub bike project?

Top of Astro van on a trailer
The top of the van sitting in that trailer weighed in at 230lbs
There’s a few kinds of weight for removed items:

  1. Uncounted weight: Things removed that don’t count against the 3,916lbs. My Astro was outfitted with shelves and other things for CenturyLink field telecom service purposes. When those things are removed, they weren’t in the 3,916lbs reported weight so although important, it’s not a ton of fun to remove those items.
  2. Counted weight: Items that are removed and will not replaced. Goodbye doors, motor, gas tank, airbags, transmission, etc.
  3. Questionable weight: There will be a stereo in the Astroliner at some point. Will it weigh more or less than what the Delco stock AM/FM weighs? I don’t know, but it will weigh something so that’s not really 3lbs 0.6oz of weight savings when the stereo is removed because it’ll be replaced with something.

When I’m up to 10 exercise bikes, that’ll be an estimated 340lbs added back on because the bikes alone come in around 32lbs each. There’s extra components too, but the bikes won’t be complete (no handlebars for example) so they also get stripped down a bit.

How about that 3,000lbs target weight?

Add up the motor, transmission, van top, passenger seat, doors, dash, and airbags, and that’s about 1,256lbs. That’s not a complete total either, since things like A/C, gas tank, and exhaust aren’t in that count. Still. remove that from 3,916lbs of base vehicle weight and you have 2,660lbs. Add in 340lbs for the bike drivetrain and that’s 3,000lbs and there’s still not a canopy or other things like trim taken into account. On the flip side, the alternator, A/C, exhaust, fuel system, and more also aren’t in that total. 3,000lbs is looking like a reasonable goal.

Astroliner: Two Months in

We’re two months into the first wave of the Astro Bikeliner project. One month left to go. Having never converted a van into a party bike AKA pub bike, there’s been a lot of learning and more remaining. Here’s where we are.

Joe, Bryce, Graden and Bob after the Astro roof cutting was completed
Joe, Bryce, Graden and Bob after the Astro roof cutting was completed

The van made it back from Garden City a few weeks ago to get the motor pulled out (and gas tank, and exhaust, and…) so it was pretty much a shell at that point. Really, the only things left were the dash, part of the A/C system, and the top of the van.

Astro with no motor
Chevy Astro with the motor and lots of other stuff gone.
Wiring pulled from Astro
The Astro had a lot of wiring in the ceiling, so I pulled that down before it was time to cut off the top.

After watching a few videos (including the one below), the idea of chopping the top off was less daunting.

So, we were at it. The Idaho Statesman came by and shot some video. They left before the top was off, but don’t worry, there’s pictures.

Astro top on trailer
All 230lbs of Astro roof loaded up and ready to be sold for scrap. Was sold for under $6, but that’s better than nothing and also, it’s gone!
Joe Cuts Windshield
Joe cut the busted windshield so we could quickly pull off the van’s top. The windshield was already busted, so why not?!

Astro B pillar getting chopped
Joe is cutting the passenger side B pillar
I’d like to thank Joe, Bob, and Graden for coming by for the top removal. Joe and Bob did the cutting. I tried to find things, moved things, and did some drilling. Graden came by to help and was on a corner when we pulled the top and it wouldn’t have come off without him. You really don’t want less than four people for that. Thanks again for all the help everyone.

Astroliner: One Month In

Here’s the update. I had three months to get this Astroliner working enough for Tour de Fat. Now I’m down to two months.

Today was a busy day. The following happened:

  1. The Astro is getting hauled about three miles away to get the motor removed. The motor will have a happy new Astro home.
    Astro getting hauled around… …again.

  2. The grill is off and I’ll paint it black.

    Here’s a mockup of “before” (but not really) and “after” (but not really). I like to fake things in photoshop.

So, there’s progress. This project is behind schedule at this point, but not so far behind that it’s ridiculous. When the motor is gone, I’ll have moved to the period of van destruction (removing the top of the van and the doors) and bike construction (adding the exercise bikes and related drivetrain). Somewhere in there, the whole process of trying to get the power steering and power brakes functional will hopefully happen. All said, the Astroliner doesn’t have to be pretty or complete for Tour de Fat 2017, and worry not, it won’t be.

Bikeliner Design Notes 2017-05

This is the state of design for the Astro Bikeliner from May 2017. This sentence will be replaced with a link to newer information when available.

Images

The not-so-accurate-and-rough mock up of an Astro Bikeliner

Possibilities for bike placement

The Ultimate Dream™ (not pictured)

Driver is in the hood area and the back has 11 or 12 riders.

The Dream™

10 or 11 riders. Driver moved forward and upright.

Driver uses stock seat and placement

This one is not ideal, but keeps the driver area intact from the stock van for easier implementation.

Bare minimum for the short term

One row of five bikes. This would be the minimum configuration for Tour de Fat if needed, and not a long term plan in any way. Should work with the dash intact and the driver sitting in the stock driving position.

Design mentality

Leverage existing cheap used components to create a fun “pub bike” with minimal fabrication. Bonus points for silliness.

Fun

  • Stationary bikes now move… …sideways.
  • 3 Speed internal shifting gears (if used) have planetary gears. Who doesn’t want an Astro with planetary gears?
  • It’s a former automobile powered by about 10 people. C’mon!

Existing parts

  • Astro Van (QTY 1) : Has sufficient space between the rear wheel wells for two exercise bikes facing each other, a flat floor, rear wheel drive, and they made a lot of them that can be had for cheap in 2017.
  • Exercise Bikes (about 10) : Can be had for $10 on a good day with a good saddle. These are built to stand on a flat floor, so fabrication needs are greatly reduced.

Drivetrain


Drivetrain is divided into three compartments:

  • Above Floor : This is the realm of exercise bikes and the people that ride them.
  • The Cloud : This is drive system that goes under the floor, taking the Power Take-Off (PTO) chain from the exercise bikes and connecting them to the Astro’s differential. Despite being below the floor, it’s called The Cloud.
  • Astro Van : The rear differential and wheels. The tires are 215/75R15 (27.7 inch diameter) and the rear end is a 3.73.

Above Floor

Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes are non-standardized due to costs, time, and availability. A variety of frame designs, manufacturers, dimensions, and weights. They are all with the front dropout (formerly holding a wheel, weighted disc, or a fan).

The current thoughts:

  • Many (or all) exercise bikes will use their original chainring, crank, and chain to the hub in the dropout.
  • The front wheel/disc/fan will be replaced with a non-wheel hub with an added PTO gear to drive a chain to ”’The Cloud”’

Power-Take Off (PTO) Hub

The PTO hub has a freewheel mechanism for the chain coming off the chainring from the exercise bike. The hub also has a gear added on, way or another.

The current thoughts on possible PTO hubs:

3 speed hub (circa 1980)

  • They made a lot of these, they can be had cheap, and I can probably find 10 on them in a reasonable period of time. (good)
  • They want a shifter (added complexity + part count = bad)
  • They don’t have PTO gears. Have to add the PTO gear. (normal)
  • Possible 3 speed configurations:
    • 3 speed + added gear. A gear is welded on or otherwise to the center of the hub.
    • 3 speed + welded chainring bracket. A bracket is welded that allows a chainring to be attached to it. The PTO gear in this configuration can be changed/replaced.
    • 3 speed + mechanically fastened chainring bracket. By some miracle of awesomeness (as miracles tend to be) there’s a way to screw mount the chainring bracket to the 3 speed hub.

Single speed

Way more availability + options.
Possible single speed configurations:

  • Use of a commercially produced “flip flop” hub. They’re actually making lots of these more recently and on Walmart bikes sometimes no less, but there hasn’t been decades of common production as is the case with the three speeds.
    • You’re stuck with the (tiny) gear (bad?)
    • Built and done (good!)
    • Higher cost since there would be new parts utilized.
  • Add a single gear mechanically or by weld.
  • Add a 7ish gear rear cassette to the hub somehow (added gear options built in + possibility for derailleur shifting to The Cloud)

The Cloud

The Cloud is below the floor and takes the drive from the chains leaving the exercise bikes and turns a driveshaft connected to the Astro Van’s rear differential.

Astro Van

The Astro Van is the frame, floor, steering, and braking platform for the project, or in other words, the Astro Van is the platform.

  • The four 215/75R15 tires are 27.7 inches in diameter and are in nice shape.
  • Rear differential is a 3.73.