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Astro van cat conversion

Snowy Rivers

Well-known member
Not a great deal going on...
Getting a tad bit done on the engine....
A very real need exists to be able to hold those VORTEC heads in the mill to drill the steam holes through the decks.

Sat down and sketched up a couple brackets to bolt to the ends of the heads and allow the head to be adjusted to flat as well as a 30 degree angle.

Take a bit of machine work....very little materials other than what I had in the short stock rack.
A couple pillow block bearings, a couple short chunks of 1-1/2" shafting.

I looked into a head fixture designed for the task....ahhhhh nooooooooooooooooo...$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$....
Waste of $$$ to buy this type of tooling for a one time job ..(Or so)

With the holidays coming up.....time to get work done is sketchy....
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Snowy Rivers

Well-known member
Not really....The mill head does tilt, but not to the extent I need.

I want the fire deck facing up and parallel to the table.....One set of steam holes (4) are drilled at 90 degrees to the deck, and the other set (4) are drilled at 30 degrees.

I could make a little drill jig and do this job with a hand drill.....just a bit too sketchy though....

The procedure involves placing the head gasket on the head and marking where the steam holes are located... Between the First and second...second and third...third and fourth cylinders where the bores a siamese'd

The job is not hard, but one needs to be careful to NOT break the drill off in the head ....or miss the water jacket....

Piccy of the block shows the holes....Note...the white line on the upper hole....the steam hole is actually just below the line...

The line is pointing at a head bolt hole

I was not a fan of the 400 when it came out in 1970....The idea of the Siamesed cylinders seemed waaaaay too sketchy....but these engines did what they were designed to do.....Torque monsters....I owned a GMC pickup 4x4 with one...it was a great truck....


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Snowy Rivers

Well-known member
Freight is a tad slow with the holidays coming up and the weather.

Finally got the new Pioneer Flex plate for the 406 SBC today
Looks sweet...
So we have a flex plate and a set of factory bolts to fasten it to the crankshaft

Slowly the parts are stacking up....

Snowy Rivers

Well-known member
Merry Christmas.
This past year has seen a lot of good things come to pass on the FrankenCat project.
It might seem slow to some....but we are heading in the direction I had envisioned pretty much from the begining.
Sure....there has been twists and turns along the way, change orders galore.....And this is expected when you try to do a roll your own...

Wishing all the folks a Great Christmas holiday.....and soon it will be 2022.....
Be safe....

Snowy Rivers

Well-known member
Not much to report.
Weather has been wretched.....absolutely no way I'm trying to work outside..

Did fool with the Blazer body the other day....Noticed that the rear hatch lift cylinders were unhooked......
Ordered some new ones....
The stick laying in the back on the floor was a good hint that things needed attention......

Been beating off a case of this Covid crap.....
Just about done with that stuff....Pretty well back to normal now.....Still tire out a bit...

Looking forward to getting back to work on the cat.....

Be safe troops.

Snowy Rivers

Well-known member

Yeah...The Rona is certainly no fun.......I had this crap back when it first came to town in early 20.

Was getting over it when I found the 2100......
This time was just annoying...more like a nasty cold......Sadly it takes about 3 weeks to beat it off and get back to par.

The weather has not been conducive to wanting to be outside or to do much.

The only thing we have been doing on a regular basis is "KEEPING THE HOME FIRES BURNING"

We heat the ranch house with several pellet stoves located though out and feed them ground up hazelnut shells.
We go get the shells in a large dumpster straight from the plant (Dry) and barrel the stuff up and store it in the barn.

Grind it up and then dump the stuff in the stoves.......

It is a cheap biomass fuel.....I am no tree hugger, but heating 2300 sq feet for about $150 for the season.....With extra left to start the next season (The dumpster is 3 yard cap. $30 to fill it.

The labor is minimal....at least compared to hauling and stacking wood.

We don't have natural gas here.....Propane, oil or electric .....the house has an electric furnace $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$......NO WAY
Pellets are priced waaaaay too high.

We have done the nut shell thing since 1991/92 .

So about all we have done these past few weeks is pack in shells to feed the stoves and vegetate trying to be rid of the Rona

WE rent the lower level of the house to a lovely lady.
She is all fully Vaxed....somebody at her work dragged the Rona in a passed it around her work.

So then our gal had the crud and shared it with us......

Here are some pix of yesterdays haul.
We generally make 4 shell hauls....Weather has been just miserable wet with no let up.
We did a haul Wed. and then again yesterday.......We are full up now at around 50 barrels....

Yesssss...Nursing Rona and sitting by the warm fire.....

Thanks for the good thoughts troops.

With any luck I want to get back to work on the new engine for the 2100 soon

Some videos that may be of interest.
When I am not manufacturing snow cat stuff.....The stoves and related items get my attention .

Came home one night, stove off and house full of acrid smelling smoke....Electrical control in the stove had died and melted...
New control not available (Stove is 1993...same as house)

Screw it...built my own controller with way more safeties, fuses and protection than factory....Anything not right and the stove shuts off.....

The nut shell crusher "Munchy"

If you can't buy it.....MAKE IT
Shot of the inside of the new controller on the big stove (Last piccy on Right)

Having tools to build things with makes life a lot more fun...

The control modules in the panel are all rated at 20 amps and the max they see is about 1.5 amps fused at 2 amps

This is off the shelf heavy industrial stuff......not the cheap azz made overseas tiny circuit board crap.
Any issue can be diagnosed and a part replaced within a few minutes......Even at 2am with snow blowing sideways and me half asleep and not a happy camper....

All in a days work eh ????


The Munchy can handle the material about as fast as you can scoop it in.
Going slow for the video.....

Munchy was hatched out of necessity when the plants all switched to half shell only from the outflow from the cracker.

Sketched up an idea and built it......
Its crude....but works well....


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Snowy Rivers

Well-known member

Daddy trained me to be handy at just about everything......

Was a sad deal.....having to design and build a complete stove controller.

Luckily it was early spring when the one failed and the small stove carried us through to summer.

Had time to design, gather parts and get the box for the big stove built, tested and installed before the fall weather came on.

Then built a similar box for the little stove.
Repainted the living room and the stove just looked ...missing something....
Blue tape and paint...some lumber and a bit of fooling about.....
Really spruced up the corner

Chupi the cat had to get in the act too.
I sort of copied a piccy I found on line advertising custom fire places.
The little "Wood box" was made using a plastic tote as a template .....Was a fun project.
Did a similar treatment for the big stove.

Imagination is about 90% of this sort of stuff.

Not nearly as much fun as building snow cat parts.....but it needed to happen....

Old horse shoes from the stable...Clean, weld and paint.....Easy brackets for the mantle....


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