Sept 20, 2000
This is a project that I've thought about for a while, but just gotten around to doing something. My van came with the usual window doors in the back, just like all the other factory-finished vans did. Wanting a little more privacy in the rear bed seat, and wanting less sunlight (that equates to heat!), I though about several options. One of those was to install shades over the windows. I did this to the side windows, and they have worked out fairly well. The problem with doing this to the back windows is that the windows are curved, and not shaped perfectly square. Besides the shades I installed over the side windows rattle on rough roads, and make other noises.
After seeing a few cargo vans cruising around town with neat pictures depicting the business that the van was used in painted on solid-panel rear doors, I decided the best thing to do is find a good cargo van in the junkyard to use as a donor for a set of doors. Easier said than done! You see, Astro vans are extremely durable! They rarely wind up in junkyards, and the ones that do, are stripped quickly of all their good parts FAST!
My neighbor took a trip down to Chesterfield auto parts, and found a good Astro cargo van, an early eighties, 4 cylinder powered 5 speed cargo van. He was unsuccessful at hammering the hinge pins out to remove the doors. I came down there 2 weeks later, and was lucky to find the same van still sitting there with those good doors still intact. I tried hammering the pins out as well, with no success. That's when I ran down the street to Home Depot, and bought a hacksaw. With this, the doors came off in less than 10 minutes by sawing off the hinge pins. It was extremely hot today! and I had to lug my new find all the way from the back of the yard to the front to pay for them. Chesterfield Auto Parts only charged me $20 a door. I also picked up a nice captain's chair out of an Astro LT on this trip. I plan to use that as a desk chair out in my workshop!
Here's some pictures of the doors as they came off the van, which was customized by Houston Custom Vans, and the captain chair