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Here's a slightyly humorous, tongue-in cheek, but still useful written procedure for removing the water pump and perfrorming other cooling system work on an 88 Chevy Astro-van. Now, I "cheated" with some of these pictures and shot them during the Re-assembley process, now that I had it down what to do, so you may notice some continuity errors in the pictures!

Use needle-nose pliars to open drain valve in bottom of radiator.  It cannot be opened with fingers becasue it's too close to the fan shroud to get your bare hands in there.  Make sure you have a nice wide b ucket to catch the coolant in.  It will pour out, and then follow all the chassis componets down and travel all over creation.

Attempt to remove visible radiator and heater hoses between engine and the radiator with your bare hands.  Spend considerable time jerking on hoses after removing hose clamps.  Cut up the back of your hand on upper radiator hose when it falls apart in your hands.  Cut lower radiator with hacksaw because it has become permanantly attached to radiator hose nipple.
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Remove bolts holding lower and upper fan shrouds.  Remove fan shroud  and then attempt to remove radiator before figuring out that the cooling fan will need to be removed to give the radiator enough clearance to come out. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

remove cooling fan from water pump shaft, spend large amount of time pulling at water pump pulley before realizing that the serpentine belt is still installed, and putting tension on the said pulley.

Take off serpentine belt (strap wrench on the tensioner works great for this), which relieves tension on pulley. Water pump pulley then comes off shaft on it's own. Pulley drops out the bottom and onto foot.

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Attempt to remove radiator from the bottom of the vehicle.  Large quantities of leaves and other debris that has trapped itself between the radiator and the AC condenser fall out the bottom as well while workin underneath vehicle.  Slide out from below van and clean debris out of hair, clothing, eyse, mouth, nose, etc before proceeding.

Remember when you installed the radiator 10 years ago that it will need to come out the TOP of the engine compartment.  Remove top fan guard and take radiator out the top. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

With the radiator out the way, you can start removing the water pump in the large quantities of space you have freed up.

Remove 3 bolts and then realize there's an accessory bracket blocking access to the top left bolt.

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Attempt to remove accessory bracket, get two of the 3 bolts out, and the idiler wheel just below the AC compressor, but spend large amounts of time beating wrench attached to bolt behind smog pump without getting anywhere.

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Decide that that bolt is not coming out till you remove the smog pump pulley.

Attempt to remove the smog pump pulley with a normal socket wrench that has been attached to the vehicle since time of manufacture, and has since rusted on becasue the smog pump has not been operated in over 6 years.

Get out impact wrench and attach 1/2 inch to 3.8 socket reducer and 10mm socket to remove stubborn bolts.

Put impact wrench on pulley bolts and wildly spin the pulley because there is no resistance to the pulley.

Re-install water pump pulley, and dig around shop for that old extra long serpentine belt that will go around smog pump too.  Install belt, place vehicle in a drive gear to keep engine from moving.

Hit the pulley bolts with the impact wrench again, and then get out the way as the van starts moving towards you in the driveway!!!

Scratch your head wondering where the van got the power to move itself, and then realize that the impact wrench has enough torque to move the vehicle when it's multiplied by the drive belt, crankshaft pulley, and down through the transmission!

Set parking brake and try again and get two of the 3 bolts removed!

Promptly break off cheap socket reducer that you borrowed from your old Korean tool set that you used to use at work

Get the Craftsman socket reducer out the good kit and attach to impact wrench

Hit the3rd bolt with the impact wrench till the air compressor blows circuit breaker in workshop

Reset circuit breaker, realize the impact wrench is not going to pull the bolt out, get out the dremel tool, and cut the bolt head off.

Break 4 cut-off wheels attempting to remove bolt head.

Finally get the 3rd pulley bolt loose, remove pulley, and then acessory bracket bolt behind the pully

Remove water pump bolt previously blocked by accessory bracket.

CONGRATULATIONS, YOUR WATER PUMP IS NOW REMOVED FROM THE VAN!
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Now go out and buy new water pump, and get excited about getting the van running again!

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Re-install the new water pump, gooping up the block, and the pump with gasket sealer before putting the two surfaces together...WITH A GASKET IN BETWEEN of course. Tighten the 4 bolts, and make sure you put the extra long one in the top left, so that the bracket can go back on it.

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From here, you can back-flush the heater core and the engine block. I attached the garden hose right to the output hose from the heater core and tightened the hose clamp to it. Notice that I left the nozzle on the hose, this was done for pressure regulation, so the heater core did not bear the brunt of the full 50PSI of municipal water pressure. Flushing like this allowed water to flow reverse through the heater core than it's normal route. The flushing water then ran into the cylinder head, into the block, and out the "input" of the water pump.

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All sorts of grime was flushed out of there. The liquid started out brown, like mud out the bottom of a swamp, then it turned greenish, like this before going completely clear after running the water for about 10 minutes. I've got a hot water tap on the back of my house, which has was extremely useful, becasue it provided 150 degree water for flushing the cooling system!

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While flushing old coolant out of engine block, I discovered a cracked power steering pump pulley. I called off getting van operational again until this critical componet is purchased and replaced too. Still, I was glad I found this problem before it left me stranded 100 miles from the middle of nowhere!

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ADDED STEP TO THE PROJECT: REPAIR FRONT CRANKSHAFT SEAL:

i Decided to also replace the front crankshaft seal while you've got things apart. Since replacing the crankshaft seal involved removing the water pump, and I already have the water pump out...I might as well! I Realized the job will be much easier with the engine clean...just look at this filth the bad crankshaft seal made!

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I bought a seal and sleeve kit, and several cans of engine cleaner from Auto-zone, soakd the engine with engine degreaser and scrubbed the grime off with a toothbrush...now it's all clean!

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1. I rented a harmonic balancer puller/installer tool, also get some permatex sleeve retainer lock-tite if you don't already have it. If you can't get an installer tool then a bolt 1/2" longer than the center bolt and a couple of washers will work. DO NOT POUND THE BALANCER BACK ON!!!! THIS WILL DAMAGE THE THRUST BEARING IN ENGINE ON CRANK AND CAUSE ALL KINDS OF HEARTACHE LATER. Remove the 3 bolts holding the crank pulley to the balancer.

3. Remove center harmonic balancer bolt, pulley should now come off. set it aside with all bolts in it so you know where they are. Make sure that you put the correct point on the end of the puller rod. Using the wrong one will put a burr of metal in the middle of the crankshaft that will keep the bolt from threading back into it when you re-assemble.

4. Mount up removal tool and remove balancer.

5. After removing water pump and removing timing cover bolts, remove the FRONT 4 oil pan bolts only.

6. Pry timing cover loose from the top and tilt it forward and pull it out.

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6. Remove old seal and clean old gasket off cover. I used a screwdriver to knock it through from the inside. Be careful not to distort the timing chain cover during this process. The gasket material can be a pain in the butt to remove. Sandpaper, or a wire wheel in a drill are the best tools for this process.

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I decided to paint all the hardware that was removed during this whole excursion. I sanded, primered, and then cured the paint in the oven at 300 degrees for about an hour. Be thankful you aren't married! Your wife would kill you for this! If you are married, better go pick up a junk oven from the used appliance shop to keep in the garage!

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I found a neat new shiney timing chain cover at the auto parts shop with a seal already installed for not much more expensive as the seal kit on it's own! Even though I cleaned up the old one, I'm gonna use this one instead!

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7.At the bottom of the cover on the back side, the inner lip for the front of the oil pan gasket comes to a point on both sides. If you take some metal shears and trim the corners off at an angle will make reinstalling it much easier later on. Getting the timing chain cover back onto the engine can be a pain in the butt. Some of the technical manuals recommend removing the oil pan, but it can be done without removing the oil pan, it just takes more effort.

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To reinstall, replace the front oil pan gasket on the bottom of the cover and using a gasket sealant like form-a-gasket #2 glue the cover gasket to the cover and CAREFULLY slide the cover back into place BOTTOM EDGE FIRST.

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Replace and torque all bolts to factory specs. Don't forget the oil pan bolts you loosened up either.

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The "speedy sleeve" or repair sleeve slips on to the back side of the balancer. If your sleeve came with an installation tool, use it to tap the sleeve onto the balancer AFTER putting a view drops of lock-tite on the balancer first. Some sleeves have a lip on them. the lip side goes onto the balancer first. then use a pair of diagnol cutters aka dikes to cut the lip and peel it off the sleeve. Mind didn' have such, but I thought I'd mention this.

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Line up the balancer and push it on as far as you can by hand.

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11. take the 1/2" longer bolt and 2 washers, thread it into the crankshaft and tighten the bolt up as far as possible. Remove the bolt and washers and, with a couple of drops of high strength thread locker, replace it with the original ones and tighten to specs.

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I hope this helps you