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30 October 2018
Category: Ecobion Labs News
Posted by: Ecobion Labs

We have use of a HUGE garage for continuing our restoration work on the GMC.

14 July 2017
Category: Lab Blog
Posted by: Ecobion Labs

A bit of tidying up with new Repairs and Weekends Projects Categories making it easier to find things.

21 June 2017
Category: Lab Blog
Posted by: Ecobion Labs

We've just received our new JGAURORA Prusa i3 3D printer!


GMC Safari Restoration - Part 1 - What's wrong with it?

When embarking on a project, it’s good to know what you’re faced with, so what exactly is wrong with the GMC? Well, loads of things, so I thought I would start by making a list, which will no doubt grow, but at least allows a plan of action, along with priorities. This is a personal project that I would like to share because of the technical aspects of the restoration.

This is how it looked back in 2003 - It had extra trim along the sides that had just been removed in the photo, as they'd bottom out on all the speed humps:

GMC Safari before time took its toll!

If I can get it looking anything like that again, I'd be more than happy with the result.

Some information about the GMC Safari:

- Also sold under Chevrolet branding as the Chevrolet Astro
- It's a goods van that was commonly converted out to a 7 seater configuration (2 seats front, 2 middle and triple bench seat at rear, which is what we have), or an 8-seater, with a triple seat bench in the middle.
- It's huge, and everything is massive. The engine is a petrol 4.3l 6 cylinder block, with electronic fuel injection. All the parts seem considerably oversized compared with other (non-American) vehicles.
- Our GMC was made in the USA with quality Mexican parts. The van was converted out by a company called Starcraft into a people carrier seven-seater configuration), and shipped over to Japan. It was then imported to the UK, where I bought it from the importer.

The GMC has been off the road for about 5 or so years, completely neglected. Was parked in a damp corner for about 3 of those.

Mechanical Issues

Won’t start!

Normally, you hear a ‘click and a whirr’ when you turn the key to the first position in the ignition. The click sound you normally hear is the starter relay switching on, which allows power to be fed to the fuel pump, being the whirr as it primes. I will need to look at the relay and check it’s working before going on to anything else. This is a major problem as it can’t be moved at the moment.

Rear brakes seized

I’m suspecting that the read drums have rusted inside a bit, causing binding on the brake shoes. Possibly, I will need new drums and shoes, and I can imagine that it will be very difficult getting the old drums off. Some force may be required!

Front brakes uneven braking

… or at least that’s what was reported as an advisory in the last MOT test when it was running. I think we need to replace discs, pads and also the brake hoses, possibly the callipers. This is a very heavy vehicle, which needs all the help it can get to stop, so there is no compromise on this.

Rear section of exhaust fallen off

The long tailpipe section that extends from the back of the silencer fell off a week after it was last MOT'd! It had completely rusted through and was tied up in emergency with some wire.

Completely rusted out exhaust on the GMC Safari

I've already had a look at costs of replacements, and they're very high, so I'm investing in a large bore pipe bender and flanger to bend my own!

Bodywork / Paintwork issues

Paintwork covered with algae, lichen and moss

The lichen is on there good, difficult to even scrape off!

Lichen on the side of the vehicle

Lichen on the back of the vehicle

It's also covering the windows, and I can't seem to lift it.

Lichen on Windows

Paint peeling off in places, and spots of surface rust.

Will need to address the problems and respray.

Plastic trim with lichen and algae growth

Will need to figure out what to do about the plastic trim to restore it.

Front wing scrape

There’s a scrape on the front wing, done by a passing white van many years ago (he was trying to get around the traffic queue by driving past the oncoming traffic and clipped the wing very slightly when he had to move in to avoid a collision), so, would like to address it as I’m addressing other bodywork issues.

GMC Restoration - Front Wing Scrape

Various Dents and dings

There has been a mysterious appearance of various small dents and dings in the bodywork, including over the bonnet. I don’t know how they got there, but they need to be addressed.

Alloy wheels lacquer oxidised, flaking off.

Allow wheels need refurbishment. I need to keep costs down, and considering the age of the vehicle, I'm after something that looks tidy rather than completely new.

GMC Restoration - Oxidised Alloy Wheels

Front bumper step

A bumper step at the front works works, but the aluminium has oxidised badly and if it can be dressed up without any problems, then it's probably worth doing. You need the bumper step, otherwise cleaning the windows would be too difficult.

Offside mirror glass missing

Glass needs to be replaced.

GMC Restoration - Missing Side Mirror


Mould on leather upholstery. Some areas are worse than others.

GMC Restoration - Mould on leather seats

Carpet condition poor.

Corduroy panelling may be replaced along the sides.

Headlining at front drooping.

GMC Restoration - Drooping Headlining



Windows not operating

Need to investigate why. I have one spare window motor that may need to be used on the offside window, but I don't know if the current is getting through. The replacement switches are also dodgy, and I've always found this having replaced them a couple of times in the past.

GMC Restoration - Dodgy Stock Window Switches

There's a sweet spot on the switch where it would work, but not always. I want to use completely different non-standard switches, so need to figure out wiring.

Door lock switch not working

Need ro replace a door lock switch. The door locks are still working fortunately.

Reversing light damaged (hanging off)

The light needs to be replaced and operation checked. It was knocked off by the local garage when they tried to tow it.

GMC Restoration - Old Broken Fog Light

Horn not working

The horn hasn’t worked for a long time, with the air-horn being used as a replacement. The air horn air tank was removed from the inside, as the hole for the airline was the mounting hole for one of the rear seat belts and was needed.

GMC Restoration - Power not getting to front horn pair

Ideally, I’d like to keep the air horn as a secondary horn, and mount it underneath, with a better way of charging the air back into it.


Will update the list as new things some to light!

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