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 Best LO5 Engine Swap

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r67northern

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PostSubject: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Thu Dec 08, 2016 4:16 pm

Hi All, I'm not going to do this right away but I'm thinking that when it's time, since there's nothing to replace a wagon with, I'll probably do an engine swap. It got me thinking about the best swap for a TBI. Is there any limitation because of the large distributor hole that's at the back of the current intake? I suppose any potential replacement intake could be machined, or the original just re-used perhaps.

It's not time yet, I just toy with these ideas sometimes. Thanks
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jayoldschool

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:24 pm

Roller 350, Vortec heads with better springs and rockers, LT1 (or bigger) cam, 9C1 injectors, headers, custom PROM. Or, LSX for way more power/reliability/mileage. The old engines just can't compete with modern tech.
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MalibuSSwagon



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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:41 pm

I'm going to be that guy too. LS swap. Best thing I did to my C10.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Fri Dec 09, 2016 9:27 am

Put a big LS engine in it, minimum of a 6.0L. If you are going to make it better, make it the best. You can probably get away with the computer from the donor without mods to run it. Splicing the harness is not all that difficult. You only have to splice in about 5-6 things, get proper power to the computer, and a good ground. I used the original harness, found the required wires, and cut the rest. The engine wiring is all in the engine harness, you just need to interface the two harnesses. The coil on plug makes it easy to access the ignition system. You need the trans from the engine donor car, or you need to have a 4L60E built. If you are going to use a 4L60E, you can have it built to the HP you are going to make. The 4L60E will fit the car better than a 4L80E, so you do not have to have a drive shaft made, or do tunnel work.

I put a BBC in my OCC, and it was a chore. It makes good power though. It is also a conversation piece. With port fuel injection, on the BBC, my gas mileage should be comparable with any modern engine of the same displacement, HP rating, and according to driving habits. Modern engines do not have an advantage in gas mileage for a given displacement, HP, and induction system. Head design may make a difference, but with aftermarket heads, that advantage is lost. The coil on plug ignition systems are a lot easier to access, especially with the cowl overhang. You can convert the older engines to coil on plug, and negate that advantage as well.

If you can find a set, the 93 Fleetwood cooling fans are a bolt in for the LO5 cars. It makes electric fans an easy install. A bigger radiator may be more difficult to find, but they are available. You can start accumulating parts now for the install later.
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r67northern

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Fri Dec 09, 2016 1:30 pm

I've thought about the LS swap, don't know if I'm capable of that level of re-do. Although there's probably not that much more involved compared to going with a vortec setup. I'm sure both need their own special problem solving to make work.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:27 pm

There aren't many issues installing an LS engine. Someone makes a plug and play harness for under $300. The mount adapters are about $50, and there are instructions on ISSF for any quirks.
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Cadet57

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:42 am

Fred Kiehl wrote:
There aren't many issues installing an LS engine. Someone makes a plug and play harness for under $300. The mount adapters are about $50, and there are instructions on ISSF for any quirks.

Plus a transmission, new exhaust, accessory drive, PCM tuning... Gets real expensive real quick.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Dec 12, 2016 12:39 pm

You can have your trans upgraded, get the accessory drive with the engine from the junk yard, and if you are using the engine stock, you can use the PCM and wiring harness that is on the engine. You can even grab the trans that is hooked to the engine, if you want that type trans. A 4L60E will bolt up, and use the PCM to control it. There may be a few tweaks necessary for gear ratios, tire size, and shift points if you do not use the trans that the engine it came with.

You do need either the manifolds the engine has, or a sset of headers. A small adapter pipe should connect the old exhaust to the engine. You can do this on a budget if you really want the swap, and are on limited funds.

I put a completely rebuilt bored out BBC in my OCC, and the total cost including a rebuilt upgraded trans, new (bought from individual cheap) Holley MPFI system, new headers and exhaust, aluminum water pump, aluminum heads, and new oil pan/pump for under $9K.

I can get a used 6.0 LQ4 with a trans, wiring harness, trans, computer and FEAD for under $1000, if I pull it at the local junk yard. I can get the engine from one vehicle, and a 4L60e from another. By using all of the original parts, I can put the engine in a car and have it running for another $1000-1500. So, for under $2500 I can have a running driving car with an LQ4 in it. If I want to upgrade anything, I can, but at additional expense, but that is a choice. You can do it on a budget if you want to.
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MalibuSSwagon



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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:29 pm

I tell people I did my Ls swap for under a grand, they don't believe me. I parted a truck to get my 5.3L, and ended up making $200 outta the deal. Plenty of rotted out Silverados up here in the rust belt. Turned out the engine had new water pump, alternator, starter and tune up done, but that was just luck. Reused as much as possible from the donor truck, I already had sweet dual exhaust on the truck so I made adapter pipes to connect it to the manifolds on the LS. Hot tip for that, the Silverado y pipe is nice mandrel bent 2.5" stainless. Thanks GM.

I still spent about $800 to get it in the truck. However alot of people who complain about the costs of their swap spiraling out of control, usually had issues before starting the swap. Like their radiator is old and junky. Rear end worn out, etc etc. Plus most people get sucked into the mentality of "ohh you need all these shiny expensive aftermarket parts or car won't be cool/fast" FALSE. Stop reading all the magazine builds, those guys have huge budgets and sponsor contracts to fulfill on top of that. Using OEM application parts is a path to success and longevity.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:46 pm

BTW, stay away from 2000 and under LS series engines. They are supposed to have some issues.
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MalibuSSwagon



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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:55 pm

Like? I'm running a 2000 5.3L.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:52 pm

Be careful with it. Read up on the issues, so you know what to look for.
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occ6.6



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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:38 pm

why not put a buick 350 or 455 in it you can use the tbi injection still,use a adapter plate for the trans .find a computer controlled v6 dist swap in a v8 dist shaft with the advance plate locked out & a v8 pick up coil & you will have a factory looking f.i. dist .use a 454 truck tbi on the 455 tune the ecm with tuner pro & have a buick powered buick. im putting a olds 403 & 4l80e in my 92 occ ,even adapted the front accessory drive from the chev to the olds motor to make it look more like a factory install.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Tue Dec 13, 2016 12:20 am

You might be able to put the original distributor on the Olds engine by boring out the hole in the manifold to accept the distributor base. I did that to my 454, and am running the original LO5 style distributor.
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occ6.6



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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:37 am

olds distributors go into the block not through intake. they have a short housing.ive used the dist from 307s with c4 carb set up works perfectly , done it about a dozen times.My fleet is the occ ,71 cutlass with a 496 olds & custom made by me 4 barrel tbi with a 4l80 all run by a gm ecm also have a 85 lesabre collectors edition with 307 converted to tbi & my wifes 89 caprice broughm with a 4 barrel tbi injected 455 olds & 4l80 -soon to be port injected & pro charged
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Cadet57

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:29 pm

MalibuSSwagon wrote:
I tell people I did my Ls swap for under a grand, they don't believe me. I parted a truck to get my 5.3L, and ended up making $200 outta the deal. Plenty of rotted out Silverados up here in the rust belt. Turned out the engine had new water pump, alternator, starter and tune up done, but that was just luck. Reused as much as possible from the donor truck, I already had sweet dual exhaust on the truck so I made adapter pipes to connect it to the manifolds on the LS. Hot tip for that, the Silverado y pipe is nice mandrel bent 2.5" stainless. Thanks GM.

I still spent about $800 to get it in the truck. However alot of people who complain about the costs of their swap spiraling out of control, usually had issues before starting the swap. Like their radiator is old and junky. Rear end worn out, etc etc. Plus most people get sucked into the mentality of "ohh you need all these shiny expensive aftermarket parts or car won't be cool/fast" FALSE. Stop reading all the magazine builds, those guys have huge budgets and sponsor contracts to fulfill on top of that. Using OEM application parts is a path to success and longevity.

The part out a truck plan is great. If you have the space, time, and patience to do that. Id wager a lot of guys don't.
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r67northern

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Sat Dec 17, 2016 2:31 pm

occ6.6 wrote:
olds distributors go into the block not through intake.

I had never known that - went and searched out some images, that's a nice way to do it.  I wonder why Chevy didn't do that?
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95BRMW

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:23 pm

3rd the LS swap. I did a 5.3l swap on my OCC and love it. On paper there's not much more power than the LT1 but ask anyone who's driven it and it puts a smile on their face.
KDS makes direct bolt in motor mounts, you can reuse your existing 700r4 trans if you wish but I went with a 96 4l60e out of a Caprice. You will need to modify the flex plate and need an adapter if you go either route. A truck 4l60e will bolt up.
Truck accessories are used with minor mods.
You'll need an F-body oil pan and ls1/ls6 intake
Wiring is a pain if you want it to look nice. PCM will need to be tuned to get rid of passkey, also needed to get the gear ratio right, and other stuff deleted like emissions and 4wd stuff
Here's my thread on my build:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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stewzer55

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Tue Dec 20, 2016 3:31 pm

I've personally been thinking about "freshening up" my L05, Vortec heads, Camshaft, Exhaust work and maybe a FiTech EFI and crab cap distributor. I've also been tossing around the idea of an iron 6.0 with a 4L60e with many of the same mods done that I have done to my DD Trailblazer. What would bug me the most is figuring out what tuning software/hardware I would need if I had a stock ECM or weather or not to build a Megasquirt setup like some guys have done. The special distributor these cars got seems to be the biggest hangup for me at least.
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r67northern

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:17 am

Hi all - I'm bringing my old thread back from the dead here. I may give this a shot as weather cools down so I'm keeping my eyes open for LS engines and compiling a little cost analysis. The old LO5 is leaking pretty badly now, and I've finished a couple of other big projects on other things.

What's a decent price for a 100k 5.3 and 4L60E from what any of you are seeing out there?

By the time I get a reborn LO5 and new cam, better headers, rebuild the trans (also at 220k) I'm not sure there's a huge difference.
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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:06 pm

You can get a set of Vortec heads (and get them rebuilt), a decent cam, self contained TBI, intake manifold, and a rebuild kit for the LO5 for about the same as a used 5.3, and rebuilding it. The Vortec heads are the same design as the 5.3. The new self contained TBIs are They should make about the same HP. Heads from a P-N-P yard $50 (rebuild $250), new cam and lifters $250-300, bearings $100, hone $35, crank turning $150, rings $50, clean block $50, intake $175, TBI $700, and gasket set $100. Trans build $800-1200, with a high stall converter $200-500.

The only way you can get the 5.3 for about the same $$$ is to get it from a Pic-N-Pull yard. You will be rebuilding the trans either way. You need the computer and wiring harness for the 5.3 as well. The whole package from a P-N-P yard will probably be about $900-1000. Then you begin refreshing them.

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r67northern

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:02 pm

Here’s my very ball-park cost analysis on the LO5:
$1900 gets a rebuilt long block L31 with vortec heads (if I don’t rebuild the LO5 myself)
$300 on a cam
$500 new intake (with a hole that won’t allow the distributor in/out easily without some boring I guess)
$300 on a chip upgrade
=$3k and something probably about the same or just a bit better than an LT1

then wait for about 5 minutes while the transmission finishes itself off. No matter what, transmission work gets added to the engine rebuild/swap. Plus all the required exhaust work too - that’s also universal cost no matter what approach is taken.

I could probably save some doing the LO5 rebuild myself, cost of new heads gets added back in though.

The LS is going to have some rebuilding costs potentially, but looking at about $500 in brackets added to ball park $2000 engine/trans and we’re talking about the same by the time the dust settles ‘if’ I don’t immediately have the 4L60E gone through.

Am I too far sideways in any of this thinking?


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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:10 pm

If you just throw the LS engine in the car, you may be able to keep a few bucks in your pocket. A new Vortec intake should be about $175 not $500, and enlarging the distributor hole is fairly simple. If you are using Vortec heads, you could even use the intake, computer, wiring harness and injectors from a JY Vortec to save some money. No matter what you do, you will do some wiring. The Vortec wiring should be fairly simple to patch together. You could even use a 94-96 VSS with the reluctor on a 4L60, and the Vortec computer will run a 4L60E.

A simple hone, rings, new bearings with a turned crank, and a pair of rebuilt Vortec heads is a lot cheaper than the $1900 for a long block.
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convert2diesel



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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:37 pm

I can attest to the value of doing an LS swap.  Had to do the head gaskets on my truck last winter (LQ9 6.0).  Engine has over 1/4 million miles on it.  I have never seen an engine with that many miles on it look so clean.  

Still had faint hash marks on the cylinder bores, absolutely no ridge and no appreciable wear on any valve train parts (including cam and lifters).  PO must have taken the same care of it that I have.  Clean living pays.  No way any of my previous small blocks would have survived as well.  This thing is probably good for another 150,000 to 200,000 miles.

Pulled 3 thousands off the heads and re-installed. Only issue was a broken exhaust bolt and I stupidly didn't change the water pump thinking it was still good (that cost me close to $800 in South Carolina on my way home).

By the way, in straight stock form, this things pulls like a freight train.

Bill
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RedandBlack

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:58 pm

If you have to rebuild the LS, I'd be shocked - or you bought a bad one.

You can buy a good 5.3/4L60E with computer for $1500 or less. Gasket set ($200 or so), tune ($200), standalone harness ($500), and you're done. You can use the stock truck bracket for the PS pump and alt, buy the AC bracket and use your R4 compressor (bracket is about $200) and slap it in there.

It is not worth paying that much to build/buy an L31 Vortec when you can make 300hp with a bone stock 5.3. Spend $500 for a cam kit and add 50hp to those numbers easily.

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JaySS
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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:11 am


r67northern wrote:
The LS is going to have some rebuilding costs potentially, but looking at about $500 in brackets added to ball park $2000 engine/trans and we’re talking about the same by the time the dust settles ‘if’ I don’t immediately have the 4L60E gone through.

Am I too far sideways in any of this thinking?

No, sounds like you are closing in on what the actual costs will be. But to restate the comments above, the idea behind buying a used engine is that it doesn’t need to be rebuilt. The cheapest solution to your situation is to find a low mile used TBI engine, swap it one for one and be done with it.

Once you start rebuilding things the costs rapidly spiral. Comments regarding Vortec & 5.3 heads being the same, and $175.00 TBI Vortec intake manifolds (well, you might, but don’t plan on it) just serve to illustrate the author doesn’t have a real understanding of what they are attempting to talk about. Be aware that many Vortec heads are not drilled for the offset exhaust manifold bolt for the passenger side exhaust manifold, and there is insufficient material to do so, so one will have to get creative or plan for headers as well. Yet another expense to add to your estimate.

I can buy a core 6.0L locally for $350.00, or I can buy one test run and with a warranty for $1100.00. Experience has shown the more expensive initial outlay will result in a lower overall cost. As long as you can handle the myriad of incidentals associated with an LS swap (fuel system upgrades, oil pan, exhaust manifolds, dual exhaust conversion, etc.) and budget appropriately for them, you will end up with a superior result. Be honest with your assessments, as there is a lot of work involved in properly completed swap and the people that have done it successfully deserve more credit than they often get.

There is much written on workarounds that can reduce some of the costs involved. Investigate what people are doing with things like 4.3L truck A/C brackets, Trailblazer exhaust manifolds, using small frame alternators to clear the hood and which oil pans are best suited to the chassis to ensure you optimize your dollars spent.

- J

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Fred Kiehl

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:50 am

The pricing I quoted are the actual prices I paid for said items. I am currently building an LO5/Vortec engine. I am not building for maximum HP, but will have a good strong engine at a reasonable price, that will bolt in without any wiring modifications. I do have an upgraded computer, and a larger TBI.

I have a gen 6 454 installed in my 91, so I know what wiring changes I had to make to install an engine foreign to the stock unit.
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r67northern

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PostSubject: Re: Best LO5 Engine Swap   Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:11 pm

Thanks all for the continued input.  Over the next little while I'm going to keep my eyes on the LS market and see if something good turns up at a reasonable price point.  The right engine/trans showing up would help establish the direction.
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