'78 Big Block to 6.0 Swap

Discussion in 'High Tech Retrofits' started by Gene'78-LSX, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. Gene'78-LSX

    Gene'78-LSX Member

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    Well I finally decided to attempt the swap. I can't even count how many articles I have read about ls engines and transplanting but I think the more I read the more indecisive I become about the best way to do it. I think everyone agrees I'm nuts for trying but you can't win if you don't try right.....:cool: So I have a base '78 V-8 Camaro that I traded a '68 Dodge Coronet in 1996 when I was 15 years old lol I could only legally drive it at the local drag strip :) The Camaro was going to replace the dodge as a track only car but then I was convinced to "fix it" make it street legal. With my older cousin’s help and the use of a local machine shop we built a balanced 454 and an old school Muncie 4-speed out of left over parts he had from the 60's. The car was awesome but after owning my '01 WS-6 T/A M6 I wanted the Camaro to be able to do more than make lots of wonderful noise in a straight line. I installed QA-1 coil overs and upgraded to Nitto K555 275/35/ZR18 front and 295/45ZR18 rear tires. The performance improvement from a wheel & tire upgrade is amazing! Now that I could push through the corners I realized how weak my brakes were..:eek: I installed some hawk street pads that fixed the fade issues but I still had an overall lack of stopping power. I figured that the solid lifter cam in the 454 was a little on the large side so I installed a vacuum canister. This was great for one or two pumps of the pedal then it was same old same old. According to the gauge it only pulls 5lbs at idle. I decided to upgrade to a hydroboost setup problem solved :) The one problem that I never could lick was the amount of heat the 454 created. I tried every trick every combo known to man no dice. So....I decided that it's time to shelve the big block and swap in some new tech. My goal is to have similar power with a cool running engine freezing cold A/C and some sort of O/D transmission. In Texas we have lots of wonderful sunshine but along with that is the 105+ ambient temps and a scorching big block with long tube headers and no A/C is just not acceptable. I started this project at 16 and I just turned 35 so I decided to punt and leave the old school muscle for one last revision of the Camaro. As a teen I always dreamed of a twin turbo big block Camaro running around town looking for mustangs to devour but now that I'm a little older I would rather build a more balanced car weight wise that can actually handle like a modern vehicle and not a drag car. This is the first thread I have posted in my life so I hope I don't offend anyone if I am not posting the correct area. I would like to get opinions on best combos engine, trans, brackets, accessories, controllers efi & ignition, cam, intake etc. for the swap. I purchased a long block 6.0 LQ9 out of an '04 Cadillac Escalade it had 140K on the clock. I also recently purchased a running 5.3 with a 4l60e (I believe) out of a 2000 Suburban full harness and computer all accessories from air box to drive shaft. I would like to have a T56 mag someday but I will be more than happy if I can make the 4L60 work for now. I have a fresh 12-bolt posi rear with 3.55:1 gearing. Any advise / help is appreciated more than you know! :bowtie: Cheers!
     
  2. Gene'78-LSX

    Gene'78-LSX Member

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    photo.JPG
     
  3. 71RS/SS396

    71RS/SS396 Veteran Member

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    First off welcome!
    Do not skimp on the fuel system, I see people do this time and time again and then have starvation problems when the tank is below 1/2-1/4 tank.
    I'm not familiar with which tank/pump options are available for the later 2nd gens hopefully someone will chime in, but the 5th gen camaro pump is one of the better options out there.

    I don't want this to sound like I'm bashing but just giving some facts you can decide what to do. The iron block engines are 100+ pounds heavier than their aluminum siblings, they're in fact heavier than a sbc. If cornering prowess is your highest priority than an aluminum version would make more sense imho.
     
  4. Gene'78-LSX

    Gene'78-LSX Member

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    Thank you!

    I agree on the fuel system I would rather pay a little more and be confident that I will not have starvation issues down the road. I was looking at the following from Tanks inc.:

    1978-81 Chevy Camaro and 1979-81 Pontiac Firebird EFI Fuel Tank
    Fuel Injection Ready!
    Uses our GPA series fuel pumps, available in 5 sizes.
    Uses aftermarket 5-bolt senders. Multiple Ohm ranges available to work with factory or aftermarket gauges.
    EFI style internal baffling. Extra Large 4.3 liter internal fuel tray to prevent fuel pump starvation.
    Perfect for your Pro-Touring, Autocross or Road Racing Ride
    Fuel pump and sender are recessed in the tank for easy installation with no modification needed to your car.
    Looks like an OE tank when installed.
    Coated galvanized steel then Powder Coated Silver.
    21 Gallon Capacity
    Size is: 39-5/8" x 21-1/4" x 10-1/4"

    Made in the USA :D
    Heavy 10 gauge no-warp mounting plate
    1/4" NPT Supply and Return Line
    Barbed Vent Fitting
    Oven brazed fittings
    Up to 100 PSI
    In-tank wire harness
    Genuine Walbro Fuel Pumps

    They offer several pump options up to 900 hp according to them. Im not sure the correct lph for my setup to be on the safe side. I would like to do head and cam swap down the road 500 N/A crank hp would be enough to keep me from looking at power adders. I have seen some 6.0 builds in that neighborhood so would a fuel system for 600 hp be reasonable/correct? They list the following:

    High Flow Fuel Pump Module for U2 & U2-SS Tanks - 255 Liters Per Hour - Up to 630 hp / kt

    Most of what I read says use an in tank pump with a baffle or tray of some sort..What do you think?

    As far as the weight I wold love to transplant an actual LS aluminum block setup but I already have the iron blocks and I am going to try to keep the cost as low as possible for now. I figure if I can get everything to work well I can always save up and swap it out down the road. The iron block LQ9 surly must be lighter than the 70's 454 big block with iron heads. If not I will still be happy if it will run cool with A/C :cool:

    Thanks!
     
  5. Gene'78-LSX

    Gene'78-LSX Member

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    Does anyone know what engine mounts / trans cross member work the best? I will probably try to use the 4L60E at first so I have the O/D for highway. Down the road once I win the lottery I would like to go T-56. Is it possible to install the old school M-22 that was behind the big block? No O/D stinks the 4-speed is fun and I already have it :)
     
  6. oldscamaro

    oldscamaro New Member

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    I installed mine in front of my super t 10. The one hiccup was the flywheel which had to be. 400 inch thicker. McLeod makes one or original from GM. McLeod is a better option. SFI Approved and comes with metric or Standard holes. Used factory clutch for a 79 camaro. But the flywheel is not cheap. I did mine with a carbed setup so not sure if running injection you will have to figure something out for speed sensor signal. I also used 1"setback mounts to mate to the trans properly. The next issue is the mechanical linkage. There is no bask stud providing on the new block for the Z bar. I built my own but you can buy them as well.
     
  7. DFWJ

    DFWJ Veteran Member

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    Welcome to NastyZ

    Something to keep in mind with the LS based stuff, the oem fuel system operates at 60 psi. Most efi system and aftermarket injector and pump manufactures rate flow at 43-45psi

    Stock injectors running off a stock LS computer are going to need 60psi at the rail
     
  8. Gene'78-LSX

    Gene'78-LSX Member

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    Now that I think about it I would rather go with the 4l60e so I have o/d and I already have the parts to bolt it up to the LQ9 that is if the crank is the same as the 5.3? I noticed that it did have a dished flexplate on the LQ9 I'm not sure whats on the 5.3 4l60 combo flat or dish? I have had zero time to tear into the 5.3 and take inventory/notes. This weekend will be a different story :)

    Thanks for the warning on the fuel pressure I had no idea this is my first rodeo with EFI I am used to 5-7psi on the good old carb. Is there a % I should increase due to the pressure difference? Will that be the same for aftermarket EFI controllers? What do you think about the Fast EZ EFI setup or the XFI 2.0 for LS? I think that the XFI allows for boost and or power adders where the EZ may not...? I don't know if there is anything to consider beyond that? I normally would not spend the extra grand but here I am afraid to go the cheaper route and then regret it down the road..

    I also want to switch over to an LS6 intake or other low profile (mostly for hood clearance under stock Z28 hood) but most of the ones I see don't have fuel rails or injectors any recommendations on injector size or type?

    Part of me says to do the swap as cheap and quick as possible with all stock parts and then start collecting all the goodies for an update down the road. But I can't have it sounding like a stock Cadillac Escalade and I would like it to cleanly rev/make power to at least 6500 rpm. So...cam, springs, push rods, rocker arm upgrade or replacement, oil pump, timing chain, injectors(size?) intake, fuel rails, EFI, ignition, & trans controller, accessory brackets, air filter setup, engine mounts, trans mount, headers(want shorty), it seems to never end.:whine: I think I will stop there with the performance upgrades for my first attempt at the swap.

    I am thinking about going with the Holley engine and trans mounts they are supposed to work together to make the driveline angles correct. They also have a nice accessory setup If I can't make the truck setup work somehow.

    I will need some sort of shifter and cable for the 4L60. I do have the drive shaft yoke that was with the 5.3 4l60 combo so I might try to have one of my old shafts cut to fit. It will be a 4l60 yoke on a 10-bolt driveshaft mated to a 12-bolt rearend. lol maybe I should just start from scratch.

    I also need to update or replace my steering box as it was leaking and there is no better time than now. Any recommendations on a better ratio or new/better design? I am running the hydro boost so I need to have a good ps pump as well but I read that the truck pumps were high volume and high pressure I guess that's good. Sorry that I have so many questions. I will make sure to take some pics this weekend! I'm not sure the best way to post pics if I need to host them on a share site or if attaching them is the best way... again I'm a newb at this. :screwup:

    Thanks again for your input! :)
     
  9. reedld

    reedld Veteran Member

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    The iron LSx is a very good upgrade, just be aware that the ls1/ls6 intake will conflict with the 5.3/6.0 engine accessories-translation- you need to get different accessories (aftermarket-kwick/ holley- or fbody/vette/GTO ones) or mod the brackets. Lots of info on the web...esp on ls1tech. The fuel tank is very important. Lots of new tank ideas out there..and you could do what I did if you can weld. Check out my build or pm me with questions.
     
  10. Goodwrench1965

    Goodwrench1965 Veteran Member

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    Put AC on the big block and save $10K
     

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