First Time LSX swap review

Discussion in 'High Tech Retrofits' started by jb451, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. jb451

    jb451 Veteran Member

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    Before i go on, i would like to thank everyone here on Nasty for their time and all of the INVALUABLE information on their projects from Sevitz posting all of those parts and part numbers to rvalley sending me pics of his swap and everyone else who has come before this, i hope that by sharing my experience as well, others in the future will benefit from it too. So thank you guys!

    I would also like to say that some of the things i did may not be the best/correct way to do things, but its how i improvised at the time (i go to school and work full time, so i spent whatever time i had on this car and HAD to make progress). But, take solace in the fact that when i say ANYBODY can do this, I MEAN IT. I did all of this in my driveway with a hobby welder, 120pc craftsman tool set, grinder, engine hoist/stand and power steering pump puller. Did i mention i am a college student and not ASE cert'd in any way?

    Originally I had planned on just refreshing my small block, then i wanted to stroke it out, then i wanted a big block… But to put any of those three engine back together correctly and how i wanted or buy a crate engine would almost meet or exceed the the cost of a low buck LS swap, and still not have an OD trans. So, i pulled the trigger on an LQ4 i found on a Facebook page i am on, and the next day we got to pulling the tired small block and th350 out.

    Last picture of the old engine-
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    Pulling it out, me on the right, and a big shout out to Jorge my best friend for all of the help, thanks brotha!-
    [​IMG]

    And the 6.0 waiting patiently-
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    Some of you might notice it is DBW and yes, i kept it DBW… More on that later.

    The following week, i got to de-pinning the harness in accordance with LT1swap.com's pinout guide, and also built the fuse block. I work for the city i live in, and the police were nice enough to let me have some of the evidence tags they use, they make great labels. Brendan was super helpful with all of the questions i had, and also re flashed my ECM. He also took out torque management, which means there is absolutely NO lag in my DBW setup. If you didn't know any better, you'd think it was a DBC setup.

    Starting out-
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    Puurrty colors!
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    After i had the wiring tackled, i worked on the gas tank. (This is one of those times where i had to make a decision between quality, cost, and time. Cost and time won out, i don't recommend you take this route unless you have to. I have had as little as 5 gallons in the tank and no stuttering, but as a forewarning, i don't recommend this.) I will be retrofitting the earlier spectra tank at some point like sbca did.

    All i did was buy a universal summit racing in tank pump, cut off the pickup sock, and ran the wires through the sending unit sheet metal using two brass screws with nuts on either end, and two rubber vacuum caps to keep them from touching anything or arcing. I sealed them up with FIPG from Toyota (i use it on EVERYTHING. Diff gaskets, intake mani, you name it, i've probably used in on it.) No leaks so far. At first the sending unit worked, all i did was take apart the tabs and carefully slide the float arm out as far as it would go. My friend managed to short the first pump out, and when i took it out the second time, i messed it up. But hey, who needs a fuel gauge anyways?

    Top portion-
    [​IMG]

    Pump itself-
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    I used a corvette fuel filter/regulator since i do not have a return style fuel rail, i just mounted it to the rear frame rail, fuel injection hose and clamps are a must as well. Some people use AN fittings, but i just don't see a need for that, seeing as how OEM's are doing the same thing as i did.



    I didn't have a trans at that point, so i started looking at 4l80e, and "used" (more like cores) trans from my engine's generation were in the 800-1000 dollar range with well over 100k on them. I gave up for a bit and then happened to be looking on LS1tech and a member was selling two T56 trans, one assembled, one in pieces. Long story short, i paid 1500 for both, parted one out and used the other. He even threw in a b&m ripper shifter. Got a factory LUK clutch for an 02 SS from pep boys, i'm keeping everything stock for now, no need for a fancy clutch yet. Since the T56 is longer than the th350 it replaced, i needed a driveshaft that was roughly 45.5" long, and i remember reading from the 700r4 swap guys that a 2wd blazer DS will work. Mine came out of an 88, 2wd, 2 door blazer. And yes, it must be a two door. Came out to 46" in total length, and even the yoke splined perfectly into the T56!

    [​IMG]




    This is where i give Hooker some props on their products (and thank you Todd for all the help on selecting the correct parts!), i bought their motor mounts and transmission crossmember and i really don't think you could ask for a better fit coming from an auto trans. The shifter sits right underneath the hole where the shifter cable passed through, which in turn puts it almost dead center in the center console shifter hole. I'll need to make a shift boot though. I had to cut out much of the transmission hump as well. i would recommend a cut off tool for this job, a sawzall sucks at cutting through the tunnel brace.

    [​IMG]

    This is just a small portion of what i had to cut out-
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    The whole shebang in the car for the first time-
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  2. jb451

    jb451 Veteran Member

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    While parting out the T56, one of the guys i sold the mid plate to just to happened to have a 2" cowl he didn't need, so i traded the mid plate for the hood. (shot is from after it was done, but so you can see the hood better.) Big shout out to Rvalley, he let me in on the secret that with a 2 inch cowl, the truck intake and alternator will indeed fit, and whadda know, they do!
    [​IMG]

    Next, I got to work on the pedals, and ATK (i found it on ebay) makes a bracket specifically for a hydraulic clutch setup, it simply mounts behind the master cylinder, and there is a dimple in the firewall where the clutch linkage would go for a 4spd car (which i found after making 3 different holes). The pedals are pretty straightforward swap, the DBW pedal i had to tackled a little differently though. The factory pedal is nothing more than a rod with a pedal and cable attached to it, and i used the bracket it attaches to to attach the new DBW pedal to it. I had to shorten the pedal 2" to clear the floor better, and i also had to use 1" spacers to get full travel, otherwise it hits the tunnel. It works, but i need to beef the bracket up some, it flexes more than i would like it to, and a triangular piece of steel in the corner of it would solve that problem. I would also like to point out, I bought two sets of pedals and TAC's, and one TB, all off of a trailblazer SS's. My conclusion is that DBW stuff is mostly interchangeable between 03-07, although i would definitely get matching stuff if you can from your donor vehicle.

    My setup-
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    [​IMG]

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    With everything else tackled, i moved to laying the harness out on the engine, i did not lengthen the harness, and i am just going to mount the ECM in the spot where the washer fluid tank used to be. If you look hard enough in the corner, right about where the AC box would be, i used a distribution block from an late 80's early 90's model GM truck. From the battery, it supplies the starter, the fuse block, and dash with 12v. I used the old wire that supplied the distributor with 12v for the switched 12v to the fuse block. (If you use a male spade terminal, this also acts as a kill switch of sorts when unplugged.) Also, if i were to do this swap again, i would have someone rework my harness or buy a new one, its a real pain trying to route your 30 dollar hack job wiring, or trying to find those inevitable gremlins that pop up.

    Rats Nest!
    [​IMG]

    Semi done -
    [​IMG]

    You might notice my air intake, i bought the filter and elbow off ebay, and the tubing is nothing more than 3" PVC with a rubber flex coupler on the end that goes to the MAF. Not too bad if i say so myself.


    For those of you running auto meter gauges like myself, there is a guy on ebay who sells the adapters for this sending units. My water temp and oil pressure were 24-25 dollars for both IIRC. Top quality pieces. For the upper radiator hose I used a new, but factory hose for a 2007 silverado 2500. Fit like a glove. I can't remember what PN for the lower was, but you essentially need a "S". The first one i tried kinked bad right before the thermostat-
    [​IMG]


    Power steering is a bit of a tricky deal. At first, i thought the stock 79 pressure hose was a perfect fit, and it was… Until i started it up and realized the flare on the reservoir is an oring flare. Had to have a custom one made. No big deal, but be sure to check yours for the correct flare! My pump was a hydroboost pump, so i simply blocked off the top return line and ran a hose to the steering box. Problem solved.

    I wish i had taken some pictures of the exhaust,but i completely forgot. I didn't have the money for headers (still don't lol) so i took some manifolds from a 98 fbody, cut the flanges off, then bought some 45* 2.5" tubing from summit and welded them to it. The passenger mani doesn't have a bung for the 02 sensor, so i had to weld one in. I also had to get rid of my x pipe, it would not fit because of the trans x member. I recommend either buying Hookers exhaust kit ( i will at some point), or having an exhaust shop do the work. My handiwork with exhaust leaves something to be desired, and now my exhaust hangs way too low. Just my .02.

    Also, i forgot to mention, soak your injectors the night before start up, the engine wouldn't start, and then we realized they were gummed up, soaked them in B12 overnight and it busted right off!

    My final thoughts and tips for the swap-
    1. If at all possible, get a COMPLETE pullout, or better yet, a running donor vehicle. Not only will this provide some otherwise hard to find and costly parts you wouldn't normally get, but it will also shed some light on how GM does things (ex- i couldn't figure out out GM ran the battery cable from the batter to the starter and beyond. They use a junction box on the side of the alternator mount in factory form.)
    2. This swap can be done in these cars for less than 2k, if you hunt around for deals, and can do most of the work yourself. If my welding skills had been better, i could have made my own mounts, and that would have knocked off almost 400 dollars. I also bought a T56, one of the more expensive trans choices, a 4l60e can be had for 300 in my parts. I regularly see complete 5.3/4.8 pullouts for roughly 1300 (Sometimes WAY less, sometimes WAY more) dollars on CL in my area. Your area may differ.
    3. Whatever you think your entire project will cost, double it, and save triple that. I guarantee you will watch your expenses climb and wallet shrink faster that you though possible.
    4. BE PATIENT. If you rush, you will buy things you don't need or won't work. Don't get caught up in camming the engine, or slapping a turbo on it, JUST GET IT RUNNING FIRST.

    I'm sure i've left stuff out, but feel free to ask questions and ill be sure to help as best as i can. I will post a screen shot of my expense report when i get a sec. Mind you, its not the most accurate, but it will give you a good idea of what to expect.

    I have had so much fun doing this swap and learned so much about my car and cars in general, but I'M DONE, DONE, AAAAAAND DONE. And thank God for that. Now its time to drive.

    Justin
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  3. jb451

    jb451 Veteran Member

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    Wow, i spent a lot more than i thought i did. (told ya)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  4. mikespeed95

    mikespeed95 Veteran Member

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    Nice job!
     
  5. Leonards78LT

    Leonards78LT Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Congrats on the project. Welcome to the LS club :)
     
  6. FatnLow

    FatnLow Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Great job. Thanks for info.
     
  7. David79Z28

    David79Z28 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Great job Justin.

    It's nice to see someone your age taking this project on and completing it!!!
     
  8. loyal guardian

    loyal guardian Veteran Member

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    Excelent job detailing everything and documenting it... but you forgot one expense (cost of beer for labor ;-) )
     
  9. lumpy12

    lumpy12 Veteran Member Lifetime Gold Member

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    Awesome job you did! Congrats!
     
  10. sbca96

    sbca96 Veteran Member

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    Congrats on getting it running, now comes the "oh no!" moments when something
    stops working and the troubleshooting that follows.;)

    Where did you run the steam line?

    Perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems item 2 needs adjustment?

    Tom

     

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