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mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/26/20 5:10 p.m.

Well, uh, I wasn't planning on starting this thread (or project) until like 6 months from now. But I'm in a thread writing mood, and I figure if I start it now I'll be more persuaded to keep up with it as progress is made. 

This is my E39:

I have a problem with car ADD and I usually find something to be dissatisfied with within about 6 months of ownership and I end up eventually moving on to something new. I absolutely love the way this car drives, handles, how comfy the interior is on long drives, the aesthetics. I just don't love the pesky bmw drivetrain issues I have to fix to keep it emissions compliant, and I also don't love that I can't roast the tires off in first gear. 

I looked at turboing the m54 and retaining factory ecm, but that is more trouble than its worth in a car that needs to be emissions compliant. I read some very well documented threads about e39 ls swaps and it seemed like a pretty good fit! GTO shifter lines up perfectly, exhaust is easy enough, mounts are easy enough, etc. So I decided to do the swap, but wait until my Mercedes was done and up to daily driver duty. But we all know how that goes. Window shopping on fb marketplace is a dangerous thing. This happened literally 2 hours ago. 

A bare LS1 corvette aluminum block with allegedly 30k miles. He said the vette came in with a slight rod knock and upon disassembly found no spun bearings, just some e36 m3 on one of the rod bearings. $460, a score in my opinion, assuming the machine shop says its fine. 

Thats it for now. Give me bad advice on what to use to build up the motor. Cams/heads/crank and piston combos. 

Till next time. 

Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/26/20 5:13 p.m.

Can I have your wagon? heart laugh

GL on the swap!

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/26/20 5:17 p.m.

I had that thought with my e39 touring. But the rest of the bmw issues and the general scruffiness of the car made me trade it for two broken neons and a truck load or two of parts.

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/26/20 5:25 p.m.

In reply to Shadeux (Forum Supporter) :

No, I just got it!!


In reply to Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) :

That's sad, I love the tourings. Luckily mines pretty clean for a 17 year old car. Was dealership maintained and garaged till I got it. 

OjaiM5
OjaiM5 Reader
6/26/20 5:55 p.m.

Awesome!
Here is a motivational video video - LS3 supercharged 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05Xslfvn5zQ&feature=emb_logo

Link to someone who did it,  and a killer picture

https://www.m5board.com/threads/just-another-e39-m5-ls-swap-but-with-2-snails.553353/

Good luck!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/26/20 6:33 p.m.
mgfoster said:

 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/26/20 6:34 p.m.

But seriously - I have a set of good stock LS1 heads sitting on the shelf. 

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/26/20 6:56 p.m.

Dude, you have my condolences and apologies if I encouraged this in any way.  That said, it's a really good idea.  If you want a 2014 truck intake and injectors, let me know; they probably wouldn't fit, though.  I trade for beer.  I approve of these ill-advised choices!

My last one:  

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/26/20 7:01 p.m.

Oh, I forgot the internal advice:  799 heads and an LS9 cam, plus decent valve springs (LS6 is sufficient).  Easiest and cheapest 400+ horsepower you'll ever make.  There's that and their general cheapness.  

If you want big cam surge, you don't want the LS9, but if you want power and efficiency, it is the easy choice.  I have two of them.

trumant (Forum Supporter)
trumant (Forum Supporter) Reader
6/26/20 7:26 p.m.

Can't wait for updates. Buckle up, the ride is starting....

amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
6/26/20 9:20 p.m.

Why not get a fully dressed engine with wiring harness and maybe the trans? Seems like that would be cheaper and easier...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/26/20 9:42 p.m.
rustomatic said:

Oh, I forgot the internal advice:  799 heads and an LS9 cam, plus decent valve springs (LS6 is sufficient).  Easiest and cheapest 400+ horsepower you'll ever make.  There's that and their general cheapness.  

If you want big cam surge, you don't want the LS9, but if you want power and efficiency, it is the easy choice.  I have two of them.

This is the dangerous part of an LS swap, getting into building the engine. My first engine was an L33 with LS6 heads and intake and a special cam and overbored throttle body and a custom OS in the PCM and all. Supposedly 400 hp and easy to drive because it didn't have much torque. Cost a bundle to build. I yanked it out and dropped in a stock crate LS3 (the one with the low lift ASA cam) with a stock GMPP controller and picked up a bunch of torque, better driveability and 15 mph at the end of the HPR back straight. Cost me less money, too. And I never had to remember what bastard child parts I had in the thing. The only LS engine failures I've had were due to non-standard parts. Sometimes, when you're doing this kind of swap, it's easier to just treat the engine like a black box and concentrate on everything else. 

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/27/20 12:02 a.m.

There's definitely about a million and one ways to do an LS build and that makes it very heard for sure. I've had very good personal experiences with unopened junkyard truck engines, seems like they work better if you don't let the magic out. 

For this build I couldn't resist going aluminum. I'd rather save the weight and throw parts money at an LS1 instead of a run of the mill truck motor. 

With that being said, my ultimate plan is to get a fully dressed 5.3 from the junkyard, wiring harness, ecu, the works, and use as much as I can in the build. I'm still on a budget and a crate motor is just not in my cards. Apparently the chamber size on the truck 706 heads bumps compression and in turn makes a little more power than stock ls1 heads. I will of course need to get an ls1/ls6/ebay intake manifold, a cam and springs, and after that I should be on my merry way. 

I'm glad to see you guys are excited as I am, but damn now I wanna get this thing started even more!!!!

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/27/20 12:09 a.m.

In reply to rustomatic :

Lol you're e28 was definitely cool to see, but this has been brewing in my mind for months.

re: cam: I was thinking about going aftermarket for some nice choppy idle and maybe higher hp numbers, but LS 9 is probably the better move for something that's supposed to be a daily driver considering its an oem unit with probably better drive ability. Are you saying you have 2 just lying around? It seems like a very viable option if i can get it for beer money wink

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/27/20 8:43 a.m.

In reply to mgfoster :

LS9 cams are magic, but this is from someone who hates cam surge (many swell Ford 5.0 memories) and generally gave up on manual transmissions years ago (partly because of a trick shoulder).  On that note, lots of people disrespect the LS9 cam after putting one into a 5000 pound vehicle and losing torque on the bottom end.  It is made for higher revving power, but so long as your vehicle weight is not too excessive, they are lovely and run like Toyota made them.  You will climb hills at 1300 RPMs in a light enough vehicle.  Part of my logic in choosing the higher-revving feature is differential and axle savings.  In one car, I have one in front of a Dana 36 (C4 Corvette axle), and the e28 (stock diesel rear, but with one-piece steel driveshaft) is the other.  Drag racing is not the intended act.  TLDR.

I don't have any LS9 cams lying around, but I do have Gen IV truck intake stuff (doesn't fit under e28 hood), including some flex fuel injectors (40-ish pounders), which are either 2011 or 2014.  I've also got two of those crappy C5 filter/regulator things that I can't get myself to throw away.  The complete motor purchase is indeed a great simplifier.

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/27/20 8:49 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:
rustomatic said:

Oh, I forgot the internal advice:  799 heads and an LS9 cam, plus decent valve springs (LS6 is sufficient).  Easiest and cheapest 400+ horsepower you'll ever make.  There's that and their general cheapness.  

If you want big cam surge, you don't want the LS9, but if you want power and efficiency, it is the easy choice.  I have two of them.

This is the dangerous part of an LS swap, getting into building the engine. My first engine was an L33 with LS6 heads and intake and a special cam and overbored throttle body and a custom OS in the PCM and all. Supposedly 400 hp and easy to drive because it didn't have much torque. Cost a bundle to build. I yanked it out and dropped in a stock crate LS3 (the one with the low lift ASA cam) with a stock GMPP controller and picked up a bunch of torque, better driveability and 15 mph at the end of the HPR back straight. Cost me less money, too. And I never had to remember what bastard child parts I had in the thing. The only LS engine failures I've had were due to non-standard parts. Sometimes, when you're doing this kind of swap, it's easier to just treat the engine like a black box and concentrate on everything else. 

Indeed, sir!  I would love an LS3 crate engine, but when I can pay half the money up front for a junkyard Gen IV truck unit with a fat pig of an automatic that I actually like (6l80/90), then get close on power with a cheap (GM) cam swap (and perhaps a turbo in one case), my limited funding is much better used (and slightly more creative).  I am somewhat competent with making an e38 computer work through HP Tuners, at least from a copy/paste perspective with a bit of smoothing.  Research is definitely a modern hot-rodder's best friend.

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/27/20 9:18 a.m.

In reply to rustomatic :

I love hp tuners.... hoping it's my magic key to passing emissions. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/27/20 10:29 a.m.
rustomatic said:
Keith Tanner said:
rustomatic said:

Oh, I forgot the internal advice:  799 heads and an LS9 cam, plus decent valve springs (LS6 is sufficient).  Easiest and cheapest 400+ horsepower you'll ever make.  There's that and their general cheapness.  

If you want big cam surge, you don't want the LS9, but if you want power and efficiency, it is the easy choice.  I have two of them.

This is the dangerous part of an LS swap, getting into building the engine. My first engine was an L33 with LS6 heads and intake and a special cam and overbored throttle body and a custom OS in the PCM and all. Supposedly 400 hp and easy to drive because it didn't have much torque. Cost a bundle to build. I yanked it out and dropped in a stock crate LS3 (the one with the low lift ASA cam) with a stock GMPP controller and picked up a bunch of torque, better driveability and 15 mph at the end of the HPR back straight. Cost me less money, too. And I never had to remember what bastard child parts I had in the thing. The only LS engine failures I've had were due to non-standard parts. Sometimes, when you're doing this kind of swap, it's easier to just treat the engine like a black box and concentrate on everything else. 

Indeed, sir!  I would love an LS3 crate engine, but when I can pay half the money up front for a junkyard Gen IV truck unit with a fat pig of an automatic that I actually like (6l80/90), then get close on power with a cheap (GM) cam swap (and perhaps a turbo in one case), my limited funding is much better used (and slightly more creative).  I am somewhat competent with making an e38 computer work through HP Tuners, at least from a copy/paste perspective with a bit of smoothing.  Research is definitely a modern hot-rodder's best friend.

I paid $1500 for my LS3 crate, but it was an outlier :) The L33 was expensive by the time it was built, though.  Machine shop time and gaskets and random parts add up. The only reason I used it was for a badly arranged sponsorship deal - it would have been cheaper and faster to use a stock LS1 and not far off the price of an LS3 crate. The LS1 in the MG is exactly as it came out of the donor. 

Between the L33 experience and the number of failures I've had with "improved" aftermarket LS engine parts, I'm a firm believer that the GM engineers are smarter than people give them credit for!

84FSP
84FSP UltraDork
6/27/20 10:40 a.m.

I just got a crash course in ls motors having built a nasty 500hp ls2 in my cts v.  Happy to talk thru things if you want to pm me.

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/27/20 9:19 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

$1500 for a crate LS3!!!! GIMME. Stuff like that is pretty non existent around me. I see complete ls1's from 2-3k on fb around me, so I'm hoping I can at least come in below that. 

 

As far as cams go, I love this article. https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ls-cam-test-comparison/

It shows just how much torque the stock cams lose below around 5500 rpm. Yeah, LS9 cam made 112hp up top, but gains didn't  come till after 5000 rpm and let's be honest, you spend 90% of your time below that. Those comp cams they tested are pretty impressive though... not much low end torque lost and huge gains. Who knows, just more confusion.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/28/20 11:34 a.m.

The $1500 LS3 was a fluke. It was an engine that FM installed in a customer car, and it had a noise right from the start. Best guess was a damaged cam bearing when it got the "Hot Cam" installed at GM. GM warranteed it and sent a new engine and paid FM to swap it out. The old engine - with 50 miles on it - was to be junked. Doesn't make sense if your time is free, but from GMs point of view this was the least expensive and least risky choice. 

The guys at the dealer couldn't bring themselves to trash it, so it sat around. Eventually, it got sent to the wrecker. A car guy intercepted it and called a friend and I got a phone call asking if I wanted to buy an engine. I knew which one it was - it still had our labels on it and the tape over the throttle body and was still on the pallet. Obviously I jumped on it. 

The noise turned out to be a rear main seal housing that was rubbing on the crank. The external aluminum housing would have self-machined in short order, and I suspect it's a pretty common LS3 thing. You just can't hear it deep inside a Camaro or Corvette. I hit it with a grinder and voila, $1500 LS3 crate that I had even broken in myself. It's been a beast ever since.

Like I said, an outlier. I don't often get the perks that everyone thinks I get in this business, but there was this one exception! It had more to do with my involvement with the local racing community than anything to do with my day job, too.

The L33 experience was the exact opposite, and in all my (relatively limited) experience of building engines I have found it to be more typical than not. When you add up all the time and money, building an engine well is really expensive and you have to do all the math. The guys at GM have mass production on their side.

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/30/20 12:08 p.m.

The more research I do, the more it looks like its gonna be similar to Keiths L33 experience. There just isn't a cheap way to get around piecing together an engine.  I though i would be able to transfer a 5.3 crank and rods directly in to the block, but apparently the assembly needs to be balanced because the 5.3 crank is a different balance than LS1 and LS1 pistons are obviously heavier. So with that in mind, here's my current plan (so I don't forget):

-Source LS1 Crankshaft, since it's apparently lighter.

-Buy LS2/LS3 floating pin rods because they're cheap and stronger. 

-Buy Summit LS1 pistons that are compatible with floating pin. 

-Get block honed, cleaned, and rotating assembly balanced. 

-Buy 5.3 Junkyard motor with 706 heads. I will be able to use the heads and all the timing covers and such, wiring harness, and ecu, and other stuff that will nickle and dime you otherwise. I can then refresh the 5.3 short block for my dads truck which has almost 400k miles on it. 

-New lifters and valve springs, Elgin 1840p cam, new timing set, and gasket kit. 

This should give me a pretty stout long block. The 706 heads don't flow fantastic, but the chamber size is smaller so you get a pretty decent compression bump and they make good power. Since the timeline on this project is pretty long, I have time to hunt for a used intake manifold/throttle body setup and other things I'll need. Depending on machine work, I think I will come in under the ~$2800 price tag of a complete LS1 pullout in the ATL area. and I would still want to do at least valve springs and cam on a complete motor anyway.  

This oil pan is proven to fit in the e39 chassis, so I'll have to shell out for it. 

As far as transmission goes, @papamilad has me almost completely talked in to a Z32 300zx transmission. This adapter kit is pretty affordable considering what it comes with, and I measured one of his spare transmissions the other day and the bell housing to shifter length is only about an inch off from the GTO shifter that is the perfect length. Z32 transmissions have been proven to hold up to 700hp so its definitely strong enough, and I've seen them on FB for $200-$600. If I can find a smoking deal on a t56 or tr6060, I'd rather do that, but those don't seem to exist anymore. 

Rant over. 

Nofive_0
Nofive_0 New Reader
6/30/20 1:07 p.m.

I had planned on doing this for months up until I came across a really good deal on my latest E90. 

The more i looked the more I realized I'd be better off using a donor car. At first 5 grand for a wrecked car seems to be too much, but as you start to add things up it becomes apparent. Buying an F body/CTSv etc also gets you a trans, all of the wiring, hardware (I HATE searching for hardware), and plenty of parts to sell to your fellow local car scavengers. 

IAAI and Copart are your friends. Here is a screenshot of some of the suitable cars that have sold lately. 

 

Those are all manual cars as well. So if you decide not to go through with it, you'll at least break even.

Idea of what you're going to do for engine and tranny mounts?

mgfoster
mgfoster New Reader
6/30/20 2:36 p.m.

In reply to Nofive_0 :

Wow, those listings are pretty tempting. I just find it hard to believe its that simple though. Surely there is some hefty auction fees, transportation, and maybe any average joe cant purchase them in some case? 

Also, I have to consider my time and the space requirement for parting out a car. It's definitely an ordeal, and sometimes its nice to just get all the parts you need on your doorstep. Definitely something to consider though. 

rustomatic
rustomatic New Reader
6/30/20 5:43 p.m.

You're definitely taking the complicated bus to the LS store, but hey, it's doin' what you want.  That said, for the horsepowers that this uber-complex LS1/2/5.3 will give you, you essentially wind up paying a ton for 100-pound-ish weight savings over an iron block.  At least you didn't say you were "investing" funds here (I think) . . .

The ability to use a rear-sump pan is definitely a bonus, as LS2 front sumps (required on E28) cost both arms and legs (for crappy old oil pans--a new one costs about a Kia).

Have you got a plan for a computer?

 

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