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Lof8
Lof8 Dork
6/9/18 9:34 p.m.

*EDIT this is no longer a Challenge budget build

 

 

I picked up a 2000 Trans Am for Challenge money and plan to run it in Gainesville this year. After that, I’m going to pull the drivetrain and swap into an e36. The trans am has 190,000 but the engine feels pretty tight and healthy. No leaks and no burning oil. 

 

Im looking for guidance on what items to replace when (or prior to) swapping it to the e36. I’m not after huge power numbers but I’m considering a cam since that seems like an easy upgrade.  Let’s say the budget is about $500 for upgrades and “while I’m in there” items.   (That’s also how much Challenge budget I have to work with).

 

I have very little knowledge of these engines other than their huge popularity for swaps. The donor vehicle pretty much fell in my lap. I’ve been watching the recent LS1 threads and discussion closely but am looking to you guys for some further guidance. Thanks!

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
6/9/18 9:40 p.m.

iirc its usually cam + beehive valve springs + push rods that usually happen at the same time. And swapping from the LS1 timing chain to a LS7 chain.

81cpcamaro
81cpcamaro Dork
6/9/18 9:56 p.m.

I would add a Melling oil pump while you are in there. Rocker trunnions would be a good idea too.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/10/18 12:30 a.m.

IIRC the T56 is prone to shifter fork problems. It may be worth checking that out before you put it into the E36.

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
6/10/18 12:51 a.m.

Cam, valve springs, and pushrods will eat up that $500 and then some. I'd think about doing something for oil control, like the Improved Racing oil pan baffle, first and foremost, then maybe upgrade the timing set and oil pump. I just did the oil pan baffle in mine while it was out, but I put almost 40k on the motor prior to my swap and knew it was in fine shape. Kinda wish I had cammed it, but that would have screwed up my classing for auto x anyways. 

TheV8Kid
TheV8Kid HalfDork
6/10/18 5:55 a.m.

The LS1 is the weakest of all the LS  engines. The cylinder walls are the are very thin, so you have to be careful how far you push it.

I would definitely get the oil pan baffle mentioned above. Oil starvation is bad.

Then if you still have room for a cam, you could swap in an LS6 cam and some yellow LS6 valve springs, and you will be off the the races. 

You could swap in some other cam as well. I would recommend the LS6 valve springs. Yellow LS6 valve springs are good up to .570 lift, and blue LS6 valve springs are good up to .550 lift. If you want to go over .570, pac1218 valve springs are the way to go.

For a challenge build we re use the stock oil pump, timing chain, lifters, push rods, rocker arms, etc.

Hope that helps!

Suprf1y
Suprf1y PowerDork
6/10/18 6:06 a.m.

LS6 cam is a decent upgrade, still with smooth idle, and should be available for close to nothing on a LS/Corvette forum. I think I paid $60 for springs from Summit.

Will
Will UltraDork
6/10/18 8:20 a.m.
Furious_E said:

Cam, valve springs, and pushrods will eat up that $500 and then some. I'd think about doing something for oil control, like the Improved Racing oil pan baffle, first and foremost, then maybe upgrade the timing set and oil pump. I just did the oil pan baffle in mine while it was out, but I put almost 40k on the motor prior to my swap and knew it was in fine shape. Kinda wish I had cammed it, but that would have screwed up my classing for auto x anyways. 

As someone who has sacrificed an LS1 to the Gods of autocrossing (spun bearings due to oil starvation), I recommend this very strongly. I also installed an SLP high volume oil pump while I was in there.

As others have said, LS6 takeoffs are cheap. Cam and intake are both worthwhile.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
6/10/18 5:42 p.m.
Suprf1y said:

LS6 cam is a decent upgrade, still with smooth idle, and should be available for close to nothing on a LS/Corvette forum. I think I paid $60 for springs from Summit.

Shop used. This is the best way.

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
6/11/18 8:15 a.m.

Great tips so far - much appreciated.  The oil pan baffle and pump I'll consider necessities, as I'll be planning to autox and track the e36.  The LS6 upgrades sound like good bang for the buck.  The ratty old trans am already impresses me quite a bit with its torque and acceleration in the bulky, sloppy frame.  I imagine it will feel pretty sweet in a freshened up and stripped out e36.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
6/11/18 9:26 a.m.

is the gain from LS6 cam + springs sufficient to justify the effort, or does it also require intake and exhaust work to make appreciable gain?   I have a line on a very clean one-owner (an OCD Engineer like me) '98 z28 T56 car for "the right price", but i'm concerned that it will need more power.  ;-)

TheV8Kid
TheV8Kid HalfDork
6/11/18 11:46 a.m.
AngryCorvair said:

is the gain from LS6 cam + springs sufficient to justify the effort, or does it also require intake and exhaust work to make appreciable gain?   I have a line on a very clean one-owner (an OCD Engineer like me) '98 z28 T56 car for "the right price", but i'm concerned that it will need more power.  ;-)

If you ask the guys on LS1 tech, no. It also depends on which LS1 cam that is in the car. For cars equipped with EGR, they used a bigger cam, than cars without EGR. 

https://ls1tech.com/forums/generation-iii-internal-engine/809845-ls6-cam-ls1-worth.html

Still, you may want to consider something a little more aggressive.

docwyte
docwyte SuperDork
6/11/18 12:15 p.m.

If I was going to the trouble of swapping the cam, I'd definitely put in something more aggressive.  Cams are cheap.  You can make a HUGE amount of power gain with the right one.

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
8/27/18 1:39 p.m.

In true “while I’m in there” fashion, I have gone way over the $500 intended budget (without much of anything in the way of adding HP). 

Below is my shopping cart. Please let me know if anything looks stupid. Im planning to possibly do the cam/springs/pushrods later down the road. 

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
8/27/18 2:48 p.m.

Personally, I’d skip the balancer bolt, oil pan gasket, oil pump, and exhaust gaskets. I would put on a new oil pump pickup o-ring tho. Ultra copper for the exhaust gasket. Oil pan gasket is reusable as long as it’s still pliable. Balancer bolt can be reused as long as it hasn’t stretched in the threads. Even if it did stretch the stocker is like $4.

Im not big on the oil pan baffle, just run another 0.5-1qt of oil.

Do the pushrods. I had a friend bend a bunch of oe ones on a 6500rpm shift... Plus the summit 7.4’s are/were stupid cheap.

Opti
Opti HalfDork
8/27/18 8:04 p.m.

The stock bolt was 9 bucks last time I got one, but if installed correctly it's supposed to be a one time use bolt and I believe the arp is a multi use.

I think you can get an LS2 chain for cheap and it works IIRC.

lS6 cam is a good idea, you can get springs pretty cheap that work.

Intake makes a big difference, if it's still got the LS1, I'd check ls1tech for used ones. LS6s where high when I looked. You can look at doorman, which is a knockoff of a fast 76 lower. I ran an BBK. I can't recommend against fast enough.

 

Why put it in a E36 though, I think it was motortrend ran the WS6 through the slalom faster than a E36 M3

Curtis
Curtis UltimaDork
8/27/18 10:36 p.m.

Unless there is something wildly wrong with your rocker trunions, don't worry about them.  Stock LS rockers are really quality pieces and don't need an upgrade until you get pretty wild.

Definitely get a new balancer bolt.  They're cheap and shouldn't be re-used.  I splurged for an ARP, but stock is fine.  They're massive.  They won't fail because they're not ARP, they'll fail because they aren't installed correctly or re-used.

I like the timing chain bracket/damper.  LS timing chains are strange.  I put a brand new Cloyes roller in my LQ9 and the slop is ridiculous.  In LS circles it is just considered normal, but I can't dig it.

 

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
8/28/18 12:27 a.m.

As far as I know the balancer bolt is but isn’t an tty bolt. I recall they are a std bolt just torqued to a tty value. Very similar to 3.7/4.7/5.7 head bolts on Chrysler’s. You only replace on bolt thread stretch, which is never. I know plenty of people reusing ls balancer bolts without issues. This is a challenge vehicle after all!!!

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
8/28/18 4:05 a.m.

At one time, I was hoping to Challenge this car, but that dream faded quickly. It’s passed that budget already :(

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltimaDork
8/28/18 7:30 a.m.

That blows it’s over budget.

Personally, I’d call Craig at Brian Tooley Racing for assistance. He’s a good buddy of mine and shoots straight.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
8/28/18 7:31 a.m.

I would skip all that stuff on a 190k mile engine and use that money toward a lower mile unit in the future after your swap is a success.  

84FSP
84FSP SuperDork
8/28/18 8:08 a.m.

Watch for second hand OEM goodies as the key to these things seems to be parts from the next generations.  Alternate heads with better valves and higher compression can be had ~500.  An aftermarket cam and a second hand LS6 intake mani/tbody would really help.  Headers and exhaust are available second hand cheap for the Fbodies.  Check out the Facebook For Sale pages as well as LS1tech for lots of goodies for sale.  The LS1tech site seems to have the deepest and best organized knowledge base.  

Ram50Ron
Ram50Ron Reader
8/28/18 8:32 a.m.
Patrick said:

I would skip all that stuff on a 190k mile engine and use that money toward a lower mile unit in the future after your swap is a success.  

Listen to this man.

Lof8
Lof8 Dork
8/28/18 8:35 a.m.
Patrick said:

I would skip all that stuff on a 190k mile engine and use that money toward a lower mile unit in the future after your swap is a success.  

This is an interesting approach that does make quite a bit of sense.   But the compression numbers are good on the engine and I am interested in keeping the overall budget low.  If this engine did bite the dust, a lot of these items could be transferred over to a fresher block.  I don't know.  I'm torn on how to approach it.

Ram50Ron
Ram50Ron Reader
8/28/18 8:56 a.m.

The LS1 is not a block you want to really build on in this day and age. Like previously mentioned the cylinder walls are thin, the cylinders can barely even be honed without needing a resleeve.  LS1/6 blocks are really more trouble than they are worth with how cheap you can get into gen4 motors with 4" bores, and then the aftermarket really opens up a lot.

Start putting that money in a jar for something with stronger rods and a 4" bore.

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