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73-87 with and ls-x motor

This is a discussion on 73-87 with and ls-x motor within the GM Trucks forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category; Who on here has an LS type engine in a 73-87 chevy truck?...

  1. #1
    Junior Member CoreyLeo223's Avatar
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    Torrid Red
    2005 GTO

    73-87 with and ls-x motor

    Who on here has an LS type engine in a 73-87 chevy truck?

  2. #2
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    I'm doing a 6.0/4L60E swap in a 72. It would be nearly the same for a 73-87 swap with a few minor differences.

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    Member ksstamp09's Avatar
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    388 rwhp & 370 rwtq
    2001 Camaro SS #847

    im working on a 6.0/4L80E in my '82. check out the LSX section of 67-72chevytrucks.com. theres tons in all different body years.

  4. #4
    Junior Member CoreyLeo223's Avatar
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    Nice. I have an 82 swb and an 83 lwb that I will be combining into the 83 as a SWB. I was looking at using the 6.0 (lq9) 4L80E. But I might be changing the motor to the 6.0 (lq4) due to gas prices getting higher.

    ksstamp09 you're right about the 67-72chevytrucks.com, I have been looking at that for awhile now and there is a ton of great info on there. Two guys on there with a lot of info are two guys named "Menace121978" and "Glock35ipsc".

    What are the big issues you guys are running into?

  5. #5
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    The only difference between the LQ9 and the LQ4 is the compression ratio.
    LQ4= 9.4:1
    LQ9= 10:1

    GM does this with a flat top piston in the LQ9. Otherwise they are virtually identical and shouldn't have any bearing on gas usage. It's when you get into later years (after 2005) when you start finding variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation where retro swapping starts getting more involved. It's basically all in the wiring harnesses but it gets more expensive to do.

    You didn't mention whether you have a 4 wheel drive or 2 wheel drive. That makes a huge difference is swap difficulty and price.
    If you are doing a 2 wheel drive then the swap is pretty straight forward much like a car, just more room to work with.

    I on the other hand am doing a 72 blazer 4 wheel drive swap and it's much more costly and involved.
    The transfer case for starters, needs about $800 worth of adapters to mate an overdrive transmission to it. I wanted to keep the stock cast iron 205 case, and I needed to keep it in the stock location for many reasons. Since the 4L60E is about 2 inches longer I'll have to move the engine forward. Not a big deal, plenty of room for that.
    I couldn't use the 4L80E I have sitting here. Overall it's about 5 inches longer and I just don't have that much room to move the engine forward. You start running into oil pan clearance issues with the front differential, not to mention the radiator. People have moved the transfer case back to make up the difference but that opens an entirely new can of worms. For starters you would need to have both front and rear driveshafts re-made, you would have to cut the hole in the floor larger for the transfer case shifter, moving it back 3-4 inches. Then the shifter starts getting pretty close to my console,,,a new carpet kit would be required at that point etc etc....as you can see it's a domino affect.
    So I opted to leave the transfer case in the stock location, which in turn required I use the 4L60E for more room. To gain even more room up front and clean up the engine bay, I decided to go with dual electric fans to rid the truck of the huge fan shroud and mechanical fan (since I'm moving the engine forward). It would have worked with the stock shroud and fan, but I liked the electric fan route for a little more space up front.

    If you are doing a 2 wheels drive, you'll find plenty of motor mounts and cross members on the market for the truck swaps.
    If you are doing a 4 wheel drive however, it's a custom "make your own" deal or modify the existing units on the market to work.

    For wiring, you can modify an existing stock harness if you have the books and diagrams, along with alot of patients.
    I decided to go with a custom harness made specifically for the swap from Howell Engine Developments. I've used them in the past for an LT1-4L60E swap in a Jeep years before. Great service and excellent product so I used them again for this swap.
    Came with a computer custom tuned for the swap, along with the harness made specifically for the Blazer and the swap I'm doing. Saves alot of time and headaches.

    If you go with headers, there are shorties on the market for these trucks and LS engines, but I have yet to find any good long tubes. Because of that I decided to stick with the factory truck manifolds,,,which fit the chassis perfectly. They aren't bad pieces anyway, designed decent enough for the intended purpose.
    Others have taken 4th gen Fbody headers and made them work in the 68-72 trucks, but you have to notch the frame in a couple of spots. Not to mention the driver side collector kicks out at about a 30 degree angle which complicates hooking it to any existing system you may have. So in my case I decided to pass on that myself and stick with the manifolds. Shorties just aren't worth the $500 price tag for what I believe would be a minimal (if any) gain.

    If you are doing a 2 wheels drive you'll need a converter box for your mechancial speedo. a 4wheel drive (in my case) uses the transfer case for the speedo so that wasn't an issue for me. I only needed a reluctor wheel adapter (VSS) on the end of the trans for the computer to run the transmission.
    I'm running the LS style alternator and accessories, it all seems to fit just fine. Since the coolant outlets on the LS engine are both on the passenger side your radiator causes an issue. Old style radiators have the inlet up high on the driver side, and the outlet down low on the passenger side. You can fix this 2 ways. One, and the more expensive route would be to purchase a new LS style radiator, which is made for these trucks)
    I took a different route because I just bought a new aluminum radiator months before the swap anyway. Thankfully when GM first started putting LS engines in the trucks they didn't change the radiators right away and still used the conventional style as far as I know up through at least 2004. GM makes an upper radiator hose that goes from the passenger side of the engine and stretches all the way over to the driver side of the radiator. That's the cheapest and easiest way to do it. I'm tapping into that hose with a small fitting for the cylinder head coolant lines. The other method would be to drill and tap the water pump for a fitting. I didn't go that route because of the issues that would cause come water pump replacement time. I'm always thinking roadside repairs when I do these swaps, so I try to keep everything easily changable if something were to ever happen. Drilling and tapping the water pump for the coolant fitting doesn't make that any easy swap later down the road. Splicing into the upper radiator hose however does. If you want to use the factory coolant temp gauge in the truck, you'll have to drill and tap the passenger cylinder head plug for the 1/2" pipe thread sending unit. For the factory oil pressure gauge I simply tapped into the small fitting above the oil filter. If you go with aftermarket gauges however all the adapters are made by autometer for a simple bolt on swap. I wanted a clean factory look on my dash with original gauges so that wasn't an option for me.
    The rest of it is simply plug and play.

    Sorry for the book. I actually planned to do a write up on this and have taken many pictures to document everything and post it on here eventually. Right now I've gotten pulled away from the swap, but plan to start back up next week.
    Last edited by Firebirdjones; 05-03-2011 at 07:20 AM.

  6. #6
    Member ksstamp09's Avatar
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    lots of great info there man! there is actually a guy on ebay that ive heard great things about that makes custom aluminum radiators that move the nozzle to the right side, and are the proper size to match the LS's. i can find out his S/N if youd like.

    ill give you links to the threads that really have helped me out, as well as my build thread..

    here are the ONLY LT headers i have found for our body styles. if yours is 2WD, i plan on getting some if funds allow
    http://www.brphotrods.com/mm5/mercha...ory_Code=CNV10

    here is my thread
    http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=409761

    and here is the BEST thread ive found for info.
    http://67-72chevytrucks.com/vboard/s...d.php?t=377348

    also, i used currentperformance.com, they modified the harness that came with my engine (LQ4, btw) they did a GREAT job & had great customer service.

  7. #7
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Ya those long tubes wouldn't work in my 4x4 swap unfortunately. I'm sure at some point someone will start making them when this becomes more popular. At that point I might look into switching over.

    I forgot to mention the fuel regulator and pump issues. Your vette filter with the built in regulator makes the swap easy but I didn't go that route for a couple reasons.

    It's an expensive filter for starters, and since that is something that should be changed regularly I didn't want that expense.
    So I run a stock 4th gen F-body fuel filter inline,,,,with the proper adapters made by AN fittings. I also run a walbro 255 inline pump along with a seperate regulator. I made my entire fuel system from 300 psi AN hose and AN fittings. I didn't want to go the rubber hose and clamp route for alot of reasons.
    I like ease of maintanance, and using a couple of wrenches to change filters, pumps, etc...sounded like an easier road side repair (again with the roadside stuff ) Because hoses and clamps never seem to remove easily after it's been on the hose barbs for a while, then you get into cutting and replacing stuff.

    In the end I spent a little more on the fuel system (~$150) for the lines and fittings plus another ~$150 for a pump and regulator. But my 4th gen fuel filters now will only cost about $10 at routine maintanance time, and it will simply unbolt Plus I like the fact that I can go to any parts store around the country and get one. Seemed the vette filter/regulator is kind of hit and miss.
    Eventually I'd like to do a custom aluminum gas tank with an inline pump but that's a major expense for another day.

    Just different approaches with the same end goal in mind

    Did you get it running yet?

  8. #8
    Member ksstamp09's Avatar
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    388 rwhp & 370 rwtq
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebirdjones View Post
    Ya those long tubes wouldn't work in my 4x4 swap unfortunately. I'm sure at some point someone will start making them when this becomes more popular. At that point I might look into switching over.

    I forgot to mention the fuel regulator and pump issues. Your vette filter with the built in regulator makes the swap easy but I didn't go that route for a couple reasons.

    It's an expensive filter for starters, and since that is something that should be changed regularly I didn't want that expense.
    So I run a stock 4th gen F-body fuel filter inline,,,,with the proper adapters made by AN fittings. I also run a walbro 255 inline pump along with a seperate regulator. I made my entire fuel system from 300 psi AN hose and AN fittings. I didn't want to go the rubber hose and clamp route for alot of reasons.
    I like ease of maintanance, and using a couple of wrenches to change filters, pumps, etc...sounded like an easier road side repair (again with the roadside stuff ) Because hoses and clamps never seem to remove easily after it's been on the hose barbs for a while, then you get into cutting and replacing stuff.

    In the end I spent a little more on the fuel system (~$150) for the lines and fittings plus another ~$150 for a pump and regulator. But my 4th gen fuel filters now will only cost about $10 at routine maintanance time, and it will simply unbolt Plus I like the fact that I can go to any parts store around the country and get one. Seemed the vette filter/regulator is kind of hit and miss.
    Eventually I'd like to do a custom aluminum gas tank with an inline pump but that's a major expense for another day.

    Just different approaches with the same end goal in mind

    Did you get it running yet?
    ah yeah those pictures are pretty old, i do plan on eliminating as much rubber hose as i can, using the factory steel lines and SS line. i did want to use the in tank pump tho is the main reason i went with that, and i really like to use as many GM parts as i can, and operates quieter and cooler. and i wont be driving the truck enough to really put much wear on parts, its just gonna be the weekend cruiser. but like you said just two different approaches.

    do you have a thread for yours? i would like to have a 4x4 but it would be alot more involved as you said, plus i have a 2001 ECSB 4x4 so i dont really need 2 lol.

    it is not running yet tho i have been so damn busy lately, plus it seems to rain everytime i do have time. where it sits now i am just waiting on front suspension parts to come in so i can put it back together and get the wheels back on the ground, then the motor will go in & hopefully be running soon thereafter!

  9. #9
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    I never started a thread on mine. I was waiting until it's complete so I can start a thread from start to finish so people wouldn't have to wait for weeks.
    I planned to post it here in the truck section. It's taking longer than it should have since my 79 454 pickup lost it's engine, so I'm doing an engine swap in that right now, I had to put the blazer on hold.

    I would have loved to do an in tank pump. It would have to be a totally custom deal, as only a few places make a drop in tank for a 72 blazer, they are completely different from the pickup trucks.
    I probably will do it at some point, because I like the the idea of the pump submerged in the gas, the pumps last longer. My inline pump (which I also did on my other retro swap) probably will go a couple years at best. But I'll have to wait until I'm ready to dump another $1,000 in it. I've already sunk $5k in the swap so I may take a break from spending after it's running
    On mine I went with the new AN high pressure fuel lines that are impervious to all the alcohol in the fuels nowadays. So it should be good for a lifetime. Steel line like you are using is an excellent way to go as well. I just didn't feel like bending it the length of the truck. It's so easy to run AN lines,,,just a little more pricey though.

    Mine is my daily driver, it goes everywhere. It will go on long road trips and vacations with the family as well.
    So ya I share your sentiment of using GM parts and other parts that are simple to find at most any autoparts stores. Too many mail order parts equals lots of down time when something breaks.

  10. #10
    Member ksstamp09's Avatar
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    388 rwhp & 370 rwtq
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebirdjones View Post
    I never started a thread on mine. I was waiting until it's complete so I can start a thread from start to finish so people wouldn't have to wait for weeks.
    I planned to post it here in the truck section. It's taking longer than it should have since my 79 454 pickup lost it's engine, so I'm doing an engine swap in that right now, I had to put the blazer on hold.

    I would have loved to do an in tank pump. It would have to be a totally custom deal, as only a few places make a drop in tank for a 72 blazer, they are completely different from the pickup trucks.
    I probably will do it at some point, because I like the the idea of the pump submerged in the gas, the pumps last longer. My inline pump (which I also did on my other retro swap) probably will go a couple years at best. But I'll have to wait until I'm ready to dump another $1,000 in it. I've already sunk $5k in the swap so I may take a break from spending after it's running
    On mine I went with the new AN high pressure fuel lines that are impervious to all the alcohol in the fuels nowadays. So it should be good for a lifetime. Steel line like you are using is an excellent way to go as well. I just didn't feel like bending it the length of the truck. It's so easy to run AN lines,,,just a little more pricey though.

    Mine is my daily driver, it goes everywhere. It will go on long road trips and vacations with the family as well.
    So ya I share your sentiment of using GM parts and other parts that are simple to find at most any autoparts stores. Too many mail order parts equals lots of down time when something breaks.
    indeed. and the quality of OEM parts shines. i love those old blazers tho i have really thought of trying to find one (either your body style or a square) to do a Cummins swap on. THAT would be a beast to tackle but would certainly be a BAD SOB. ill be on the lookout for your thread tho, i dont get on here much anymore since i sold my camaro tho. the old trucks have a much larger part of my heart lol


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