2nd Gen Camaro LS Swap
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  1. #1
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    2nd Gen Camaro LS Swap

    I picked up a new LQ9 block, 317 heads and some other parts at the NSRA swap meet in 2014.

    This is the oil pan I got with the engine, think it's a stock truck/escalade one. It's approx 8" deep.



    I've chopped and modified the oil pan so it's now the same dimensions (roughly) as a CTS-V pan. Didn't cost me anything except some time and effort







    I got stuck into porting the 317 heads and took quite a lot of material out of them in the end. Had 0.040" machined from the deck face.













    Comp cams roller trunion upgrade done



    I ended up with a long truck style crank, which is a nightmare for after market flex plates etc. So I did a bit of modification on it so that I can use the readily available SFI flex plates and an old style 4L80E converter with no adapters or spacers







    Bought myself a rather shiny inlet manifold, which will fit under my hood as I have a 4" scoop





    Cam Motion did a custom grind camshaft for me



    Building the short block:... crank in



    Then I had to do some disassembly to drill and tap the block to fit an LS2 cam chain damper as my block didn't have the necessary holes as it originally had the LS3 style tensioner which are notoriously unreliable.

    Then I fitted the oil pump only to find something was binding up. Stripped the brand new pump to find a chunk of swarf inside... Not great for a new part from a respectable manufacturer.

    Then on to fitting DSS forged pistons to the LS2 rods with ARP bolts. Had the big ends honed 0.002" oversize to round them up for the new special OD bearings.





    Gratuitous shot of completed rotating assembly...



    Assembled the oil baffle, pick up pipe and front cover onto the engine. I did think about polishing the timing cover, but decided it was too much effort for something you can't really see once the whole engine is built.

    After that I cleaned the oil pan out and fitted that. Nice to have the bottom end all done.

    Next up, assembly of the heads. Checked all the valves were straight as I knew there was a high likely hood of at least one being bent. Turned out there were 4 bent ones. Just as well I had some spares. What was a bit unexpected was finding a broken intake valve guide. So I need to look at making myself a new one and fitting that tomorrow.

    Then I marked out the combustion chambers to see how much material I could remove to un-shroud the valves. Turned out more on the exhaust side, but generally not very much. So it didn't take long to get that seen to on both the heads.



    After all that I did have enough parts to get one head fully cleaned and assembled.



    After that I soaked the lifters in a tub of oil and then fitted them to their retainers and into the block.

    Then made myself a valley cover. I didn't have one with my engine parts and it only took 30 mins to make one.



    After that I got the assembled head fitted. It gets it off the floor, and makes it easier to keep everything clean!



    Next up making a new valve guide. I found a piece of cast iron to machine one from. I did consider making a bronze one, as I have some, but it seemed a bit pointless unless I made 16 new ones, which I wasn't about to do! It took about an hour to machine one up, pleased with the result... spot the home-made one.



    This was the extent of the chamber work, unshrouding the valves a bit. Don't want to remove too much material, this was about 3mm blended back toward the valve seat.



    Next thing was to fit the crank damper and then find true TDC, shouldn't need it, but it's always handy for troubleshooting later on



    Assembled the other head



    Popped it on the block, torqued it down and then installed the steam pipes


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  3. #2
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    Finally the inlet manifold and throttle body. Thankfully it still fits fine after skimming 0.050" off each head - bolts were a little tight in the holes, but it seems to work. 102mm throttle body fitted to the front, should flow ok...




    The LS Camaro uses a low mount alternator to help with hood clearance. But the LQ block isn't drilled and tapped for the mounts. I also discovered that the Blazer alternator uses identical mounts to the LS one. And I have a spare one, and it only needs 2 wires to make it work.





    Worked in an idler to help with belt wrap too. It was a new one I had laying around, should be fine.

    Using a steering pump from a late model V6 Camaro modified the original feed hose so that it will work properly. The remote tank will mount on the inner fender, after a quick measure up.

    I also got the injectors and fuel rails installed. I'm using the 72lb/hr injectors that I had fitted on my injected SBC. They should be more than adequate and fit perfectly.

    I pulled the 4L80 out of the car only to find that the fluid had a bit of water in it. So I thought it was best to pull it apart again, for the sake of a gasket set, to check it over and make sure it wasn't too sludged up. Frictions can also get damaged in contact with water, so I thought a visual inspection was worthwhile.

    Overrun clutch assembly with Alto frictions, billet input shaft and new sprag



    Forward clutch assembly, Alto power pack (7 frictions instead of 5), billet clutch hub



    Started rewiring the car too. Pulled out the old harness and removed the necessary connectors.

    I bought an EZ Wiring harness last year, but kept putting off actually making a start on putting it in. I made a stainless adapter plate for the firewall to block up the hole left by the stock connector and passed the engine section of the harness through a grommet in the center of it. I'll seal it with polyurethane sealant once I am happy that I haven't missed any cables that I might need.

    The reason for changing the harness was that I was never really happy using a 37 year old harness in the car, and I'd had to add so much to it in order to run the EFI and transmission controllers that it was completely hacked up anyway.

    So a new loom with a lot of extra circuits that I'll never use (like power locks, windows, cruise and A/C) was perfect as that gives me lots of extra fuse power supplies direct from the harness that I can re-purpose for the other things I need.

    The only downside of modern running gear? Just the wiring for that makes up quite a list!





    I had to strip the ignition switch out of the car as I had a dodgy connection inside in the 'run' position. Thankfully being old technology it was full of copper bars and little springs which were all gummed up with old dielectric grease. Cleaned it all out and now it works perfectly again

    I also had to make a few changes to the power feeds to the fuse box, as the only power out which was live in the cranking position was the coil feed - no use at all with injection....Fixed that, now everything except the lights stays live. Not a problem with new battery technology...

    The dash section is more or less finished now, I can move on to the engine bay next where I also need to move the fuel feed line to a more sensible location.


    Been spending a bit of time getting the engine bay ready for the new engine to be dropped it. It was a bit grubby in there, 3k miles with a slightly leaky small block, and dust from paint prep.



    Looks better for an hour with some detergent and a brush



    Cleaned up the transmission and gave it a coat of satin black. Looks much better now!




    Next job was remove the core support from the car - easy enough



    Next up was getting the engine off the stand and the flex plate fitted and the transmission bolted up. No real issues there except that I needed to tap the holes a little deeper in the crank and chop around 2mm off the bolts. I machined a truck crank and they aren't quite drilled as deep as the standard short car crank it seems. Thankfully I have a set of M11x1.5 taps handy...



    After that the transmission and converter were fitted with no real dramas.

    That's when the fun started, as much my own fault as anything. The mounts wouldn't line up, but then I figured I'd assembled them wrong, oops. Never mind.

    The good news is that I don't need to move the engine forward at all, it will fit in the stock position.

    Oh and my transmission cross member fits right up...




    I reconfigured all of the mounts and put it all back together again. I also made a small adjustment to the idler arm and now have around 3/8" steering clearance! Yay!

    Helped by a number of things, including moving the engine as far back as it will go on the mounts. I followed other peoples advice initially and set it in the 1" forward position. But I think it works nicely in the stock position.... this is using Hooker adapter plates.






  4. #3
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    After that I got the transmission crossmember installed, this confirmed the transmission is in the same place as it was with the small block. If anything it's slightly further back...

    The the driveshaft and a few other bits were hooked up.

    The 1st gen headers just do not fit...

    The oil pan that I modified hangs just below the crossmember - I made this to the same height as the CTS-V pan knowing that this would happen. I don't run the car too low anyway, so it should be fine.



    Next up I fitted the water pump and power steering pump, no real dramas there. The alternator is very close to the sub-frame but there is enough clearance for everything to work.



    The next job was to refit the hood and chop a bit out to clear the intake, I hadto cut some more once I have the hoses and filter fitted



    I've been working on building the ECU up for this. I'm using Megasquirt 3x so I can run sequential fuel and spark. It's got more features than I need but it's future proof. It will also communicate directly with my Megashift transmission controller via CAN so it keeps things simple.

    Take one bare board



    Do a bit of electrical witchcraft



    At the stage of testing and cleaning the board now, before finally fitting the processor and cramming it all into its case.

    Got quite a lot of fabrication done today.

    Was never happy with the g-braces I made the first time around, it was a rush job and they clashed with the hood hinges. So I cut them up and remade them - this time I didn't have the brake booster to worry about as I now have hydroboost. I'll get them powder coated this week I expect.






    I've refitted the front bumper and lights, tidied the power steering hoses and clipped all of the wiring up properly.

    I had to do some internal modifications to the transmission controller to get it working properly - mainly my fault in the first place to be fair.



    Whoever thought polished alloys were a good idea? Maybe in California... A few hours of filthy work and they are back to their former glory.





    Finished the paddle mount off properly, just need to wire them into the car, only 3 wires to run.






    While it was correct to have original seats, they are a bit lacking in support, especially now I've got a few more horsepower. I've taken a few people out for a ride and they've spent most of the time looking for something to hold on to to stop them sliding around on the old seats.

    I was looking for something retroish looking but more supportive. I spotted a set of leather Mk3 MR2 seats on eBay which were local to me and managed to win them for a sensible price. Bonus was they are from a LHD car so all of the adjustment is on the driver side seat as it should be.

    There's a few little scuffs and marks on them, but I will re-dye them at somepoint, probably next winter.

    They are incredibly supportive, have proper head restraints and offer more adjustment than the originals. So all round win really.

    Took me most of a day to modify the runners and get them trial fitted. Took it for a drive and they are so much better.








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  6. #4
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    I was having a few issues so the car's been off the road for a week or so.

    Fuel starvation at high RPM - so I've reworked the whole fuel system with a 1/2" feed done in Aeroquip AQP hose and 3/8" return which is hardlined.

    I've also replaced the tank with a modified one which should help with the feed and return. I've also swapped the fuel pump for my spare.

    The last thing I need to do is actually clip the new feed line in, but the clips I ordered haven't arrived so I haven't been able to just yet.



    I also pulled out the old 5/16" return line just to keep it tidy under there



    I also found out why my rear left tire kept going down...dammit.



    But I have some new ones to go on - new ones are 275/40/17 rather than the 255/55/17 that I currently have. I like the 28" diameter as they fit the car well, but trying to find good quality ones in that sort of diameter is actually quite difficult in the UK... I have matching fronts to fit as well.







    Ordered a new converter from FTI as my stock truck one was killing me for the first 300'. Pathetic really - though I expected it in someways.

    Hopefully it will turn up before my next outing, which will be Dragstalgia at Santa Pod in July...



    Other than the converter I'm also planning to swap in a 3" stainless exhaust next month to help it breathe a bit better....

    Here's some photos.




















  7. #5
    fat rotbox rodder hurtz's Avatar
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    had a 79 Z28 love these cars .your car is stunning
    livin' on beer 'n' jaffa cakes -one box per pint

  8. #6
    Rods 'n' Sods Junkie
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    Great engine choice!Had LQ9/4L80 in 1976 Firebird.And now have the LQ9 in 1966 Mustang just manual transmission this time.Awesome animal hahah...
    Love you Camaro,must be beast

  9. #7
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    Thanks guys...

    Shot a couple of weeks ago for American Car Mag, should be in next months edition...

    Last edited by gothicsera; 12-06-2016 at 18:59.
    The girl your parent's warned you about.... LS Swapped '80 Camaro - forged pistons, Cammotion 236/242, .621/.612, flowed and milled 317 heads. MS3X. 4L80e, 12 bolt, 4.11, Moroso brute strength posi, steel shafts. FTI 4000 stall converter. Subframe connectors, g-braces, solid body bushes, carbon hood and front bumper...

  10. #8
    Rods 'n' Sods Junkie JJMclure's Avatar
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    nice! where's the turbo tho? also on a serious note is that the megasquirt two motherboard with a MS3 daughter board setup you're using there?

  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJMclure View Post
    nice! where's the turbo tho? also on a serious note is that the megasquirt two motherboard with a MS3 daughter board setup you're using there?
    Yes it's MS3X.

    I'd love to do turbos, but this is a regularly driven car and if anything I'd prefer to stick a procharger on it.
    The girl your parent's warned you about.... LS Swapped '80 Camaro - forged pistons, Cammotion 236/242, .621/.612, flowed and milled 317 heads. MS3X. 4L80e, 12 bolt, 4.11, Moroso brute strength posi, steel shafts. FTI 4000 stall converter. Subframe connectors, g-braces, solid body bushes, carbon hood and front bumper...

  12. #10
    I'm a grown up member now !
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    Well, it's in bits again....

    My new FTI converter arrived this afternoon so I've started to to get ready to drop the transmission out. 2 more bolts and then hoping it will drop low enough to get the converter off without having to remove one of the headers.

    New converter is an FTI SRLT48082, 9.5", 4000rpm hard hit, billet front cover, lock up.

    Hopefully that will wake it up a bit!



    The girl your parent's warned you about.... LS Swapped '80 Camaro - forged pistons, Cammotion 236/242, .621/.612, flowed and milled 317 heads. MS3X. 4L80e, 12 bolt, 4.11, Moroso brute strength posi, steel shafts. FTI 4000 stall converter. Subframe connectors, g-braces, solid body bushes, carbon hood and front bumper...

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