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Old 10-09-2017, 04:33 PM   #1
bigarmzz
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best bang for buck LS engine takeout

ive been reading on here, and honestly the more I read the more confused I get about this LS swap business.....been considering it for my 85 2wd, and am wanting to do a "budget" build. Is it even possible to do for $2k?

So far all ive really learned is:

1. Use a 87 baffled tank
2. Use EP 381 pump
3. Stock 87 sending unit
4. Use 90-91 guages

those things ive learned, but still confused as to where to find the cheapest drop out motor/trans, and what everyones opinion is on the best bang for buck takeout motor would be. No junkyards anywhere near me either....

It seems most people on posts ive read say the 6.0/4l80 is way to go, just wandered if anyone else that have done this has an opnion? anyone done a 4.8 and happy with it? 5.3?
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Old 10-09-2017, 06:09 PM   #2
1957 Chief
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

I did it with 5.3/4l60 out of 2wd silverado. Loved it. Now I am doing a 6.2/TR6060.

Around here you can get complete 5.3 pullouts for right at 1K. Those are 100K mile units. I prefer a drive by wire motor too.

2K for motor and swap will be hard. But if you pinch pennies and do a lot of the work yourself you could be close.

Bubba
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:18 PM   #3
mongocanfly
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

a 2k swap is about as cheap as it could be done...expect to pay more...your engine/trans choice can blow 2k by itself...5.3s 1k or less for just engine...then trans is extra...harness is another big expense..diy for nothing or aftermarket for 6-700..reflash ecm is a couple hunerd...lots of small dodads...then it'll need dyno tuned...a walbro 255 pump and vett filter/reg and a stock tank works fine...no need to change tank....no need for new gauges either...water and oil gauges hook up just like a smallblock..they're independant of the ls setup....speedo will need to be converted from pulse to cable or go with digital speedo..

Last edited by mongocanfly; 10-09-2017 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:29 PM   #4
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

as for. where to find a LS....look on craigs...there's always several on there...also lkq is another place...I did my 81 with a lq9 6.0..unreal what 345hp and 16mpgs feels like..but a 6.0 is gonna cost...5.3 is the most common...also 4.8s are getting popular because the lower demand relates to cheaper prices...a 4.8 can make 400hp easily with enough money...I also have a ls3/tr6060 in the shop that's headed for my AD....but those are very pricey. .
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Old 10-09-2017, 09:30 PM   #5
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

I put a 4.8 4L60E in my 85. I drive it 50 miles every day to work and back. I really like it.

My engine is from a 2006 GMC Savanna Van. Trans is from a 2005 Silverado.
I used LT1swaps.com to build my harness myself. Not hard.

I used 2010 Camaro manifolds and adapted an inexpensive Dynomax dual exhaust kit. I got the manifold flanges and my engine mount adapters on Ebay

I used my stock 85 radiator with 2005 silverado hoses. I adapted the heater hose return into the radiator for my steam line from my intake manifold.

I did exactly what you said for my fuel system and gages. I think it's the way to go. No noisy external pump and the electronic speedo works great.

I also reprogrammed the ECM with HPtuners. That will break your budget if you buy the tuner, but I've got several projects lined up so it was worth it for me.

With buying my tuner, I'm in mine about $3500.

See the $1500 Swap thread on LS1tech under conversions and hybrids for how people do the swap on the cheap.
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:01 PM   #6
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

I keep hearing people say "noisy pump"...mine sits right above the tank...only time you can hear it is when you turn the switch on before cranking..but I can also hear the intank pump on my 98 blazer and 99 z71...
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:55 AM   #7
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

I got lucky and bought a 2003 yukon Denali for $1300, made $400 selling parts so Iíve got $900 invested in a 6.0, harness, computer, everything except a 2wd trans, Iíll have to buy a tail shaft or just get another trans. It was cheap because 250k miles (planned on building the motor anyway) and apparently sat with a leaking sunroof for a long time, interior was nasty
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Old 10-12-2017, 06:13 AM   #8
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigarmzz View Post
i

1. Use a 87 baffled tank

3. Stock 87 sending unit



I can't say how well they'd work with an LS motor, but I can tell you this: I have an 87 TBI truck and I am far from satisfied with the performance of the tank OR the sending unit. The fuel sending unit on these trucks was always a big problem for accuracy, and my 87 is no different. I've actually been over this problem a few times on various forums, trying to figure out a way to defeat the wavy fuel gauge needle. All I've been able to come up with short of upgrading to a newer tank, is an autometer brand fuel gauge.

Which did help a lot, but it still moves. Its just that moves a lot slower. But you can still watch it move. Its just not waving around like it just don't care anymore. Most of the time it sits still, but if you turn a corner or go up a hill, you can watch it move. If I were you, I'd be looking to get an even further upgraded tank than the baffles, and go with one out of a newer truck that goes beyond baffles and also has the sponge-like material inside that keeps the fuel from moving much.

GM got a lot right on these trucks, but one area where they really screwed the pooch was the entire fuel level indicator system. The baffles apparently aren't good enough, the sending unit gives a signal that is too far out of range, and the gauge itself is much too sensitive. Its like a triple threat failure that causes the gauge needle to just move constantly. I learned all this from a guy who rebuilds gauges for these old trucks. So when I finally swap to LS, I'm going to go with a tank out of an LS truck. I'm sure there is one to be had that will fit well enough.
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Old 10-12-2017, 05:10 PM   #9
1957 Chief
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

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Originally Posted by bennylava View Post
I can't say how well they'd work with an LS motor, but I can tell you this: I have an 87 TBI truck and I am far from satisfied with the performance of the tank OR the sending unit. The fuel sending unit on these trucks was always a big problem for accuracy, and my 87 is no different. I've actually been over this problem a few times on various forums, trying to figure out a way to defeat the wavy fuel gauge needle. All I've been able to come up with short of upgrading to a newer tank, is an autometer brand fuel gauge.

Which did help a lot, but it still moves. Its just that moves a lot slower. But you can still watch it move. Its just not waving around like it just don't care anymore. Most of the time it sits still, but if you turn a corner or go up a hill, you can watch it move. If I were you, I'd be looking to get an even further upgraded tank than the baffles, and go with one out of a newer truck that goes beyond baffles and also has the sponge-like material inside that keeps the fuel from moving much.

GM got a lot right on these trucks, but one area where they really screwed the pooch was the entire fuel level indicator system. The baffles apparently aren't good enough, the sending unit gives a signal that is too far out of range, and the gauge itself is much too sensitive. Its like a triple threat failure that causes the gauge needle to just move constantly. I learned all this from a guy who rebuilds gauges for these old trucks. So when I finally swap to LS, I'm going to go with a tank out of an LS truck. I'm sure there is one to be had that will fit well enough.
I used the same tank/sending unit with an ep381 pumps on my son's 84 LS swap. We autocrossed it and thrashed it, never had a gauge problem like you describe.

Bubba
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:00 AM   #10
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1957 Chief View Post
I used the same tank/sending unit with an ep381 pumps on my son's 84 LS swap. We autocrossed it and thrashed it, never had a gauge problem like you describe.

Bubba
Its a very common and well known problem on the stock trucks. People who do LS swaps may have changed enough stuff that it goes away, but after thoroughly researching it, I'd at least change the sending unit and gauge. From the factory they're basically not properly "dialed in" to each other, which is why all 4 of the 81-87 trucks that I've owned had this problem.
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Old 10-15-2017, 07:01 AM   #11
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

I just joined yesterday but I been a member of ls1tech for years. So I know what LS motors sell for. I live in Mississippi. An hour south of Memphis. Around here a LM7 sells for 350-500 max running. A LQ4 6.0 usually sells for 800 on average. There is no way I'll give 2 grand for a 5.3 motor. On the other hand a LQ9 is hard to find and so is a L33 aluminum 5.3 motor. I'm not buying a new 60k truck.
I plan on swapping a LS into a square body soon myself to tow my 2000 camaro to the drag strips etc. Hope it gets the job done well. I basically joined this site trying to learn about towing. Trying to see what guys are using to tow 5500 lbs trailers with but I'll figure if someone sells you a iron 5.3 for 2 grand you just got screwed.
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:24 AM   #12
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

welcome risky..I put a lq9 backed by a nv4500 in my 81 c30...I regularly pull a 9500lb loaded trailer. ..pulls it easily. ..
it does amaze me what the LS engines bring in other parts of the US..
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:42 AM   #13
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

Quote:
Originally Posted by mongocanfly View Post
welcome risky..I put a lq9 backed by a nv4500 in my 81 c30...I regularly pull a 9500lb loaded trailer. ..pulls it easily. ..
it does amaze me what the LS engines bring in other parts of the US..
Thanks for the info. Is your LQ9 stock ?
My buddie sells and trades and buy motors. He just sold a 6.2 shortblock that needed one piston for a 1000 dollars. Also just sold a aluminum 5.3 bare block for 200 dollars.
I would love for you guys to "school me" on towing with a square body. My car might weigh 3400 lbs alone before it goes on to a open trailer.

Thanks for welcoming me again.
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:48 AM   #14
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

my lq9 is stock...it dynoed 299 rwhp and 345 rwtrq...engine alone was 345hp and 399trq
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:49 AM   #15
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

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my lq9 is stock...it dynoed 299 rwhp and 345 rwtrq...engine alone was 345hp and 399trq

About to shoot your pm.
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Old 10-15-2017, 09:17 PM   #16
bigarmzz
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

well just to update my post, I just bought a complete 5.3L engine from an 01 suburban with 127,000 miles for $550. It didn't have a PCM, wiring harness, or starter, but I think its a start. Seemed like a decent deal, bang for the buck.
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Old 10-15-2017, 10:28 PM   #17
mongocanfly
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

bigarm....is it dbw or dbc?..if dbw you'll need the gas pedal ...or switch to cable throttle
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Old 10-16-2017, 07:57 AM   #18
bigarmzz
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

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bigarm....is it dbw or dbc?..if dbw you'll need the gas pedal ...or switch to cable throttle
I believe, (but could be wrong) it is cable operated, and the dbw wasn't til like 06....I think
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Old 10-16-2017, 09:38 AM   #19
mongocanfly
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

I know the had dbw in 02...mine did...but I swapped to dbc
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Old 10-17-2017, 10:42 PM   #20
jrblanke
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

From my own experience, I can tell you what not to get, and that's a 5.3L out of a chevy trail blazer. hahaha.
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Old 10-18-2017, 03:51 AM   #21
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennylava View Post
I can't say how well they'd work with an LS motor, but I can tell you this: I have an 87 TBI truck and I am far from satisfied with the performance of the tank OR the sending unit. The fuel sending unit on these trucks was always a big problem for accuracy, and my 87 is no different. I've actually been over this problem a few times on various forums, trying to figure out a way to defeat the wavy fuel gauge needle. All I've been able to come up with short of upgrading to a newer tank, is an autometer brand fuel gauge.

Which did help a lot, but it still moves. Its just that moves a lot slower. But you can still watch it move. Its just not waving around like it just don't care anymore. Most of the time it sits still, but if you turn a corner or go up a hill, you can watch it move. If I were you, I'd be looking to get an even further upgraded tank than the baffles, and go with one out of a newer truck that goes beyond baffles and also has the sponge-like material inside that keeps the fuel from moving much.

GM got a lot right on these trucks, but one area where they really screwed the pooch was the entire fuel level indicator system. The baffles apparently aren't good enough, the sending unit gives a signal that is too far out of range, and the gauge itself is much too sensitive. Its like a triple threat failure that causes the gauge needle to just move constantly. I learned all this from a guy who rebuilds gauges for these old trucks. So when I finally swap to LS, I'm going to go with a tank out of an LS truck. I'm sure there is one to be had that will fit well enough.
These style of gauges are much improved over the previous generations of trucks. I own one of each and my 72 bounces all over.

If the bouncy fuel gauge bothers you, you could always make some sort of integrating circuit, that takes readings over several seconds, then outputs the average. Like this: Op Amp Integrator
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Old 10-18-2017, 09:37 AM   #22
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Re: best bang for buck LS engine takeout

I'm well on track to completing a 6.0 swap for under 1,000. If you don't count selling my old drivetrain, if you do, I may complete it for free...

You can spend time, or spend money. I'm choosing time, because I enjoy it, and I've challenged myself to get this in and running as cheaply as possible just to see how cheap is possible.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnZ7eDlR668&t=6s
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