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Old 05-11-2020, 05:06 PM   #1
TrybalRage
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First time swap started

Started a build thread but figured I would keep the nitty-gritty LS stuff here and keep that one more for general stuff.

This is my first LS swap, finally biting the bullet. Picked up an 01 or 02 5.3, mostly complete and according to the guy 120k miles (who the hell knows for sure). FB marketplace sale from a local who parts a lot of trucks/suvs out from copart and whatnot. Also grabbed a 2WD 4L60E from him.



Plans are to keep it stock for now, just going to take off the peripherals and clean it up and throw a little paint on her. Took off the exhaust manifolds and promptly snapped off the rearmost bolt on the drivers side (seriously GM, this has been an issue since you started putting out aluminum heads). And what's the deal with the teeny little bolts they used? Lord.

Anyway. So that's gotta be addressed. Going to try and weld a nut to it to spin it out.

So far have:
'87 Spectra 20 gallon tank (LWB truck).
Drivers side sending unit
SP1115 pump

I've had the truck 6 years and never used the passenger tank, so I'm just going to ditch it and the switch and direct plumb this one. Might get creative with the space over there at some point, who knows. Thought it would be a good place to mount an air tank, haha.

Going to try and do my own harness, so been spending lots of time at lt1swap.com. Ordered a Fuse Box, an OBDII port and some Relays today.

Decided to pick up HPTuners and try and do my own PCM work as well. I know for a stock engine an unlock and basic settings would only be like $100, but to be able to do my own work.. well. Worth it.

Going to run Summit manifolds so those are ordered along with new ARP bolts.

Still need to plan out the fuel lines... I'm trying to do this on a budget, seems like most do AN fittings and line but I'm wondering if that's overkill for a budget build. Could do nylon, looks like Dorman sells all the parts. This is a return system from the fuel rail so I'll need line for both feed and return. Also could maybe buy metal tubing and bend the bulk of it myself for cheaper? Wondering what everyone else has done for theirs.

Planning for tejas mounts, not sure about the crossmember yet. The one they sell is pretty slick but I wonder if the stock one could be modified to allow for better dual exhaust routing.

Anyway, planning on yanking the old motor and trans in a couple weeks. This will be fun
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Old 05-12-2020, 03:18 AM   #2
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Re: First time swap started

I know what you mean about exhaust bolts.


I bought some camaro stock 6.2 exhaust manifolds on the cheap. Then drilled out those small hole they put on each end. When it heats up the tight fit bends the bolt. So the paper clip bending trick after 75,000 miles.

I covered the head in aluminum foil tape and welded a nut to extract the broken bolts. That keep the BB's at bay. X2 on the https://www.summitracing.com/parts/arp-134-1202
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Old 05-12-2020, 03:49 PM   #3
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Re: First time swap started

If I can do it, you most certainly can. I ended up going aftermarket harness and reflashed PCM just to get it done, knowing I wouldn't have the time to put in to trimming out a stock harness. I'll be picking up HPTuners as well, though. I work in IT and really enjoy the tuning aspect of modern cars.

I used DirtyDingo sliding mounts - no reason, specifically, but I am glad I did. My frame has the "converter hump" in it and I would have had to get tricky with my trans crossmember if I couldn't slide the entire engine as far forward as it will go. Not great for handling or traction, but gets me on the road.


I also used the dirty dingo trans crossmember. My truck had previously been converted from i6/3speed to 350/th350 and... poorly. So for various reasons, the $100ish I spent on the trans crossmember saved me WEEKS worth of time.

I used TBSS/Buick Reinier manifolds, cut off exhaust stubs from a 2500 pickup with the O2 bungs in them, and made up my exhaust. Its not a fancy exhaust, but it gets the job done. I need to finish running it out back, but it was a learning experience (first few times welding.)


I was going to do nylon fuel lines initially as well - But when I added up the cost, it came out to roughly the same, or close enough, that PTFE braided from hotrodfuelhose.com made a lot more sense. I also ended up buying a new fuel tank so it had at least a little sump area/baffled area. Fuel stations can be few and far between up here. Being that you have a return style fuel rail setup, it may end up cheaper for you to do the nylon or nylon to hard line to nylon. Mine is returnless so I had to buy a $40 fuel filter/regulator regardless. I do like that its all new and easily serviceable though.

I started out doing it on a budget, and in some areas stayed that way, but ended up spending money in areas I felt made sense. The harness and fuel system specifically. I went budget on the cooling system though - factory radiator out of a 2006 GMC Yukon (34" core with its electric fans) - though I did buy a new replacement radiator, I am using the fans from my donor Yukon. I figure if it could cool that engine in a 5500lb vehicle, it wont have any issue in my 4000lb vehicle. I've only got a dozen miles on it and the warmest temperatures its seen so far are mid 60's, but even letting it idle in the driveway with no fans for a long time, I haven't seen temps above 194 degrees. And when it hits 194, it drops back down to 190 and just fluctuates between the two, presumably where the thermostat opens and closes. Happy to help if I can. I documented most of what I did and have a spare 5.3 with a bunch of spare parts here to reference if needed.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:46 AM   #4
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Re: First time swap started

Productive weekend and more parts have arrived and ordered.

6AN Fuel line and fittings return-style kit from Hot Rod Fuel Hose.

Starter bolts
Bellhousing bolts
Converter bolts

Just about finished cleaning out my wiring harness. Still probably more that I could strip out, but not sure yet how to incorporate the Factory AC controls and the PCM-controlled ones from the donor. So leaving some of those plugs in for now.

I think I'm going to leave the harness temporarily masking taped together until the motor is in the truck and I can freely route/plan/test some of this stuff. Then do the final wrap and loom.

The engine showed some signs of a slight pan leak, so replaced the oil pan gasket, pickup tube o-ring, and cooler block-off plate gasket. All Felpro stuff. Pulled the valve covers to just do a quick inspection, going to pick up new gaskets for those as well even though LS gaskets are supposedly reusable.

I spent hours yesterday trying to weld a nut onto the broken exhaust manifold bolt. Unfortunately no luck, the weld would just break every time I tried to turn the nut. It is broken down below the surface of the head by 1/16", so it's making it tougher. At this point I'm ready to give up and order one of these brackets for holding the manifold on - Dorman 917-107 anyone have experience with this fix? Seems to get good reviews from multiple sources.

I've also been re-thinking the programming. I'm blowing through my budget rather quickly and I have two more big ticket items - driveshaft and exhaust that will need to be figured out. Think I might just have the basic unlock/emissions disabled for around $100, and figure out what to do for future changes when I those actually happen. Right now I'm $400 in for Hptuners and still need a laptop to actually use it in the garage.

So making progress, although slowly. Looking at next weekend to start pulling the old motor and trans out.
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:22 AM   #5
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Re: First time swap started

If you are keeping the engine stock, i would get Brendan at lt1swap.com to flash a computer for you and then later on if you decide to modify the engine go with hptuners. Atleast that way it will only cost you the 75.00 to have it flashed. I have had him to do several for me.
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:25 AM   #6
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Re: First time swap started

That dorman bracket works pretty good, but have you tried turning up the heat on your welder?
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Old 05-18-2020, 01:37 PM   #7
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Re: First time swap started

I know what you mean blowing through the budget. I'm using Areoquip PTFE hose for everything. It's good to 3,000 psi. So my hydro boost is getting it too.

The exhaust stud. I use 312 stainless electrode.
Here is one store https://store.cyberweld.com/hobart-3...80630-rdp.html I bought mine locally.

The 312 in 3/32 size burns hot enough to stick and the flux protects the metal around the bolt. I've removed a lot of broken bolts and studs that are below the surface. I weld enough to stick to the bolt adding about dime or nickle in height. I would clean and stack another bead on top, repeat until it's sticking out enough to put a nut on it, then weld it with the MIG welder or 7018 rod.


Tip: place a washer over the stud before starting. This protects the metal and forces you to be dead accurate on your welding. I used foil tape because I had it. But it protected the aluminum head from splatter.









To test the theory the flux protects the metal around the bolt. Put a nut on a bolt so its recessed, weld to the bolt and repeat so the weld is above the nut. Then put the bolt into a vise and use a wrench to take the nut off.

This also helps you get practice before the real deal.
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:13 PM   #8
TrybalRage
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Re: First time swap started

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Originally Posted by CarlsLQ9SS View Post
If you are keeping the engine stock, i would get Brendan at lt1swap.com to flash a computer for you and then later on if you decide to modify the engine go with hptuners. Atleast that way it will only cost you the 75.00 to have it flashed. I have had him to do several for me.
Yep, just mailed it off to him today.
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:16 PM   #9
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Re: First time swap started

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I know what you mean blowing through the budget. I'm using Areoquip PTFE hose for everything. It's good to 3,000 psi. So my hydro boost is getting it too.

The exhaust stud. I use 312 stainless electrode.
Here is one store https://store.cyberweld.com/hobart-3...80630-rdp.html I bought mine locally.

The 312 in 3/32 size burns hot enough to stick and the flux protects the metal around the bolt. I've removed a lot of broken bolts and studs that are below the surface. I weld enough to stick to the bolt adding about dime or nickle in height. I would clean and stack another bead on top, repeat until it's sticking out enough to put a nut on it, then weld it with the MIG welder or 7018 rod.


Tip: place a washer over the stud before starting. This protects the metal and forces you to be dead accurate on your welding. I used foil tape because I had it. But it protected the aluminum head from splatter.









To test the theory the flux protects the metal around the bolt. Put a nut on a bolt so its recessed, weld to the bolt and repeat so the weld is above the nut. Then put the bolt into a vise and use a wrench to take the nut off.

This also helps you get practice before the real deal.
I've tried with and without a washer. Ran out of washers, lol and was just scrounging hardware that was laying around my garage towards the end.

I might try again before ordering that bracket. Try to stack on top of the bolt first. I might add that I'm using a cheapo harbor freight flux welder cause I don't weld enough to justify buying something nicer.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:30 AM   #10
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Re: First time swap started

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I might add that I'm using a cheapo harbor freight flux welder cause I don't weld enough to justify buying something nicer.
The old fashin buzz box welders are pretty cheap, as people have switch to MIG welding. Check craigslist or garage sales for Lincoln Idealarc 250 or Miller Thunderbolt 225.
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Old 05-19-2020, 07:16 PM   #11
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Re: First time swap started

Woooo! Got it out. Turned the heat on high, built up a “nipple” of weld on top of the stud and welded the nut to that.

https://imgur.com/a/0jk6yWE

Thanks for the advice! Saved me $30
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Old 05-20-2020, 01:33 AM   #12
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Re: First time swap started


cool beans
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Old 05-25-2020, 03:33 PM   #13
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Re: First time swap started

Well, old motor and trans is out.

https://imgur.com/a/RQHXrML

Stupid harbor freight being sold out of trans jacks... had to figure it out with a normal floor jack. Going to need one for reinstall.

I’m looking at the existing wiring in the truck, planning on my gauge hookups. I’m a little confused on some of the stuff I’m reading.

1. Oil pressure. My truck had a 1 wire hookup, and the new motor also has a 1 wire sensor on the back of the block. I see a lot of people swapping sensors and needing adapters... why? Are these providing different signals?

2. TCC lockup. I currently have a blue wire coming out of the firewall that used to go to the old th350 wiring, and it provides hot 12v until I press the brake. It seems like this is exactly what I need for the pcm, yet I see people all the time talking about splicing in relays. Will this not work?
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:17 PM   #14
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Re: First time swap started

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1. Oil pressure. My truck had a 1 wire hookup, and the new motor also has a 1 wire sensor on the back of the block. I see a lot of people swapping sensors and needing adapters... why? Are these providing different signals?
Gauges and senders are a matched pair. All senders are not the same. So, you can't run the old gauge and the new sender and expect an accurate reading.

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2. TCC lockup. I currently have a blue wire coming out of the firewall that used to go to the old th350 wiring, and it provides hot 12v until I press the brake. It seems like this is exactly what I need for the pcm, yet I see people all the time talking about splicing in relays. Will this not work?
Yes, it will work. You are most likely reading about swaps into vehicles that didn't have that functionality before the swap. It is something common to add into older swap vehicles.
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:53 PM   #15
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Re: First time swap started

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Gauges and senders are a matched pair. All senders are not the same. So, you can't run the old gauge and the new sender and expect an accurate reading.



Yes, it will work. You are most likely reading about swaps into vehicles that didn't have that functionality before the swap. It is something common to add into older swap vehicles.
I had a th350C (lockup) previously, so that must explain why I have the wiring for it.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:47 PM   #16
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Re: First time swap started

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I had a th350C (lockup) previously, so that must explain why I have the wiring for it.

Very likely, and the proper brake switch. Mine was originally a manual transmission so I've had to add the proper brake switch.

With my 4L80E, the TC locks up, but doesn't unlock appropriately when the brake is pressed so it pushes VERY hard until the truck is basically stopped completely, when the PCM Finally unlocks the TC.
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Old 05-28-2020, 06:12 PM   #17
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Re: First time swap started

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Very likely, and the proper brake switch. Mine was originally a manual transmission so I've had to add the proper brake switch.

With my 4L80E, the TC locks up, but doesn't unlock appropriately when the brake is pressed so it pushes VERY hard until the truck is basically stopped completely, when the PCM Finally unlocks the TC.
There are several settings within the PCM to reset the speed points of the TC lockup/Unlock.

Your description of "pushes very hard" tends to indicate the Unlock setting is way too low....

HP tuners and other aftermarket programming systems have this capability.

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Old 06-01-2020, 08:17 AM   #18
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Re: First time swap started

Made some progress this weekend!

My homemade gantry crane - one thing they don't really stress is that these oil pans are DEEP. I scraped the core support trying to get over it.



I wasn't planning on it, but I had to remove the intake to position the load leveler low enough to get that much clearance. The first time I lifted it, I had 6" inches of pan below the core support. So now it has new felpro intake gaskets as well.

Unfortunately, I got some indicators that this was not a well cared for/healthy motor... so that kind of bums me out. SO MUCH CARBON. Lord. The cathedral ports on the heads were literally caked with heavy carbon, as were the runners on the intake manifold. I had a 226k LT1 out of my old camaro that had nowhere near this much gunk in it.

I'm not ready to tear this motor down further, so I just stuffed paper towels into the ports on the heads, used a razor blade to scrape some of the heaviest deposits off, then after removing the towels used a shop vac with a small tube adapter to get in there and try to clean all loose material out as best I could. The back of the valves themselves seem clean.

On the intake side, used some towels and light application of brake clean to wipe out the ports and the injector nozzles.

Gonna send it, and cross my fingers that this thing will actually run, at least for a while. I see running some techron or other cleaner through the first couple tanks in my future.

Summit racing manifolds are on - painted black with VHT high-temp header paint. Fitment was great between the frame rails and clearing the starter, but I did have to grind down the forward bolt flange/ear on the driver's side a bit because it was hitting the temp sensor. It had a lot of extra material on the casting.



Anyway, wiring harness is mostly done and connected, except for the PCM side and fuse box. I need to figure out a mount, the PCM should be here tomorrow from Brendan at LT1swap. Then I can locate the fuses.



The throttle cable is off the donor truck, I had to grind out the hole in the firewall just the tiniest amount to get it to fit (oval fitting vs rectangular on the stock square cable). It's connected to the pedal but still has a little slack.

Seems like folks either bend the pedal rod, or put a ferrule on the cable - something one might use on a bicycle brake cable. I bent the pedal just a little bit and it's improved, but I'll need to bend it another 1/8-1/4" or so to get the cable tight.

As far as other stuff, last year I had bought a 93 firebird motor, and the guy threw in a mostly complete body harness, fans and more. So I went through my boxes of stuff and I have the dual electric fans and wiring harness, and I stripped some of the heavier gauge power and ground wires out of the body harness to help finish my setup. I realized I had a complete fuse box I could have repurposed instead of buying new, but oh well.
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Old 06-03-2020, 11:13 AM   #19
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Re: First time swap started

Driver's tank and all old lines are out!



Tank and straps are in pretty good shape for being 35 years old. No serious corrosion.

I already have the 20 gal '87 tank to replace this 16 gallon tank. Only going to run a single tank - in 6 years of owning this truck I've never used the passenger tank, so I'm just going to drop it and leave it out.

I'm going to keep the wiring in place just in case I ever decide to add it back in again. Looks like I can just splice into one of the wires in the harness for the sender. I'm going to run the power from my relay down the frame in the same location as the existing wiring, and reuse the split loom.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:24 AM   #20
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Re: First time swap started

More done this weekend. Got the wiring *just* about wrapped up. Welded a small piece of bar stock to the battery tray for a mount to bolt my fuse box to. Trying to avoid putting too many holes in the fender. Did drill 2 for the PCM mount - just a generic GM mount that I think they used on the S10? Used stainless bolts to attach it.





Still need to provide a short jumper from the fuse block to the 5.3 junction box, and wire the grounds.

Shortened the original power wires to the bulkhead and distribution block on the firewall, and routed them below the pcm to the 5.3 box.

Need to cover some in loom to clean up the appearance. Didn't wire in a separate check engine light, my truck originally had an oil pressure sensor that would ground out a wire to illuminate the choke light - a blue wire from the bulkhead connector. Since the PCM provides a ground for the CEL I just connected that to the blue wire. Hopefully it will work. I do have a separate light just in case.

Ran the power line for the fuel pump down the same loom as the original sender/tank switch motor. Cut the sender line and spliced in a weatherpak connector for the pump and sender on the new tank. Going to keep the rest of the wiring for now in place just in case I ever decide to go back to a dual tank setup.

Still haven't started cutting and running the fuel line. Trying to plan it's route. I think I may just run it up the drivers side since I'm only doing the single tank. Just ordered a filter bracket to mount to the framerail.

Got the transmission installed and the crossmember mocked up. I think I can get away with just making the mount slot a little longer and then bolt it right back into the same frame holes.



I still need to figure out how to handle the trans cooler lines. Seems like most people use 6an lines, but both the TH350 and the 4L60 are threaded for 1/4 NPS thread? Any reason why the original lines may not work? Although now that the motor is in may be a pain in the ass to try and thread them under it.
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Old 06-09-2020, 10:10 AM   #21
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Re: First time swap started

Got the shift linkage hooked up. I read conflicting information on whether the stock linkage would work or not. When I had the pivot bracket in the factory location, it was binding and would not allow me to drop the shift lever past R. So I moved the bracket forward one bolt hole, and drilled a new hole in the frame for the forward bolt.


(pic from mockup before I drilled the new hole)

Now, counting the 'clicks' I can drop it all the way down to 1 if I wanted to without issue.

Toughest thing was drilling at a bit of an angle. New drill bits but they kept wanting to walk on me. So I used my dremel to make a small divot first, then a 1/4" bit to start the hole, then 3/8" bit to finish.
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Old 06-09-2020, 01:41 PM   #22
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Re: First time swap started

Gosh! You are moving right along! Awesome.
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Old 06-10-2020, 08:08 AM   #23
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Re: First time swap started

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Gosh! You are moving right along! Awesome.
Thanks. I've been working on it a little almost every day. Feels like when I check something off my list there's two more things to replace it. I went on a shopping spree before I started so I had many parts ready to go.
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Old 06-10-2020, 12:48 PM   #24
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Re: First time swap started

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Got the shift linkage hooked up. I read conflicting information on whether the stock linkage would work or not. When I had the pivot bracket in the factory location, it was binding and would not allow me to drop the shift lever past R. So I moved the bracket forward one bolt hole, and drilled a new hole in the frame for the forward bolt.


(pic from mockup before I drilled the new hole)

Now, counting the 'clicks' I can drop it all the way down to 1 if I wanted to without issue.

Toughest thing was drilling at a bit of an angle. New drill bits but they kept wanting to walk on me. So I used my dremel to make a small divot first, then a 1/4" bit to start the hole, then 3/8" bit to finish.

Nice work overall! Excellent progress. I was able to tweak and tune my factory shift linkage to get it to work enough to drive (I only get down to D - not 3/2/1) by bending the shift arm that goes from the pivot to the side of the transmission on my 4L80E - which I installed the linkage U connector from my TH350 on. Your solution is a lot more elegant and probably offers a lot more flexibility. Nice work.
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Old 06-15-2020, 01:18 PM   #25
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Re: First time swap started

More progress this weekend. No interesting pics however.

Fuel tank installed. Hot Rod Fuel hose 6an PTFE braided hose run for the full run, up the driver's side framerail. Still need to secure it down using the included brackets from the kit, but I need to get some fasteners. Working with that line is not all that fun.. especially with the stuff I used - the nylon over stainless braid. It's a little too thick for the fittings to work easily.

Used this bracket to secure the fuel filter - https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07YV3RJPW/ the filter sits a little loose in there so I may wrap it in something to make it a little more snug. I used a piece of string to help measure for the line length... unfortunately they are a little TOO long, but I guess on the flip side there's plenty of play if I ever need to drop the tank again.

Since I'm going from a 16 gallon to a 20 gallon tank, the filler hose/tube no longer fits. I found a 90 degree bend 1-3/4 hose from Gates that I ordered, I'll cut it down to fit. The vent I'm just going to run some generic 5/8 heater hose I have left over. Since it's not actually carrying fuel, I hope it will be ok.

I hooked the battery up temporarily just to turn the key and verify that the fuel pump primes, and it does. I only did it once since the tank is dry, but wanted to verify the wiring was working and the relay was properly functioning.

Re-used the C10 pressure line for the power steering and got that hooked up. Need to pick up some generic 3/8 hose for the return line, the old stuff was a little questionable. I had to use a tubing bender to re-shape the return line a little, I'll still need to make a sort of loop since my bender doesn't do very tight turns. On that note, parts store people are generally morons, the good ones are hard to find.

"We don't carry any". What? "We just have heater hose and fuel line". Uh, okay. Cause your website has it by the foot. And says it's in stock.

Got adapters and fittings for the transmission cooling line, doing 6an for those as well. Radiator is in, but I need to figure out a shroud for my electric fans. I'm thinking of picking up some sheetmetal and a cheap bender and trying to make my own.

I also need a solution to run the steam line. I'm going to bypass the throttle body for the time being and run it straight off the head. I know lots of people use adapters into the heater hose or upper radiator hose... There's an unused heater hose port in the radiator, but it's quite a big step down from 5/8 to 5/16 (I think). Found a fitting on amazon I may try https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07PMPZWX4

Went to change the transmission filter. What a headache that's turning out to be. Someone punched a hole in the pan and stuck a plastic plug in there (was still full of fluid). I don't want to reuse it. Bought a filter/gasket kit, but had to take it back since I have a 'deep pan'. So I returned it and ordered the deep pan filter. BUT all the affordable replacement deep pans have a slightly different shape, with a corner bump near the dipstick. Apparently there's another version of the filter that actually fits that bump... so got another one on the way. Hopefully it works.

A few more steps forward. Hopefully be firing by next weekend.

Got a quote from Driveshaft Specialists of Texas. For my LWB, they recommend a one-piece aluminum shaft, 5" diameter. For the driveshaft with new spicer u-joints and slip yoke, roughly $650 + shipping. Could save $100 for a 4" with a lower critical speed, but may just go with the 5" for peace of mind.

Then the last thing will be getting a custom exhaust made up from the manifolds back.

I'm currently about $3k into this mess, including the motor and trans, not counting the driveshaft. Whee.
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1985 C10 Silverado LWB
LS Swap in Progress
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