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  • What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

    I keep hearing about how great and inexpensive junkyard 5.3's and 4.8's are... and I truly do believe it (as long as I can find a yard around here that will sell one for what the "going rate" is).

    The 305 in the 84 C10 runs great, but has no cajones and the mileage is lousy... The truck only weighs 4080lbs, so a bone stock 5.3 (or 4.8 ) would run great - and with the overdrive tranny, I could run a 3.73 gear for towing and still be able to cruise on the highway... and probably get 20 or better mpg.


    If I wanted to put a BONE STOCK 5.3 and 4L6?E in my old truck, what would it take?

    ? Electronic controller(s)
    ? Driveshaft adapter or conversion U joint
    ? Engine mounts/transmission mount
    ? Fuel pump
    ? Speedometer
    ? Exhaust
    ? misc things I haven't considered

    If there is already a thread on this, forgive me... and show me a link. :-) Please.

  • #2

    Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

    Get as much of the stock engine harness as you can, a lot of places will sell the whole engine/trans with wiring harness and Factory ecm which basically makes it a plug and play swap......Then you can get a DiabloSport Tuner(or the likes) for the year/vehicle the engine came out of and do basic changes to the tuning, you know like tire size/gear ratio/ shift points.......... plus you can use the Performance tune for it........This would be the simplest and cheapest way to go........Even if you want to do a cam swap, it'll be no problem for someone to re-tune the ECM for you.........Hell you can even do it yourself if want to spend the money for HPTuners........

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    • #3

      Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

      See about a drop in tank fuel pump, or a later year tank that may fit your truck that has an EFI pump in it. If you could get the whole harness with the ECM that'd be the simplest. Get something to tap into the computer (like HPTuners, it does transmission programming to doesn't it?) to disable unneeded features and fine tune any quirks it may have from less weight and change of gearing.

      The only hiccup I don't have an answer for is I don't know about the conversion of any drive by wire set ups. I'm sure there are aftermarket throttle bodies for a throttle cable. Just don't know the costs or what a stock ECM thinks of it.
      Escaped on a technicality.

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      • #4

        Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

        1987 C10 would have the tank you need, but the stock pump is lower pressure for TBI. 86 was carb, 88 was a different body style of truck.

        Drive by wire was not on all the LS motors, for example the 99 silverado with the 5.3 has a throttle cable.
        My fabulous web page

        "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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        • #5

          Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?


          Drive by wire was not on all the LS motors, for example the 99 silverado with the 5.3 has a throttle cable.
          Ya but the computer needs the Drive by wire input, simplest way to take care of that is just get the whole DBW gas pedal assembly with it...........

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          • #6

            Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

            The non-DBW trucks don't have a DBW gas pedal....
            My fabulous web page

            "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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            • #7

              Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

              Do some research on LS1tech.com or similar - some truck engines had a fuel pressure regulator built into the fuel rails, you can use any pump with this combo - a simple Ford van inline EFI pump like Randal runs is a great, reliable and simple-to-plumb choice. You could go the surge-tank route like Randal did too.

              I agree on getting the GM computer, try to get the matching comptuer with the trans and engine so there's not really any retuning to do. You'll want to try to get the MAF sensor, although a retune will let the engine run in "speed density" mode without a MAF - but the retune costs $$ so, do a comparison here to save the most money IMO.

              The GM computer is hard to beat on stock engine combos - free trans control is very, very nice!
              Proudly using www.DIYAutotune.com custom EFI components!

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              • #8

                Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                The non-DBW trucks don't have a DBW gas pedal....
                Ya I know that, what I'm saying is all he has to do is get the Pedal Assembly out of a truck with DBW and mount the pedal assembly in his truck......I think there is a control box that goes with the DBW pedal assembly to.......I'll have to ask my friend Ed again on that, he had a DBW 5.3 that he was going to swap into his truck........

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                • #9

                  Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                  Ya I know that, what I'm saying is all he has to do is get the Pedal Assembly out of a truck with DBW and mount the pedal assembly in his truck......I think there is a control box that goes with the DBW pedal assembly to.......I'll have to ask my friend Ed again on that, he had a DBW 5.3 that he was going to swap into his truck........
                  THen won't he also have to get the ECU specifically for DBW? I'm pretty sure they are two different beasts. AT that point he's in for extra tuning $$ unless he gets the whole engine and trans to match the DBW combo.

                  My personal preference would be the cable throttle, because (a) the APPS assemblies are *extremely* expensive, and prone to fail; and (b) the stupid "safe mode" anytime a sensor hiccups makes it so the drive-by-wire disables throttle control so that the car can only go a few mph.

                  Parish's turbo truck had DBW and it was a lot of extra work for us to make the factory computer stay happy so that it would work the throttle & ignition.

                  I guess if he finds a complete engine, trans, DBW assembly for cheap then it's a good way to go, but I can't see a good reason for adapting a DBW system (that's APPS, a DBW throttle body, and some other control pieces) to a non-DBW combo.

                  Not arguing with you, just not sure I see the benefit.
                  Proudly using www.DIYAutotune.com custom EFI components!

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                  • #10

                    Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                    THen won't he also have to get the ECU specifically for DBW? I'm pretty sure they are two different beasts. AT that point he's in for extra tuning $$ unless he gets the whole engine and trans to match the DBW combo.

                    My personal preference would be the cable throttle, because (a) the APPS assemblies are *extremely* expensive, and prone to fail; and (b) the stupid "safe mode" anytime a sensor hiccups makes it so the drive-by-wire disables throttle control so that the car can only go a few mph.

                    Parish's turbo truck had DBW and it was a lot of extra work for us to make the factory computer stay happy so that it would work the throttle & ignition.

                    I guess if he finds a complete engine, trans, DBW assembly for cheap then it's a good way to go, but I can't see a good reason for adapting a DBW system (that's APPS, a DBW throttle body, and some other control pieces) to a non-DBW combo.

                    Not arguing with you, just not sure I see the benefit.
                    Sorry wasn't trying to say there was a benefit to doing it, I was just saying if he gets a DBW engine, that getting the pedal assembly is the way to go and still be able to use the factory ECM........Of coarse if he gets a cable operated TB then it's not an issue.......and I agree is the better way to go.......

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                    • #11

                      Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                      What the hell is going on here?
                      also boost will make the cam act smaller

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                      • #12

                        Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                        that makes sense. So, really, he needs to make sure that if he gets the engine out of a DBW equipped truck, he should make sure to get the pedal assembly and any other relevant controls (I seem to remember a separate electronics box, did it drive the throttle assembly??)
                        Proudly using www.DIYAutotune.com custom EFI components!

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                        • #13

                          Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                          See this is what I was talking about. Without asking you guys now (in advance) it could have been a heck of a headache trying to do things twice because I got a "good deal" on a DBW engine and tranny. It seems like finding a 99 drive-train would be the best way to go.

                          Next question: The 84 truck still has 2 into 1 exhaust with manifolds. The previous owner eliminated the cat. - If I reinstalled a cat in the '84 factory location, would I just have to weld an O2 bung in behind it? Or is there one before and one after?
                          Or will a power programmer be able to adjust to the vehicle not having a cat? FL has no emissions testing.

                          This stuff is intimidating to us new to it.

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                          • #14

                            Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                            I think the truck engines have 4 O2 sensors and two cats. Hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
                            My fabulous web page

                            "If it don't go, chrome it!" --Stroker McGurk

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                            • #15

                              Re: What does it take to install a LS motor and trans into an old vehicle?

                              I *believe* HP Tuners allows you to disable O2 feedback, or open up the range before it sets codes and changes the tune. Any HPT gurus out there that can confirm?

                              If so, find a friend with HPT and pay for the credit, and a little $$ for the tune changes. I'd try to avoid the expense of actually owning HPT.
                              Proudly using www.DIYAutotune.com custom EFI components!

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