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Messages - digitalsolo

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Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:24:54 PM »
I've been driving my car a bit harder getting prepped for the open track day this weekend at Buttonwillow.  I had already rolled my fender lips inward a bit and was surprised to see I hooked a rear lip while dropping hard into second while showing the car to a friend.

What blew my mind is how far FORWARD the tire is able to get relative to the body.  I knew the rear wants to squat down a lot when you're on it but the only way it can snag the lip as shown is by shoving itself forward a good solid inch.  I already have the DTSS eliminators and I guess this means it's time to install the delrin subframe mounts.  I wonder if this is doing weird things to toe with the whole trailing link moving around...

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:23:42 PM »
It'd be a good time to go back and look through this thread as I just added a bunch of info on the actual install and misc details throughout...
Most of the added stuff is here and here but I tried to make it read okay from start to finish.

Update in the present tense

Finished wiring fan and redoing the power distribution block.  It's a lot less conspicuous than when I had it mounted to the wheel-well.

I've never had as much brake bite as I wanted to despite much repeated bleeding.  Between that and a leaky master cylinder resevoir (not the seals, I never had a problem with it dropping to the floor) I decided to rip into the system properly.  The weak brakes may be a result of the brake booster not being up to snuff and therefore seeing less assist than I'm supposed to.  I'm already running stainless brake lines and decent pads so I'd be surprized if that were it.

I bought a new master cylinder from Charlie AKA Bowtie7 (thanks again by the way) and a used brake booster (having heard poor results by other users of the rebuilt versions).

This was the first time I've bench bleed a master.  It wasn't too bad...

Here's my setup.

You can pinch off the lines one at a time on the edge of the reservoir to keep bubbles from running backward.

I could never get the engine bay clean enough for my tastes so I caved and bought a set of fuel rail covers. 

As usual the 98 fuel rail covers don't use the same bolt pattern as the 99 up valve covers and associated coil brackets they clip to so I had to build some little do-hickeys to shift things back and forth to get it to land properly.  Best advice I have is not to mix and match 98 with anything.  It works fine, it's just been a pain in the back for a long time now.

Finally, I redid my relocation for the brake distribution block AKA proportioning valve.  You need to do something with this or it'll conflict with the coil.

Bending the tab out about 100 degrees appears to work well it's just some work getting all the hardlines bent nicely.  You can see my dangling speedo cable waiting for that cable-x box I'm still sitting on too.  That whole statement about don't start driving it until it's done done done or you won't get it finished...  It's true.

All that's left for the moment is a brake bleed and she's back on the road.

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:23:14 PM »
Hood clearancing:

Previously I'd be forced to trim one of the underhood ribs to allow clearance for the top of power steering reservoir. 

Here's my hood trimming. 

So close but I couldn't quite get it to fit.  I even tried denting the rib but it just barely started to show on the topside so I abandoned the effort.

Here's the mount for the PS reservoir.  The reservoir itself is still hooked up via its hose in this shot so it's just kinda leaning against the upper radiator hose at the moment.  My intent was to cut down the two side tips and just let the reservoir slide about 5/16" lower. 

Here's how the finished version sits:

Naturally before I could remount it I needed to cut down the hose as well.  I took off about 5/16" here too.

When taking this off I removed the return line and cranked the engine over by hand a dozen or so times to empty the reservoir first and make less mess.

Clearnace to the serpentine belt is a tad close as it heads for my high mount alternator so I'll keep an eye on this:

The car now has a faded gray hood on it but it's the aluminum NA version and the thing is insanely light.  I couldn't find a buyer for my clean white hood so I ended up just giving that away as opposed to sending it to the trash man.

BTW I'm suspicious that most folks running power steering won't have this problem as I'm running a vette motor and all the accesories are different.  Regardless, I thought I'd post up what I did.  You run into a lot of little clearancing things to do in this swap.  That includes:

-Header to firewall (both sides)
-Firewall lip to intake manifold
-Transmission tunnel hump removal
-Shifter position notching (at least if you're running Hinson mounts, Grannies mounts on the rear holes don't need it)
-Brake bypass proportioning valve to spark plugs (wrote up another thread on this but think I called it brake distribution block)  I'm actually redoing this.
-Cutting sheetmetal and mounting of radiator (possibly some frame rail persuading).
-Cutting underbody panel to fit around new radiator mounting
-Various relocation of evap and brake lines particularly if you're running valve covers (which I have in the works)
-Front swaybar has to be shimmed down and forward.  This is especially a pain with the vette accesories.

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:22:56 PM »
Main battery power redo:

When I bought my car it came with a ton of stereo gear: a pair of 12s in the trunk, a couple giant capacitors, and 3 full size deep cycle batteries.  I had one battery under the hood and one in each storage bin all were wired with 4awg leads.  When I did the swap I left only a single yellowtop in the passenger bin.  As the power was already run I left it alone, particularly because it was run under a layer of Dynamat Extreme and that stuff is a huge PITA to remove.  However, because power was running from my passenger bin to the driver?s side shock tower through a distribution block and then around the front of the car to my starter, I probably had 18 feet of 4 gage cable between my battery and starter.  The result is that my starter?s always felt weak, when the car?s hot it would pop my 140A breaker at the battery.

I?m finally doing it the right way.  Upping to 1/0awg cable (1/0 is single zero, 2/0 is bigger and means 00, 3/0 = 000 etc) going straight from batter to starter through a 250A breaker, THEN around the front of the car to my distribution block to feed the main fuse and alternator.

Here?s the difference between 1/0awg and 4awg.

Soldering 1/0 connectors and battery terminals is a bit of a pain.  Regular soldering irons simply don?t put out enough heat rapidly enough.  The mass of the wire itself becomes a pretty effective heat sink.  I used extra flux and a propane torch and it worked out great.

One decent hole in the firewall and a giant grommet later and I started my run. 

Obviously you can?t solder the starter terminal until you have it properly run through the grommet.

Adhesive lined heat shrink is good stuff.

Wrapped in heat shield on the bottom.

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:22:38 PM »

It?s always ticked me off that I had to run external fuse holders for the fan and fuel pump.  It makes the wiring messy, they?re harder to get to, and I really didn?t want to run a big audio style holder just so I could get a 50A fuse in there.

Solution that I?ve been staring at for a while: 2 open spots in the main fuse block on the drivers shock tower.

Battery input come from the single big lead that screws down facing the camera.  This feeds a buss that connects to the input side of all 7 fuse locations.  The 100A fuse goes to the alternator.  Others feed the underdash fuse box etc.  The hard part on this thing is that I could never get the pins out and the spade on the plug at the bottom is a weird size so you can?t just slap another spade in there.

I finally grabbed the connectors I needed from the parts car, they should be pretty easy to find at any junkyard.  Once I got the spare on a bench with better lighting I finally figured out the retention.  There?s a little plastic clip that?s retains each spade.  However it?s shaped such that it?s hard to get out of the way, my mini screwdriver was never accurate enough until I knew exactly what I was going for.  Normally you can just shove something in on one side of the clip and it'll pop right out.  This requires a bit more dexterity.

Retention clip

Easiest to got at it from below

This drops into the connector on the swapped car and gets spliced to fan power (after going through a relay or controller first, naturally.

Same process applies to the power side of the fuel pump relay.  For factory matched sizes you?ll want to use 12awg for the fan and 16awg for the fuel pump.  Add fuses and you?re golden.  Oh I also upsized my input to the fuse box because it?s now carrying more load.

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:22:25 PM »
You're very welcome.  FYI:  I finally updated the parts list and fixed all the old torque central references.  The excel file in the first post changed as well.  A bit more progress on the car too:

For a couple months now my signature has referenced ?breaking it in, working out the bugs? I figured it?s about time I finally got around to documenting what I might have done different given the advantages of hindsight.

Wiring: cheats and redos


I tried to use existing Mazda relays to control the Volvo fan which aren?t rated for the load.  I actually knew that already but I figured I could get away with it.  Most specs I?ve seen on the Taurus fan are somewhere around 30A (amps) steady state and quite a bit more on startup.  I assume the Volvo s80 fan I?m running is similar.  Danzan was under the impression the H430 relays I had grabbed off my parts car were good for about 30A each.  So the theory was that I could wire the signal coils in series so they?d both switch together and wire the power to the fan in parallel to load share.

Worked great? for about four months, until I was charging a canyon on a hot day.  I pulled into the parking lot at the bottom and spontaneously overheated.  Damn, no fan.  It?s kinda funny that it did fine while I was still moving.  After a little investigation here?s what I found:

Smoked both relays right at the power contactors.  Oops, I?m assuming my setup was marginal and forcing it to turn on and off a bunch of times pushed it over the edge.  This is why wiring insulation isn?t flammable anymore.  You do this on a 50 year-old ride and you?ll burn your car down.  It?s no wonder Painless has done so well selling wiring redo kits for classic cars.

Moral of the story:  You need at least a properly rated 75 amp relay for fan control if you?re going through the ECU.  The more I think about it the more having a soft start option seems like a good idea.  As such I threw down for the DC Control FK-35 setup.

It uses a temperature probe wedged into the fins of the radiator itself to continuously vary fan speed to a known temperature.  The jumper pins attach the probe and allow different temperature settings.  Seems like a slick unit but I?ll report back in once I have a little more time with it.  I did find a nice spot to mount it on the fan shroud.  This is just the test fit, I used the supplied mounting screws, disassembled all the crimp connectors and soldered/heat shrunk everything.

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:22:06 PM »
I know I still need to flesh out some details on the heater plumbing and power steering, just haven't gotten to do it yet.  On the heater front I basically figured out where it needed to bend and went looking for formed hoses.

Might be a bit hard to see here but the three hoses are Goodyear part numbers
63244 (bent shorty)
63824 (medium)
63107 (long)

That 63244 is the money hose for getting up and out from behind the intake manifold.  I reused one of my stock rx7 hoses but you could just as easily buy two of the 63244 and trim them to fit.  I was able to cut enough off of the long one (63107) to reuse a piece of that to run along the firewall to where my hoses come in together and turn 90 via the adaptors.

Don't know who carries which hoses but these were all bought at a local Kragen.  The only other thing you need to be careful of is the fact most of these hoses taper from 5/8" to 3/4" (or the opposite depending which end you started with).  It works out to use the two long hoses with both bends down at the water pump and trimmed so they stick out an even 3" or so.  (see post #51 for the general run).  You'll need to put a bit of thought into which clamps face which way as well.

If you're really good a braizing I might say go for it because the area back there is so crazy tight.  Good luck!

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:21:54 PM »
I've been unhappy with the options available for mounting the water temp sender in the LS1 head.  You need an adaptor to go from the 1/8" npt thread on the sender to the m12 x 1.5 thread on the LS1 block.  (Anyone else amused by the fact the domestic uses metric and the import SAE?)

Anyways, the nose on the sender means you have to drill out the adaptor or you can't get any thread engagement.

The problem's discussed further here:

And here:

I had heard the brass adaptor fittings were pretty weak so I ordered two.  At the moment I've been running without the sender hooked up because I just don't trust the drill it out method.  The area under the o-ring has a minor OD of 0.375 vs. 0.292 for the OD of the nose.  With a 5/16 drill bit that's only 0.035 wall thickness remaining.  Then it strikes me:  Why not just cut the threads off one adaptor, dril out the base and weld the additional npt threads so I've got a bigger void for the nose to extend into?

After looking into it a bit more I settled on silver solder (SSF-6) from www.muggyweld.com.  I used a mini oxy-acetaline torch to heat it up with the two parts held in a pair of vice grips.

Only advice I have is to heat slowly.  You want a dull orange color (see demo vids on muggywled).  I ended up blowing away some of the brass by mistake.  If you see the brass surface start to blister you need to BACK OFF.

Used a sander to clean up the messiness a bit and here's the end result.

You can see how thin the walls of the drilled out portion I cut off became.  Not my prettiest work but it look like it'll function fine...


Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:20:57 PM »
Thread edited top to bottom with notes as applicable in hindsight.

A few more pics for y'all (I'll assume anyone on dial-up has cried mercy and given up by now):

The stock belly pan fits nice and tight around the JTR radiator with a little trimming.  I took off my towhooks but that's what the radiator mounts to and where the majority of the trimming has to occur.

I quickly figured out that my 205/60r15 BFG g-force sports weren't going to make enough traction so I went ahead and installed my better wheels.  Only weird thing was that they came with 235/45r17s all around even though the wheelset is a staggered 8" front 9" rear.  If anything my traction when down with the old dried out Yokohama Avid A4's. 

Lack of traction makes free mudflaps!

I decided I liked the 235/45 up front even though it's a tad taller than stock (might be a good thing with a long nose like mine).  I bought a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position's in the above up front and 255/40r17 in the rear.  Need to get them installed, but haven't done it yet.

Finally I leave you with a nice glamour shot...

This car ROCKS!

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:20:37 PM »
Per request here's my list of tubing used for the exhaust...

It's 100% 304 stainless stress mandrel bends in 16 gage walls (0.065).  Everything was bought from Racing Solutions.

(1) 2.5" stainless super intercooler builder kit
(1) 2.5" stainless 180 degree bend on 3.75 radius (needed one more than the kit)
(8ft) 2.5" stainless straight tube (7 ft would have been fine if you could get it in two 3.5 ft pieces)
(1) 3" stainless 90 degree bend on 4" radius (to turn upward after the header flange).

I also bought 2.5 to 3" transistions but the jump was too sharp so I didn't end up using them and just had the exhuast shop do some stepped stretching where the 2.5 meets the 3.

3" V-band clamps came with my JTR headers up front.  In back the 2.5" clamps are from summit.  I used a magnaflow x-pipe but if you wanted to build your own you'd only need 1 more 2.5" 180 deg (or 2 more 2.5" 90s).  Finally I had (2) 3 ft sticks of 3/8" pencil rod for misc hangers.

The magnaflow 7" round cans are killer for a daily driver.  If you wanted it a smidge louder you might try the 6"s instead.

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:18:43 PM »
Well, it's back from the exhaust shop and man does she drive nice...  The Magnaflow mid-muffler didn't fit (would have to be too close to the trans mount) so I went with a regular x-pipe.  I did successfully have them route it up and over granny's trans mount.

Had the shop guy build me a driveshaft loop while he was in there:

The 7" round Magnaflows with a standard x-pipe are surprisingly quiet.  That said, I like it nice and mellow so it's perfect for me.  If you want a bit more roar don't be afraid to try out the 6" version.  I need to double check my tuning and all that before I start driving hard but I'm smiling big so far.

One more on the road baby!

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:18:24 PM »
Pics are all stored on my own website (free through gmail) so they should be here for a long time.

A couple more details from separate threads I wrote earlier:

Brake distribution block clearancing:

With the engine all the way back against the firewall you may have a nasty interference between the hydraulic manifold that distributes fluid to the 4 corners and the most aft coil on the drivers side head.  I solved this via flipping my distribution block around backward and trimming the mount.  Link to thread is here:



[Ed. Note:  This still rubbed on the spark plug line just a hard so I've since redone this one more time to my satisfaction.  Bending the mounting point out a bit further than 90 degrees appears to be the hot ticket]

Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:18:07 PM »
No, my heads are not milled.  I'm using stock OEM gaskets and a Futral F13 cam.  After talking to Allan at Futral it seems that there's some "indifference" <- (his words, not mine) in the tolerance stackup of all the timing pieces.  In my case this meant that retarding ~1.7 degrees put my P to V clearance within a 0.001 of published specs on the cam.  Any time you're playing with aggressive cams they want to open the valve as soon as possible during intake event and leave it open for as long as possible during the exhaust stroke.  It pretty much makes sense where the piston to valve clearance gets close.

Other than exhaust here's my finished car:

I had one invention to add to the discussion about diff control and avoiding wheel hop.  As I see it the two big aluminum ears coming off the case of the diff are responsible for controlling 'roll' and the front mount has to control 'pitch.' 

Controlling the front seems to be pretty well covered by setting the pinion angle parallel to the output shaft of the transmission (1-2 degrees at each end gets you enough motion of the u-joint), and using a pinion snubber and/or harder durometer rubber (Mazda calls it the competition mount).  DON'T WELD YOUR FRONT MOUNT SOLID.  This just tries to make it carry the roll with a tiny moment arm and pretty much gurantees you'll crack something in fatigue over time.  If you do happen to crack the subframe mount point you can weld that stronger like this: owenv8lite's setup here.

I wanted to try increasing the stiffness at the two ears as simply as I could but without going to delrin mounts or something harsh.  I'd noticed on my former diff that one ear would knock up and down on accel/deccel and that the rubber crown looking section doesn't do anything unless the inside bushing extends downward enough to touch it.

As such I built some spacers to make this carry a bit of preload.  3/8" thick plastic and a couple sizes of hole saw and I was good to go.  Remember that hole saw's are always measured at the OD of the hole so OD of the circle you cut ends up being at least an 1/8" smaller.  Here's my end result:

Oh new bushings and good condition shocks (there's some debate over coilover vs stock) are the other two mandatory wheel hop remedies.

I took the car for a spin last night with open headers.  It was about as stealthy as an Abrams tank on the freeway but I got away with it.  No sign of wheel hop but I won't really know until I get to launch it on sticky tires. 

It pulled pretty good but definitely felt ragged.  More vibration that I was expecting but that might have something to do with the open headers and the fat shockwaves under my feet.  I dropped it off at the exhaust shop today but before I left work I lit it off in the parking lot.

Who says FCs can't turn heads? :yup:


Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:17:44 PM »
I had a lot of problems getting the startup video to post online so Frijolee's Ls1 Rx7 Startup

A couple more things:

Throttle pedal:

I didn't like the fact that the mazda throttle cable was designed to drop through the firewall at a downward angle but the camaro cable I'm using goes straight through.  It means that the cable itself has to turn a downward corner and is undoubtedly going to saw through the plastic housing over time.  I also noticed I didn't have enough pedal travel to open the butterfly all the way.  I decided to kill two birds with one stone and called in a favor at work to weld in a 1" extension on the upper end to lengthen the pedal. 

The pedal itself unbolts easily.  I'll let you know how it works out but it looks like I should be a lot better off.

Finally much thanks goes to my wife Tamara for putting up with me being a basket case for the last couple months.  This shot was from last night as she was helping me bleed the brakes.

If you look close you can see the delrin shift knob.  I bought one designed after the c5r race car (but made for a c5) and lathed off a few hard edges.  Then I discover that the vette knobs use a 9/16-18 thread instead of the m16 x 1.5 on the camaro.  It's the same trans!  What the heck was the general of GM thinking?!?  Retapped the threads and it finally came out nice. 

Car should move on its own this weekend.  I have an appointment at the exhuast shop next week.


Build Threads / Re: Joel's LS1 FC master parts list/swap thread
« on: May 10, 2010, 03:17:28 PM »
The Devil's in the details...

So this is a bit of a cleanup post to document a few of the things that were hard at the end of the road.  If you're reading really carefully you might notice I predicted startup "next weekend" on Nov 6 and didn't fire it for almost three and half weeks.  Why?


On the Corvette the pulleys and belts all sit ~1" closer to the block than do the F-body goods.  This meant that my swaybar would rotate up and INTO the bottom flange (AC portion) of the pulley when both sides compressed.  I eventually added 3/8" to the Grannies swaybar spacers for a total of 1 1/8" down and 1/2" forward.

I debated trying to machine off the A/C portion of the pulley since I can't run the corvette AC compressor with Grannies mounts.  See here for that whole debacle.  However, this is a balanced piece designed to spin 7000 rpm and I just didn't trust that it'd be right.

The added spacers still weren't getting me the clearance I wanted with the suspension compressed so I finally broke down and ordered the ASP underdrive pulley. My stock pulley was a smidge less than 7 1/2" diameter at the flange.  The ASP (-25% main, -10% AC) is about 6 5/8" 

Couldn't get the tape quite at the right surface ignore the tape readings.  What matters is that I gained another 3/8" and now I look good to go.  Running the bar spaced down that low meant I used the stock end links with ball joints and had to hammer the sheetmetal clevis (where it attaches to the lower arm) forward into a parallelagram to keep the links from binding.


Eventually I intend to build myself a cold air box so I'm running my air filter off on the side of the bay.  I found an intake kit from a 96 impala on eBay that used 3 1/2" piping and had ordered that a while previously.  Once I saw how far it stuck out I knew I was going to need to fab some support for it.  I lengthened the leads to the MAF and bent some 1/8" aluminum bar stock into supports so my intake is basically on a tripod with the elbow being the 3rd leg.

I put all the flat faces of the barstock in the direction the engine will shift on its mounts and rubber mounted the far tips so it can flex.  That box under the headlight is the fuel pump resistor relay that's not needed with the ls1 and has since been removed.  (It  basically makes the mazda pump see partial voltage when not needed)Here's the final version:

By the way the elbow needed is a 4" to 3 1/2" not a pure 3 1/2" 90.  I don't know how I got this wrong but I did.  I called JTR to order the right one and Mike was cool enough to flow that to me as a thank you for taking all the pics during radiator install.  Props for good customer service.... :yeah:

PCV and steam tubes:

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