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Author Topic: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)  (Read 764826 times)

Offline frijolee

Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« on: June 21, 2010, 10:54:40 AM »
When V8 RX7 Forum went down in May 2010 I thought I'd reorganize this thread to be a little more user friendly.  I wanted to sequence the thread into something more like I'd try if I had hindsight on my side.  Plus I thought it would help to have topics broken down into smaller chunks for easier linking.  FWIW the HTML text version of this thread is over 150 pages long and it contains close to 500 pictures so it's almost a v8 rx7 build book unto itself.   I'm not going to cut out the hard moments or the things I broke, but hopefully this will be a better reference for those to come.

DigitalSolo was kind enough to bring copy all my original posts over from the other forum before it went fully offline so if you want to check out the originals see here.   I'll have him lock the other thread so this will be the sole source of info going forward.

Best regards and good luck!
-Joel Payne (AKA frijolee)


Note: for whatever reason some browsers may put you slightly above the correct jump spot so you may need to scroll down slightly after using certain links...

-Where I started
-Some history on the car
-Early changes
-Details on the cage
-Mazdaspeed lip notes

Getting started with the swap:
-What you need to know
-LSX vs. Rotary comparison
-Other things I wish I would have known up front
-Cheap parts source for new GM pieces

Motor 1.0 Build:
-Timing chain install
-Cam and oil pump install
-Rotary equipment removal
-Installing rod bolts, Vette to F-body pan conversion
-Piston to valve (P to V) checking
-Upgraded rockers
-P to V questions and weirdness
-Adjustable timing chain (P to V solved)

Chassis Prep
-4-Piston brake conversion & Painting brakes
-T2 rear end install
-Fuel pump upgrade
-Vette AC vs. Grannies mount conflict
-Header clearancing & Trans tunnel modifications
-Exhaust gasket porting

Motor 1.0 Install (through trial first firing)
-Motor install
-Power steering
-Clutch hydraulics install
-Shifter boot / sealing heat
-JTR radiator install w/ Volvo s80 fan
-First pass at fuel system
-Intake tract 1.0
-Wiring notes consolidated

-Swaybar fitment (AKA Vette accessories make things difficult
-LS6 pcv and steam tubes
-Integrating the OEM oil pressure sender 
-Water temp sender adaptation
-Battery relocation, version 1.0
-Lengthening the throttle pedal
-Brake prop valve interference
-Heater hoses, version 1.0
-First motor firing
-Diff control, version 1.0
-First pics on 4 wheels

Finishing the install?
-Driveshaft loop 
-Splash guard fitment AKA engine belly pan
-Blitz type 01 wheels plus a video doing donuts

Little Improvements:
-Fan wiring w/ DC control box
-Adding to the main fuse block
-Battery relocation version 2.0
-Relocating Vette powersteering reservoir for better hood clearance
-Bench bleeding brake MC
-Urethane Rear LCA bushings & random track prep
-Urethane front suspension bushing change out
-AWR camber links (rear)
-Pinion snubber
-Corner weighting
-Mazfest track day reveiw 

First Major Breakdown (Transmission Failure):
-Blown up slave cylinder
-Mcleod twin disk clutch
-Shimming the new clutch
-Transmission reinstall from below

Make it Handle, Make it Brake (1.0):
-Plans / details
-Two sets of wheels: Volk RE30 17x9, Mustang GT 17x8
-Longer wheel studs
-Shine/Foresight Widebody Front Fenders
-Fender lining relocation
-Rolling rear fender lips
-Custom wheel spacers
-Brake system design notes
-Mandeville big brakes teaser
-Mandeville big brake fitment
-Clutch MC rebuild

-Some days wrenching just SUCK?
-Oil cooler install
-Oil pan baffle install

Blown Motor:
-What went down
-Why did it happen?

The Rebuild
-Dash removal and lightening
-Custom triple gauge pod
-DIY depowered steering rack
-Motor build version 2.0
-Poly motor mounts for Granny's kit
-DIY oil pump porting
-Rod bolts FYI (beware ferrules & stock vs. ARP vs. Katech)
-Head bolt differences
-Cracked rod bearing concentricity issues
-GTO vs. F-body LS1s  and notes on dipsticks
-Heater hose relocation
-Wiring clean up, finishing up the chassis work
-Cam swap and buttoning up the motor
-Clutch #3 (LS6 w/ fidanza flywheel)
-Seven Not Stock, Steaks and Beer

The Rebuild, Part 2
-Speedo functional (cable-X)
-Idiot light relocation / extra gauges finished
-Notes on Half Shafts (929 etc)
-Rebuilding an S4 T2 diff
-Setting pinion angle & more rear end support
-Head gasket annoyances

Winter Mods
-List o' accomplishments
-Rebuilt rockers (again)
-Header wrap
-Heat shrink hose clamps (Gates PowerGrip)
-Accusump install-5th point of belts
-Brake pedal brace

New intake tract
-Hood pins
-Hood shocks
-Move/replace coolant overflow
-Relay relocation
-Cutting and fit checks
-Intake Tube/MAF Interface
-Wiring the new MAF
-Intake results

-LS7 MAF reference material

-A good day
-Swaybars: my experience
-A few great pictures

Mazfest 2009:
-Best RX7 or Classic

Lingering Gremlins:
-Self exciting alternators suck... voltage
-Clutch problems becoming frustrating

Make it Handle, Make it Brake (2.0):
-DIY struct tower bar
-Steering wheel modification
-Clutch #4 , Monster Stage 4
-Rear suspension: sphericals and toe links
-Front suspension: AWR needle bearings
-Spring rate change: 6/5 to 8/6
-Driving Impressions
-Custom S5 tow hook
-Powder Coating Track Wheels
-Mandeville Big Brakes version 2.0
-Speed Bleeders
-Rebuilding calipers
-Adjustable prop valve
-Brake Results


My latest pass at a comprehensive master parts list:

Note: some pars above are exclusive to my situation (missing bolts because I'm doing this the piecemeal route etc.)

I'll try to include links to other threads I found helpful as I go along.  This forum's been a great help to me over the years.  I started researching feasibility here.  I bought my car/engine from an occasional poster back when we were on TorqueCentral.  I can't even count how much advice and inspiration this place has offered me.  As such this thread is my way of giving back.

I've had the car up and running since December 06.  I did my swap while being a full time mechanical engineer, a grad school student (MBA), I'd just moved, I was a relative newly wed,  and I didn't have a garage of my own to work in.  With all that the swap took me 3.5 months and probably about 300 hours to get it the way I wanted it (at least for the first pass at my build).  I ran into a lot of weirdness using the vette ls1 and mixing and matching pieces from 98s and others years.  Still, I have no regrets and the car is everything I hoped it would be.  A huge thank you to Dave and Cherrie Ellis, amazing folks who let me use their backyard and basement to do the build.  Blessings to you both and good luck to all who follow here...


After (and in the middle of relocating the brake prop valve for the 2nd time):

After 2.0 (new intake tract)


Parts list enclosed in zipped excel format below...  If you share it with others please give me the credit.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2011, 07:02:12 PM by frijolee »
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2010, 10:55:55 AM »
Where I started:  

I was always a gear head but I really started playing with cars in college.  First car of my own was a 1989 Acura Integra.  After tinkering for a year I came to the conclusion that I was using the wrong chassis because the car was kind of heavy and lacked aftermarket support.   Instead I bought a 1992 Civic that had a JDM engine swap (B16A for the Honda folks here).  I pulled it all apart and swapped over USDM bits and pieces to make it CA smog compliant.  I drove that car for almost 5 years.  Rebuilt the trans myself, added a Quaife LSD, played with nitrous (and screwed a few things up<--I stay away from the giggle juice these days).  Ended up have a JG Engine Dyanmics head good for 12,000 rpm and a forged bottom end.  After all that the car still only made about 170 whp, but it was so light it was a ton of fun.

I wanted a serious sports car so after starting my first real job I bought a 1994 RX7 that was running stock twins at 14 psi and had all the M2 Performance goodies.  (Same engine setup as the Sport Compact Car project car).   It was good for 315 rwhp and was everything a BPU FD should be.  Problem was that I was only 25 and the car was just too damn pretty.  I found myself checking every time I parked under a tree whether it would drop crap on me.  I didn?t really understand the rotary so a hard time driving it hard because I just didn?t trust it (despite the fact EVERYTHING had been gone through.)

I still had the Civic and I didn?t really need two cars so put the FD up for sale to help fund my wedding.  It sold at my asking price ($19,900) and I never had a single problem with the car.  In fact the only things I ever did to it were just maintenance replacements.   Interestingly, the FD sold on the same day I discovered by beloved Civic had been stolen (but heck, I got offered my asking price so I wasn?t going to refuse).   I went from 2 cars to no cars in 14 hours less than a month prior to getting married.

Anyways, I futzed around in truck for a year or so.  Started riding motorcycles which are rad in their own way but I always really missed having a small, fun to drive car.  So like any good engineer I sat down to list all the things I wanted in a project car.

-Rear wheel drive
-Not so pretty that I would be afraid to flog the thing
-A fairly large but fairly stock motor to make smog easier
-Minimal amenities in a light stiff chassis
-Something with a bit of work already done to it (suspension etc) so I wasn?t starting from scratch.

That was literally it.  I wasn?t going to be beholden to any make or model.  I was just poking around online when I found TorqueCentral?s  v8rx7 sub forum.  I was immediately sold on the idea and decided to do an FC so I could really use the thing.  I started reading everything I could when a few months later I stumbled across a smoking deal in the classifieds.   It?ll tell you something about the girl I married that we relocated our camping trip to Monterey CA that year to drive all the way to Dallas TX and buy a car that summer.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2010, 11:06:11 AM by frijolee »
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2010, 10:56:41 AM »
Some History on the Car

Some deals are just so good that you?re not going to haggle.  In this case a gent in Texas was unloading a bunch of toys to fund a house purchase.   Basics:

-1990 Mazda RX7 GTU
-58,000 original miles on a perfect running NA rotary
-Tenzo R bucket seats
-Cage w/ swing-out door beams
-Sparco club harnesses
-Tein Flex suspension w/ EDFC
-Two sets of wheels (18s and 15s)
-Spare T2 hood (the one thing I never did manage to get home)
-A ton of stereo gear (multiple capacitors, three deep cycle batteries etc)
-The entire tub was wrapped in DynaMat Extreme

He?d been planning on doing this swap himself so it also came with some goodies on the side:

-98 vette LS1 long block
-Grannies mounting equipment
-An ?03 Cobra diff

It really was a fire sale so I only paid $5,000 for the lot.  That said, I was BLOWN away how much house you could get for the dollar outside Texas so I?m not feeling too bad.  Martin also had a stack of sportbikes and other trick stuff so it?s not like he was hurting on hobbies.

The car as I bought it:

« Last Edit: June 21, 2010, 11:11:20 AM by frijolee »
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2010, 10:57:11 AM »
Early Changes:

I bought the car with the intent of doing this swap but I was just starting a Master?s of business so I figured I?d just do a bunch of research and collect parts for a couple years while I drove the car N/A.

I sold off a bunch of the stereo gear (I?m already missing hearing due to time in a machine shop).  Some of it ended up in my wife?s car. 

Changed the harnesses to a proper cam-lock setup.

Wide throttle pedal so for easier heel and toe shifting.

Ditched the fog lights.

Dropped down to the spare 15? wheels & removed a bunch of tint (windshield header, both side windows, 1 of 2 layers from hatch). 

I pulled off the factory rear spoiler and then that was it for a while?  A year later I started to have a few clutch issues and the ?build bug? was starting to bite me pretty hard so I thought I?d get started a bit sooner than I planned.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2010, 11:17:00 AM by frijolee »
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2010, 11:18:34 AM »
Cage Details: 

One thing that sold me on this particular car was the pre-existence of a nicely done roll bar.  If I had built it myself I might not have done the swing outs because I rarely use them.  However they're nice to have when the wife's in skirt or for the occasional passenger who's less mobile than most.

6 point roll bar with swing-out door beams

No strut tower bar needed back here

I had to section the panels on each side that housed the former belt retractors.

Lower door bar connection is welded to angle plates that catch both the floor and door sills.

Best part is how tight the run is to the body.

Cage was built by
Machine Shop, Lewisville, Texas, TX // Meyer Enterprises
.  I did spend a good amount of time trimming all the body panels to match the cage.  I had all the panels but they all came loose and uninstalled.  I also did the painting of the welds that came bare.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 12:29:03 PM by frijolee »
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2010, 04:20:07 PM »
MazdaSpeed Lip 
I was still lusting after FD?s so I decided to see if both keep by FC envy in check and jazz things up just a little bit with a nice front lip.  Plus it should help my cooling so I figured why not.
This car was a big piece of my inspiration for the MazdaSpeed front lip.

Lip is a MazdaSpeed replica I bought from Corksport.  I wanted something to make the nose a hair more aggressive (basically to keep my FD envy in check ;) ).  The mold they used didn't align real well so I had to bondo and sand an 1/8" deep seem along most of the upper surface and both sides. 
I firmly believe that wet sanding is therapeutic.  You just rub something until it?s flat and make sure you use guides to keep it even.

Toss in a bit a color matched paint and clear coat and I'm happy with it.  It's not quite as low as some of the body kits either so it doesn't scrape most places if I'm careful.  Pic from a while later but you get the idea.
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2010, 04:20:26 PM »
Getting Started:
What you need to know:
-If you have any mechanical inclinations, you can do this.
-A good place to work is huge for an undertaking like this.  I did it in a backyard under an easy up but in terms of space I?d plan on room for the car on 4 jackstands plus ~8? feet clear in front of the car for engine install (and open garage door works), plus a laydown area about the same area as the car itself for parts.
-For tools required see post #1 as they?re in my list.
Budget for FC:
-$2,000 for a clean shell (avoid rust buckets and get yourself something nice)
-$4.500 for a good condition complete LS1 pullout (avoid the piecemeal route if possible)
-$500 for engine mounting
-$600 in cooling stuff
-$300 for driveshaft stuff
-$1000 in misc (lots of nuts bolts etc)
Then add in money for whatever additions you need.  For example:
-$150 for better brakes setup  (5 lug, 4 piston front, vented rears)
-$400 for a t2 diff and axles
-$1000 in wheels
-$600 in tires (traction can be scary on less than sticky street 255s, ask me how I know)
-$1000 in coil overs
-$600 for an Accusump (not optional IMO if you want to track it).
-$1000 for a cam/pushrods/springs/retainers
-$250 in a rocker rebuild
-$150 for a ported oil pump
Note, you can definitely save money by buying parts cars, but I consider that just like having a side job.   It takes time and effort to buy and sell parts to ?save? money so consider that when budgeting for the swap.
FD is similar, the biggest differences:
-$6,000 chassis (for a clean one w/ full interior, again don?t scrimp here)
-$1,500 mounting hardware
-$1,500 for cooling (go Samberg, it?s worth it).
Oh and any interior parts your missing are going to cost you dearly so pick a good starting point.
Time required to do the swap:
This varies but I planned on 6 weeks, I had most of the parts when I started and it ended up taking me 3.5 months (for the first pass).   I?d say I putt 300 hours into the original build but I was definitely going slow and learning as I went.   I could probably rebuild my car myself in about a couple weeks now but you get the idea.  I have a project manager friend who says he always starts with his best estimate and then multiplies by PI (3.1415926).  That sounds about right to me.
At a minimum you don?t want to jump into this with an end deadline (IE I?m leaving for school in 4 weeks).  It?s just not good planning, you?ll kill yourself to get .
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2010, 04:20:43 PM »
LSX vs. Rotary Comparison
-Disclaimer: these are my opinions and your mileage may vary?  I ditched the rotary initially because I didn?t understand it and wanted to try something else.  There are folks who?ve gotten rotaries to live long happy lives, but I never trusted mine and that decreased the fun factor a lot.  That said, I?ve been REALLY happy with the v8 and I don?t see ever going back.
-I see three valid reasons to stay rotary.   Note, these ARE all valid reasons, but none apply to me.
1) You're sponsored and Mazda won't let you run pistons.
2) You're an all out racer and minute differences in polar moment of inertia matter to you.
3) You're a purist AKA true believe.  I?ve got quite a few good friends in this category?  Some folks just want to prove they can (IE those who drag race Yugos) and some folks just like what they like and don?t care about reliably, or going fast for minimum $$ (IE vintage Ferrari owners).
-If you can find someone local, a test ride is a good idea, just so you know what you're in for.  That said an LS1 makes for stiff competition in terms of outright power.  For a rotary to make the same power as a heads/cam LS1 generally requires either a big single turbo or a 20B.  In the former case the torque curve of an NA v8 is much easier to drive than a rotary making similar numbers because you have a flatter curve and no big ramp at spool.  If you were inclined to try a 20B, maintenance gets expensive quickly and the rest of the powertrain starts to suffer, particularly transmissions (the one thing torque isn't good for).
-Since I mentioned trans you should know that the t56 is a brute, shift feel is terrible, and it?s one of the few downsides of this setup but it's easily managed and offers few surprises.  That said, the RX7 trans aren?t exactly s2000 trans caliber in the feel department either so there just aren?t many great options for big HP cars.
-The second  trans issue is mostly a point of annoyance.  The slave cylinder is inside the bell housing and clutch dust does a number to it so lots of folks have had sticky clutch issues.   There?s a good vid about the issue and maintenance etc on youtube:    The best solution IMHO is to run a non-organic clutch.  Sintered iron and/or kevlar simply don't give off the same kinds of dust.
-The LSx motors do have weaknesses.  First and foremost beware the oil system!   This is the number one thing that seems to have bit a lot of folks hard.  A ported oil pump and a baffled pan (see are good ideas.  However, in order to really address drain-back limitations the best answer is a dry sump.  This is usually a budget breaker but at minimum an accusump will be required if you plan to track your car.  I blew a motor prior to going accusump myself.  It's happened to friends too.  You can overfill the pan by a full quart at a track day but you?re still being risky and I don?t recommend it.
-A few other basic bolt ones that seem to be popular:  LS2 timing chain, Harland Sharp rebuilt rockers, PCV system from an LS6.  You should be able to search on any of the above and find info on this stuff.
-OK, back to the overt comparison?  Once you've completed the swap LSX maintenance is cheap compared to the rotary.  No 110 octane fuel requirements.  Fuel goes further too.  Plentiful spare parts.  It's just easy to live with.
-Quality rotary rebuilds are sometimes hard to come by and the cause of failures can be elusive.  The rotary itself may have few moving parts but critical failure modes are high.  Tuning is critical, turbo maint is critical, heat management is critical, proper fuel is critical, proper vacuum is critical etc.  One little thing goes a bit wrong and you're hosed. 
-If you really want a fair comparison call and talk to Charlie Shatzen at Mazcare in Marietta, GA (770) 859-9643.  He's supports both rotary and v8 swapped track cars and is intimately familiar with the pros and cons.  Plus he's a good guy to talk to and shoots straight.  If you do give him a ring tell him Joel Payne says hello. 
-In everything else I think the v8 is superior.  Trans I'd call a wash.  I know too many folks who've blown up FD transmissions to say the the minor upside in feel is worthwhile. 
« Last Edit: August 06, 2010, 04:20:11 PM by frijolee »
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2010, 04:21:02 PM »
Other things I wish I would have known up front
I thought I?d mention a few of the various ?gotcha? moments that burned me.  Beware that the good old General of GM  changes many of details between various model years.  Don?t assume things will fit unless you found someone who did EXACTLY what you planned to do.
98 heads/coil packs/fuel rail covers 
-I upgraded to a set of lq9 ported heads and ran into several things.
-98 spark plug coil packs bolt directly to their respective valve covers NOT to a bracket THEN to the covers like the rest of the years.
-98 valve covers have a different bolt pattern that they attach to the heads with (around the perimeter rather than the normal 4 bolt up the center style).  98 valve covers
-The oil filler cap on the 98 valve covers doesn?t come with or require the use the oil filler riser tube (GM #1255-9505).  You?ll need this or the cap will interfere with the front-most coil.
-The 98 style coil packs can be used with 99 brackets but one coil on each bank has to be flipped over to mount properly.  It also makes your wiring loom rest with some weird lengths but it?s only a cosmetic issue.
-There are TWO types of coils that came on the 99-02 ls1.  I believe the split is between 00 and 01.  Coil pack brackets DO NOT mix and match so be sure you have the correct bracket for the correct year. 
-98 fuel rail covers obviously have two inputs for the ?return? style fuel rail (vs only one hole for all other years.)  However the studs that the fuel rail cover clips into down by the coil packs are located in different spots. 
-The worst head problem I ran across was that you can?t use GM?s multi layer steel (MLS) head gaskets with heads originally intended for use with graphite gaskets.  There?s a whole post about that here.
-To be fair everything I?ve played with are the cathedral port style heads.  Similar caution should be planned when jumping into the L76, L92 type square heads.
Corvette accessories vs F-body vs GTO:
-All belts sit ~1? closer to the block than do the Camaro/GTO counterparts.  Generally this is a good thing especially for fan and radiator clearance but the high alternator location may require trimming of hood braces.
-A Camaro alternator will not fit in the Vette bracket nor will vice versa work.
-Because the corvette harmonic balancer lives ~1? closer to the block re-routing the sway bar becomes a pain.  I bought Granny?s spacers and was forced to shim down an extra 3/8? beyond the 3/4? originally intended.  That?s using an ASP under drive pulley.  The AC belt on that ASP is a 10% reduction making for a 6 5/8? OD vs the stock 7 1/4? for the AC portion where the rubbing would occur with both tires simultaneously loaded (speed bump etc).
-The corvette AC compressor cannot be used with Granny?s ls1 adaptor plate mounts.  This should not affect those with f-body accessories or those with Hinson mounts.  Again this is due to the 1? difference in spacing.  Assuming the Camaro compressor is the same size it would miss the mount by 3/8? vs. the 5/8? interference I found.
-My Corvette intake manifold didn?t have the threaded metal inserts needed so you can thread a normal throttle cable stop into it.  If you need to ditch drive by wire you?ll want to be sure your intake manifold was from an f-body instead of the Vette (or buy and epoxy in the inserts.
LS6 intake manifold upgrade
-won?t clear the ?steam tube? coolant crossover lines above the valley cover.  I trimmed enough ribs off the bottom with my angle grinder that I was able to make it work.  However I eventually switched the LS6 PCV and this requires LS6 steam tubes so I had to redo it anyways.
-I received incorrect bolts on several kit parts.   This might sound stupid but double and triple check your hardware before you put it all together?  Danzan and I wasted about 6 hours fighting motor mounts only to discover we got sent m10x1.5 bolts rather than the needed 7/16-14.  The mounting plates were sloppy enough that the m10 actually fed in nice by hand but would ?strip? without much force.
Rod Bolts:
ARP rod bolts required ?resizing rod ends?.  The objection being that the clamping force of the bolts can cause the big end of the con rod to deform by enough to cause unhappy bearing wear.)  The first time I ran across this I sent my ARPs back and bought Katech?s instead.  Other members of the board have talked to reputable LS1 shops that said resizing was unnecessary regardless of whether ARP bolts were used or not.  In hindsight, I believe this is simply an error in the instructions and I used ARPs on motor build 2.0.  Resizing rod ends means shaving down the surfaces of the two halves of the con rod.  This is impossible with ?cracked rods? because you?d lose the fracture surface.
Tools compare to list
-You need jacks and hoists and all the usual breaker bars obviously
-I?ve been forced to use both metric and SAE taps more times on this job than I?ll care to admit.
-An angle grinder and/or sawzall is nearly mandatory as well.
-3/16 tubing bender came in handy several times on hydraulic stuff as well.
-Load leveler is awesome for dropping the engine down with trans on it.
-I haven?t found a way to change the rear main seal on the t56 without the GM specialty tool either so I may eventually break down and buy that.
-You?ll be a lot happier trying to route the harness through the stock firewall grommet if you lengthen the connectors for the sensors behind the head (MAP, cam position).  While you?re back there there?s a nipple that will need to be plugged for most folks.  At first glance I thought this was just redundant to the hole in the throttle plate, but had I left this open it would have made for one hell of an (unmetered by the MAF) vacuum leak. 
-Pay someone else to do your harness mods.  It?s just not worth the headache and the learning curve is too steep.
Motor Install Methodology:
-Way too many folks have smashed MAP sensors installing engines with intake manifold in place.  Do yourself a favor and do your install with the manifold off.  This gives you the added advantage that the m8 bolts for the valley cover work great with a load leveler. 
?Don?t bolt your load leveler to the back of the block.  You can?t get the bolts back out with the engine against the firewall.
-FC?s can have motors installed from above or from below.   If from above a load leveler is just about required.
-With Granny?s mounts you can put a light layer of grease on the mating surface of the mount to help slide the motor into place.   You?ll also want to double check the width of the cradle as some have been found warped.  If it?s too narrow the engine sits high and won?t find the holes.  The inverse is true if it sits too low.
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2010, 04:21:15 PM »
[Ed note: Jumping back into 2006 with what I wrote back then?]
List updated with present progress.  Swap starts in <30 days and my living room is starting to look a bit warehouse-ish.
I found a source for great deals on stock GM parts: Dal Slabaugh (no affiliation to me).  I ran into him through Brent Franker's F-body links page:
Brent's F-Body Links Page
As an example, F-body oil pans are becoming really hard to come by.  Too many folks jumping on the ls1 bandwagon.  The last pan on ebay sold for $202 with shipping.  Dal quoted me $167.82 for a new pan.  Pickup and windage tray would be $28.49 and $27.29 respectively.  That's CHEAP for unused new goods.
Dal can be reached at 877-448-5451 (direct  phone)
direct fax: 330-658-4065
business hours 4:00 am to 5:00 pm, eastern standard time zone
phone hours 6:00 am to 2:00 pm eastern standard time zone
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2010, 04:22:13 PM »
It's begun... 
Engine Build Progress
I'm adding a heads/cam package and I felt clever for restraining the engine from turning over while breaking the main pulley free.  (I've been defeated on two front wheel drive cars in the past)  No air tools required when you can just strap a healthy piece of angle iron to the crankshaft via flywheel bolts.

Provided you have all the oil drained out the engine is much easier to work on when upside down. 
First up timing chain:

98 ls1 timing chain on the left, ls2 timing chain on the right.  It?s a little beefier, but the pulleys are all the same so you just remove the oil pump and three bolts holding the big sprocket to the cam and it?s a direct replacement.  Check the both sprockets for wear (any perceptible asymmetry to the teeth means sprocket replacement).  Mine were fine.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2010, 05:02:32 AM by frijolee »
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2010, 04:22:25 PM »
Cam install?
Yet another reason I like to work on the motor upside down.  You just turn over the cam a few times and all the lifters push out of the way.  Then a cam change is as simple as removing the retainer plate and carefully sliding it out of the motor.  Use three spare bolts in the end of the cam to help you manipulate the thing.

stock cam on the bottom, lunati 243/252 0.595/0.595 on top

notice that the lobes aren't much taller (it wouldn't clear the bearings), rather the base circle has to be smaller. 
The lubrication system is one of the weaknesses of the LS1 so given I was into the motor this far I decided to spring for a ported ls6 oil pump. 

stock 98 oil pump up top, TSP ported ls6 pump on the bottom
[Ed note: when I blew a motor I took the stock oil pump and ported it myself via a dremel.  More on that here[/ULRL]].
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2010, 04:22:40 PM »
Rotary equipment removal 

load leveler's really are a God send...

I think I should have asked more than $400 for my 13b and trans with only 65k original miles.  It sold on 'da club' in less than 2 hours.

My engine bay's never looked so good...
So what do you keep?  In terms of wiring you need the entire driver?s side harness intact.  On the passenger side, you need to keep the wipers intact and possibly ABS (assuming your car came with it).  The vast majority of the passenger side harness is engine only so it can all go way.
Cheers y'all,
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2010, 04:23:08 PM »
I finished buttoning up the bottom end yesterday and thought I'd share a few insights... 
Rod Bolts & Vette to F-body Oil Pan Conversion
I'd already purchased ARP pro rod bolts but their instructions mentioned you always need to resize rods.  It wasn't a term I was familiar with so it was off to the internet.  After a little research it turns out that the ARP bolts (and especially the ARP pros which are longer/heavier than stock) could possibly distort the big end of the con rod by a thousandth or so and cause undesirable bearing wear.  Some reputable LS1 shops claim it doesn't matter but I wasn't going to risk an engine when I needed to get this done fast and wasn't finding the answers I was looking for.  [ED Note:  FYI, the final answer was that it?s IMPOSSIBLE to resize cracked rods as it would requiring shaving down the facture line, this is simply an error in ARP?s instructions, however many folks on here ?including myself--have run ARP Pros with no issues]
The other company that sells well respected rod bolts is Katech.  They're a bit pricy at $152.xx vs the $89 or so for the ARPs.  However Katech advertises that no resizing is necessary and their rod bolts just drop in.  Lingenfelter Vette's use these bolts so I pulled the trigger.  All I'm trying to do here is address of a few of the inherent weaknesses of the LS1.  I'm not looking to do a full on blueprinting job.
Here's my install:

After I first yanked off the batwing oil pan: showing vette windage tray and pickup tupe (or "crankshaft oil deflector" and "oil screen" if you prefer the proper GM speak).  Icemark from "Da Club" would be so proud.  Oh, when you're taking off the windage tray the nuts are all "deformed metal" so they drag until they're almost to the top.  It's like a nyloc nut but with intentional metal to metal contact.

More old vs new.  There are several versions of stock rod bolts.  Some use little additive sleeves called ferrules that must be removed if present to use the Katechs.  Do a bit of searching on LS1tech and you'll find the info.  Note, these are the same length it's just how they're resting in my hand that creates the illusion of variance.
This is the first time I've played with "cracked rods."  Each rod is built whole with a notch on the inside (not shown).  The lower half is then broken off with a sharp impact and the fracture surface becomes the seam.  This is why you add one rod bolt at a time: to make sure you don't mess up any alignments and keep the bearings where they're supposed to be.

The new bolt is only hand tight here so you can see the fracture seam open up with no tension.

With the bolt torqued (lube on threads and under head, torque to 30 ft-lbs, loosen, 30 ft-lbs, loosen, 50 ft-lbs per Katech directions) a bit of oil gets driven out of the seam.

wipe off the oil and the seam is just about invisible.  This is why QC departments use dye-penetrant for crack identification.

Install finished.  You can reinsert the used main pulley bolt and use it to turn the engine over to keep whatever rod you're working on to the top.

Camaro windage tray and pickup.  When I first bought the part I thought they gave me one for a v6 (only 3 voids for crankshaft).  I didn't realize the windage tray was only 3/4 length and that's why the alternate pickup tube is required.  It's not just the direction around the pan, there's also a change in profile for the pickup.  If you're swapping from vette or GTO setup you can cut your existing windage tray down to size, but be warned it takes some trimming.

Here's the pan.  Looking at this from the outside suddenly the 3/4 windage tray makes sense.  I bought new from Dal Slabaugh (see above in thread) because there's been a scarcity of f-body pan's on ebay and the last two I saw sold for ~$190 each.  If you do go the new route it comes with a gasket, internal baffle, low level sensor, and all bolts.  Windage and pickup sold separately.
I also added a new front end seal (goes around the main pulley) to try to keep this motor looking pretty.  Be warned that both front end and oil pan are alignment critical.  I just used a straight edge to be sure all surfaces were flat.  Also if I had to do it over again I probably would have bought the longer main pulley bolt.  As it was, I threw the pulley out to sit in the sun and got it good and hot (loosen the press fit).  I was able to tap the pulley on about 1/4" using a rubber mallet and then the stock bolt was just long enough to pull it in the rest of the way.  ARP balancer bolts are longer for ease of installation.
Next up: Prepping the engine bay and/or trying out the new heads and checking piston to valve (p-to-v) clearances.
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)

Offline frijolee

Re: Joel's LS1 FC parts list/swap thread (remixed)
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2010, 04:23:44 PM »
Piston to Valve Clearance:
The four stroke engine cycle is: intake, compression, explosion, exhaust...  If you?ve made it to this forum I assume you know this.  For two of these events the valves are opening/closing with the piston close to top dead center.  During intake, the intake valve opens right as the piston starts to lower (thereby creating vacuum and drawing in air and fuel).  Then during the exhaust stroke the piston chases the exhaust valve closed (shoving burnt fuel out).  Generally speaking from a power perspective it's a good thing do open the intake valve as soon as possible and leave the exhaust open for as long as you can. 
One common misconception I found was that lift has practically nothing to do piston to valve clearance.  Your valve spring might not be able to handle 2" travel of a valve but theoretically you could have a valve chase a piston all the way down.  It's duration that gets people into trouble.  In addition to more valve overlap, aggressive cams try to push the envelope in when you can open and close valves and how quickly.
Why do we care?  The problem comes if you don't maintain sufficient clearance between pistons and valves which from everything I've read is 0.080" on intake and 0.100" on exhaust.  Now I didn't really know where these magic numbers came from but I at least have a theory as to why they're needed.
Before we get to that lets talk procedure.  Generally folks take one of two methods when checking piston to valve clearance: clay bar or dial indicator/feeler gauges.

For the clay bar method you lay a strip of modeling clay ~0.20-0.25" thick on the surface of the piston (head off), reinstall head, spin the crank over at least 2 times, remove the head and see how big a dent you made in the clay.  For dial indicator method you replace a pair of your normal valve springs with checker springs (sometimes also called test springs).  Then you find top dead center and manually drive the valve in further than the rocker would until it touches the piston.  Check springs are weak so this isn't a problem.  You then measure how far the valve had to travel either with a dial indicator or with feeler gauges between the tip of rocker and end of valve all while turning the crank over a degree or two at a time.
The complication comes because of the hydraulic lifters.  Hydraulic lifters are by nature a two piece design with an internal spring.  BUT this spring has a lower spring rate than do the valve springs.  Therefore if you turn the crank the lifter will compress before the valve spring does.  This sucks because the valve doesn't move in and out normally and clearance can't be verified.  When your engine is running normally there's an oil port on the side of each lifter and internal diaphragm such that oil pressure assists the lifters in opening the valves so lifter collapse isn't an issue.  What IS an issue is that as you rev higher the lifters can "pump up" to the point the valve opens further than usual hence the clearance you need...
If you ever take a lifter out of your engine it'll be fully extended with the pushrod seat all the way out to the stops.  Looks like this:

This is not where your engine normally needs it.  Your pushrods are a touch longer than the spacing between seat and rocker so the lifter starts with some nominal compression.  This is preload and it's generally good to be in the range of 0.020 to 0.060" of lifter preload.  The lifter actually stays in the middle of its possible travel and the oil displaces any and all slack in the system so the lifters run quiet and smooth.  Pushrod length dictates preload.  Period.  Only if you have adjustable rockers and/or shim rocker height will the "wipe pattern" on the end of the valve change.  A final note on pushrods: I ran into a tech article that warned that crappy pushrods can cause all kinds of problems because the shaft itself introduces another spring into the system (think pole vaulter).  This is especially true as you start getting into stiffer valve springs.  That made sense to me so I'll be running comp chromoly pushrods.
Hydraulic lifters mean you CANNOT do the clay bar method without somehow making the lifter dominate the valve spring.  You can buy and use and couple of solid lifters (which will dominate) or you can install check springs with the clay bar to ensure the lifter stays extended.
My route?  I went and bought the check springs and used feeler gauges.  The way I thought about it I didn't want to take a head on and off twice if I didn't need to.
1) installed head, all lifters where they're supposed to be
2) installed check springs in place of the big valve springs
3) used adjustable length pushrods to give zero valve lash (which by definition means fully extended lifters aka zero preload)
4) found top dead center
5) checked clearances for about 20 deg before and after TDC.
A couple pics of the process:

Cleaning the gasket surface with a plastic scraper (the graphite is ANNOYING as all get out to get truly flat.  I probably spent 2 hours at this.)

Used head bolts with a flat ground in them...

Are great for cleaning out the threads in your head (props to LS1tech for the tip).

My modded valve spring compressing tool.  This was made for studs in either 5/16 or 3/8" and the ls1 uses m8 bolts.  What to do?  Make a shackle.  I actually trimmed it a bit more to get the travel I needed.

valve spring undone

check springs installed

stack of feeler gauges.  The piston is touching the valve here.
The bad news.  I only had 0.076" on intake and 0.070 on exhaust.  Less than 1/32nd of an inch screwing me over.  Then again this was on a 243/252 duration cam which is pretty damn big so I knew it was going to be close.  For comparison the T-rex is something like 242/249.
Options if you don't have the clearance specified?  Normally you have 3...
-Adjust cam timing (not only am I loathe to go buy and aftermarket adjustable set, this actually won't work for me because if I make the exhaust better the intake gets worse and I already failed both)
-Notch the pistons (supposedly not too hard you basically insert a cutting bit shaped like a valve in the normal valve spot and cut to a known depth.  As mentioned I didn't want to take my heads back off and I didn't know how you'd control depth and therefore weight removal).  [Editor note: Contact Kevin Doe as he had a good write-up on how prior to the forum crash]
-Run a different cam.  This is me.  I have one Futral F13 (230/232) now on order.  It'll still be a medium aggressive cam, but should be a lot easier to live with.
FYI for those feeling hardcore, you don't actually have to use adjustable pushrods.  As long as you can figure out what the normal preload of the lifters are you know how much further than normal the valve gets pushed in toward the piston.  (As I understand it using check springs w/ a stock pushrod is exactly as if the oil pressure maxed out how far the lifter could extend.)  You can check preload by using starting with your test rocker loose w/ a normal valve spring and the lifter facing cam such that you?re not on a lobe.  Be sure you give the lifter enough time to extend.  Tighten the rocker down until there's no play in the pushrod but the rocker bolt is not yet tight to iron.  Then use a straightedge at the valve cover elevation and mark a thin line in the pushrod.  Tighten the rocker the rest of the way down which should compress the lifter (the normal spring rate dominates).  Mark another line and measure the difference, that?s preload.
Minor  epiphany:  Preload is supposed to be 0.020 to 0.060.  If we take the max amount the lifter could pump up 0.060 and translate this into valve motion (times 1.7 for the rocker ratio) we get 0.102 which is almost exactly the 0.100 we're required for our worst case scenario exhaust valve.  I?m not sure it?s where the numbers come from as there?s definitely thermal expansion to consider, but it seems possible.  You can do this same calc and avoid buying adjustable pushrods if you don't mind a bit of extra math.
LS2 stroker FC, Mandeville big brakes, widebody, etc
Build thread:

LargeOrangeFont says: "Joel is right, and I love Joel. But his car sounds like the wrath of God."   ;)