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Opinions/real world experience wanted: LS swap or L98 build

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Old 09-13-2017, 10:24 PM   #21
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JasBass, the holley LS motor mount adapters don't fit. I used motor mount adapters that had several different installation positions. I got them off eBay and same for the headers.

I thought that the LS swap was pretty easy and straight forward. Can easily be done in your garage.

The LQ9 block is rated for over 1000HP and same goes for the crank. The rods are around 600HP. I installed ARP2000 rod bolts into mine. I'm probably around the 360rwhp or 400 crank HP area with my car. Totally street friendly and gets better fuel mileage than the L98.

I prefer the look of the new LS vs the SBC engine, but honestly there isn't much difference between the two once you remove all the wires.
So we use the stock system as a base, what functions did you lose or have to make adjustments so the new ECM for the LS motor plays nice with the existing systems? Gauges, warning lights, ABS, FX3, etc?
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Old 09-13-2017, 11:22 PM   #22
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With my car the only thing is I don't have the fuel mileage or range any more on the dash, I just that manually now. I don't have the computer lock my torque converter lock-up clutch any more, going to install a manual switch/hobs pressure switch onto the four gear so it does it automatically. No AC yet, but plan to down the road. Going with the newer LS compressor, into the stock LS position. I plan to run boost at some point. I don't have ABS or FX3. I have engine temperature, oil pressure, oil temp, voltage, rpm and vehicle speed on the digi dash. I don't trust any of them and have installed autometer gauges for coolant temps and oil pressure.

I also don't have an engine that runs overly rich on fuel anymore, I don't have the cloud of smoke every time I start the car. Way more power, like twice what I had before. Power from idle all the way to 5500 rpm. Better fuel mileage. More muscle car idle and wot sound than before. The LQ9 engine runs cooler than L98 ever did. The LS engine is breeze to tune/adjust. The engine bay is way cleaner and easier to work on. The L98 was awful to work on. Took me four hours to swap water pump on the L98. The LS is like ten minutes. Same goes for swapping out the LS intake manifold. The LS engine has way better gaskets design than the SBC ever did.

The car is more fun to drive. Down the road power upgrades are really easy. No ecm prom to fight with.
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Old 09-13-2017, 11:47 PM   #23
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I had toyed with the idea of the LS motors but I think I will get the LS motor in a newer car to ease transition
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Old 09-14-2017, 09:27 AM   #24
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The fast controller I'm running comes with a 6in LCD screen that I can adjust on the screen the fuel AFR, fan limits, timing, idle quality, IAC and so on. The maps are limited to one map, not like the HP or EFI live. Heard the newer cars/trucks can have several maps for different operating conditions.

Example if I want to run regular 87 octane gas, you can go into controller and dial back the timing and add some fuel. Take around 5 seconds.

If you want to go back to 94 octane, add timing and fuel. 15 deg's at idle and 34 deg all in around 2200 rpm. I run some vacuum timing for light loads under 50%. The LQ9 stock is around 10 to 1 compression.

I'm running 180 deg thermostat. Adjusting the fast fan adjustments are easy. I use my stock pusher fan on at 185 deg's off at 180 deg's. The puller fan is on at 190 deg's and off 185 deg's. Seems to work really well. I have an aftermarket aluminum radiator but haven't installed it yet. I also have a C6 cold air intake kit to install. The C4 radiator interferes with c6 cai.

Last edited by Mike Holmen; 09-14-2017 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 09-14-2017, 12:19 PM   #25
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If I had a pre LT-1 C4 I would lean towards the 98 and later L31 Vortec block with Vortec heads and a streetable Comp Roller cam set up with roller lifters. As for intake...I would go with the Holley/Accel EFI set up and call it a day.

I built a pair of 355 L98s for my last Formula boat (255 Liberator with Bravo I drives) and dyno tested at 450 HP and 450 # TQ. It's fairly easy to get 400+ HP & TQ from the Vortec motors...even with stock heads.

I have a 94 LT-1 Convertible. I look at different options and am considering the LS3 route using a salvage yard take out. Locals that have done it tell me if I use a C5 accessory set up I can retain all my important stuff like A/C !!

It all comes down to "cubic dollars". You have to put a cap on what you want to spend and put a shopping list of parts together for the build. It's been my experience that with this sort of thing you figure it as close as you can...then add 20%.

Good luck and share what you do...there is a whole bunch of information here and elsewhere on doing this.
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Old 09-14-2017, 02:55 PM   #26
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Hear is a picture of what I've done so far to date.
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Old 09-14-2017, 09:23 PM   #27
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Hear is a picture of what I've done so far to date.
Looks clean man. I'm usually not a chrome/shiny fan, but I have to admit, i'm digging that intake. Even C4 purists have to admit that updates the look
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Old 09-14-2017, 09:39 PM   #28
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I have to say y'all, i've really enjoyed reading the posts and comments. This is my first Vette and am really starting to understand the Corvette family thing. It's nice to be able to bounce ideas off of everyone. Sounds like my mental momentum has shifted back to an L98 buildup.

Random offshoot question: headers for the L98/SBC? The exhaust manifold on the driver side is cracked, so I have an excuse to buy headers. No cats on the down pipes and the main cat was gutted way before my time. Seen a lot of back and forth about headers, header size. I've considered the Melrose smoothflow system, 1.75 primaries, no AIR fittings, retaining EGR(maybe), 3in collector, x pipe and it necks down to 2.5 post x pipe. I do like the one stop shop system they put together, only needing mufflers and tips. Thoughts?
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Old 09-14-2017, 09:47 PM   #29
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I definitely like the idea of an LS in the C4. I have an 84 with the Crossfire Injection. I've been toying with the idea of putting an LQ4 or LQ9 in it. The shop said he would do the swap for $5k labor. I'm just not sure what the parts list price would be.
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Old 09-14-2017, 11:11 PM   #30
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headers for the L98/SBC? The exhaust manifold on the driver side is cracked, so I have an excuse to buy headers. No cats on the down pipes and the main cat was gutted way before my time.

Seen a lot of back and forth about headers, header size. I've considered the Melrose smoothflow system, 1.75 primaries, no AIR fittings, retaining EGR(maybe), 3in collector, x pipe and it necks down to 2.5 post x pipe. I do like the one stop shop system they put together, only needing mufflers and tips. Thoughts?
I like the TPIS for being able to install and I suspect remove without having to take half the world apart. Also very easy to get to #6 and #8 plugs. The seemed to go in nicely for the most part according to most users. I'm sure there is another one but I haven't had any experience so, IDK.

It could work but why don't you get the rest of the engine designed first? You have to get the intake to match the cam and heads and maybe a stroker motor. Most difficult would be to find a dyno tune facility to do this.
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Old 09-15-2017, 12:51 AM   #31
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If I could do it again, first I thought bbc, now I think s/c cyote motor would have been fun.
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Old 09-15-2017, 10:05 AM   #32
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I would personally get rid of the factory ecm controls for the engine. Tuning is limited and time consuming. I would convert it to fast or holley system. You could even upgrade to the newer GM LS ECM and run an LS style wiring harness.

I don't have too much money into my LS swap for what I have. You would be hard pressed to build a SBC that had similar power/response for what I have. My swap was around $4000 cdn.

I had a bunch of 3in exhaust bits laying, so my exhaust was around $120 for four 3in 90deg elbows and some hangers/clamps. If you go long tube headers you only need four elbows for once you get past the rear end. Buy a 10ft chunk of 3in pipe and what ever 3in muffler/tips you like. I bet you can have a new exhaust in an afternoon.
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Old 09-15-2017, 03:29 PM   #33
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People are all on board the junkyard ls swap gimmick right now. A handful of people bought them and turbid them and claimed to have no problems ever. It's all lies though.

My friend is swapped a 5.3 into a Dakota, it was a couple hundred bucks and came from a junkyard. He has nothing but problems with it. It runs, sure, but it has constant nagging issues. Leaks and fixed and clearance issues and blows up other stuff. They're not these magical 800hp creatures people on the internet like to claim.

Build your engine, you already have it and it can be done.
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:36 PM   #34
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People are all on board the junkyard ls swap gimmick right now. A handful of people bought them and turbid them and claimed to have no problems ever. It's all lies though.

My friend is swapped a 5.3 into a Dakota, it was a couple hundred bucks and came from a junkyard. He has nothing but problems with it. It runs, sure, but it has constant nagging issues. Leaks and fixed and clearance issues and blows up other stuff. They're not these magical 800hp creatures people on the internet like to claim.

Build your engine, you already have it and it can be done.

It's not a gimmick. I personally know of a buddy with a stock 5.3 with Chinese gt45 that's been running 10s for the last year.
look up Matt happel of sloppy mechanics. plenty of guys making good power on the cheap. not to say no one ever has issues but that's the nature of hotrodding.

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Old 09-15-2017, 08:02 PM   #35
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It's not a gimmick. I personally know of a buddy with a stock 5.3 with Chinese gt45 that's been running 10s for the last year.
look up Matt happel of sloppy mechanics. plenty of guys making good power on the cheap. not to say no one ever has issues but that's the nature of hotrodding.
Yes, anything is possible in the grand scheme of things. Your Snap On or Craftsman tool could break before a cheap Chinese POS. Mercedes has made their own share of lemons. OTOH, a Yugo is probably more likely to have a lemon than an MB. The odds are not even which is why it is cheaper. I can get a virgin 5.3 from GM or a junkyard. One is more likely to give problems than the other which is why the other is cheaper. I live by the idea that nothing good is cheap because it doesn't have to be and nothing cheap is good. Sometimes, something comes along and breaks the rules but those are fewer and far between.

No, the definition of "hotrodding" is: modify (a vehicle or other device) to make it faster or more powerful. You will have to pay for it either in sacrificing reliability or "elbow grease" or some other fashion. As they often say "Fast, Cheap or reliable. Pick any two.".
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:04 PM   #36
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My friend is swapped a 5.3 into a Dakota, it was a couple hundred bucks and came from a junkyard. He has nothing but problems with it. It runs, sure, but it has constant nagging issues. Leaks and fixed and clearance issues and blows up other stuff. They're not these magical 800hp creatures people on the internet like to claim.

Build your engine, you already have it and it can be done.
Well, he paid a couple hundred bucks so what do you expect? There is a reason it was in the junkyard. If you are worth $20 an hour, why would you expect far less than that? You wouldn't take minimum wage because you know you are worth $20. OTOH, if I offer you $40, you bet there is a catch somewhere.

Depending on the block check, I would agree.
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:22 PM   #37
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It's not a gimmick. I personally know of a buddy with a stock 5.3 with Chinese gt45 that's been running 10s for the last year.
look up Matt happel of sloppy mechanics. plenty of guys making good power on the cheap. not to say no one ever has issues but that's the nature of hotrodding.
Sloppy Mechanics does some awesome stuff. The Don't BS Me Colorado is very impressive IMO
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:49 PM   #38
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Yes, anything is possible in the grand scheme of things. Your Snap On or Craftsman tool could break before a cheap Chinese POS. Mercedes has made their own share of lemons. OTOH, a Yugo is probably more likely to have a lemon than an MB. The odds are not even which is why it is cheaper. I can get a virgin 5.3 from GM or a junkyard. One is more likely to give problems than the other which is why the other is cheaper. I live by the idea that nothing good is cheap because it doesn't have to be and nothing cheap is good. Sometimes, something comes along and breaks the rules but those are fewer and far between.

No, the definition of "hotrodding" is: modify (a vehicle or other device) to make it faster or more powerful. You will have to pay for it either in sacrificing reliability or "elbow grease" or some other fashion. As they often say "Fast, Cheap or reliable. Pick any two.".
didn't mean to rustle any jimmies and I don't 100% agree with your definition of hotrodding but it's whatever. there's more than one way to skin a cat and just because one may be cheaper doesn't mean it's going to fail. Happel and many others are disproving that- not to say any of it is cheap since there's certain areas not to skimp on like your fuel system for example.

anyways before this turns into some irrelevant online arguement- the point I was trying to get across is for every one guy that's had a problem with a Ford and swears they're all junk there's another guy who would say the same for a Chevy. just because you're Dakota friend is having issues doesn't defeat the whole budget ls build. too many variables there i.e who's doing the tuning and how's the general condition of his engine and the rest of the car.

Last edited by armybyrd; 09-16-2017 at 10:07 PM.
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Old 09-15-2017, 09:49 PM   #39
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Yes, anything is possible in the grand scheme of things. Your Snap On or Craftsman tool could break before a cheap Chinese POS. Mercedes has made their own share of lemons. OTOH, a Yugo is probably more likely to have a lemon than an MB. The odds are not even which is why it is cheaper. I can get a virgin 5.3 from GM or a junkyard. One is more likely to give problems than the other which is why the other is cheaper. I live by the idea that nothing good is cheap because it doesn't have to be and nothing cheap is good. Sometimes, something comes along and breaks the rules but those are fewer and far between.<br /><br />No, the definition of "hotrodding" is: modify (a vehicle or other device) to make it faster or more powerful. You will have to pay for it either in sacrificing reliability or "elbow grease" or some other fashion. As they often say "Fast, Cheap or reliable. Pick any two.".
<br />didn't mean to rustle any jimmies and I don't 100% agree with your definition of hotrodding but it's whatever. there's more than one way to skin a cat and just because one may be cheaper doesn't mean it's going to fail. Happel and many others are disproving that- not to say any of it is cheap since there's certain areas not to skimp on like your fuel system for example.
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Old 09-15-2017, 11:36 PM   #40
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I don't 100% agree with your definition of hotrodding but it's whatever.

there's more than one way to skin a cat and just because one may be cheaper doesn't mean it's going to fail.

anyways before this turns into some irrelevant online arguement- the point I was trying to get across is for everyone guy that's had a problem with a Ford and swears they're all junk there's another guy who would say the same for a Chevy. just because you're Dakota friend is having issues doesn't defeat the whole budget ls build. too many variables there i.e who's doing the tuning and how's the general condition of his engine and the rest of the car.
It isn't my definition. It is the dictionary definition you have issue with.

That is kind of an absolute. Cheaper doesn't 100% mean it is going to fail. More expensive doesn't 100% mean it will succeed. That said, what I meant is that if it is significantly cheaper, it is more likely to be in some way wanting.

I agree that "one swallow doesn't a spring make", although it does make a happy man. As you said, the general condition of the engine makes a difference. So, if it came from a dealer that totaled the car without even leaving the lot, you are lucky and no issues. OTOH, if it came from a vehicle that was rode hard and put away wet, we have now a problem. Buddy's wife would trade in a car every 3 years, maybe 60K. She never chanced oil. Just topped it off. My point is that if something is cheap, it isn't there for your benefit. There has to be a reason.
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