Detroit Muscle Featured Projects

Detroit Muscle Builds

Parts Used In This Episode

Summit Racing
Earl's Performance Oil Cooler Block-Off Plate
The Industrial Depot
Tools, Hardware, Shop Supplies

Episode Transcript

(Tommy)>> You're watching Powernation!

(Tommy)>> Today on Detroit Muscle we mine for LS gold in a Yukon and map out what it takes to make a journey to this popular destination. [ Music ] [ engines revving ] [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> Late model power plant swaps are popular no matter the flavor you prefer, Ford, Chevy, or Mopar.

(Joel)>> And that's our subject for today. The ins and outs of why and how you can perform this new age transformation.

(Tommy)>> If you're working on something that has a Pentastar on it you're gonna be craving a Hemi no matter the size. Like on Road Burner, this 6-4 sings quite a tune making 500 plus horsepower. It's a blast to drive, and with it running around a big exposed it grabs plenty of attention.

(Joel)>> So what makes these newer engines attractive to so many people? Well, when you consider the added benefits of power, durability, and costs, these things hit the trifecta.

(Tommy)>> He's right. Normally the newer engines make more power more efficiently. Engines last longer, and with so many of them being made that usually translates to they're plentiful, and you don't have to mortgage the house to buy one to build. Plus, the aftermarket embraced this idea. There's numerous companies that offer kits and components to easy the install in several different applications. When it comes to General Motors everyone has heard of the LS. They put them in everything from a moped to a Massey-Ferguson, and that's what we're gonna do with this full figured Caprice. The guys down in Engine Power are in the process of building us a supercharged 6-2 that's gonna make a number somewhere close to 800 horse on pump gas. We're gonna give this old girl the treatment, and obviously we have our work cut out for us. We're gonna have to improve the reflection, address the aroma of the interior, and alter the stance for the addition of a large amount of hot rodder attitude.

(Joel)>> If you want to talk dollars to doughnuts there's no doubt that an LS engine has more bang for your buck. When it comes to budget builds a junkyard pull is not a bad idea. But if you do have a little bit of inheritance to burn through the sky is truly the limit on your horsepower where your output could easily reach four digits. Another thing that the LS has going for it is its weight and size. Some of the blocks are aluminum, which helps shed some of those unwanted pounds, and with it being a push rod engine help make it a much more powerful package. Plus, they don't have that big, bulky head found on those overhead cam engines.

(Tommy)>> If you're in the mood for pinching some pennies and wanting to buy something to pluck the heart out of to shoehorn into one of your projects you may be interested in one of these. This 6.0 powered full size s-u-v was headed to be shattered, covered, and smothered, meaning it was going to the crusher, and it's easy to see why. The paint is trashed, it has its fair share of bumps and bruises, and even a chigger bite or two. By the looks of the wheels and tires this thing's days were numbered. It has four different tires and four different wheels, but someone was trying. They almost got them all painted with the rattle can makeover to make them all black.

(Joel)>> And if that doesn't convince you that this old girl ain't a great buy just wait until you take a peek at this interior. To say that it has a very pungent smell to it would be a huge understatement. So much that it actually makes us a little bit nervous to even touch it. Also, the sunroof is leaking, and one might blame that extra moisture falling onto the carpet for that fragrance. If you're sitting in the driver's seat looking out across the hood, there's a little bit of optical interference.

(Tommy)>> Where it all counts is here in the engine bay. Yeah, under the hood it's not perfect either as you may have expected. You can clearly see that this thing is leaking like a sieve from all the crud built up on the head and block, and it seems to enjoy marking its territory everywhere it goes. A few of the components have been swapped out and there's no need for new stuff. Second hand works just fine. If you're curious about the miles let's call it just well broken in. These do have the overdrive transmission that people want, and ours is great for a core because it won't move when you drop it into drive. So, if I was to guess that's what did this thing in.

(Joel)>> When this Denali rolled off the assembly line it was definitely a high dollar vehicle, and it came with all the bells and whistles that any soccer mom could ever ask for, including this big ole 6-0 in here.

(Tommy)>> Just like most luxury vehicles they hit a point once they get some age on them and things start going out from years of wear and tear, and they're really not worth fixing. But that's what makes them such a great donor vehicle because all you're really buying is the power plant.

(Joel)>> That has great performance, conveniences of modern technology, and most importantly won't break the bank.

(Tommy)>> Up next, we gear up and pluck the heart out of this salvage yard scrap heap.

(Tommy)>> So our plan is to have this modern marvel sitting in the floor without spending a whole lot of time or effort to do so. However, there's a pretty good chance that we're gonna get kinda dirty and greasy, and there may even be a couple of cuss words flying around, but we'll beep those out if I had to gamble on this kind of situation.

(Joel)>> But if you guys are doing this project at home there are a few things to make this process a little bit easier. For me personally I like to start here in the front and remove the core support, the grille, the cooling systems, and all that stuff, and that'll give me more room to work. And then when it comes time to pluck the motor it'll just be a straight shot. [ Music ]

[ Music ]

(Joel)>> There's basically two types of disassembly. [ Music ] Trying to just get it apart... [ drill humming } ...or you may want to save some of this stuff. A few of these parts do have some value. [ Music ] Taking your time could make you some side cash.

(Tommy)>> With the front side of this Denali out of the way we've exposed a large portion of this greasy diamond in the rough. Now if you're looking to do something like this, you're gonna have to disconnect a couple of the engine's operating systems.

(Joel)>> And one of the more complicated and diverse of those will be your electrical system. Often times when guys are doing an LS pull they like to retain as much of the factory harness as possible. If you're gonna do that you will run into a couple of different styles of connectors that can raise your blood pressure. One of the more common connections is this weatherproof style that has a pull tab on the side, and with a little wiggle action pops right out, and then pops right back in with a satisfying snap. And then there's that other style that'll make you question all your life choices that you've made up to this point, and that would be the locking tab style like the one we got on the side of our tach module. These have a little plastic keeper that slides right off the side. Then just pry it open with a screwdriver, and it comes right off. Now some of these are gonna put up a little bit of a fight, and you're gonna be halfway tempted to just cut or break the connection to keep things moving forward, but I promise you if you do that you're gonna end up making more work for yourself and you're gonna have to make that repair anyway.

(Tommy)>> Sometimes working on this late model stuff it seems like the primary focus of a component is for assembly because it goes together so quickly. Our fuel lines are a perfect example of that. Now if we were just trying to get this engine out, we could whack the fuel lines on the back side of the fitting to get it into the floor, but however if you're ever planning to use on the forward side of that fitting you're gonna have to remove it. And to do that quickly and easily you need a simple too. There's a little retainer clip that if you push back on the tabs on the back you can slide it right out. Then you want to open up the little tool here and then slide it around the tube. Whenever you push that in there this little collar will depress some fingers inside of here making that fuel line easily removable. That easy!

(Joel)>> Well with another milestone under our belts we got the truck up onto the lift to start attacking the underside. Somebody's already done their civic duty and cut the exhaust off for us, which will be one less thing we've got to do, but we do have the unfortunate task with this being a four wheel drive truck of dropping this transfer case. And trust me that's easier said than done. [ drill humming ] [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Back this way? [ Music ] Alright, we're one step closer to getting this greasy pig out of its pen. While we've still got it up on the lift, I'm gonna go ahead and get these torque converter bolts zipped out. Trust me, it's a lot easier to just do it now instead of waiting until it's on an engine stand. [ Music ] [ drill humming ] [ Music ] Come on baby! [ Music ] Alright, with the last motor mount bolt removed we're ready to get this engine out of here. [ Music ] [ mechanical humming ] [ Music ]

(Joel)>> Coming up, it's out with the old and in with the new as we prepare to literally floor this LS.

(Joel)>> Well it's out. It was a dirty job and it made one heck of a mess, but they always do. With our 6-0 laying in the floor, you can see it's not much to look at, but if you are gonna do a junkyard pull this is probably what it's gonna look like.

(Tommy)>> LS swaps is a very popular subject. Some say it's as easy as pie, but if you're unfamiliar with everything it can be a bit intimidating. So, what we're gonna do is start that thing laying right there in the floor.

(Joel)>> And we're gonna walk you through some of the hurdles you may run into if you're looking to do this swap on your project. One of the scariest parts of doing one of these can be the electrical system. Now some guys prefer to use the o-e-m harness, but if you're gonna go that route you're probably gonna have to get it modified. There are some places you can take your harness to and they'll actually cut it down for you. This harness is designed for a specific model of vehicle. So, if you want a nice, clean look you're gonna have to cut or even lengthen some wires. Another thing to consider is the actual condition of your harness. How many miles you think this thing has been laying on top of that hot box? Are the wires hard and brittle? And what about your connections? Do they have any corrosion? What you're looking for is clean and flexible, which is not the case with this one. Another thing that makes people uneasy is the connectors. They're usually designed so that each one has its own home, and they are not interchangeable, but that's not the case every time. So, it may take a minute or two to determine where each pigtail goes.

(Tommy)>> If you're wanting to use the original equipment the p-c-u is gonna need some attention as well. What you'll hear a guy say is this thing needs some things turned off. Originally the vehicle has sensors and processors that give this information and depending on that information affects the engine. So, in a nutshell you're removing or eliminating all that extra stuff that isn't really needed to make the engine run.

(Joel)>> After close inspection, using all this stuff is probably not that great of an idea.

(Tommy)>> Another popular option out there for engine management is the Terminator-X Max by Holley. And for you guys that squirm a little bit when it comes to wiring this can calm your stress. Everything is labeled and has six main loose wires to connect to run your LS. It has a three and a half inch l-c-d screen you will use for quick setup and calibration. If you're using a 4-L-60 or 4-L-80 it will control those, and it can grow with your project if you're looking to do upgrades later down the road. Also, the price won't kill your wallet. To install this harness, it just plugs into place. We're just hooking this thing up to start it. So neat right now isn't necessary. While we're on the subject of electrical, if you're doing a conversion like this you may need to swap out your starter, battery, or alternator. With our transplant it's easy to see that it's been neglected. Swapping out crucial parts for reliability just make sense. Duralast components from AutoZone give you dependable service for years, and they're engineered for maximum performance. [ Music ]

(Joel)>> The convenience of fuel injection is what a lot of people want. Initial start ups are smooth, drivability is nice, not to mention improved fuel mileage, but if you have an injector that's not quite performing as it should that can be a problem. For this demonstration we're gonna use this injector tester to show you what clogged up really looks like. Now this is an injector out of an old project. Considering this came out of a high mileage vehicle I'm kinda curious to see what it does. As you can see, this stream is less than optimal, and can affect your throttle response. An erratic spray pattern is what you don't want. If your injector is not atomizing the fuel correctly it could rob your engine of power. Sea Foam High Mileage Motor Treatment can help solve those issues. So if you ever wonder what happens when you pour this stuff into your gas tank I've got a little demonstration for you. Our equipment here pulses the injector and pressurizes fluid in order to test the flow. When the fuel injectors are working correctly performance is at its max, and that can mean less fuel you have to buy. Using Sea Foam High Mileage Motor Treatment can help prevent costly repairs and problems.

(Tommy)>> Up next, will it run? Maybe, we'll just have to see.

(Tommy)>> Well we have the engine where it will turn over, and the electronics on the fuel injection taken care of, but that's only a couple of pieces to the puzzle. You've got to have some fuel. The old school stuff usually has a mechanical pump that's mounted off the side of the engine and it draws fuel from the tank to feed carb, and it has somewhere around three to eight p-s-i. With modern fuel injection it requires a much greater amount of pressure. So, an option for you is to run a in-tank setup like this Holley Sniper combo. It comes with a tank, pump, sender, and they're available in several applications. You just simply attach the supply to feed the engine and the return back to the tank.

(Joel)>> RockAuto offers several components to repair and revive an LS. If you're just looking to do a reseal the way to go would be an engine gasket kit. It has everything you need to keep it from marking its territory if you will. But if you're wanting to get a bit more serious, they have parts to help you with a rebuild. A common improvement is a cam swap. If you're interested in adding a bit more pep, they do offer upgrades. If you're heading down the path of performance ARP fasteners are something you're gonna want. Their Pro Series cylinder head kits are heat treated for superior strength. They're also available in hex or 12-point. All kits come with parallel washers for accurate torquing. They offer kits for various makes and models from mild to wild. [ Music ]

(Tommy)>> This 6-0 that we pulled out of that family hauler back there came from the factory with an oil cooler, and it's not mandatory that you have to run it. This Earl's block off plate is super easy to install. It just uses a couple of bolts, and it has an eighth inch port in case you're looking to run a gauge. Awesome! Something else that you're gonna have to tackle is gonna be the cooling system. Trying to reuse this old stuff is usually a recipe for disaster. It's big, it's bulky, and to make it work and fit it can get complicated. There is an easier way. Summit Racing's Pro LS Conversion Radiators are available for several popular swap applications. Being constructed from aluminum helps to improve efficiency with the added benefit of saving weight. They're offered in different configurations with unique features, like threaded inlets and outlets, and a port for the steam line. Plus, the polished finish helps to dress up the engine bay.

(Joel)>> Without a doubt smashing the gas pedal is a big portion of the amount of fun you can have when driving an LS, and when it comes to the throttle bodies involved you've got a couple of different options, drive-by-wire or mechanical.

(Tommy)>> The mechanical cable type seemed to be a bit easier to install into your older vehicles primarily because they already have a cable. All that really needs to happen is it gets extended so that it can connect to this part properly. [ Music ] [ liquid sloshing ]

(Tommy)>> I guess it's about time for us to fire this thing up.

(Joel)>> Could we not mention anything to do with flames or fires for the next couple of minutes please?

(Tommy)>> I know what you mean.

(Joel)>> Ready? [ engine starts ] [ engine revving ]

(Joel)>> Well hopefully this primitive arrangement gives some insight to a few of you guys who are looking at doing a LS conversion.

(Tommy)>> They're really not all that complicated. With a plan and a few aftermarket parts you can have yourself a late model power plant in your pride and joy.

(Joel)>> Speaking of which, think she'll fit in my Chevelle?

(Tommy)>> Anything's possible!
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