Truck Tech Builds

Parts Used In This Episode

Summit Racing
ARP Pro Series Flexplate Bolt Kit
Summit Racing
Chevrolet Performance Factory Replacement Dipstick
Summit Racing
Chevrolet Performance Factory Replacement Dipstick Tube
Summit Racing
Summit Racing® Transmission Mount
Summit Racing
TCI Machined Flexplate
Matco Tools
Matco Tools are the Official Tool Supplier to Truck Tech
The Industrial Depot
Tools, Hardware, and Shop Supplies

Episode Transcript

(Narrator)>> Everybody has their own first truck, and for millions of Americans it was the '88 to '98 K-1500. Today we ditch the factory 350 in ours for inexpensive modern long block. Plus this beefier trans will handle all that added power. It's time for Truck Tech. ♪ ♪

(LT)>> Today we're gonna be spending some time on this little red four wheel drive that we dropped to the ground. It's called "Project RedTide" and we lowered it four inches in the front and six inches in the rear, and it's sitting on a set of 20 inch GMC replica wheels. From the outside it looks pretty sick but underneath the hood well it's honestly unhealthy. The t-b-i 350 has 185,000 miles on it. It burns a bunch of oil and it smokes real bad. Now originally this truck had 190 horsepower but over the last 30 years a lot of those ponies have escaped. So today we're gonna work on making this truck perform a little bit closer to how it looks cause right now it's all show and now go. Over the years we have made power upgrades to many different trucks. If you want to keep your original engine and spice things up a little bit you could change some parts around in the induction department to let more air into and out of the engine. We added an additional 100 horsepower to this 351 Windsor simply by adding a larger cam shaft, better flowing cylinder heads, a high flow aluminum intake, and a larger carburetor. Making big power with a naturally aspirated engine is a good way to have a responsive and fun driving engine, and when matched with a proper gear set it can be a blast to drive. There are a lot of top end packages out there for the old school small block Chevy, and by increasing compression ratio and air flow your horsepower will go up as well. The problem is on this bottom end, well the piston rings are so worn the pistons won't be able to hold back all that cylinder pressure to make the power that we're expecting. Really all we'd be doing is wasting some money. Another option we could do is take apart the original engine, do some machine work, and increase the displacement with a stroker crank shaft. A 383 cubic inch small block Chevy can easily make 450 horsepower, and when topped with the proper induction it would make great torque. The only problem with doing a stroker style rebuild of our stock 350 comes down to cost. When you consider the price of the rotating assembly, the pistons, rods, and crank, the cylinder heads, the valve train, not to mention the machine work that we'll need to make it all work together, and the new e-f-i system that we'll need to make it all run properly. We're gonna have a bill somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 to $8,000 dollars, and that just doesn't make a whole lot of sense when it comes to figuring out the power gain for each dollar that we're gonna spend. A power adder is also a great option, like this turbo system we installed on "White Noise", a 2010 Silverado with a camed five point three. A single 76 millimeter turbocharger running at eight pounds of boost pressure increased the power of this otherwise stock engine to 498 horsepower and 481 pounds of torque at the rear wheel. The great thing about a turbocharger, or any power adder, is how much horsepower that you'll gain for every dollar that you spend. They're really efficient in that sense. The problem is again this stock bottom end. So before we do anything we need to take care of this worn out engine. You've probably figured it out by now. We're actually going to be doing an engine swap, and yes it is part of the LS family. This is actually a five point three liter LMSeven we picked up from Powertrain Products, and it's not stock. It's actually a high performance crate engine designed for swaps like we're doing in "RedTide". It comes in with a dyno proven horsepower of 400, and 392 pounds of torque at the flywheel. The cam shaft comes in at 218 and 228 degrees of duration at 50 thousandths lift. It has upgraded valve springs, a heavy duty timing set, and an upgraded oil pump. And any factory issue that these engines had from GM have already been corrected. The best part is this whole long block only cost $3,500 bucks and it has a two year warranty, making it the perfect candidate for an engine swap like this. Now we're gonna doubling the stock power of that t-b-i 350 and the first thing we need to do is get it yanked out. ♪ ♪

(Narrator)>> Next the proper way to pull a motor.

(LT)>> When you're gonna pull an engine and transmission out of a pickup truck, or really any vehicle, there are a lot of systems that you're gonna have to physically disconnect before you can lift the powertrain out. You've got the electrical side of things, air intake, the cooling system, power steering, air conditioning, transmission lines, a whole bunch of fluids that need to be drained out, and on top of that a bunch of little small cables, brackets, and vacuum lines, and things like that. So today I'm gonna kinda slow things down just a little bit and show you guys the basics of removing an engine and transmission efficiently and without damaging anything. For safety reasons the first thing to be disconnected and removed is the battery. Then the air cleaner and silencer tube come off, and we can tackle the wiring harness starting at the A/C pump and the alternator. All right, so the only time I want to see you grab a pair of wire cutters on a project like this is for cutting something like a zip tie. Now I know there's a lot of small vacuum lines and things that you think you might not need to use again, and it's easier just to snip them, but take the time, disconnect everything properly cause really never know what you need to reuse later on. On a fuel injected engine there are a lot of electrical connections to deal with, and several grounds as well. Each plug is different and they can only hook up to one sensor. So in the event you ever need to reconnect anything there won't be any mix ups. With everything disconnected we can get the harness out of the way. All right, that's one big chunk. Toward the rear of the engine the spark plug wires are disconnected from the distributor, and the plugs at the coil are removed. Then the other end of the spark plug wires are unplugged and removed from the truck. There are three control cables that have to be disconnected at the throttle body. One for the cruise control, the throttle pedal, and t-v cable that controls transmission line pressure. This fluid evacuator is a cheap tool that pays for itself the first couple times you use it. Next are the return and pressure lines, which get disconnected. And by tying the hose up to the alternator will stop it from dripping all over the place. The fuel lines at the throttle body are disconnect. Then the coolant is drained and mostly collected in a pan, and with a little clean up taken care of we can remove the upper radiator hose. ♪ ♪ The top half of the fan shroud comes off, followed by the engine driven cooling fan. So if this is the first time that you're doing any major work like this, pulling an engine out or doing a swap, it can be very difficult to keep track of all the hardware because you're gonna have hundreds of tiny little nuts, and bolts, and washers, and things like that. So one thing I do to keep track of where everything goes is put it back on after you've take the part off. That way you know exactly where it goes and you're not hunting through a big bucket of bolts trying to figure out what went where. ♪ ♪ Next I'll have to remove a few lines from the radiator. An overflow, a heater core return, and both transmission cooler lines before the radiator can be removed from the truck. The Freon has leaked out some time ago. So I can disconnect the hoses on the back of the A/C compressor. Now a final heater core line and the vacuum line for the brake booster come off, and I can pull the fluid out of the transmission through the dip stick. Next I'll get the truck up in the air... ♪ ♪ ...and drain the fluid from the transfer case. We'll get both the rear and front drive shafts out of the way and set them in the scrap pile. We'll have to custom order new ones with the engine and transmission combination we've selected. I'll cut the exhaust in the middle and remove the rear section. Then disconnect the bolts at the manifold. Somebody broke a stud off. And the front Y-pipe and converter come out. We need to talk about what parts of the drivetrain we're going to remove at the same time. I have seen guys leave everything connected together, or even just the transfer case to the transmission. The trouble with those methods is well they're very bulky and difficult to maneuver, and your chances of damaging sheet metal are very high. If this is your first time pulling out a drivetrain I recommend you break it down into as small of pieces as possible. Transfer cases, they're usually very light and easy to maneuver, and the transmission, that pulls very easily with a trans jack. And once those two parts are out you can easily remove the engine from the top without damaging anything. So we'll get started by yanking off this transfer case.

(Narrator)>> And after that Mike lends a hand. That's next!

(LT)>> We're a little more than half way done pulling the drivetrain out of "RedTide", our '88 Chevy. I'll remove the converter cover, giving access to the bolts that hold the flex plate to the torque converter. On a 700-RFour there are three. Once I remove the shift linkage I can bring the trans jack in and slightly raise the transmission, getting the weight off the cross member so it can be removed. Finally the main bolts that hold the transmission to the engine are threaded out, and the trans is slowly lowered down and removed from the truck. Now we're in the home stretch. Up top all we have left to do is attach our lift sling to the exhaust manifold bolts, and let our crane do the heavy lifting. Go that way just a hair.

(Mike)>> Come my way. The manifold is hitting the cab.

(LT)>> There we go.

(Mike)>> Doesn't get much easier than that. ♪ ♪

(LT)>> So you wanted me to ship this next door to y'all right?

(Mike)>> Negative, this could be your first engine rebuild in here.

(LT)>> No!

(Mike)>> Yeah!

(LT)>> No this is too high tech for me.

(Mike)>> You need anything else?

(LT)>> That's it man. Hey appreciate it.

(Mike)>> See you man.

(LT)>> See you next time. Just because the engine and drivetrain are removed from the truck doesn't mean the job of teardown is complete. There are a few more things that we need to remove from the engine bay to clean up some of this mess and make preparations for the five-three LS that's going to be living in here in just a little bit, and we'll get started by tackling this wiring harness. [ drill spinning ]

(LT)>> There are a lot of circuits in this harness that I won't need to reuse, mostly for the t-b-i electronics, but there are some wires that I'll need to keep, like for the starter, gauges, and alternator. So I'll remove it all from the truck and modify it later on. Next the trans cooler lines go, followed by the heater hoses. Then I'll get the truck up in the air. Since I have something special planned for the front diff, I'll drain it, remove the bolts for the C/V axles, unbolt the mounts, and get it out of the way for now. Then since we can't put a shiny new engine into a greasy truck a quick degrease and a power wash will make the engine bay look much better. I think that'll work out nicely. Well we've got our mess cleaned up. The truck is back in the shop and we're ready to move on to the fun stuff. Now the hardest part about doing just about any engine swap is finding a way to position the new engine into the old chassis in the correct position so things like the oil pan, exhaust system, and the intake manifold are going to clear without hitting any parts of the old body. Luckily we're doing an LS swap, and it's a very common thing to do now days. So there are a lot of options on the aftermarket that will allow us to easily bolt this engine into the K-1500's chassis without doing any custom fabrication or guess work. We picked up these adapter from Hooker Headers, and they're gonna bolt onto the side of the LS engine block and they have a place to mount the small block Chevy style engine side part of the original mounting system. Now on the chassis side all we're gonna do is use the original style rubber isolator and this engine will be in the exact correct position for everything to fit. Now these install very easily. With a little thread locker the adapters install using counter sunk hardware. They are zinc plated for corrosion resistance and they're three-eighths inch thick for maximum strength. I trimmed a tab off the original spacer, which we'll reuse to maintain proper alignment, and three bolts hold the whole thing together. The passenger side needed a small notch in the mount to clear the block, and it gets bolted onto the adapter. Now this LS is ready for our chassis.

(Narrator)>> Next find out who is LT's next co-host.

(LT)>> We're back on Truck Tech preparing our new five point three to fit in our '88 Chevy. We could adapt our original 700-RFour to work behind the new five point three but they're not the strongest transmission out there, and this one has a bunch of miles on it. So it would probably need a refresh anyway. Instead we're gonna be upgrading to a Four-L-80-E. Now you can almost think of them as an electronic Turbo 400 but with overdrive. So they're already an upgrade over the old 700, but this is a Gear Star level three build that's rated to withstand 600 horsepower. It's been modified inside to hold additional clutch packs over a stock build, has heat treated shafts, and inside it has all new wiring and solenoids, and up front it has a Yank 2,800 r-p-m stall speed converter that'll really help our heavy truck get moving off the line and it works well with our cam shaft that we've selected. They also sent us a transmission cooler with a cooling fan built on top, and to complete the installation we went to Summit Racing for a few odds and ends like a transmission mount, an SFI certified flex plate with a converter pilot adapter for putting a Four-L-80 behind an LS, some ARP flywheel bolts, and of course a dip stick. Our installation starts under the hood by bolting on some new stock replacement motor mounts since the old ones had seen better days. Then we'll bring in the five point three and slowly lower it into place. With the hooker adapters it drops in just like the old one came out. That was way too easy. Then the stock bolts hold it all together. With the truck raised up in the air we can install the SFI certified flex plate on to the back of the crank. To ensure a proper torque reading and stop them from backing out the bolts get a dab of ultra-torque and thread locker. Then they get torqued in sequence to 84 foot pounds. The new transmission comes in and the pilot spacer goes onto the converter. Then the transmission gets raised up into place, aligned on the dowel pins, and the hardware can go in. Never use the bolts to draw the transmission onto the dowels as you can crack the aluminum case. Now the Four-L-80 gets raised up a bit higher and the stock cross member can be installed onto the C-channel of the frame. The studs are lined up and the nuts are tightened up. One thing you want to check when you install any automatic transmission is that the torque converter can freely spin after the engine and trans have been bolted together. If it can't the converter has been installed improperly and is putting way too much pressure on the oil pump, and it could cause damage. The converter bolts also get a dab of thread locker, and they are installed but kept loose for now. Then the engine is spun by hand until all six bolts are in. Then they get torqued to 45 foot pounds. Lastly it's important to install a torque converter cover as it's a structural part of the drivetrain. This one came from Summit Racing. ♪ ♪

(LT)>> Any time you do a major drivetrain overhaul you're gonna be left with a lot of extra parts. Whether it's an old engine that you're replacing or an entire drivetrain. This stuff takes up a lot of space, like old transmissions, transfer cases, front differential, or even small parts like brackets and wiring harnesses. It kind of clutters things up. A lot of people are tempted to load everything up, go to the dump, and just get rid of it, or even stick it on Craigslist and make a couple of quick bucks. The problem with that is there's a lot of small parts that are still attached to your old drivetrain that you will need to reuse, and if you get rid of it too soon it'll come back and bite you. I always tell people save everything until the project is 100 percent done and you're running and driving down the road with no issues. Then you can load up and clean out your shop. If you have a higher mileage truck or maybe a vehicle with a blown engine you'll want to refresh it with a remanufactured engine of the same type. So you'll probably grab a long block. We ordered a five point three LS for our K-1500, and as you can see you only get the basics like the engine block, cylinder heads, oil pan, valve covers, and balancer, but every accessory required to run the engine is not included when you purchase a long block. Obviously a small block Chevy and an LS are not the same engine, but the point is this. Whenever you're installing a long block there's a lot of parts you're going to need to reuse. Take the accessory drive for example. You've got the air conditioning pump, the alternator, the water pump, power steering pump, plus the tensioners, idlers, and all the small brackets needed to make everything line up properly. Then there's a lot of other parts like the start, exhaust manifold, intake manifold, the fuel injection system, and all the sensors up top. Plus you've got a flex plate out back, a distributor here, and there's a lot of stuff you need to reuse. Now we are doing an engine swap, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods because there's still some stuff we need to transfer over, like we already repurposed our motor mounts. There's going to be some sensors we pull out so the factory gauges still work, and then you've got something as simple as this. The vacuum line for the brake booster. We can easily adapt this to work on our five point three, saving a couple of bucks. When we pulled the powertrain out of "Project RedTide" I also took the time to remove the entire under hood wiring harness, and not a single wire was cut. Now this is a perfect example of why you want to save the parts until the job is done. Now the t-b-i computer obviously will not control an LS engine, and most of the wires in the engine branch of the harness are not gonna be reused, but there are some circuits here that we need to keep. Things like power distribution, air conditioning, and the wires that run the gauges up to the instrument cluster. Now if you're in this situation you have a lot of work ahead of you but you'll be thankful that you kept the original wires to work with. You just have to cut this thing apart, pull out the circuits that you want to keep, and put it all back together, but you have the parts to work with and that's what matters. The old small block is out of here and that new five point three and Four-L-80-E are permanently bolted into their new home. Obviously it doesn't run yet. We've got a few more goodies left to install, and we just got in some new exciting drivetrain parts that'll really make "RedTide" stand apart from the crowd. I have an announcement to make. After a long search we found a new co-host for Truck Tech. His name is Austin LeFort. A lifelong hot rodder and gearhead from New Orleans via California. He'll be joining our team here in a few weeks. Looking forward to it. For more information on "RedTide" or any of our other builds be sure to check out Powernation TV dot com.
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