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Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver

Posted By: Breathial

Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/29/18 07:02 PM

Hello, all. Starting a new thread, hope it turns out ok. Relocated to the Philly region last year.

I've had nice cars over the years, the latest sedan being a Mercedes E350 that did well, and an '06 3/4-ton 4x4 Suburban, both with low miles, both quite comfortable and reasonably powerful. But I've been building cars for about 30 years, including a few 1st-gen Camaros, and my last project was a '36 Ford 5-window coupe that started out as basically a flat-bed trailer of rusty parts. When it left, it was intact and running with a custom frame, M2 front, Ford 9" rear triangulated 4-link rear, a 3" chop and suicide doors.

But those projects are HARD work... or HUGE $$$, one or the other. I'm too tired to do the hard-work build any more, and yet I want a cool driver that I can tinker with, and enjoy over the next several years. It has to be powerful, reliable, economical. Oh, and it has to go together on a tiny budget... basically as cheap as I can get it. Which means, if a factory setup will do as well as spending $500 on a "sexy" serpentine pulley setup, I'll go factory. While a lot of people are impressed by some new "spiffy" thing, I'm far more impressed by guys that build cars on a budget, and are smart about saving money. It just what gets me jazzed.

This line of thinking is also why I'm going old-school. New cars are STUPID expensive, depreciate 25% when they roll off the dealer lot, and you never, EVER get that money back. rant

So I'm building my own, it'll be much cheaper than a new one, it'll be what I want, and it'll be my daily driver, NOT just a garage/trailer-queen.

With all of that in mind, I recently purchased maybe the ONLY MCSS in the area that's available and NOT a complete rust-bucket, for $5k. Old paint, a lot of dents, but the bones are good, and I won't have to chop out the floor and rear frame to have a nice driver. My favorite color is burgundy metallic, but I bought this silver one, because it was NOT a rust-bucket (and you'd be amazed at how people think their rust-riddled rolling turd is a gold nugget... no)

[Linked Image]

After fighting with the carb, finally ordering a new one, it starts and drives reasonably well. Of course, with 190HP on tap (and I consider that rating extremely optimistic), I have to push it hard to keep up with other traffic in relatively light, zippy cars. Right after I put the new carb on it, I was at a stoplight, and some little granny in a newish Honda Accord stood on it, as the light went green. I though, "ok, let's see how mine does..." As I should have guessed, granny SMOKED me... and she literally didn't even know I was there... Unreal... blush

Next fill-up, with new carb, and I find my slug of a car is making 13 MPG, general running around.

I'd sold my Benz AND my clean Suburban, to reduce overhead, and also reduce my fuel bill (as Sub was 16MPG highway, 12 in the city). This is NOT the kind of start I was looking for.
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/29/18 08:04 PM

So I'm debating what to do. 454 BBC or a 400SBC with Vortec heads...? Hmmm, the HP potential using Vortec heads seems like a no-brainer. So yeah, I decide to got this direction, figure I can build an engine that makes reasonable HP, and still gets great fuel economy. And while I'm trying to find a decent core, I stumble across a LQ4 6.0 LS engine, with freshly rebuilt heads (still unassembled) for $800. I'm thinking, "ok, for that price, I've GOT to check it out." The short-block is a mystery-motor, don't *really* know if it ran or if it's totally destroyed... but what the heck, for that price, I'm willing to take a gamble. I come home with the complete package (from a 2005 GMC van) in the back of my S-10 Blazer.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

I guess I won't be doing a Vortec 400 any time soon... doh
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/29/18 08:24 PM

So I order up two books "How to Rebuild LS-Series Engines" and "GM LS-Series Engines The Complete Swap Manual," and a harmonic-damper puller tool, and get to work on disassembly.

Costs to date:
$800 engine
$84.99 engine stand (Advance Auto)
$39.74 books (Amazon, free shipping)
$51.01 Harmonic damper removal and install tools (Amazon)

The engine was leaking oil like a sieve, the valley cover had been R&R'ed at least once, and when I pulled the pan, someone has scratched into the grime on the bottom of one of the rod caps (enough to mark it, but not damage it). I also found this on the oil pump pickup:

[Linked Image]

Ominous...

As I pulled pistons, there appeared to be no damage, though they were disgustingly dirty. I started to pull bolts for the main bearings, and this is what came out of the oil galleries...

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

While that LOOKS like RTV, it's actually sludge inside the oil galleries. I continued to disassemble, started with the rear (#5) main, and it looked ok. But got to the front, and the sludge had clearly caused oil starvation, wiping out #1 and #2 main bearings:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Corresponding main cap bearings:

[Linked Image]

The #1 journal:

[Linked Image]

The #2 journal:

[Linked Image]



Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/29/18 08:53 PM

I spend a little time figuring out what works, to clean the pistons and rods in the hopes that I can reuse them. I used several different solvents to experiment, but found simply chipping off the old crap with a flat-blade screwdriver, paint scraper or exacto knife (depending on need) worked much better. The oil-control rings literally had so much sludge built in that they were literally glued to the pistons.

[Linked Image]

When I pulled the cam, the #3 camshaft bearing came loose with the cam. The camshaft looked in decent condition, but there was some metal deposition from the cam bearing onto the cam, so that'll have to be replaced. The lifters, when I finally forced them out of their bores (stuck due to more than a decade of poor maintenance) were full of the same muck as the oil journals. They all went into the garbage can.

Due to work constraints, I'll take the block, cranks, rods and pistons to the local machine shop Tuesday, along with some of the bolts, covers, other stuff that needs to be hot-tanked. Hopefully I'll know by Friday whether the crank can be saved by turning it down, and whether I can re-use the pistons.

The performance goals for this engine are actually pretty mild. According to Pypes Exhaust (at http://pypesexhaust.com/p-13194-dyno-tests.html) the Monte Carlo delivered 156 HP and 223 lbs-ft of torque at the rear wheels, in stock form). I'd like to see 300 RWHP, and maybe 350 lbs-ft of torque, with the replacement powerplant. For this LQ4 engine, it means I should be able to run mostly stock (if not all OEM pieces) and rely on tune and spark curves, to get me where I need to be.

The other side of the equation is to have >=25 MPG on the highway, at least 18 MPG in the city (matches my winter beater). It'll all depend on the tune, and the ability to tune it myself, quickly, using wide-band 02 sensors and a laptop. In other words, with my goal to be as low-$ as possible while still attaining the goals (giving equal priority to power, fuel economy and reliability), I'm going to use a megasquirt system, probably the MS-2 enhanced version. It'll use the truck intake manifold (but drive-by-cable), the 200R4 that's already in the car ( and seems to operate well, and it already has a mild shift-kit in it and a trans-cooler), and an external fuel pump.

The books I bought have been extremely disappointing to me; most of the information I'd already found on this site (as well as the LS1 forums), and their overall advice may be good for the newb who has more $$$ than brains and technical knowledge.. but I was sorely disappointed in the utter lack of anything meaningful, in the way of technical details. furious
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/30/18 01:43 AM

I've got an LS3 cam and matching valve springs for $200 if you want them. Made 350/375 to the wheels in my car.
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/30/18 02:09 AM

Thanks for the offer... but I've got the older LS2 setup... 3-bolt cam gear, 1x sensor at the back of the cam. Honestly, I'd prefer to avoid doing more mods than absolutely necessary. I even found a CTS-V cam/lifter/springs/pushrods setup for $225 on Flea-bay, but run into the same problem... Again, thanks for the offer.

I'd read your entire build thread, but I'm glad you posted- I've book-marked it for future reference again. God knows, there's gonna' be plenty of a learning-curve on this one.... I'd been working on big-blocks since the late 90's, never really paid attention to any other platforms, so I've got plenty to catch up on... think

In the meantime, if you see where I'm about to screw the proverbial pooch on something, be sure to let me know... I'm not too proud to take advice from those who've already bloodied their knuckles doing the same job!

givemebeer

<<<EDIT>>>

You know how sometimes you wake up with a new, key piece of information in your head? That just happened. Using megasquirt the cam sensor probably won't be an issue... Hmmm.....
Posted By: SSLance

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/30/18 03:20 PM

Good luck with the swap... Being one of those in the "anti-LS" camp, I'm afraid I can't be much help except to offer condolences on the poor condition of the core.

What trans are you going to use? Staying with the 200R4?

And BTW, I regularly get 20+ mpg with my 467 hp, 525 ft lb Quadrajet fed SBC... wink
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/30/18 08:13 PM

Originally Posted by SSLance
Good luck with the swap... Being one of those in the "anti-LS" camp, I'm afraid I can't be much help except to offer condolences on the poor condition of the core.

What trans are you going to use? Staying with the 200R4?

And BTW, I regularly get 20+ mpg with my 467 hp, 525 ft lb Quadrajet fed SBC... wink


You ever toss yours on a chassis dyno?
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/30/18 09:57 PM

Originally Posted by SSLance
What trans are you going to use? Staying with the 200R4?


Yep, that's the plan.
Posted By: SSLance

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/31/18 01:02 AM

Originally Posted by thepezking639


You ever toss yours on a chassis dyno?


Nope, just the engine builders dyno... https://youtu.be/XaUdKaLlZpQ

[Linked Image]
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/31/18 12:23 PM

Originally Posted by Breathial
Thanks for the offer... but I've got the older LS2 setup... 3-bolt cam gear, 1x sensor at the back of the cam. Honestly, I'd prefer to avoid doing more mods than absolutely necessary. I even found a CTS-V cam/lifter/springs/pushrods setup for $225 on Flea-bay, but run into the same problem... Again, thanks for the offer.

I'd read your entire build thread, but I'm glad you posted- I've book-marked it for future reference again. God knows, there's gonna' be plenty of a learning-curve on this one.... I'd been working on big-blocks since the late 90's, never really paid attention to any other platforms, so I've got plenty to catch up on... think

In the meantime, if you see where I'm about to screw the proverbial pooch on something, be sure to let me know... I'm not too proud to take advice from those who've already bloodied their knuckles doing the same job!

givemebeer

<<<EDIT>>>

You know how sometimes you wake up with a new, key piece of information in your head? That just happened. Using megasquirt the cam sensor probably won't be an issue... Hmmm.....


Regarding Megasquirt, I really like the megasquirt family of ECU's. that being said they are not without their limitations. I chose Microsquirt, because a friend gave me one for free. If i had to do it over again and had a little more budget, I'd provably have gone for the MS3pro, or even used a factory ECU and harness. Not having Idle Air Control on my car kind of sucks for fuel economy and Idle, but my car is not a daily driver, its a toy.

You'll like the LS2 cam, practically the same as the LS3 cam. should make 325-350 to the tire easy. I'd buy a set of new LS2/3 valve springs for $70 for a bit of piece of mind, though. I spun mine up to about 6500rpm no problem. its a baby cam really.

The areas where I see people "screw the pooch" the most is throwing carbs on these things, or not changing lifters when the heads are off. LS motors even from the factory tend to be rough on lifters. also people who put high pressure/high volume oil pumps. GM factory pumps are good for 95% of LS applications. oh and people who swap out the truck manifolds for car intakes, sure they are ugly, but the truck intakes make waaay more power and torque.

if your motor is a 2005 it might have the have the GEN IV rods, if you do, these rods are good to 1000hp. reuse them if they are in good condition, google gen 3 vs gen 4 rods to see which ones you have. even if you only have gen III rods, they are still plenty strong for your application. If you have to replace your pistons you may consider moving to a flat top piston from an LQ9.
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/31/18 03:19 PM

I know it has the Gen-IV rods. I just dropped the whole short-block off at the machine shop this morning... and they're backlogged, so it'll be a while before I know where I'm at. The initial inspection of the block looked ok, the crank mains are questionable. The #3 cam bearing came out with the cam, so the block may require machining the cam bearing bores oversized; we'll see. And of course, they'll check the piston bores. The cross-hatching wasn't too visible, but OTOH I didn't feel any ridges in the bores, so again, we'll see...

In the meantime, I'll be working to acquire other parts needed- exhaust, wire-harness pigtails, a drive-by-cable throttle body, etc. crazy

I'll have to look at the IAC issue versus the MS2 system. I believe it has the capability, but this reminds me to double-check. Thanks for the feedback on that. As to going with a carb, I decided to go EFI as this will be my summer driver, and I'd like the ability to tune for maximum economy while cruising down the highway. I know that you can theoretically get a carb to match the efficiency of EFI, but honestly, I don't have the patience for that sort of thing... I'd rather have auto-tune capabilities and be able to see what's happening real-time via a laptop. And honestly, looking at the costs to do a carb setup versus factory-style EFI, a budget fuel system and ECU, I think the costs are actually about the same. So... I'll go EFI. cool
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/31/18 04:25 PM

Originally Posted by Breathial
I know it has the Gen-IV rods. I just dropped the whole short-block off at the machine shop this morning... and they're backlogged, so it'll be a while before I know where I'm at. The initial inspection of the block looked ok, the crank mains are questionable. The #3 cam bearing came out with the cam, so the block may require machining the cam bearing bores oversized; we'll see. And of course, they'll check the piston bores. The cross-hatching wasn't too visible, but OTOH I didn't feel any ridges in the bores, so again, we'll see...

In the meantime, I'll be working to acquire other parts needed- exhaust, wire-harness pigtails, a drive-by-cable throttle body, etc. crazy

I'll have to look at the IAC issue versus the MS2 system. I believe it has the capability, but this reminds me to double-check. Thanks for the feedback on that. As to going with a carb, I decided to go EFI as this will be my summer driver, and I'd like the ability to tune for maximum economy while cruising down the highway. I know that you can theoretically get a carb to match the efficiency of EFI, but honestly, I don't have the patience for that sort of thing... I'd rather have auto-tune capabilities and be able to see what's happening real-time via a laptop. And honestly, looking at the costs to do a carb setup versus factory-style EFI, a budget fuel system and ECU, I think the costs are actually about the same. So... I'll go EFI. cool


If you want IAC, and fuel economy, I'd spend the money for an MS3 system and run sequential fuel injection. You will still get the easy to use interface of tunerstudio. but it is a much more capable ECU, and a future upgrade I am considering.

For headers, if you want long tubes look up the Speed engineering G-body headers, they fit with just a little bit of work and at less than $300 its a good deal. They work with the Holley mounts, which i am a fan of. Try and find a trailblazer SS or 2010 up 5.3l intake, they make great midrange torque and do look better than the truck manifolds, but you'll have to make your own TV cable brackets. for a DBC throttle body, i run a cheap EBAY 92mm G-plus, i think its the same company that makes the value holley ones.
Posted By: axld

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/04/18 11:32 AM

reading your build ( I replied in your other post also) . I see your wanting a budget daily driver. I am no LS expert , I have done several swaps and cam changes though. I work on a budget base also so I spend where needed. you will need a correct pan and mounts. I use HOLLEY exclusively now. spend your money once .
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/04/18 03:36 PM

Originally Posted by axld
reading your build ( I replied in your other post also) . I see your wanting a budget daily driver. I am no LS expert , I have done several swaps and cam changes though. I work on a budget base also so I spend where needed. you will need a correct pan and mounts. I use HOLLEY exclusively now. spend your money once .



I agree here, completely. with the exception of the $1000+ stainless headers. for the SLIGHT modification that the speed engineering headers need, I'd recommend those with the holley mounts and pan.
Posted By: mvp

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/05/18 12:30 AM

Good luck... coming from a rust bucket
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/05/18 01:56 AM

So I'm snooping around a LOT, regarding the cam and valve-train choices. The stock cam- if I polished it- could yield ~325 RWHP, and similar torque, easily meeting my goals. If I want to go the ultimately cheap route, this'd do. But I have to replace the rest of the valve-train; the lifters were full of goop, the springs are in an unknown condition, the cam spun #3 bearing (and is now suspect). The factory LQ4 cam specs out (@ .050") 196/207 degrees, lift of .467/.479, and LSA of 116. So I'm thinking, the next step up, the LS2 cam at 204/211, .520/.520 lift and the same LSA of 116. Nice bump up, but not too crazy. Certainly, I'm not interested in the lopey "set on kill" type of idle. For me, subtle is good.

[It also happened to be listed on EBay for $225 (used, good shape) with lifters, springs and pushrods. But by the time I decided to pull the trigger on it, it was already sold.]

That cam runs about $300 new, and other aftermarket manufacturers are $400 and UP! For such a small incremental change, it just doesn't seem worth it. Enter the LS9 cam, GM Part # 12638427, which is designed to run in the supercharged Vette and Cad 6.2L engines. It specs at 211/230 duration, .558/.552 lift and an idle-friendly LSA of 122.5 degrees. It bleeds off a bit of the torque lower in the RPM band (which is good when running a factory rear-end and a 200R4 where the amount of upgrades (beyond shift kit and cooler) are unknown. Best of all, the cam costs $120, and doesn't require any 'sexy' stuff; just good-condition factory gear will be sufficient.

Costs to date: $1267.95
$800 engine
$84.99 engine stand (Advance Auto)
$39.74 books (Amazon, free shipping)
$51.01 Harmonic damper install & removal tools
$118.22 LS-9 Camshaft (EBay)
$108.99 LS-7 Roller lifters plus 4 guides (EBay)
$65 Blue GM Beehive LS springs (EBay)

I'm debating whether to include the costs for the engine stand, books and specific tools.
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/06/18 02:53 PM

I would strongly recommend something other than a GM factory cam, especially the LS9 cam for an NA applicaiton. 122.5 is absurd for an NA motor. The LS motor responds so well to camshafts that it's often the cheapest $ per HP you'll pay. Also for the LS9 if you run a factory computer you will have to run a different cam gear and cam sensor... just FYI.

If i were you, I would check out the Summit LS pro Cams, either stage 1 or stage 2 "truck" cams, at roughly $170 more than the LS9 cam ($290 total), you will not be disappointed. they will run just fine with the blue beehive springs (also before you pay $65 for them on ebay DM me, i also have a stock LQ4 cam that is in good condition that i was going to make a lamp out of but if you really want it I'll get it to you for shipping)

I just put the STG III cam in my car, and I was very impressed with the quality of the cam.
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/06/18 04:05 PM

So the cam bearing spinning toasted that bore. It's also what caused the #1 &#2 main bearings to starve. Bottom line: block & crank are toast, unless I'm willing to spend a LOT of money to do repairs (to the block, the crank is history).

BUT... it looks like I got lucky, found a guy who does a lot of LS stuff, has a 6.0 block and crank he'll sell me for $250.

As an old friend once described, this is "dirty luck." Problem pops up, but able to wrangle through it without too much pain and annoyance. I pick it up in a couple of days, and we're back in business. Probably cheaper than trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (fixing the old block). Again, NOT the way I wanted this to start, but.... whatever. dunno
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/06/18 08:01 PM

Quote
I would strongly recommend something other than a GM factory cam, especially the LS9 cam for an NA applicaiton. 122.5 is absurd for an NA motor.


Understood. And your points are valid. But the (admittedly little) research I've done on cam profiles for LS engines versus BBC or earlier SBC variants, tells me that LS engines respond in a substantially different way to cam profiles. The few LQ4/LQ9 engines I've been able to find using the LS9 cam, seem to show about a 50HP bump, with an appropriate tune. Which means I could see maybe 370 RWHP when all is said and done...? (Spit-balling here, I know...)

To be sure, there are other aspects that will rob some of that power- for example, I can find C5 Corvette exhaust manifolds for $100 shipped, with integral O2 sensor bungs. And seriously looking at the LS1 (Camaro/Firebird) intake, since I currently have a DBW intake, and would need to find a drive-by-cable throttle-body and get that all set up. I'm missing a lot of sensors, and still have to decide the path to take on accessories and brackets (all I have now is the truck water pump and damper). The overall cost difference on the intake will be ~$200, but packaging will be much better [both for accessories and brackets]. For both steps, I'll lose some HP, but I'll still have more than enough.

As to the cam, I've already ordered it, and it'll go on my shelf in a few days... while I wait for a block to put it in... banghead

I'll stick with the plan for now. But, thank you for the input. It's greatly appreciated. wink
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/06/18 09:24 PM

Originally Posted by Breathial
Quote
I would strongly recommend something other than a GM factory cam, especially the LS9 cam for an NA applicaiton. 122.5 is absurd for an NA motor.


Understood. And your points are valid. But the (admittedly little) research I've done on cam profiles for LS engines versus BBC or earlier SBC variants, tells me that LS engines respond in a substantially different way to cam profiles. The few LQ4/LQ9 engines I've been able to find using the LS9 cam, seem to show about a 50HP bump, with an appropriate tune. Which means I could see maybe 370 RWHP when all is said and done...? (Spit-balling here, I know...)

To be sure, there are other aspects that will rob some of that power- for example, I can find C5 Corvette exhaust manifolds for $100 shipped, with integral O2 sensor bungs. And seriously looking at the LS1 (Camaro/Firebird) intake, since I currently have a DBW intake, and would need to find a drive-by-cable throttle-body and get that all set up. I'm missing a lot of sensors, and still have to decide the path to take on accessories and brackets (all I have now is the truck water pump and damper). The overall cost difference on the intake will be ~$200, but packaging will be much better [both for accessories and brackets]. For both steps, I'll lose some HP, but I'll still have more than enough.

As to the cam, I've already ordered it, and it'll go on my shelf in a few days... while I wait for a block to put it in... banghead

I'll stick with the plan for now. But, thank you for the input. It's greatly appreciated. wink


First, there is no difference between a DBW and DBC truck intake. Just run what you have. the truck intakes, are ugly, but make significantly more low end torque AND power up top than the car intakes. this is a proven fact. just get a DBC Throttle body from a van or truck. they should be plentiful in your local wrecking yards. the same goes for accessories. the nice thing about the truck PS pump is that you can use factory lines to attach it. and if you get a DR44G alternator, it can work with only a single wire. If you were willing to spend that much on an intake, you're better off returning the cam you bought and buying an aftermarket one. As for the 370 RWHP... You're probably looking at 340-350 if you run the LS1 intake and LS9 cam, keep in mind you will lose low end torque with the LS9 cam and then be choked out up top by the restrictive LS1 intake even though the cam wants to rev up...
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/06/18 10:16 PM

WRT throttle bodies, I know there's no difference as to flow. But I'm going MS2, and want the simple cable setup. As to availability at the wrecking yard, I have 3 liitle ones; trips to the wrecking yard are simply out of the question for me. I liked your idea to go with an aftermarket throttle body, though; $75 gets a new unit + sensors, where a used one here goes for $50 (and sensor condition is unknown).

As to the intake, an LS1 goes for $125. My used truck intake goes for an easy $50. So for $50 (+ ~$130 for new throttle body and fuel rails) I've got a compact intake where I don't have to worry about hood clearance.

As to horsepower, I'm not concerned about maximum power numbers. I want more power, sure... more *teeth.* But it'll never see a track... and *maybe a chassis dyno to validate tune... but even that's debatable. After youve built a few cars North of 600 HP, it just ain't a big deal any more... LOL
Posted By: PB86SS/87LS

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/07/18 01:57 AM

Welcome aboard and nice SS to start with, plus nice plans for it.

It’s a moot point but in the stock setup’s defense, it should get much better than 13mpg and also still torque around town decently enough to be competitive with granny in her Accord. One of my pet peeves on recent publications/builds of our cars is being lazy and ripping on the stock performance (it was the 80’s, all cars were slow by today’s standards). Not saying you are, just putting it in perspective. I’m all for yanking out the 305 for any nice build if not some super low mile original beer

Look forward to the progress!
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/07/18 11:28 AM

Originally Posted by Breathial
WRT throttle bodies, I know there's no difference as to flow. But I'm going MS2, and want the simple cable setup. As to availability at the wrecking yard, I have 3 liitle ones; trips to the wrecking yard are simply out of the question for me. I liked your idea to go with an aftermarket throttle body, though; $75 gets a new unit + sensors, where a used one here goes for $50 (and sensor condition is unknown).

As to the intake, an LS1 goes for $125. My used truck intake goes for an easy $50. So for $50 (+ ~$130 for new throttle body and fuel rails) I've got a compact intake where I don't have to worry about hood clearance.

As to horsepower, I'm not concerned about maximum power numbers. I want more power, sure... more *teeth.* But it'll never see a track... and *maybe a chassis dyno to validate tune... but even that's debatable. After youve built a few cars North of 600 HP, it just ain't a big deal any more... LOL


The truck intake has no fitment problems with the hood. the cable situation is even easier as you can just use an 02 Silverado throttle cable, there is also substantially more are to mount your TV cable. A car intake will not work with the truck accessories. the easiest and cheapest way to do all of this is for you to use everything from a truck/van.
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/07/18 01:31 PM

Originally Posted by thepezking639
The truck intake has no fitment problems with the hood. the cable situation is even easier as you can just use an 02 Silverado throttle cable, there is also substantially more are to mount your TV cable. A car intake will not work with the truck accessories. the easiest and cheapest way to do all of this is for you to use everything from a truck/van.


Well, ok.... I'll take a look at the options... Though I would prefer the install to look "clean," like the LS1 intake provides, I'm also balancing against cost. And the cost to purchase another block and crank have already put a monkey-wrench into the "budget" aspect of this build. So... we'll see how it shakes out.

It's particularly frustrating that I'm not able to roam the local junkyards for parts; having little ones (2, 9 and 11) makes time as much of a commodity as money. And in past builds, I've always been able to trade-off my own labor for cash outlay. Not so easy to do, now... For example, I usually get "free" time in the garage after everyone else has already gone to bed, after 10 PM. Sometimes a few hours during the day on a Saturday or Sunday, but that' pretty rare. And I've relocated, the place I'm renting (until my house with a 4-car garage(!) finally sells) only has a "2" car garage... which actually is more like 1 1/2 cars... bs So, yeah...........
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/07/18 02:21 PM

Originally Posted by PB86SS/87LS
Welcome aboard and nice SS to start with, plus nice plans for it.

It’s a moot point but in the stock setup’s defense, it should get much better than 13mpg and also still torque around town decently enough to be competitive with granny in her Accord. One of my pet peeves on recent publications/builds of our cars is being lazy and ripping on the stock performance (it was the 80’s, all cars were slow by today’s standards).


Thanks for the support. smile As to the performance, you're absolutely right. An '87 MCSS would put down a quarter-mile time of ~16 seconds. For the 80's, yeah, it was ok. Not spectacular, but ok...

I'm looking to make this my daily driver, a slick cruiser that merges old-school looks with modern performance. If I was really bucks-up, I'd bolt in a 8L90 trans with a Ford 9", trac-loc pumpkin and some 2.50 rear gears... It'd pull hard off the line, and yet turn 1500RPM at 70MPH... But that's for another day, I guess. mwink

I've built a lot of cars over the years, basically always pushing for more power. So this approach- just building something for my enjoyment while still being practical- is quite different. There are some other aspects as well, that I will have to address- the R134A refrigerant simply doesn't hack it in the old MCSS system, for example... another is that at idle, with the AC running, voltage sags down below what I consider acceptable levels... Cup holders, and bunch of other silly stuff that we take for granted in newer cars that is noticeably absent... LOL

There nothing like burning my hand with a hot coffee driving to work just this morning, because I don't have a place to safely put it down while driving... no
Posted By: mmc427ss

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/07/18 05:36 PM

Here's one way to get around the coffee problem.
https://www.dixierestorationdepot.com/Product/Detail.aspx?s=DM00752%20%20%20BLACK&d=175&p=2

When it's time for A/C mods you need to trash the stock serpentine condenser and go to a parallel flow one if you go to 134. Spectra now sells only parallel flow condensers. This is the stock replacement, inlet/outlet same as stock.
https://ecat.spectrapremium.com/products/7-3232

You can use a Buick or GP condenser which has the inlet/outlet on the other side.
https://ecat.spectrapremium.com/products/7-4013

I'm still running a totally stock A/C system with R12, 39 degrees at the dash vents. Once changed it over to 134 but changed it back to 12 when the new engine went in.

Harry's U-pull above Pennsburg is a good place for later model picks.
http://www.wegotused.com/
Bob
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/20/18 12:24 PM

So I went through three more core engines, to find a nice one to build... for $500. Short block from a van that caught on fire. The others, when I pulled them apart, all had suffered loss of oil pressure and subsequent bearing failures, which in turn destroyed the crank and spun the bearings in the block, wiping out rods and main saddles.

Takeaway? DON'T buy an engine that started to knock. By the time you hear it, it's already "game over."

Tomorrow I'll drop it off to the machine shop to be hot tanked and honed.
Posted By: SSLance

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/20/18 03:56 PM

Another takeaway I get from this... LS engines have oiling issues...
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/20/18 07:32 PM

Originally Posted by SSLance
Another takeaway I get from this... LS engines have oiling issues...


Or LQ4's get abused because they are primarily in 3/4ton work trucks / vans. SBC's in various incarnations have had lots of production issues, cracking heads, intake gasket failures taking them out, etc.

Not to mention any motor will die if you run it out of oil.

Yesterday I watched my wife's LS3 powered 1LE camaro run around a road course screaming at 6000 rpm all day and the day before I was shifting my 120k mile junkyard 6.0 at 6500rpm. Neither of them flinched.

They don't have oiling issues. You're (admittedly) being biased

I also seem to remember you opening your 383 up a year or two ago and finding bearings that you weren't OK reassembling. how old was that motor? how many miles?

If I'm honest Lance, I think you put too much credence into a dyno test conducted under perfect conditions and use that to judge other's setups.

Around a road course your car would be miles faster with a built up LS3, you know it and you're trying to convince yourself not to take the plunge

That's my takeaway from your comment.
Posted By: mmc427ss

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/21/18 01:24 AM

Arguing the plus and minus of any engine can go on forever, they all have had some issue or another. You can't dispute that pulling a used truck LS from the junkyard today is much easier than finding ANY 1st Gen SBC worth rebuilding to make the same power. LS upgrade parts are now readily available and cheaper than just 5 years ago. Crate LS engines are all over the place and in any size and color you want. Gen 1 SBC are also available in any size, hp, color, just need a checkbook.

Their is no doubt it's easier to make hp with the LS, that's why GM spent a billion dollars on it's development. It i had the bucks and was buying an engine the first engine I'd look at today is the LT5. Back when I built the Dart 427 SBC the LS7 was available in a crate, same money in the end as the Dart engine, just a huge chunk of change dealt one time, the Dart could be pieced together a little at a time. Regret it, not really, I'm old and old school is what i still do.

As far as dyno numbers go, it like apples and oranges, they are both kinda round, but. Hard to compare number from one source to another. 500hp/500lbft at 6000 is the same whether 6L or 2L. My take is how much weight you need to drag around can means more than how many horses are pulling. But we all know more hp is better, and cheap hp like a junkyard LS is what the norm is today.
Bob
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/21/18 01:33 PM

I won't go so far as to say the LS engines have oiling issues... There's no way to account for all the variables that may have contributed to the failures I saw.

As to raw HP, there's always more to be had, it's always a question of money. In my case, the goal remains. Build a powerful daily driver that still gets reasonably good fuel economy, for the lowest price possible. I'm not interested in racing, so maximum power numbers are irrelevant.

It's now at the machine shop and they promised to call me next week with their findings. Hopefully I'll be able to reuse the pistons, get away with a light hone. 😎
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/23/18 06:13 PM

As a side note, I'd been digging much deeper into the question of the intake manifold designs.

I know other threads have discussed this exact subject at painful length... deadhorse

Underlying Question: What is THE budget intake to have, which delivers exceptional performance, can be had on an anorexic budget, and still offers both good looks AND compact packaging? Or, to have exceptional performance, is the truck or Trailblazer SS intake (tall and ugly) the way to go? And at what point does it make sense to switch from one choice to another?

An excellent write-up by Hot Rod magazine is HERE. A variety of aftermarket (and factory LSX cathedral-port intakes) are compared against the LS1, as a baseline. The cheapest I've found is $325 on EBay, complete with fuel rails and injectors.

I noticed the article didn't do a full breakout of the results in a spreadsheet, so I'll plug the numbers here, hopefully they'll line up reasonably well...

...........................................HP at......................................
INTAKE.......3000......4000.....5000.....6000.....7000
LS1...............210.........335......445.......515.......530
LS6...............210.........347......465.......535.......560
Truck............210.........342......460........530.......545
TBSS...........215..........360......470.......550.......560

As a daily driver application, my engine shouldn't see the high side of 5500 RPM except once in a blue moon...and I'd say 95% of my driving will be under 3000 RPM, so this is where I'm concentrating.

The LS6 starts to climb past the LS1 around 3800 RPM, and at 5500 RPM makes about 20HP (give or take) more. The cheapest I found on EBay is $250 for one with fuel rails and injectors. I don't honestly understand why the LS6 intake is cheaper than the LS1, but an advantage of $75 less combined with a 20HP bump, seems like a no-brainer.

The Trailblazer SS intake does see some gains across the entire board, compared to the LS1 intake. They can be had for $250 on EBay, but require conversion for 4-bolt TB to a 3-bolt setup, if I don't want to have drive-by-wire (and I most definitely do NOT). The conversion costs compared to the marginal gain of the LS6 seem to make this a viable choice only when every last HP is to be extracted. So for me, it's not really worth it, especially since I want to make the install as clean and low-profile as possible (aesthetics, for lack of a better term).

I didn't bother logging any of the 15 or so aftermarket intake manifolds, as they all seemed to bounce somewhere between the LS6 and TBSS intakes in power generated, and all of them cost significantly more than a good used factory intake. It now makes perfect sense why the authors did NOT put the above analysis together with the intake manifolds, as it would become immediately clear that the wares being offered the HRM sponsors simply aren't as good as a used factory offering... pointlaugh

It'll have the LS6 on top. smokin
Posted By: Travis Jones

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/23/18 07:07 PM

Originally Posted by Breathial
As a side note, I'd been digging much deeper into the question of the intake manifold designs.

I know other threads have discussed this exact subject at painful length... deadhorse

Underlying Question: What is THE budget intake to have, which delivers exceptional performance, can be had on an anorexic budget, and still offers both good looks AND compact packaging? Or, to have exceptional performance, is the truck or Trailblazer SS intake (tall and ugly) the way to go? And at what point does it make sense to switch from one choice to another?

An excellent write-up by Hot Rod magazine is HERE. A variety of aftermarket (and factory LSX cathedral-port intakes) are compared against the LS1, as a baseline. The cheapest I've found is $325 on EBay, complete with fuel rails and injectors.

I noticed the article didn't do a full breakout of the results in a spreadsheet, so I'll plug the numbers here, hopefully they'll line up reasonably well...

...........................................HP at......................................
INTAKE.......3000......4000.....5000.....6000.....7000
LS1...............210.........335......445.......515.......530
LS6...............210.........347......465.......535.......560
Truck............210.........342......460........530.......545
TBSS...........215..........360......470.......550.......560

As a daily driver application, my engine shouldn't see the high side of 5500 RPM except once in a blue moon...and I'd say 95% of my driving will be under 3000 RPM, so this is where I'm concentrating.

The LS6 starts to climb past the LS1 around 3800 RPM, and at 5500 RPM makes about 20HP (give or take) more. The cheapest I found on EBay is $250 for one with fuel rails and injectors. I don't honestly understand why the LS6 intake is cheaper than the LS1, but an advantage of $75 less combined with a 20HP bump, seems like a no-brainer.

The Trailblazer SS intake does see some gains across the entire board, compared to the LS1 intake. They can be had for $250 on EBay, but require conversion for 4-bolt TB to a 3-bolt setup, if I don't want to have drive-by-wire (and I most definitely do NOT). The conversion costs compared to the marginal gain of the LS6 seem to make this a viable choice only when every last HP is to be extracted. So for me, it's not really worth it, especially since I want to make the install as clean and low-profile as possible (aesthetics, for lack of a better term).

I didn't bother logging any of the 15 or so aftermarket intake manifolds, as they all seemed to bounce somewhere between the LS6 and TBSS intakes in power generated, and all of them cost significantly more than a good used factory intake. It now makes perfect sense why the authors did NOT put the above analysis together with the intake manifolds, as it would become immediately clear that the wares being offered the HRM sponsors simply aren't as good as a used factory offering... pointlaugh

It'll have the LS6 on top. smokin
\

So, a TBSS intake is also any Post 2010 intake on a 5.3/4.8 also called NBS intakes, there are many advantages to running one of these vs the LS6.

First, you should be able to go into any modern wrecking yard and find one for not much money. I paid $140 for mine on craigslist fully loaded with injectors, fuel rail and TB.

I bought a 92mm throttle body for a whopping $82 on Ebay or you can get a 3 to 4 bolt TB conversion plate and run a 3 bolt TB

The nice thing about the TBSS intake is that it is setup to run a returnless fuel system, so you use a $38 corvette filter regulator, 1 line (i reused the stock 3/8 feed line) and some rubber fuel injection hose and a couple conversion fittings.

Another issue you may run into with an LS6 intake is a lack of an area to mount the TV cable ( you can spend the money for the overpriced Bowtie Overdrives kit though)

The main advantage of the TBSS/NBS intake is the increased torque production down low due to the long runners, somehow this intake manifold manages to have long runners, but still make great power up top.

Also if you use the car intake, you're stuck using car front accessories, which are significantly more expensive and require more work to adapt into a G-body than the truck accessories do. (by the time you've bought a car harmonic balancer you're already to the cost of a 92mm 4 bolt TB FYI)

I'm just worried you're trying to save a few pennies now which will end up costing you a lot more later... spend the money on good parts, that are known to work well together and do it right once.

For example, my bone stock 6.0l with a middle of the road cam a TBSS intake, 92mm TB and long tubes made 412 at the tire. I know that you say you aren't trying to build much more than a daily driver, and that's fine, but you're turning your back on some of the cheapest horsepower that you can get, that also will not hurt your economy.

but hey if its an aesthetics thing, and you don't mind spending more money to be slower that's fine too. Just want you to make an informed decision...
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/26/18 12:39 AM

Costs to date
engine $800
LS-9 Camshaft (EBay) $118.22
LS-7 Roller lifters plus 4 guides (EBay) $108.99
Blue GM Beehive LS springs (EBay) $65
Another short-block 6.0 LS $500.00
Valve Stem-seals (beehive style) $18.99
Valve locks $9.52


total 1620.72
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 09/08/18 06:06 PM

While waiting for the machine shop to get back to me, I've been driving around the MCSS. Strange thing kept happening, battery going dead. Finally, I replaced the battery, but decided to try and isolate whatever keeps sucking power. Found it eventually, the switch in the trunk kept closing, activating the trunk lamp. No WONDER I couldn't see it!

Next, when I first bought the car a few months ago, the radiator immediately started leaking. I bought a replacement single-core radiator from Pep Boys (this was before I decided to the LS conversion). The replacement rad simply couldn't keep the engine cool on the 100F+ hot days, so I had to choose between air conditioning or cooking the engine. NOT a good place to be. A few days ago, the new rad started to leak at the seam of the plastic tank, so I went on EBay, found a nice 3-core, TIG-welded monster, for a mere $119, https://www.ebay.com/itm/3-ROWS-26-WIDE-CORE-ALL-ALUMINUM-RADIATORCHEVY-CAMARO-MANY-GM-CARS-TRUCKS/253820102122?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

[Linked Image]20180906_183517 (1) by breathial1967, on Flickr


Popped it in, now the engine runs 20F cooler, and no leaks. Also, it fit perfectly, no issues or mods necessary. It dropped right into place. smile

Highly recommended!
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 01/16/19 02:21 PM

Ok, a quick update. I got the block back from the machine shop. Crank is good, block ok, but needs an overbore to clean up some rust pitting from when the engine was stored by the previous owner... Probably .020" inches, minimum, to make everything perfect. After snooping around, I discovered the 6.2L pistons are .065" larger in bore. So I found a set from a 2010 Camaro with 80k on the clock, bought them for $120. New rings, and voila, I'm ready to go back to the machine shop. I already have two sets of 6.0 pistons and rods, one set Gen-III, the other Gen-IV, so I'll use the latter to put together the rotating assembly. This gives me a 6.2L version of the LQ9 engine...

On another note, I'd been thinking a LOT about what to do on the computer, and how to do the EFI cheaply. Bottom line, if I go for a megasquirt with decent functionality, I'm into the computer for at least $300. IF I decide to go with a 4L80E later, the controller doubles that cost... so not nearly as cost-effective as I'd thought.

So I'm snooping around on the FaceBook marketplace, and I find a guy 60 miles away with an intake from a 2003 GMC Savana... with harness, drive-by-cable throttle body, computer and full fuse-panel, for $100. SOLD. So I'll be using a tuned factory computer, cleaning up the harness myself, etc. The LQ4/LQ9 cam I already have is in good condition, so I'll just go with that. The LS9 cam I have is still sealed in the original packaging, so I'll just sell it, try to get some money back.

Finally, for exhaust, I found a set of F-body exhaust manifolds (again off FakeBook marketplace) for $80 shipped to my door.

As you can probably tell, I've been going back and re-evaluating every decision of the build, to this point. As mentioned earlier, I have little time to dedicate to this project, what with three little ones (and the wife) demanding my attention. BUT... I'm not prepared to blow through money just to get a little convenience. Which is why I decided to just stick with the cheapie truck intake (ugly, but extremely functional), have the computer tuned, and put my time in on things where I can get projects accomplished in a few hours to a few days, such as the wiring harness.

In project management terms, I'm cutting out the scope-creep, getting back to the core goals for minimum cash outlay.
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 04/21/19 07:41 PM

So the weather has finally broken, I can get to the garage again... in between times when the kids are requiring my attention. Update is that I can't seem to get a decent of exhaust manifolds for either an F-body or C5 vette, without the seller flaking out. Annoying. The local machine shop (Stauffers) isn't even willing to consider boring my block to 4.065", regardless. Not even willing to do a sonic check first. Fine, found another machine shop, just have to get the cash together quietly. I've discovered the factory LQ4 pistons (with Gen-IV rods) weigh in at 628 grams with the pin, the 6.2 pistons weigh 640. So I'll get the assembly balanced. Assuming nothing else comes up, I'm looking at $600 for bore & hone, balance rotating assembly, check line-bore and pop in cam bearings. Unless the line bore is *really* out of whack, I'll probably leave it alone, as the engine showed no signs of distress when I tore it down.

I've acquired a set of factory-spec 6.2L piston rings, full bearing set (less cam), timing chain set, engine gasket set, oil pump and dipstick assembly for $438 all-in. Found a guy with an F-body oil pan and pickup for $160.

And while I'm slowly gathering parts, getting ready to send the block off to the machine shop, I started looking at that God-awful Fugly LQ4 intake manifold. I'd found a second one that's DBC with a full computer and harness, so the DBW was a practice run. The pics below are of the second unit...

Before:

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

So I started shaving the intake like so many have documented on youtube.

One thing I hate is the way others have had to weld in their fittings to the back of that concave shape at the trailing side of the intake. So I bought some 1/4" nylon 6/6 stock from Ebay. After making a cardboard template, I came up with an oval "cap" to put over the end. This would give me a flat surface to either weld or epoxy to, without the sloppy results I was seeing on other threads.

[Linked Image]

I punched holes in the back so that whenever I wanted to tap into vacuum, I could still do it on four separate locations. The I epoxied it in place, followed by the plastic welding of the edges, both to make it look better and more importantly, to give it additional strength and avoid potential vacuum leaks.

[Linked Image]

Next, a skim layer of filler, followed by primer:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

After a LOT of block sanding, I finally sprayed some "natural aluminum" engine paint on it.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

You might notice at the top of where the throttle body bolts on, I built up that area with more 1/4" nylon and welded it in place (after soldering the solenoid opening inside shut). I also removed the DBC cable bracket studs on top. I realized I could flatten the bracket and attach it to the top of the nylon I just welded in, to keep proper alignment... but it moves the cables down and reduces intake height by about 1 1/2", right where it's most needed. With this, I am confident it will fit under my flat hood. grin

The finish isn't perfect, but then again, I'm doing my work late at night in an occupied garage, and spray-painting in a public parking lot (life in suburbian HELL)... It's good enough where I won't be embarrassed when I pop the good. Which, for me, is good enough. lmao
Posted By: mmc427ss

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 04/22/19 03:29 AM

Good machine shops are hard to find these days. Back in the day Stauffer's was the go to place for most all rebuilding services in the Phoenixville are, had several heads R&Red there. Selling car parts was their main business, machine shop changed hands after the parts side closed, there was even a fire there a decade ago. Not sure who is in there anymore.

Over in Schwenksville is Automotive Machine Services, Doug Meyers does a lot of the local HiPo stuff these days. He's done a few engines for friends. I'ts worth the time to give him a call. The word is he is slowing down, staff is getting older and more picky about builds.

AMS in Pottstown is unfortunately now gone, they did everything there and had good equipment

Boyertown and Pottstown both have a smaller machine shops on the scale of Stauffer's now.

Meyers is where I would go now. Soon will need a flywheel dressed for the new twin, Boyertown could do it, just think I may need to do a walk in at Meyers to check it out, never been inside the doors.
Bob
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 05/03/19 11:47 PM

Thanks, I checked into AMS. Talking to Doug for ~15 minutes, it was obvious he REALLY knows his stuff... old-school all the way, no BS. Dropped off the parts to him a week ago, a couple of more weeks and he says it'll be ready. Looking forward to having a full set of parts to finally put together... grin
Posted By: mmc427ss

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 05/04/19 02:49 AM

Good deal. As I said never had anything done by Doug but know several who have.
It's been a long haul for you to get a shortblock together, hoping heads go on soon.

Have you ever went to a Top Dead Center gathering in Exton? Several years ago was the last one I attended and it was across 30 in the other mall. Maybe one of them shows our paths will cross.
http://tdcmotorclub.com/cruise-for-the-troops/
Bob
Posted By: mmc427ss

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 06/10/19 07:58 PM

Wondering how you made out at Doug Meyer. I dropped off my flywheel there on Fri, picked up today. Asked for a tour of his shop and he was very outgoing and received more than the 50 cent tour. Also managed to get some other good info from him. 47 years in business and still realizes the little guy is important. \

And as an added benefit there was a black SS sitting outside Doug's shop with a very rusty hood. It was one of his staff's car. I have the original black hood sitting in my daughter's garage for more than a decade now and was going to scrap it next week. Now I it looks like Josh will be making a trip to pick it up soon, for free.
A win win for both of us.
Bob
Posted By: AkronAero

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 06/10/19 08:08 PM

Despite the move to servicing cars at the dealers by swapping out modules, there are some incredibly bright guys who often work under the radar and love more than anything to do things for knowledgeable folks who appreciate their work. Got to know who to ask... wounds like you scored big on this.
Gordon
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/06/19 07:49 PM

Ok, after a LONG absence, where my family and work have consumed most of my time, I'm back with an update.

First of, Doug at Automotive Machine Services did an excellent job on my block. He decked and bored it out .065", so when I used the factory LS-3 pistons and OEM-style rings, the gaps came back exactly on spec. Bearing clearances all came in at .002" consistently, so no worries there either. Here's the short block after basic assembly:

[Linked Image][Linked Image]

I used the original cam because it was in good shape, and I didn't want to spend $300-400 to get an extra few horsepower, when I'm already worried how the 200R4 trans and factory rear end will live behind a tuned LQ9 (which is basically what this is). The heads already had a valve job done to them, so all I had to do was assemble them. I did go with the LS6 blue valve springs, new retainers and keepers. I also installed an new roller-bearing trunion kit, to avoid failure of the factory rocker needle bearings.

I picked up a used LS1 Camaro oil pan and pickup for cheap. This will work on my car only because I'm using the 1" setback adapters, tying it to the factory trans location.

Finishing all that up, and setting the intake on top, it looks like this:

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/06/19 07:59 PM

While obtaining and cleaning a variety of parts, I also recognize that I'll be upgrading the suspension in the not too distant future. One of the most obvious things to do this is to put on some modern rubber. The catch is that I didn't want to go for "bling," as much as classy and functional... I found a set of 2015 Camaro rims that were primo, for a cheap price. Using a 2" set of adapters front and rear, and you can judge for yourself. New tires are 225/45-R18. They're 1/2" wider than stock, but same height.

Before:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]


After:

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]
Posted By: 345HP87SSAC

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 07/06/19 08:27 PM

Those look pretty darn good.
Posted By: 84ss355*4spd

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 08/31/19 11:00 PM

Like the intake shaving .looks cool and save some space .
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/03/19 03:01 PM

Ok, it has been a LONG time coming, for an update. My apologies for being so slow... my wife and kids got back from Europe, visiting Grandma and extended family, in early September. Since then, it's been a mad rush getting kids into school, my day-job going insane on workload, and when I get home, taking over for "mama" until ~10 PM. Rinse and repeat. Add in getting some broken bones in my foot (during a Krav class, no less), and hobbling around for a couple of months when I keep re-breaking my toes... you get the idea.

Ok, enough of that crap. Short story, it runs, it drives, it kicks xxxx . But it was a LOT of work.

As of mid-July, I had finished assembly on the engine. The heads are the stocker 317 models, with upgraded (blue) valve springs, new retainers and keepers. I went with new roller lifters and pushrods, did a new needle-bearing trunion kit on the rockers. Pretty simple stuff, just takes time. The factory LQ4/LQ9 cam was reused, as everything I considered was too expensive to justify, when the factory cam could make at least 300HP at the rear wheels. With a basically stock 2004R trans and lightweight 3.73 posi, I really don't have the budget to go through the rest of the drivetrain.

After sealing up the long-block, I set the on top of the engine, put a couple of bolts into the headers.

[Linked Image][Linked Image]

Youl'll probably notice I picked up a Camaro oil pan and all the goodies for ~$200. I had to massage the windage tray a little to work with the longer stroke, but other than that, no issues.

Now it was time to get the stocker 305 engine pulled...

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Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/03/19 03:27 PM

Finding a good engine hoist for a good price, is always a challenge. Luckily, I found a 2-ton picker (Harbor-freight model) for $100, that usually goes for $250. It was still in the box, just had to drive an hour to pick it up. Overall, not too bad.

I sold the running engine, complete, for $300.

Next, with the 1" setback plates, I massaged the factory clamshells to fit. It was a real challenge to get everything to fit, with me pulling the engine three more times to get everything to work. The passenger side valve cover studs for the coil-packs interfered with the heater box, so I had to cut the bracket and stagger the coil-packs forward of the heater box, and reroute spark plug wires. I used the LQ4 flex-plate, after elongating the holes to allow the torque converter to mate up. Had to pull again because the cam retainer plate bolt on top interfered with the top of the bell-housing, preventing proper mating of the trans and block.

Once it was finally in, without exhaust hooked up, it looked like this:

[Linked Image][Linked Image]

I had bought a set of Chinesium stainless-steel street rod "LS1 adapter headers" from EBay for $100, and the passenger side header fit perfect. The driver side put the collecter into the firewall... dunce After reading on a LOT of g-body forums about this (including this one) I bought a set of exhaust manifolds from an '05 GTO, a 2000 Corvette, and a set of Hedman headers, EACH of which was claimed to "fit."

And none of them did. furious

Finally, I ordered another set of Chinesium headers, this set for LS1 S-10 conversion. The drivers' side fit, so now we're FINALLY good to go on exhaust. (But I've still got the GTO and Corvette manifolds for sale, if someone needs a set...)

While waiting on brown delivery trucks to deliver manifolds and headers that DIDN'T fit, over a month, I turned to the wiring.



Using the schematics available at LT1.com, I was able to rewire the factory computer to mate to my wiring harness. Some issues came up with colors NOT matching schematics; it turned out I had a 2002 truck wiring harness with a 2003 PMC (which will bite me in the xxxx later). A couple of pics while in progress:

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Finding a good place to install the PCM, where it would be easily accessible, was a challenge. I bought a used PCM tray off EBay for $15, and used all-thread to mount it on a pedestal over the air horns.

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Final pics with the 2 Chinesium headers:

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Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/03/19 08:33 PM

Moving on, I cleaned up the coil-packs, and went through several different spark-plug wire sets, to clear the headers. Also bought a cold-air induction kit for a 5.3 Tahoe, and worked to get that fitted in cleanly.

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On the right side of this pic, you might notice the relay box I included as well, to handle relays for the hot power to the engine harness, fuel pump and fans.

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For fans, I used new 99-03 Ford Windstar fans, which I bought for $80. After trimming the housing and using a bit of 90-degree aluminum stock, I was able to install the fans securely, and figure out the wiring to make sure they were properly fed from the relay box.

[Linked Image]
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/03/19 08:54 PM

A tricky aspect was the TV cable for the 200r4 transmission. They're very picky about location to get proper shifting, as it turns out.

I'd bought a retaining nut and wrench for my Makita 90-degree 4" grinder, as my old nut was missing. The tip of the wrench happened to be about the right thickness and hole I needed, so I snipped off the end of it, shaped it to fit the stocker throttle-body, and just had to make sure it got welded in the exactly correct location.

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Then, moving on to finish the cold-air induction, I bought another 90-degree elbow off EBay, trimmed up the aluminum tube I had, and came up with the following:

[Linked Image]

I used the stock throttle-cable bracket, bolted directly to the modified intake at approximately the right angle. The throttle cable and TV cable were "replacement" items offered on Amazon for ~$40 each. The catch was to measure the actual length, cross-reference cable lengths to OEM applications, and then use Amazon prime. Easy-peasy. The $200+ "kits" to adapt the TV cable to the throttle-body, custom throttle-cables and like, IMHO, are nothing short of robbery. It ticked me off, looking at the "offerings."

Moving on to accessories, they're ALL truck accessories, with no exceptions. The truck power steering pump was a little tight, but worked without having to buy any extra "stuff"... it just bolted up. Same for the alternator, water pump, etc. Sorry, I forgot to take a pic of what hose I used for the uppper... basically I went into the back of the local Pep-Boys (who I spend WAY too much money at), and dug around until I found something to work.

After all this, I filled the cooling system. If you don't know, there's a special process for this compared to "old-school," so be sure to look it up.
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/03/19 09:08 PM

At this point, the engine pics basically end. But it's NOT the finish to the story, not by a LONG shot....

For starters, the work to modify the harness to properly fit the car, took me... I'd say 40-50 hours of time. I wanted it CLEAN, so I pulled all the un-necessary wiring. Next, you have to route the wires exactly where they'll be in the final iteration, and either shorten or lengthen them so they're routed properly, without kinks or breaks. Next, you'll have to do continuity checks of every wire up through the sensor plug. Finally, there WILL be wires that are colored wrong, or sensor plugs that are broken or otherwise unusable. It takes a lot of time to make the install clean.

If I was bucks-up, I would have taken the easy way out, and bought a "pre-built" harness. And that would have been a mistake.

WHY?

First of all, for the harness to properly fit wherever you want it, there's no WAY you can route the wires to be the exact length required. And with wire bundles, the lengths have to accommodate bends for proper routing, again making a good fit unlikely.

Next, if you build the harness yourself, you'll be educated on it for troubleshooting any time in the future.

So, while I spent many an evening grumbling about how a big-block Chevy would have been easier, I was stuck with what I had. No turning back now...
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/03/19 09:18 PM

When I got to where I thought I was ready to turn the key for the first time... I was pretty nervous. NOTHING was stock on this, I'd touched every wire in the harness, was running a "mail-order" tune... A LOT of things could go wrong.

A handly little device was given to me, from a guy I gave my old 6.0 pistons and rods (they were disgustingly filthy, but otherwise serviceable). He gave me an ELM327 bluetooth adapter... They can be bought for ~$10 on Amazon, and there's an app at the Google Play store called "Torque Lite," available for FREE. A quickie intro is here:

[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMYZNal9Wpk[/video]

I download the app, and now I can read nearly all my sensors. I'm monitoring the computer through the Torque app, as I turn the key for the first time... and it STARTS.

And then it dies. Won't stay running.

Using the Torque app, I go through the sensors, find I wired the throttle position sensor backwards... I correct the flaw, and now it runs without issue.

So with a $10 adapter (which was given), plus a free app, I was able to diagnose a problem that could have taken me days or WEEKS to find... Not a bad first day of the car being alive... wink
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/03/19 09:41 PM

So now I try running the engine, to at least get it warm, and verify operation of the fans, 165F T-stat, check to make sure everything holds when the engine is warmed up, and so on.

I discover that the fans will NOT come on, no matter what. I check the wiring three separate times, and the conclusion is that there's no signal from the PCM to trigger the fans. The tuner who programmed the PCM said, in effect, "duh, it's from a truck, you didn't say you wanted fans..." I'm like, WTF? I'd spent $150 for him to do the tune, and now I blow another $80 for him to alter the programming to start the fans. Another annoyance, the factory tach doesn't read the engine RPMs, so it's basically dead.

Two weeks go by, and now I have the PCM again.... and the fans STILL won't start... and the tach is still dead.

At this point, I discover that the 2003-2007 PCMs don't interchange with the 1999-2002 units. And the 2003+ PCMs use very different protocols, using a 1 mB processor vs. the 512kB processor in the older units. Newer ones (with a few exceptions) are drive-by-wire, not drive-by-cable as my car is... and there's no hardware inside to drive the idle-air controller... so basically, at this point, I'm hosed, with regard to the PCM. It's just NOT compatible for my configuration, and my "tuner" wasn't sharp enough to know it. pissed

After burning somewhere are $230 for a "tuner," I'm right back at zero. I'm NOT gonna' pay someone else to do this again; I could screw it up that bad for FREE, right?

There HAD to be another way to do this, without paying EFILive or HPTuners ~$300 (plus vehicle "credits") to get a functional PCM that would run my car...

Enter www.tunerpro.net.

It turns out there've been a group of guys working on building open-source software, to allow a person to do exactly that, with GM computers. The software is free to download, the required adapter is $50-60, and you now have the ability to program your own PCM without having to go to some "tuner" who may know nothing... LOTS of information available, both on blogs, videos, etc., on how to use the gear, what to do, etc.

Bottom line: for $200, I have TWO PCMs to play with, and all the gear to program them as I see fit.

I've now got my car running very smooth, still have some work to do on the idle air controller (which I suspect has either a loose connection or I simply wired incorrectly- the original IAC plug was destroyed, I had to use a spare). Other than that, it flat-out hauls xxxx . I've suddenly found the 18" wheels and tires to be a bit inadequate when I stomp on the gas pedal. And the trans is clearly not configured to handle an engine that can REALLY pull past 6000, like the fresh 6.2 can... so I'm a little worried about putting it on a dyno, as the trans may not survive...

So I'm happy to just cruise in it for now. I'm still working on getting good data logging, but at least I'm getting a handle one what's happening with my engine, instead of relying on some knucklehead in a different state to get useful information...

I haven't tallied up the expenses for all of this.... but my guess is around $5k, all-in, including the programming gear... I'll try to figure it out later, and post it. But for now...? Hope this gives everyone something useful.
Posted By: mmc427ss

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/04/19 01:39 AM

You know it's only been a little over a year since you started this project, turned a nice stocker into something special. I've followed the build, the setbacks and got to hand it to you, you are persistent.

One of these days we need to meet at WAWA for coffee.
Bob
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/04/19 01:48 AM

Originally Posted by mmc427ss
You know it's only been a little over a year since you started this project, turned a nice stocker into something special. I've followed the build, the setbacks and got to hand it to you, you are persistent.

One of these days we need to meet at WAWA for coffee.
Bob


It would be a pleasure. smile

Still working on idle air... determined wiring is correct, no vacuum leaks... so it's got to be something in software configuration... a parameter, something DUMB that I'm missing... LOL

It never ends.

Send me a PM when you're of a mood to have some java. wink
Posted By: Breathial

Re: Breathials' '87 MCSS Build- Cheap Street Driver - 11/05/19 01:04 AM



So here's the cost breakdown of this build. Parts prices were shopped aggressively online via Ebay, Amazon, Rockauto.com, etc., with the goal of getting reasonably good quality items for the very best price possible. As always, YMMV.

core engine with fresh heads $800.00
LS-7 Roller lifters plus 4 guides (EBay) $108.99
Blue GM Beehive LS springs (EBay) $65.00
Another short-block 6.0 LS $500.00
Valve Stem-seals (beehive style) $18.99
Valve locks $9.52
Machine shop- disassemble, hot-tank, polish crank, check-hone cylinders $380.00
LS3 pistons $120.00
2nd Intake with computer and full harness $100.00
Enginetech bearings (buy) $48.34
Moly piston rings (Enginetech) $86.99
gasket set ( Enginetech) $221.33
Timing Chain set (Enginetech) $54.86
Chinesium exhaust manifolds $175.90
Computer reprogram (Ebay seller AMSRACING) $70.00
Rocker Trunion Kit $90.00
GM LS Push Rods (Set of 16) $34.99
Harmonic Damper bolt (OEM style replacement $8.07
Replacement Knock Sensors (2) $19.34
LS Cylinder head alignment dowels $9.99
Oil flow restrictor $13.99
Truck LS intake manifold bolt kit $16.99
LS Engine Swap M16 1.5 Adapter to 1/8 NPT $9.99
1/8" NPT Steam Port Adapter to Top Radiator Hose LS Swap $14.99
EDGE INDUSTRIAL 1/4" Hose ID to 1/8" Male NPT MNPT 90 Degree Elbow $8.90
MSD 3301 Spark Plug Wire Boot & Terminal (2) $10.91
MSD 3304 Spark Plug Wire Boot & Terminal, (2) $14.19
Waterproof Relay Fuse Block w/7 Relays, 10 Fuses $32.99
OBD2 Dash Port/Wire Pigtail Connector Plug In $11.99
4" Performance Cold Air Intake Kit With Filter $62.98
LS Water Pump & Thermostat Bolt Kit $10.99
Teckpak USA GM 200-4R & 700-R4 Detent Cable 1978-1992 $18.99
Air Flow Sensor Meter MAF 25318411 $29.66
TRUPARTS Oxygen Sensor O2 SG277 (2) $32.59
Motorad 379-160 Thermostat $22.57
IACV IAC Idle Air Control Valve 17113598 $19.99
ACDelco 213-912 GM TPS $32.51
200R4 Chrome Flexible Stainless Transmission Dipstick $51.94
4" Inch 102mm 90 Degree Elbow Silicone Hose $12.24
75-81 CAMARO FACTORY UPPER RAD SUPPORT (Used, Ebay) $45.00
1998-1999 CAMARO LS1 ACCELERATOR CABLE W/O TRACTION CONTROL GM 12565559 $30.68
Dorman Help 41040 Control Cable Retainer $11.01
Edelbrock 8018 1968-Up GM TH350 Transmission Kickdown Stud $6.95
LS1 PCM ECM ECU Mounting Bracket 15995679 $15.00
LS1 Swap Fuel Filter Regulator Fuel Pump & Fitting Kit MSD $199.99
LS1 Conversion 1" Set Back Motor Mount Plates $36.00
Serpentine belt, tensioner and idler kit (Pep Boys) $65.00
Radiator hoses (approximate cost) $40.00
Oil, filter, spark plugs, other misc. crap $80.00

total $3,881.34

There were several other costs not listed, a few minor pieces-parts that I didn't use for whatever reason, and $270 worth of exhaust manifolds I can't friggin' get RID of. So an honest number would be... right at $4000 for a fresh engine, with all the tools to tune it myself, and dial it in as my knowledge grows.

Now, the problem is that there are a few special tools to make this work, that you simply can't do the job without....

engine stand (Advance Auto) 84.99
books (Amazon, free shipping) 39.74
Coil spring compresser 19.99
Piston ring compressor (special 6.2 item) 70.00
Engine Hoist (HF, Craigslist) 100.00
Torque-angle wrench (2, since 1st broke) 25.00

Tools, bondo, paint for intake manifold 100.00
OTC 4681 Power Steering Pump/Alternator Remover/Installer Tool 37.26
12V 2A Power Supply Wall Plug Adapter 7.99
OBDLink MX 69.99
ECM pigtails 54.98
2 0411 PCMs 169.42
Cost of Tools 779.36

You can clearly save on some, borrow and beg on others, or (as I did) have to buy them outright. Again, YMMV.

All-in, from soup to nuts... $5K, no BS.
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