5.3 LS Engine Swap into Ol’ Blue 1971 Chevy Truck Part 1 1


So my very long story short is that I have been having issues with my Big Block Chevy engine ever since I got it. I finally hit the last straw a couple of weeks ago and decided to try my hand at a 5.3 LS swap.

The other weekend I decided to try to go to Midwest Truck Nats in Kansas City. It is a huge truck event local to me so I figured no big deal right?

Well, I got most of the way there and stopped on the offramp so I could adjust my timing ever so slightly. Get out of the truck and have one of those “wth is all over the side of my truck???”. Go around to the front and realize that my water pump had pushed a piece of it’s gasket out. Luckily I had stopped to fuss with my timing and caught it before it lost much coolant.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 12

 

So after some scrounging around in my toolbox I found the correct size allen wrench and a gallon of coolant. After I tightened the bolts to a slow drip, I was able to make the 20 minute drive to the auto parts store on the way back home. Registration didn’t end until ~1pm so I figured I had time. Went home and got the water pump gasket changed out in just under an hour and headed back out.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 11

 

No more leak and it ended up being a good show. Here are some pics:

On the way home is where my valvetrain noise problem started up again. I just had an actual shop set the valve lash which I believe they did correctly (though it still burns me because I take pride in doing almost everything myself). The valvetrain tick just won’t go away. It is pretty loud this time. Could be a bad roller lifter, could be a lot of things. The thing is…I don’t care anymore. So the motor went on Craigslist.

UPDATE 2015-02-15:

I still talk to the guy that bought my 496 from time to time. He sent me this picture the other day after he got it torn down. Looks like it was a roller lifter that failed. Still no biggie to me because I didn’t want to put that much money into a carbureted gas guzzler anyways.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Failed roller lifter in the 496

 

So after a week or so on Craigslist I got some lookers.

I listed it for way less than what the parts total up to but made sure it was enough to cover my next project

Got a cash deposit yesterday and promptly started the teardown:

~7pm

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 9

~8pm

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 8

~10:45pm

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 7

~11:30pm (this took a while because my cherry picker was hitting the sheetrock around the ducting above my truck. Total PITA when working by yourself)

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 6

OOPS...

OOPS…

~1:43am after cleaning up the garage so I could put the Wife’s car away

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 3

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap 4

So the BBC is out and ready for her new home with somebody that will love her for who she is.

I have a line on a 5.3 w/stripped harness and reprogrammed computer that I am putting an order in for as soon as I get the rest of the payment for my engine this weekend. From a local guy that does it on the side and it comes with a 6 mo warranty. Not too shabby. I am excited to potentially triple or quadruple my gas mileage (not to mention I won’t have to run premium anymore). I think I will get a lot more enjoyment in the long run with a quiet(er) fuel injected engine.

In preparation I ordered an Ultra-Gauge today. I figured it would be a quick/cheap/easy way to read ALL of my gauges without fussing with individual sending units/guages. No it isn’t perfect, but it will get me going. Not bad for <$100 including windshield mount and shipping. Plugs right into the OBDII port and reads pretty much all available parameters.

It also has customize-able alarms that you can set individually for oil pressure, rpm, temp, etc. So you don’t actually have to be watching your gauges that hard, it will beep at you if something gets out of range. I wrote a separate article about it here: Ultra-Gauge OBDII Scan Tool & Gauge Review

Ultra-Gauge

 

Now the motor is gone. (Wahoo, cash to order parts!)

IMG_5564

And I picked up a new-to-me Flowmaster 70 series off Craigslist (Had to get Gertrude’s approval of course)

IMG_5568

Started on wiring.

The old must come out!

The old must come out!

Reading diagrams and getting ready to start installing the Painless Performance Wire Harness.

Reading diagrams and getting ready to start installing the Painless Performance Wire Harness.

This is an Amazon link to the Painless wire harness I am using:
Painless Wiring 10206 18 Circ.Wire Assm Gm Trk

Enlarged the hole in the firewall per the instructions and bolted in the new fusebox.

Enlarged the hole in the firewall per the instructions and bolted in the new fusebox.

Engine bay side of the new harness.

Engine bay side of the new harness.

Interior beginning to route the new harness.

Interior beginning to route the new harness.

That's a lot of wires.

That’s a lot of wires.

Started laying out my new gauges so I could plan the wiring.

Started laying out my new gauges so I could plan the wiring.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Found some thing sheet steel to mount the new gauges to.

Found some thing sheet steel to mount the new gauges to.

Laying out the switches after cutting the sheet steel. I still need to figure out how to firmly attach the new metal to the plastic bezel.

Laying out the switches after cutting the sheet steel. I still need to figure out how to firmly attach the new metal to the plastic bezel.

The pile of wires once I got all of the old wiring removed.

The pile of wires once I got all of the old wiring removed.

I also took off my tonneau cover and bolted in an over the rail toolbox from one of my old trucks.

I also took off my tonneau cover and bolted in an over the rail toolbox from one of my old trucks.

How she sits now. I called it a day. I need to go pick up a bunch of lights, switches, and of course my engine so I can mate the new engine harness with my new body harness.

How she sits now. I called it a day. I need to go pick up a bunch of lights, switches, and of course my engine so I can mate the new engine harness with my new body harness.

    Ol’ Blue LS Swap LINK INDEX:

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