5.3 LS Engine Swap into Ol’ Blue 1971 Chevy Truck Part 8


Time to install a new Painless Wiring harness and make a DIY digital dashboard. Also, I get to go on my first test drive with the new LS Motor!

In Part 7 we left off having installed the throttle cable, Intake, and ECM computer mount.

Installation of the Painless Performance Wiring harness is relatively straightforward but takes A LOT of time.

First you widen the hole in the firewall like the directions say then start loosely routing the wires.

First you widen the hole in the firewall like the directions say then start loosely routing the wires.

Woof, that is a lot of wires...

Woof, that is a lot of wires…

My plan with this project is to upgrade and modernize where possible, so all of the lights are getting upgraded to LED’s and the dashboard will be all digital.

 

I picked up these little gems for CHEAP on Amazon. Check them out on the links below.

I picked up these little gems for CHEAP on Amazon. Check them out on the links below.

5 NEW 3/4″ AMBER LED CLEARANCE MARKER BULLET LIGHTS

10 NEW 3/4″ RED LED CLEARANCE MARKER BULLET LIGHTS

Picked up some white LED bullet lights for the rear backup lights too.

Picked up some white LED bullet lights for the rear backup lights too.

10 NEW 3/4″ CLEAR WHITE LED CLEARANCE MARKER BULLET LIGHTS

Red LED Bullet lights for the 3rd brake light.

Red LED Bullet lights for the 3rd brake light.

The Painless Wiring harness has a wire for a 3rd brake light even though these trucks didn't come with one from the factory.

The Painless Wiring harness has a wire for a 3rd brake light even though these trucks didn’t come with one from the factory. Nice feature.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

There are a couple of connectors that are no longer made that you have to cut remove from the old harness. One of which includes the half moon connector that goes up the steering column. A really teeny flathead screwdriver inserted down both sides releases the pins one by one.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

I found that it is easier to “group” the wires and route them in bunches by the area of the truck they will end up in.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

More wires….

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Close-up. I loosely routed the wires at first until I could make sure that everything worked. It would suck to route, zip tie, and wire loom them then rip it all apart because something didn’t work.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Also wired in some cheapo LED Fog Lights I also got off amazon. They seem pretty cool so far, especially for the price.

2x 4″ 18w 6 Cree LED Off-road Fog Light + Mounting Bracket

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Here is a little trick that I learned when trying to install O rings. Grab the o-ring and hold it over your household toaster for about a minute so it is softer and easier to install.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

This is where I made the junction for the rear lights. I didn’t use a quick disconnect. I figure if I have to take the bed off, I can figure it out at a later date.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Might as well go all out while I am doing it, so I wired in a backup camera.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Made a quick and dirty little bracket to mount the LED license plate light to.

NEW LED LICENSE PLATE TAG LIGHT

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Set it up so I can see the trailer hitch while backing.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

LED’s all hooked up and working!

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

First step of the DIY dashboard. Lay out everything to get a visual. In this picture I had already traced around the gauge bezel and cut it out of a thin piece of steel with tin snips.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Drilled the holes for the switches and gauges. The holes are ‘mostly’ accurate. If anybody knows how to find the center of a circle more accurately, I’m all ears!!

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

To mount the Ultra-Gauge, I disassembled the windshield mount and super glued a 1/4″ bolt into the bottom of it.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Dash roughly laid out. I also mounted the GPS with a 1/4″ bolt through the suction cup mount.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Painted the steel a shiny nickel for a little bling…

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Then glued the whole thing into the bezel.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Mounted the switches and routed the wires. I used the back of the Ultra gauge bolt as a common ground.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Removed the back cover from the old gauges to use as a base for routing the new wires.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Gauge cluster all wired up. I had to re-use the Tom-Tom plug because it had a transformer in it that put out 5V…

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Close up of the completed Ultra-Gauge mount.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Tom-Tom mount.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

View of the mostly finished dashboard. I totally forgot about the backup camera until after the fact, I ended up zip tie-ing it to the steering column.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

It’ll work…

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Wired up the gas tank. It didn’t fit under the truck like I had planned. So this is plan B until I find an alternative.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

It’s alive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Fires right up the first time… every time. I LOVE fuel injection.

Ol' Blue 5.3 LS Swap

Took’er for some hot laps around the neighborhood. So far everything works great. The brakes even work better now since this engine has more vacuum.

After about 3 months, I finally got to drive big bertha out of the garage. I definitely don’t regret the swap. I feel the reliability and increased gas mileage of this LS engine will totally be worth it.

Stay tuned for some more pictures as I clean and finish up the details. Maybe we will even get some video of the beast in action!

 

    Ol’ Blue LS Swap LINK INDEX:

 

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