The "official" LS1/LSx/5.3/6.0 tech thread

Discussion in 'General Tech' started by Rich, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    I get asked probably weekly about the 5.3 LSx in my rig, so I figured I'd put the info out here...
    DISCLAIMER: The information presented here is to the best of my knowledge through the research I've done, my first-hand experience, and what a few trusted sources have told me. I will update it as more information is provided or errors are corrected. Do your homework. :flipoff2:
    THE BASICS
    • Most of your 5.3's and 6.0's are iron block / aluminum head, though the earliest 6.0's had iron heads, and there are some all-aluminum 5.3's and 6.0's around as well.
    • All the f-body/corvette 5.7 LS1's are all-aluminum.
    • iron/alum engines weigh 80-100lbs less than an all-iron Gen II engine. an all-aluminum engine weighs 80-100lbs less than that.
    • 5.7's and 6.0's seem to command a 2x premium in price over the 5.3.
    • They don't seem to handle being run without oil as well as the Gen II small-blocks. You've been warned.
    EXTERNAL ENGINE
    • The 5.3/6.0's went to throttle-by-wire in 2002-2003 - your choice to use it or not, the conversion parts back to cable-pull can be had off fleabay for ~$100 (new TB, and PCM, and your wiring harness needs to be modded for the correct plugs on the TB- more on that later)
    • The truck/SUV (5.3/6.0) oil pans hang quite a bit lower than the f-body (camaro/firebird) oil pans. You'll want to swap or have yours modified. Here's the part number list..
      • 12558251 - SCREEN (oil pickup)
        Part#: 12558251
        Manufacturer Part#: 12558251
        (Qty: 1 x $33.91)
        12558253 - DEFLECTOR (Windage Tray)
        Part#: 12558253
        Manufacturer Part#: 12558253
        (Qty: 1 x $17.83)
        12558762 -1998-2003 Camaro/Firebird LS1 Oil Pan
        Part#: 12558762
        Manufacturer Part#: 12558762
        (Qty: 1 x $164.95)
        12551577 - TUBE (Dipstick tube)
        Part#: 12551577
        Manufacturer Part#: 12551577
        (Qty: 1 x $7.04)
        12551581 - INDICATOR (Dipstick)
        Part#: 12551581
        Manufacturer Part#: 12551581
        (Qty: 1 x $9.99)
    • Other oil pan options: http://www.ls1tech.com/forums/showthread.php?t=817787&highlight=h3+pan
    • The truck intakes sit quite a bit taller than the car's, but do flow slightly better. You can swap the car's intake, but you might want to swap the whole accessory setup off the car as well, because the alternator sits way up high on the trucks and the water pump outlet can cause interference with the throttle body. A little grinding can fix that though.
    • From Will @ Rockbottom4x4: I flipped my intake 180 last night on my LS1...it appears that the only sensor that will have to be moved is what seems to be an oil pressure sending unit. If I could locate a right angled 16m tube adapter I think it would take care of the problem.
      • Valve covers swap from one side to the other so vent and fuel line pluming is stock...
      • EDIT: So I've read some more... the ECU doesn't use this oil pressure sending unit...this is just for the gauges...so...I don't need it...
      • Instead of finding a 16M tube pluge (the kind with the O-ring/bushing seal) I'm gonna break off the plastic piece of the sensor and weld it up...
      • Oil pressure guage will get plumbed into the cast piece right above the oil filter with a drill and 1/8NPT tap...
    • The intake manifolds have been known to leak - cheap insurance is to change the gaskets when you first get the engine.
    • I *like* the truck accessory drive because it puts the PS pump down low (easier to get a good gravity feed from a reservoir) and the alternator up high where it won't get splashed.
    • Truck water pumps have the output facing approx 45° up and to the right. 'vette/f-body pumps exit straight out the front. Only the 1997 corvette water pump has a bolt-on pulley that makes spacing it out ~3/4" easy. Most parts houses just stock the press-on pulley pump.. look around!
    • The car accessory drive setup is slightly shorter front to back than the truck setup if space is really at a premium.
    • A standard "metric" ('80-? according to PSC's site) Saginaw pump will directly in place of the OEM. Experiences with aftermarket pumps have been VERY mixed. You've been warned.
    • I used intakehoses.com for the piping from throttle body to MAF and to the filter. Measure your MAF and TB. some will require a 3.5" end, some will require a 3". Their "cobra head" elbow protrudes very little to the front of the TB.
    ELECTRONICS / PCM
    • For an off-road only rig not needing the emissions crap, you can have the harness thinned out and the computer re-flashed by several companies.. I (and several others) have used www.jimsperformance.com with excellent results. His work is excellent, and prices very reasonable. He also converts the whole harness to be a 4 wire deal with its own fuseblock, and includes an OBD-II port wired in. Makes it very easy.
    • F-body (maybe vette too) computers support 2-stage electric fans, the on/off temps can be programmed for each stage by your tuner.
    • Truck PCM's support single-stage electric fans, the on/off temps can be programmed by your tuner. Mine come on at 195°, off at 180°.
    • MSD coils or "high performance" spark plug wires don't do shit. The wires are so short, and the coils are a good design with plenty of time to recover from the last spark before delivering the next, since there is one for each cylinder.
    EXHAUST
    • All exhaust manifolds can interchange between the engines, and can also be flipped upside down if needed. There's also the FWD 5.3's in some newer cars that pack the exhaust in very tightly.
    • The catalytic converters on the f-body bolt right to the manifolds, plan on making your own flanges.
    COMMON PART NUMBERS
    • Oil Filter-
    • Spark Plugs-
    • Valve cover gaskets- not normally needed, as they are a reusable o-ring design
    MY COSTS

    This is only MY experience with MY engine. YMMV.
    • 5.3 Engine, 50k miles, complete - $840 (look on car-part.com and start making calls, don't assume that newer engines are always more expensive)
    • Jim's Performance - thinning wiring harness, side exit, change plugs for cable-pull TB, re-flash PCM - $call him (Budget $600 and you'll be covered)
    • F-body oil pan, pickup tube, baffle, dipstick and dipstick tube - $250
    • Assorted exhaust manifolds - $40
    • Flexplate spacer and longer bolts, GM parts - $65 (Needed for TH350/700R4 trans)
    • Cable pull TB and 2001 PCM (not needed in all apps) - $100
    • '97 vette water pump and pulley (not needed in all apps) - $80
    • Air filter, intake elbows, etc - $100
    • Misc bolts and other oddities - $if you have to ask...
     
    Articul8ed and R Q like this.
  2. Flipper

    Flipper Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    are you using an electronically controlled tranny or an older style th400 and the like?
     
  3. 91oneton

    91oneton Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2005
    Location:
    conover nc
    im using a turbo 400 and 6.0. i piad 1500 for mine . it was a 2001 . jims perfromance was another 500. i am very happy with my setup. my oil pan looked like a 14bolt housing hanging down so i had it modified at the cost of 125. all in all ive probally got about 2300 in my setup
     
  4. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    I updated the thread.. 700R4, manual VB.
     
  5. Will Carter

    Will Carter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Burlington
    I flipped my intake 180 last night on my LS1...it appears that the only sensor that will have to be moved is what seems to be an oil pressure sending unit. If I could locate a right angled 16m tube adapter I think it would take care of the problem.

    Valve covers swap from one side to the other so vent and fuel line pluming is stock...

    EDIT: So I've read some more... the ECU doesn't use this oil pressure sending unit...this is just for the gauges...so...I don't need it...
    Instead of finding a 16M tube pluge (the kind with the O-ring/bushing seal) I'm gonna break off the plastic piece of the sensor and weld it up...
    Oil pressure guage will get plumbed into the cast piece right above the oil filter with a drill and 1/8NPT tap...

    This should be it as far as a stock intake flip.
     
  6. jeepn-jason

    jeepn-jason Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    Greensboro
    Thanks rich, this is some good info! If i ever get the damn tow rig payed for Im going for a 6.0!
     
  7. DanStew

    DanStew Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Location:
    Lexington/Columbia South Carolina
    What about the 8.1L????? :) I know you looked into it Rich.
     
    lockedup5 likes this.
  8. Mac5005

    Mac5005 Welding Instructor

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rocky Mount
    any info collected on where to get a stock harness if you didnt get it with the engine?

    Aftermarket harness options? prices that arent throught the roof?

    just thouhgt it would be good info to add to the page if you have it.
     
  9. Will Carter

    Will Carter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Location:
    Burlington
    So I have to buy an alternator...are they all the same or should I buy one for a specific model to upgrade? Aftermarket?
     
  10. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    The one from my '04 Tahoe engine is 140amp, and looks just like the 105amp on my 8.1 in the 2001 tow rig. Parts store does list a different belt length depending on what alt. you have.

    I didn't look much into it...too big, too heavy, and from my experience, they are low RPM torquers, not higher-RPM fun motors. Great for a tow rig tho!
     
  11. Kustom Fabrikated

    Kustom Fabrikated New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    Raleigh
    just a few things to add, I have been seeing quite a few problems recently with the camshaft, cam bearings, and lifters in these motors. Also I would make sure that the motor has the new design of intake gasket iirc the new design is green o-rings and the old design was orange, this has seemed to stop the intake gaskets from leaking
     
  12. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
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    Liiiiike.. what kinds of problems?
     
  13. Ricky B

    Ricky B Wiiide Open

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    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    LKN - Tha Dirty Mo (Mooresville, NC)
    On a more related point whats the rpm range of these motors? Ie: where do they top out at and what is about redline? Just curious cause my 350 seems to redline at about 5500 rpms now with the new setup
     
  14. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    My 5.3 tapers off around 5500-5700, and the limiter is at 6000.

    My 125k mile 5.7 LS1 seems to be about the same, but the valve springs are tired... fresh springs would extend the power up closer to ~6000.

    Both engines have totally stock valvetrains. They can easily be made to rev to 7000 or so with a rod bolt, pushrod, and cam change (along with all the accompanying air flow changes), but for OUR applications, getting up off idle into the power band is what *I* feel is most important. I'll freely admit my 5.3 is relatively soft in that regard when compared to the 5.7/6.0. I know the mods needed to give me more low end, but I don't need it that bad.
     
  15. Ron

    Ron Dum Spiro Spero Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Sharon, SC
    I deleted the garbage and moved it into its own thread in newbie tech since some people want to debate the merits of EFI vs. Carbs.

    Please keep this thread for info on 5.3/6.0 engines.

    Rich started this as a resource and reference for other board members lets keep it that way.

    Also I'd like to see a reply to post 11/12, if not I'm deleting that also.
    If you have real experience, it can certainly be helpful; but there are an awful lot of these motors out running around and to say they all have cam issues, well thats a bit misleading to say the least.
     
    Caver Dave likes this.
  16. Ricky B

    Ricky B Wiiide Open

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    Location:
    LKN - Tha Dirty Mo (Mooresville, NC)

    When caming an engine such as a smallblock chevy at what point do you sacrifice low end for top end power . . . ie: what kinda lift/duration etc?

    Thats one of the reasons i didn't cam higher than 473/473 (444 w/ 1.6 rockers) in mine cause I was told going much higher would be bad for low end grunt.
     
  17. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    Ricky- start a thread in general tech unless it's LS-related.. :flipoff2:

    Generally speaking though, lift has very little at all to do with powerband. LSA and duration have far more to do with it.
     
  18. paradisePWoffrd

    paradisePWoffrd Recovering Project Junkie

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Location:
    Newton, NC
    i know that you and brandon are both running older style trannys (not the ones that came factory)....

    so do these things have the same BH bolt pattern as a standard sbc? along that same line, how difficult would it be to run a sm465 or similar tranny with it?
     
  19. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    They pretty much do, except there's one bolt hole you won't use. Don't know about putting an old-school manual trans behind one
     
  20. Kustom Fabrikated

    Kustom Fabrikated New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    Raleigh
    I work at a chevy dealer and there have been tahoes and silverados coming in with usually either low oil pressure or a noise at half engine speed. The first one that got torn down had spun the third cam bearing back and i believe the second motor we tore down was also that same cam bearing. Last thursday I got a silverado 113,000miles real bad chirping at half engine speed removed belts and found it coming from the center of the block customer chose to replace motor instead of tearing it down. Just today one came in that had low oil pressure and the noise I am not sure what happened with that yet but I think they ended up finding another problem with the cam.

    The worst part is that they all seemed to be fairly well maintained and varied from construction company use to soccer moms. Now this could just be a certain batch of motors because iirc they seemed to all be around 03' but the milages have varied from around 70k-130k

    hope that helps if we end up tearing down another one soon i will try to take pictures of the failed areas
     
  21. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    Interesting that it's only the trucks, since they share the same oiling system as the 5.7's. Maybe just the iron blocks?
     
  22. Kustom Fabrikated

    Kustom Fabrikated New Member

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    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    Raleigh
    i believe that they have all been iron blocks but i didn't pay that much attention to all of them
     
  23. Rich

    Rich Asshole at large

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    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    Central PA
    Updated with f-body oil pan swap part numbers
     
  24. Ridinhigh1500

    Ridinhigh1500 New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Location:
    Wyoming
    4.8?????

    4.8 and 5.3 are identical except for the fact that the 4.8 has a slightly shorter stroke than the 5.3
     
  25. paradisePWoffrd

    paradisePWoffrd Recovering Project Junkie

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Location:
    Newton, NC

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