Power And Performance From A 5.3-Liter LS? Yes, And Plenty Of It.
From the October, 2008 issue of Super Chevy Chevy 5.3 Liter LS Salvage yard motor- Generation Gap
By Mike Harrington
Photography by Mike Harrington
In the 11 years since the LS-series of small-block Chevys was introduced, they have been factory-installed in everything from Corvettes to passenger cars, trucks and SUVs. It's the latter that we want to focus our attention on in this article.
Among the advantages of these engines are factory aluminum heads, lightweight composite intakes and in some cases aluminum blocks. Many, such as the 5.3L (RPO LM7) have a cast-iron block with aluminum heads and composite intake. While the LS1 has received tons of attention, the 5.3L V-8 is of a lesser-known quantity. Literally millions of these cast-iron 5.3s have seen service in vehicles like Suburbans and Silverados.
Take a walk through any salvage yard and you're bound to come across plenty that have met an untimely end. We recently did just that, visiting Dave's Golden West Auto Wrecking in Westminster, California, where we found tons of wrecked late-model Chevrolets with 5.3-liter engines.
For all practical purposes, the Gen III 5.3 is nearly equal to its older brother, the 5.7 LS1. In fact, the iron-block 5.3 can be bored out to 5.7, and any performance mod done to an LS1 can be done to the smaller 5.3. But that's not the purpose of this article. The goal here is to take a salvaged engine that is in good shape and add a few items to open up its nostrils so it can breath a bit easier. We were curious to see what kind of power it would make in stock trim and then with aftermarket goodies-in this instance, heads and a cam.
Most of us will never stop driving our beautiful classic cars, regardless of the price of fuel, and the modern 5.3 presents an excellent way to consume less gasoline and have excellent power for our classic rides. This particular engine will end up between the rails of a '58 Apache Fleetside truck.
Once the engine was up and running properly, a pull was made using the factory tune. The engine pulled 344 hp at 5,000 rpm and 370 lb-ft of torque at 4,300. That's pretty impressive for a boneyard truck engine. Ernie Mena used the HP Tuners software and re-tuned the engine while it was running. After that, the ECM was flashed and another pull was made. This time the numbers were different: 357 hp at 5,400 rpm and 380 lb-ft at 4,300. Let's think about this for a moment: a salvaged 5.3 liter engine with a set of long tube headers, a harness and tuning software at the following price:
Ernie pulled the composite truck intake manifold off and set it to the side. Yes, the truck manifold is not as attractive as the lower profile LS1 intakes and does not work as well at the upper rpm range as the LS1 intake. On the same note, the truck intake creates more bottom end power than the LS1 intake. Replacing it would have added cost to the project.
While the engine was still on the dyno at Westech, we swapped cylinder heads and performed a cam swap. A set of higher-flowing Edelbrock RPM Xtreme cylinder heads and a Comp cam went in. When the valve covers are pulled off, we were very pleased with how clean the valvetrain was.
Speaking of facts, here are some numbers concerning the 5.3L LM7 engine.
5.3L Iron Block Years 1999-2007 RPO # LM7 Displacement 5.3 liters (325.2 ci) Bore 3.780 Stroke 3.622 Compression 9.5:1
the peak horsepower numbers are beyond impressive when compared to the stock numbers. The horsepower peaked at 441 at 6,200 rpm, while the torque peaked at 410 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm. That's a 97hp gain over the initial stock numbers and a 40 lb-ft improvement over the initial pull. The '58 Chevy truck where this engine will end up will cruise down the highway with decent power and get decent mileage all at once. That's having your cake and eating it too.
5.3 Engine Swap - Tech ProjectPart 1 of the next generation small block.
From the October, 2010 issue of Lowrider By Saul Vargas
In the beginning of the year, we talked about the LS series engines and discussed some of the latest technology that is currently available. The response was overwhelming, as many of you are curious about how to transplant a newer engine into a classic. We decided to do it ourselves and document the build, that way we could properly show you guys what it would take to prepare one of these engines before transplanting it into your ride. With that said, we will bring you everything, including the obstacles that we encountered while getting this 5.3 engine together.With so many Chevy and GMC Trucks and SUV's on the road, these engines have become easier to obtain. There are several options out there for anyone looking to get a hold of one for a build. We opted to stop at Dave's Goldenwest Truck wrecking yard, and we were in luck. With a surplus of these engines available, they are able to sell these engines for around $1,000.00! This was perfect for us, as we wanted to put something together without breaking the bank.After our trip, we were ready to tackle the project. Now follow along, as we try to make sense of this LS technology.Notes: As of right now, we have a total of 16 hours invested into this junkyard jewel. We are going to have to make a few trips out to the dealer, as well as a few runs to our local auto parts store.
5.3 Engine Swap: Part 2 - Tech Project Taking care of the bottom end.
From the November, 2010 issue of Lowrider By Saul Vargas Last month, we began working on our LS clone "build-on-a-budget tech feature." It's been an interesting build so far, as the more we tear into it; the more we wonder why people are so intimidated by this process. We decided to do it ourselves and document the build, that way we could show you guys what it would take to prepare one of these engines before transplanting one into your ride. As I mentioned in the last issue, we plan on showing you everything - including the obstacles that we encountered while getting this 5.3 engine together.As you all know, we picked up our engine from Dave's Goldenwest Truck wrecking yard. With an increasing surplus of these engines, they had what we needed, and at the right price, too! After the trip to the wrecking yard, we tore into the motor and realized that we were going to need to make a few trips to our local Chevrolet Dealer to purchase some of the dealer-only items we needed to complete our mission. After spending a couple of hundred on miscellaneous pieces, we were able to continue on the build up.This month, we will show you the newer water tubes that were used in the build, as well as the new sensors. We will also touch on the bottom end and the Milodon gear that we used, which is necessary for protecting the engine. One great aspect of using a Milodon oil pan is that it is a bit shorter than the stock pans, so it doesn't hang bellow the car frame. Now follow along, as we work on this LS technology. .Notes: As of right now, we have a total of 24 hours invested into this junkyard jewel. We have made a few trips to our local Rotolo Chevrolet dealer, as well as to our local auto parts store.
Chevy LS Engine Install Finale - Fun With Fuel Injection
Our '67-72 Chevy LS Engine Install: The "Finale"
From the September, 2009 issue of Classic Trucks
By Grant Peterson
If I can do it, you can do it! I have taken the EFI plunge and survived. Like many of you, I was/am not very savvy with electrical gadgets, wiring, or fuel-injection systems, but luckily there are people out there who are and make parts to help the electrically challenged.
This is the finale of our series on how to install a Chevy LS engine into your truck. The truck used was a '72 Chevy C-10, but most of the install is as universal as possible and outlines the parts or type of parts you need to do it yourself. This was even done with an '01 Chevy Suburban 5.3L iron-block engine from a wrecking yard. In fact, the owner of Dave's Goldenwest Truck, where I got mine, says he's now selling these engines for $1000, which is perfect for those with more time than money. This should leave the remaining budget to buy the new harness from Turn Key Engine Supply and the rest of the parts you'll need. Listed in the source box in this article are all the companies I got parts from, excluding auto parts/hardware/electrical supply stores for miscellaneous pieces that will vary truck to truck and also depends on your truck's current condition.
There are several books available on LS engine swaps and people have been doing them since these engines came out in the late '90s, but we haven't seen any in-depth how-to articles pertaining to older trucks. Hopefully, these four stories will help those thinking about or scared to take the plunge into a modern EFI conversion. In fact, if you are handy and can do the work yourself, you should be able to do the whole swap for less than most new small-block crate engines cost. Not only that, but you'll have reliability, a lot better fuel economy, and last but not least--power! The C-10 still needs exhaust, but we did one easy dyno pull and got almost 260 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels! Not bad for a stock junkyard engine. Plus, it's no secret that LS engines are easy to squeeze more ponies out of and a cam and head swap can easily put power figures between 400-500. After a short and loud drive in the '72, I will say that 260 hp to the pavement is plenty for most people!
All in all, the swap went well and the engine looks almost like GM put it there when you open the hood. Throughout the series I've tried to outline any issues or concerns that I had so you know what you are in for. The other installments are in the March, July, and August '09 issues of CLASSIC TRUCKS. After some seat time I'll report on fuel economy and how much fun and driveable I'm hoping the truck will be. My best advice is to take your time with the work surrounding the swap and do it so you'll be happy with it for years to come.
Dave's Auto Wrecking, since 1977, 6972 Garden Grove Blvd. Westminster, CA 714-898-4343