Chevy Nova Forum banner

1 - 20 of 207 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This thread will document my swap from a tired gen I small block 350 to a modern 6.0VVT LY6. This will be my first time doing this kind of a swap, so bear with me! My name is Clint. I'm a mechanical engineer and I've had my Nova since I was fifteen. It was my first car and even though I'm now in my late twenties, married, and have a newborn son, it still holds a special place in my life.

First a few pictures. Here is a recent shot of the car. The wheels are Centerline Convo Pros with 275/60R15s out back and 225/60R15 up front.



Finishing off an old pair of tires:





Autocrossing:





Here is the old small block in all its glory. When I was in high school I did a frame off on the car. It had Edelbrock Performer RPM heads, a Comp cam (232/236 @ 050 .488/.490), and a Demon 650DP. After over a decade of hotrodding, compression was getting low, oil was blowing from every gasketed interface, and the final straw was a bent pushrod and flat lobe on the cam.



Originally I was a big drag racing fan and always pictured this car tubbed and tubed with a big block. But as I grew older, I started to appreciate other aspects of driving like stopping and turning. I became increasingly frustrated with carburation. As the engine got more and more tired, started burning oil past the rings, and eventually met it's demise, I decided rather than rebuilding the smallblock, I wanted to go a new direction entirely. After much research, I decided on a modern, fuel injected LS engine.

More specifically, I decided on an LY6. The LY6 is an iron block 6.0L that comes in the new body style Chevy/GMC pickups and vans. It has the desireable L92/LS3 cylinder heads, an iron block, and some black magic voodoo few people want to mess with: variable valve timing. Being an engineer, I can't help but appreciate the academic merits of VVT and I plan to use it, along with an aftermarket cam (yet to be selected).

I found my LY6 from Eiss Brothers Salvage in New York. It has 60k miles and I paid $1650 for the longblock. On top of that I spent another $300 on accessories (ECM, alternator, PS pump, wire harness, starter, and drive by wire pedal assembly) and $200 in freight for a total of $2150 for an accessorized engine shipped across the country. It was like Christmas when the new engine arrived last month.





Time to put the old hoist back together:



I quickly cobbled together a lifting bar using some old scrap square tubing and 1/4" plate. I was worried about damaging the intake with chain, but looking back I probably could have come up with a simple chain system that would have worked just as well.



I used four M10x1.5 100mm long studs to attach the engine stand mount. I found the studs at my local Ace hardware. Unlike bolts, they don't need to be a specific size as long as they're long enough. They are probably only grade 5 or worse, but as long as they're snug, they should be fine.



I am using a Harbor Freight 2000lb capacity stand, part number 60715 (link). This is a pretty decent and stable stand. I wouldn't trust any of their lesser capacity stands. I don't buy a lot of chinese tools, but I don't think you can get a US-made engine stand for under $500 so this will have to do. 20% off coupon plus a sale and I paid $85 out the door.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
With the engine on the stand, I started by stripping the wire harness. It's completely intact and I plan to use it, so I carefully labelled the connectors I could identify with my wife's label maker.





Without the harness, it starts looking like a good ol' American V8 again



Before I did anything else, I wanted to check the condition of the engine. I did a leakdown check first and got some varying results, with leakage past some valves sometimes and sometimes not. After talking with the salvage yard about the results, they recommended I put a little tranny fluid in all the cylinders and on the valves, turn the engine over a few times, then retest. I went a little further and decided to do a compression check, which would turn the engine over plenty and give additional diagnostic info. Here's my setup for cranking the engine with the starter on the stand. I would never do this if I didn't think the stand were very stable!



With that little bit of lube, the results improved and leakage was down to nil on all cylinders with good compression above 180psi on all cylinders.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I'm not a big fan of the tall truck intake, so I dug around and found a take-off LS3 intake from a 2010 Camaro for $215 shipped. I started this thread to collect more info on what's involved in swapping from a truck intake to a car intake on this engine.



Because the car intake places the throttle body much lower, there are a few places where things interfere with the truck accessories. First is the waterpump outlet, which can interfere with the motor drive assembly on the electric throttle body as shown here. This is before snuggin the intake down.



I used a Dremel and a small cutoff wheel to remove the offending aluminum. I like cutoff wheels for trimming aluminum like this because they don't clog up dangerously the way grinding wheels do. Here it is trimmed:



The next order of business will be relocating the idler pulley which is now in the same area as the throttle body. I started by taking the pulley of it's bolt as shown:





Then I used washers for mockup to temporarily locate the idler on one of the mounting bolts for the accessory bracket. I have a new machined spacer and bolt on order that will permanently attach this for under $8. I will post the part numbers after I verify fitment.



After trimming off the accessory bracket, I think I will have the following two options for belt routing. The second option is my preference since it more closely resembles the original belt routing, it provides more wrap around the pulleys, and the tensioner is acting in the direction of the belt.



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Meanwhile, after selling off a bunch of parts from the old smallblock, I finally got around to pulling it. I supported the tranny with a ratchet strap prior to pulling the engine.







Goodbye old friend!



Things under the hood just aren't as pretty as they were over a decade ago when I did a frameoff. I'll have my work cutout for me cleaning this up.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
here is how I relocated the idler pulley and made the truck accessories work with the LS3 intake for under $10. Granted I do still need to buy a belt, but I'm also thinking about scrapping this altogether and making my own brackets from scratch. I don't like how high the alternator sits with this setup.

First off the parts. From Misumi USA (www.misumiusa.com), the spacer is PN KNCLM10-30-20 and cost $5.70. It is nickel plated steel, 10mm ID, 30MM OD and 20MM length. The bolt is PN CB10-160 and cost $2.40. It is M10x160mm length. Total $8.10.



Here you can see that the spacer is the appropriate height to position the idler in line with where it originally was



I am spoiled with a mill in my garage, so I used it to cleanly trim down the bracket. You could also do this with a vertical bandsaw or even a hacksaw.







Here is the trimmed bracket around the throttle body



And here you can see a notch I added for the vacuum port on the drivers side of the intake



Here is the ilder pulley mounted with a ratchet strap used as a mockup belt



The Misumi spacer installs here:



And this is what the finished accessory drive looks like using a ratchet strap to mockup the belt path.



Sorry about the black & white pictures. Somehow the setting got changed while I was taking pictures.

I haven't decided yet if I want to keep this setup or scrap it altogether in favor of putting the alternator on the passenger side (lower) and making my own brackets for everything.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Here are a few more shots of the truck accessory drive with the car intake. I am probably going to order an a/c compressor and see where things fit before I decide what I want to do.







This weekend I decided to tackle cleaning up and painting the engine. First I needed to seal everything up to prevent water from getting in.

I removed the valve covers and removed the rocker arms. This puts all the valves in a closed position, which should help prevent any unwanted liquids from getting in.



Next I stuffed the ports with towels and used a quality (Scotch brand) duct tape to mask off all the ports and sensors.



Then I laid a tarp out in my driveway, rolled the engine out, and went to town with a few cans of engine degreaser, a scrub brush and the garden hose. These pictures were taken at various stages of cleaning.









On the last few clean & rinse cycles, I used Eagle One Mag Cleaner in a spray bottle from my local autoparts store. This is an etching cleaner that contains a few different acids. It did an incredible job of restoring the aluminum to a more uniform appearance. Once everything was degreased and thoroughly rinsed, I put a few fans out to dry things off.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Next I used some painters tape and masked off the heads, waterpump ports, and cam position sensor boss. Most of the other connectors were already masked off with duct tape from earlier. For the waterpump ports, I put tape on the old gaskets and used some bolts to hold them in place.





Finally, I laid on several coats of Duplicolor engine enamel. I used this on my old small block and it lasted 12 years and still looked good when I pulled the engine.



These pictures were taken as the paint was still drying, so it looks kinda splotchy but you get the idea.



Later this evening after rolling her back in the garage, I set the intake back on top and snapped these photos. Overall I'm pleased with how this cleaned up and I'm very happy with the painted valve cover, painted timing cover look. I wish it wasn't going to get cluttered up later with accessories, wires, etc.

Before:



After:





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
So after some time on the phone, I got a reasonable deal on the 5th gen Camaro L99 accessories with my local dealer's web pricing (their site is www.gmpartsgiant.com) and augmented my order to include all the parts below. The total is close to the same as it would be with gmpartsdirect, but I can pick up the parts when they get here. The key is not paying shipping with the local dealer, even though their web prices are a bit higher and I will have to pay tax.

List / www.gmpartsgiant.com before tax

19207665 Waterpump $300 / 177.54
12610792 P/S pump bracket $20.70 / 12.14
92229662 P/S pump $156.87 / 95.78
12610794 P/S pump pulley $40.16 / 24.09
12610789 alternator bracket $49.84 / 29.89
12568996 idler pulley $65.02 / 39.70
Total $379.14 + $36.97 tax = $416.11

I'm hoping the truck balancer with line up (we'll see) and I skipped the tensioner for now because I will need to mount my a/c compressor in that area and I don't know what I'll use for a tensioner yet. The L99 waterpump offers the advantage of having a driver's side outlet and clearance for VVT. I do not know yet if the spacing will line up with the truck balancer, but I will find out soon enough. There are probably a million combinations of custom and factory mountings and waterpumps that could be used with success.

------

Today I picked up everything but the p/s bracket (still waiting on that). The good news is the L99 waterpump bolts up and the pulley matches perfectly with the truck crank pulley. It even came with the gaskets. I couldn't be happier. Other than the obvious difference in the outlet location, it also has different tensioner bosses cast in which will not allow use of the LY6 tensioner. If you were swapping straight across, you would want to get the L99 tensioner also.

The bad news is the alternator bracket is designed a little differently from the 4th gen f-body setup and it pushes the alternator out further from the block at the top mounting bolt. That is likely to be a problem in the tight space between the engine and subframe on my Nova. I may need to use a spaced-out 4th gen f-body bracket for things to fit, but I wont know until the engine is in the car.

Here are some pictures comparing the LY6/L92 truck waterpump to the L99 Camaro waterpump. The belt contact area of the L99 waterpump pulley aligns perfectly with the truck pulley, despite the overall size of the pulley being shorter. On the backside, there is plenty of clearance for the VVT timing cover, which I assume is the same between the LY6, L92 and L99.



On the engine:



The driver's side, forward outlet should make hose routing cleaner for my Nova's driver's side inlet radiator. This may restrict belt routing options for driver's upper accessories if not using the L99 accessory configuration. I will try bolting the truck accessories up to see if they would work with alternate belt routing, even though at this point I don't plan to use them.



On the passenger side, you can see the bosses for mounting the L99 tensioner are thicker and stick out further, so the LY6 tensioner will not line up.



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
This weekend I shifted my focus away from the engine & accessories and instead worked on tearing the front end down and cleaning things up. Here's a shot of me just after pulling the fenders off.





My wife scored a free working pressure washer (electric 1550 psi Husky) a couple weeks ago. Wish I had a pressure washer a long time ago!











It took a combination of power and hand washing to get things cleaned up, but I'm happy with how it came out.





I found some of the nasty stuff under the fenders this time.





Here is a picture from TEN years ago when I did the frame off on the car. I wish it were still as nice! If you want to read about that old build, take a look here: http://cjnn.xtremefabricator.com/



Things have come a long way. Back then I barey had my driver's license. Today I am married with a two month old. Here are my wife and son with the car.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Life with an infant is a chaotic (and rewarding) experience. This project is not my priority, but here are a few odds and ends to give you a flavor of where I'm heading.

First I've decided to mount my truck "DR44" alternator in the lower "F-body" location. The DR44 is a large alternator and will present fitment difficulty, but I want to use it because it produces 160amps and plugs right into my ECM. I bought a 5th gen Camaro bracket only to find the hole spacing for the new alternators is different and will not work with older LSX alternators, so I will either have to make my own bracket or use a 4th gen Camaro bracket with spacers. The first step for putting one of these on an iron block is to tap the untapped hole for the upper mounting bolt. I determined position by attaching the alternator backwards using the lower mounting hole, then I used a large drillbit piloting in the upper alternator hole to start a dimple in the block. Then I removed the alternator and swapped to a smaller bit appropriate for an M10x1.5 tap. Here is a picture of the pilot drill operation for establishing the hole location. I don't have pictures showing the tapping process.



On the other side of the block, I've decided to mount a Trailblazer 5.3/6.0 AC compressor model TRSA12B (the "B" is important). This is a scroll compressor and it's smaller than the popular SD7H15 (508 equivalent) used in a lot of the high mount and aftermarket kits. The flow rate is almost exactly the same when you factor in the displacement and pulley sizes. The TRSA12B has PAD mount supply/discharge lines facing slightly upward and to the passenger side, which should be perfect for my Nova once the compressor is nestled into a notched subframe. I will likely have to use a PAD adapter to get to more standard hose fittings. The big advantage I see for this compressor is that it is just barely short enough that I can run it off the rear dedicated 4 rib belt and use a flipped SBC motor mount in the Autokraft position without interfering with the frame mount. I have never liked that the aftermarket and high mount kits put the AC as the last driven accessory on the 6 rib belt despite it requiring the most load to turn. That is bad for belts and bad for bearings on the other accessories. Another benefit of this compressor is that is has a built in pressure switch to disengage the clutch.



I got my unit from an eBay member for $70 plus $20 shipping. Then I bought a bracket from the stealership for $16, even though I think I will make a custom bracket to get the compressor a little higher. If you decide to do what I'm doing, just be careful not to get a TRSA12 instead of a TRSA12B - the non-B version is a passenger side mount for a 4.3 engine.



Here is a front view with things mounted, including the 5th gen Camaro waterpump and powersteering pump. Because of the large DR44 alternator and AC compressor, I will most certainly need to notch the subframe on both sides. I've taken careful measurements and I'm confident I can get this to work.





My plan is to use the original evaporator, expansion valve and POA valve with a new condensor, drier, TB compressor, and custom lines. The POA valve will need to be recalibrated for 134a. Sanden SD7H15s have been used with original/classic AC systems successfully by others and this compressor should perform equivalently.

For reference, here is a good thread showing LSX fitment with the factory AC evaporator "suitcase".
http://www.ls1tech.com/forums/conversions-hybrids/1262797-lsx-original-ac-67-69-camaro-68-74-nova.html

Another good point of reference is this thread about frame notching for AC
http://www.ls1tech.com/forums/conversions-hybrids/1348415-frame-notching-67-69-camaro-firebird-68-74-nova.html

Here is how the engine lives most of the time - inside of a Summit Racing engine bag. I think I paid $10 for this when I ordered some other parts recently. It's very thick/durable and big enough to fit the big truck oil pan along with all the accessories shown above. A big garbage bag would work too.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Got started on my 1/4" forward LSx to SBC adapters. Here are the dimensions. This is my own design based on dimensions I took from my old short & wide Energy Suspension SBC mount and the holes on my LY6 block.



Here is the first one just about finished, currently at an unmachined 1/2" thickness:



Trial fit - the hole pattern lines up right. I took the two forward bolts out to check the SBC mount fitment.



I tapped the two 3/8-16 holes for mounting the SBC mounts and countersunk the one M10 that resides underneath. I didn't have a 90deg countersinking bit and couldn't find one (most are 82 at the hardware store and none of the machine tool suppliers are open on the weekend), so instead I used a 45 degree chamfering bit for a router (included angle is 90). That was cheap and worked great on the aluminum. I also put a notch in the OEM AC compressor bracket to fit around the bottom of the mount. Here are things mocked up with my 10-year-old SBC mounts. I will slot the single hole on the replacements to work with my 1/4" offset.





I really don't like having the SBC mounts upside-down, but it gives me some more room for the compressor and has been done this way by many LSx swappers in the past without reports of failing mounts.

Next I wanted to get a flavor for what my compressor notch is going to look like, so I took measurements and marked two sides. This laser level tool works great for marking straight lines, especially when combined with a calibrated stack of Christmas light boxes.





The lines are 4" from the left of the motor frame stand hole (the compressor sticks out 3" from the mount hole, so 1" for clearance) and 3-3/4" back from the front face of the crossmember (designed for 1/4" of clearance with the compressor, partly why I am moving the engine 1/4" forward). I still need to figure out how low I need to cut before I mark the front face of the crossmember and the bottom.

I think the frame needs another round of washing because looking at these pictures it's obvious I missed a bunch of spots.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I did some more measuring and marking on the frame trying to determine how much needs to be cut out to make room for the AC compressor. I'm not very happy with the results. I determined that the bottom of the compressor was about 3-3/4" below the centerline of the motor frame stand bolt, so I marked my lowest line at 4-1/4" for 1/2" clearance. I also decided to extend the left (passenger) side line from 4" to 4-1/2" from frame stand bolt to give a little more wiggle room for my hand and a wrench (1-1/2" clearance to the side of the compressor. I'm considering adding more.). Here is what that looks like marked out on the frame.











So you can see this is not a small notch. It would take out a significant portion of the frame. You can also see the swaybar is above the lowest surface of where the compressor would be, so either I would need a bar with a bend further out or I would need to space the bar down from the frame hoping things would clear.

Here are a few ideas that have crossed my mind for dealing with this
- Make my own compressor bracket to move the compressor up. I think I can get 1/2" this way. I may be able to get more if the compressor also move out a little. I'll play around and see what I can come up with.
- Run less vertical clearance. I'm thinking 1/4" is the absolute minimum.
- Rely on engine tilt to give some more clearance. I'm not sure what it will be yet, but if the rear tilts down some that would help. I haven't checked driveline angles at this point.
- Find an aftermarket swaybar that curves differently.
- Raise the engine (not desirable due to ac box and brake booster clearance)
- Give up (unlikely)

After pouring over the options, I am about 75% decided on making a new set of SBC mount adaptors to put the engine 1" higher, still 1/4" forward. This is to gain clearance to reduce the amount of frame notching and clear the swaybar. My biggest concerns with this change are header clearance and the ablity or inability to use the factory AC suitcase even after some trimming. It looks to me like the Edbrock longtubes would still clear the steering box at 1" lift and 1/4" forward, but I dont know about the collector-to-floorpan clearance. I'm also not sure about driveline angles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Santa was very good to me this year. I have the Mrs to thank for giving him my wish list, on the top of which was an oil pan from Autokraft.





These pans are made by a JR Manufacturing in Wisconsin. They directly market their pans under the "Champ" name and have a wide variety of pans geared toward racing applications. According to a gentleman at JR Manfucturing, this particular pan design was a joint effort initiated by Kurt at Autokraft for swapping LS engines into early Camaros. While he does sell the pans direct, he recommended I buy from Kurt and I'm happy to do so since I believe he did a lot of the legwork in developing the dimensions.

I have to say I am very impressed with both the design and quality of fabrication of this pan. I have seen aftermarket pans for small blocks that didn't come close to the level of detail built into this thing.

The pan is constructed of a stamped section that formes the one-piece flange and front section of the pan and a welded/fabricated sump area that includes kickouts for capacity and active baffling for oil control. The efforts toward keeping oil around the pickup were my primary reason for selecting this pan over some of the others available. Here are some detailed pictures of the sump area





You can see the pan uses hinges as doors to keep oil around the pickup during cornering, braking, and acceleration. The hing travel is limited to opening about 45 degrees, which shold prevent the doors from sticking open.



Another detail to admire is the stitch-welded backup flange that adds thickness/stiffness around the perimeter of the pan to help keep things sealed.



The pan also includes a nicely machined spin-on oil filter adapter.



These o-rings seal the supply & return between the adapter and the oil pan. I was very happy to see the o-ring glands include room for the o-rings to compress, a detail that some (bad) engineers overlook. This should result in a good seal as long as the bolts clamping the adapter do their job.



I haven't looked up this filter yet, but here's what you're supposed to use for this pan.



The pan also includes this fabricated pickup assembly. I suspect (but dont' know for sure) this started life as an OEM assembly and was simply modified to accept the pickup in a new location. My only complaint here is some surface rust around the MIG welds that could have been prevented by oiling it down before storage. We'll see how well it lines up when I install the pan. I do plan to check the distance between the pickup and bottom of the pan.



Lastly, Santa got me a set of solid body mounts from Global West. I was happy to find they were anodized black instead of the advertised blue I've seen just about everywhere. These bushings interlock (a nice feature) and sort of remind me of dimple dies. They included all the necessary hardware. I hope I don't regret going this route over polyurethane mounts.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I decided to spend a little more time on this tonight and get the bushings installed. Everything went about as well as could be expected. The only complaint I have for Global West was one of the cone-headed 5/8" bolts had the leading threads boogered up and I had to clean it up with a die, but otherwise I'm very happy with the fit.







My subframe was way out of alignment with the body - about 1/2" shifted back. I used the old body bolts and 5/8" alignment holes near the firewall body mounts to line it back up - the same holes I used when I put the subframe on ten years ago. I have no explanation for how or why it moved back so far, but it does explain the lack of firewall clearance I had before with my HEI distributor. If you have to do this, don't forget to release the parking brake - that made it a little tough to get the subframe pulled forward until I realized it was engaged.

A SNS member was kind enough to point out that I don't have the required factory ~1/2" spacer installed at the firewall body mount location. I found a pretty decent thread explaining this here: http://www.stevesnovasite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=136832
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Decided to go ahead and put the oil pan on. First the pickup tube. I harvested the gasket from the original truck pan, but I think I will get a new one as insurance.



The orignal truck bolts seemed to work fine. Most of the holes in the block are through, holes, so the only place to really be concerned about thread length is at the timing cover.





I also made progress on the 1" lift engine adapters. Actually they are closer to 15/16" lift, the product of going 1/2" thicker on the plate and adding the SBC backing plate (0.166in as measured by caliper). 0.666 inch additional thickness times square root of 2 (since the mount is on a 45 for a 90 degree V8) is 1.414*0.666=0.942in of lift compared with my previous adapters.









I still need to pick up some socket head cap screws, but you get the idea









Whether this works out or not, it gave me an excuse to do some milling. Life is good. Happy New Year!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
125 Posts
I see you are very detail oriented. One of the most informational builds I have read so far. I must admit, Im a bit jealous.......I wish I had my first Nova when I was a teen! :yes:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,405 Posts
Great thread with excellent documentation!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Thanks all for the kind words. I have a lot of work ahead of me still, but I'm doing it mostly for the fun of the actual swap so you'll find me taking some offshoot paths here and there, doing things the hard way, and taking risks. Completion time isn't a big priority for me, although I do eventually want to be driving again!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
keep it coming, i am planning on doing this sooner or later...later to my first gen.
 
1 - 20 of 207 Posts
Top