Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: SW Wisconsin
oldeerslayer is offline
Re: 1985 Chevorlet S10 V8 Swap
My advice would be to get a copy of Mike Knell's book from JTR. It is presently outdated information, but was written back when your era truck and swap were quite common. Most of us old timers read it before doing our first swaps in the late 80's to early 90's. He is a big fan of old Camaro exhaust manifolds and his offset mounts. I prefer AA 2.8 to SBC mounts (a bit pricey) and swap headers designed to go around the steering shaft. Don't have to offset the engine towards the passenger side.
Then read everything on here in the V8 section of the forum. You can also read a lot on V8S10.org. The more you read the more you will understand what you are getting into and the different way each step can be done. With your experience and budget ignore the idea of doing an LS engine. They're both more difficult and pricey. One problem you will have is finding a decent early SBC that puts out reasonable power.
All the smog era truck engines are boat anchors and a lot of built engines aren't very streetable. Something similar to a ZZ3or4 would be a great find for a driver that's fun. A 96-98 Vortec 350 swapped to a carb and HEI distributor is nearly the same thing, but better heads. Just be careful to get a distributor compatible with a roller camshaft. I have one in a 50 Chevy coupe with a Quadrajet carb off a motorhome. Very driveable.
On an 85 I'd use the 350 mechanical fuel pump and modify the intank pump by removing it and replacing the pump with a section of fuel line hose. Simply cap the return line. I did that on my first swap w/o any ill effects. IIRC that truck was an 87.
One thing we used back then that will be hard to come by today is a pre 68 short water pump (aftermarket has them), but what is nearly impossible to find are the short, crank pulley, alternator, and PS brackets need to use the short pump. You'll likely have to recess your rad a bit instead. Be careful juggling water pumps around. If you run a V belt you have to use a clockwise rotation pump, if you go serpentine you need a reverse rotation (not reverse flow) water pump.
You don't say which trans your 2.8 had. Whether it was stick or auto doesn't really matter. Neither will hold up and the auto won't bolt up.
You'll be best off with a 89-92 700R4 that was behind a 350. Just make sure to get the TV cable connected correctly or the trans will fry itself.
Bowtie Overdrives is the expert on TV cable setup.
Good luck on your project.