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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've did quite of bit of reading on this topic - notching the frame/crossmember, different oil pans for clearance, bashing in the firewall, etc. all to get the engine in with ease.

What I haven't seen, and I'm sure it has to exist somewhere after ~15 years of LS swappin', why don't people bolt the the transmission up to the short block, shoehorn that assembly into the truck, and then put the heads on once the short block and transmission are installed? Would this make life easier during installation?
 

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Nope. It's not just heads, all the pushrods, rockers, etc. that tie the two together will have to be installed and bolts will have to be torqued in akward positions.
And no mention of the hell with assembling everything while leaned over a fenderwell or core support.
It's not that much harder to install with heads as without, definitely not worth the trouble IMHO.
But good on you for thinking outside the box...


If you're dying to try it, go with a big block with iron heads. I've swapped a few head gaskets in 454's and ended up using my cherry picker to lift and lower those 80lbs SOB's.
 

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Unbolt the cab and jack it up 6”. Install the entire assembly in one godoing heads inside that tiny engine bay seems atrocious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That's the part I'm missing. When doing heads, you don't need to access the rear of the motor. The heads bolt in from the top/sides. This way, the cab can be left in place. What am I missing here?

In all fairness, this is operating under the premise that someone will fully freshen up their LS before dropping it in. Obviously, if one is just buying a motor and dropping it in, then yeah, this seems excessive.
 

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You're missing how much easier it is to take 2 cab mount bolts out and jack up the front of the cab than it is to install the heads, etc. while in the car.
Plus it should be a lot cleaner with less risk of dust, dirt, etc. falling into the open bores. That's the one thing that concerns me most when I'm replacing a head while in the engine bay.
 

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I just remove the front sheet metal, which made the trial fitting well worth the effort. As a bonus it let me inspect my grille, headlights etc close up and decided they needed replacing.
 

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Quit fooling around...make it easy... 🤣 🤣
349695
 

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For reference. I would rather install 2 transmissions (even while laying on the floor without a trans jack), than try to install a complete top end kit on one of these vehicles.

The other issue is getting the oil pan over the crossmember while angling the engine/trans to clear the floor... even setting the engine in level it is very tight to the firewall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm willing to bet that the frustration level is higher on trying to get a transmission in the truck without the proper resources vs. slapping a set of heads on a short block.

With no heads on the block while it’s bolted to the transmission, firewall interference is negligible. I've seen it close up, slowed down, and I am investigating it further.

Why are some of you so put off by installing heads on an installed block (besides the minor nitpicks about dust and debris – this is nothing a shop rag/towel or compressed air from the air compressor can’t fix)?
 

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Don't ask if you don't want an honest answer....
Putting heads on would be easy if you didn't have to work around the heater/AC box & the brake booster.

I even put my engine in with all the accessories on also....saving a lot more under hood labor time.

349707


If you are smart, you will also bolt all the grounds to the rear of the heads before setting the engine on the mounts.
 

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Try it both ways and report back the time and troubles it took to complete both jobs.
And no damned compressed air around my shortblocks - you have no idea where that piece of crap you just loosened ended up. Vacuum cleaners work good enough to keep stuff clean.
The back head bolts are no party to get to with the engine in the engine bay.
The extra firewall clearance isn't worth the trouble - it might slow one down a couple of minutes during an install. How long to install heads and button up the top end, leaning over fenders and the firewall?
One thing is for sure - you're not the first that thought of doing it this way. And nobody does it this way.
Reckon there's a reason it didn't catch on?
 

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Why are some of you so put off by installing heads on an installed block?
Because we’ve all done this swap and know the frustration that comes with it. I also installed as much as possible before dropping it in. You don’t want to do heads in one of these.




 

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My first v8 swap at I did in my buddy’s yard with a tree and a come along winch and still had the sense to install with the heads and accessories on. Wouldn’t do it any other way



Yes I know it’s a rats nest. I was 17
 

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And sometimes the voice of reason and experience continues to fall on deaf ears. So I concur with the suggestion in post #11 - a 'hands on' exercise to learn.
 

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I've did quite of bit of reading on this topic - notching the frame/crossmember, different oil pans for clearance, bashing in the firewall, etc. all to get the engine in with ease.

What I haven't seen, and I'm sure it has to exist somewhere after ~15 years of LS swappin', why don't people bolt the the transmission up to the short block, shoehorn that assembly into the truck, and then put the heads on once the short block and transmission are installed? Would this make life easier during installation?

Would this make life easier during installation?

No, it would not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Got it. Thanks for the feedback, y'all.




Also, I was so bent on not notching the frame as I wanted to keep the integrity of the frame the same as it left GM, but I'm now leaning toward taking ~2.0" or so out of the crossmember for ease of whatever.

Does anyone know how thick the crossmember steel is?


i also did as much as possible w/ sheet metal off
BTW, what oil pan is that?
 

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you don't need to notch the frame. install la holley 302 pan and you're set....
unless you want to keep the factory ac compressor in the factory location, then yes, you need to notch the frame for the compressor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've noticed that there's only like 0.5" between the heads and the firewall if no notch is put into play even with the 302 pan (depending on which mounts are used). I want a good 2.0" clearance or so.


Time will be the revealer of my decisions.
 
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