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Long-term project... MONSTER iron 408/T-56 n/a!!!

10096 Views 83 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  jayyk31
So I finally found an engine for a swap that I've been wanting to do & looking for a while. It's an '03 lq4 from an Express van 2500, milage unknown. The guy said it was running w/ a crappy idle when he pulled it. I paid $550 for everything. Engine, intake, alt, ps, ecm, complete engine harness & complete harness from firewall to interior. There was not 1 wire cut!!! I think I got an awesome deal!!!
It was a 4 hr round trip to get the engine & when I got it back to my shop I started ripping into it!!! The 317 heads look good, no blown HG, no visible problems. Pistons & rods look good, just normal wear. Same with the crank. The bearings all look good, noNE were spun & all normal wear. Same for the cam & lifters.
Now that I have it all torn down I'm gonna take some measurements & see where I'm at. This is my 1st real enine build so I'm gonna take my time & be extemely thorough. My plans for this build are still developing but for sure the block is going to the machine shop.
- budget: non - existent!!! It's gonna go like this... work & save then buy parts, repeat, etc...!!! So it's gonna take a while!
-Vehicle: not sure yet but it's gonna b a rcsb 2nd Gen 2wd. This is last on my list so I have time to find a truck.
-engine/trans: 408 stroker, Lunati or K1 4" crank, not sure which rods yet, pistons r gonna b .030 over but haven't decided which ones yet, prob Wiseco. Not sure if I'm gonna use the 317 heads yet (maybe will go with the cnc'd rectangle port heads) need to figure that out.
- figure out the cam later
- most likely gonna go 1 7/8 or 2 inch long tube
-trans: t 56 , still gotta find that.
so I'm really exited to do this & there is a lot more stuff to think about & do so hopefully it will go smooth! I will post updates as they happen & will appreciate any pointers & tricks as well!
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Started cleaning off all the oil off of the engine harness. Also starting to label all the wires & remove the ones I don't need like the auto trans stuff. LT1 Swap is a great help for that. Im doing my own harness & tuning. Should save a bunch of $$ doing it myself!
Good luck with your project! Those van harnesses are huge!
Thanks man. Yeah the van harness is stupid long!!! I just labeled everything & got rid of all the auto trans crap I don't need. I can't do much more w/ it until I figure out which p/u truck I'm gonna get. I scanned the pcm & got the vin# & I'm curious as if anyone knows how this stock van pcm is to tune? When I get the credits I have the option of going with a custom o/s. Should I just tune the stock o/s?
And I got back to working every day finally. It's been slow so now I will hopefully b ordering the rotating assembly with- in the next few weeks. Then to the machine shop. I just sold the 317's that came off the 6.0. I'm most likely going with the 821's from GMPP. I will send them to my machinist after to do work with the exhaust side & what not.
t-56's pop up over on LS1tech in the classifieds all the time. You'll want an f-body unit, it puts the shifter back about 5 inches from the stock location but is the closest to stock. Also 1 7/8 long tubes will be plenty for your motor, 2" primaries are for even larger cube engines and they would take up more space.
I got my crank today from Summit Racing. It's a Lunati Voodoo 4340, 4" stroke, 24 tooth. I paid $699 delivered. The cost is on the cheap side but the quality of the crank is really nice. All the radius's look well machined as well as all the bearing surfaces. Next on the list is main & rod bearings as well as pistons & rods. After that the block & rotating assembly will be off to the machinist to be balanced & machined. I'm buying parts like this because it's easier to come up with $1000 or so at a time instead of $2000! Either way I'm excited & have a long way to go.
another thing I was thinking was instead of going with the rectangle port heads & top end I might just use the 317's I have already, just send them out to AI or TSP to get worked over. If I do use them I'm hoping I can have them milled to get the compression up. I don't know, we'll see.


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Thought you sold the 317's? I would do some price comparisons on the factory ported 821's vs sending out 317's and where the flow #'s end up. On a 408, your going to want some good flowing heads. I would get a engine plan together, and stick with it. It gets expensive to change mid stream.
I still have the 317's, I screwed up listing them on ebay & didn't bother to relist them. Right now I'm gathering parts for the rotating assembly so the decision on heads is far off. I've been undecided with the heads because at 1st I thought that going with the rectangle port heads would serve me best but then I realized that my truck is gonna be a street truck so I'm gonna spend most of the time from idle to 6500 rpm. Those heads shine best 6500 & above so I figured I would use the heads I have now or a different cathedral port casting. The 71cc combustion chambers in the 317's are going to have to be milled if I use them. So I'm still undecided about which heads, maybe the tfs 225's, tfs 205's, or send my 317's to AI. Not sure yet, more researching to be done But I'm Def sticking with the cathedral port castings.
Maybe another week or 2 & I'm gonna order the Pistons, rods & main & rod bearings & main studs.
And here is the Victim....... '89 extended cab 4.3 auto! Pretty clean & straight truck exept for the cab floor. Totally shot! Rotted out, prob by salt water just sitting there soaked in the carpet & padding for years! Well anyway, I got a lot of work to fiz the floor but once I do I will be on to building the engine. Have got a bunch more engine parts, ready to go to machine shop! Here r some pics...


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Some more pics...


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looks like a good start, I would definitely listen to what Iroc-10 said (ask me how I know)
Keep the thread updated, Interested to see the outcome, Good luck.
its Def an ok start. I would of liked to find something with a little less cab rot but it's an '89 so not too bad! Here's some of the bad on the truck. Cab rot! And whoever put these blocks on the rear, shame on them!!! I'm picking up a '92 Sonoma later today & just swapping the cab over. Also getting rid of the hack suspension in the reAR & gonna fix the body mounts!


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I think this truck may have been under some salt water at one time. Unfortunately the PO didnt maintain or change anything. The carpet & padding was soaked & saturated! Here's some more of the bad, Co troll arms, the rods, ball joints, shot!!!


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Supposed to have typed "control arms ,tie rods"... lol!
Thats not like our crusty rust here, thats more like a fuzion rust. Either way, rust sucks!
Dont even bother trying to take the cotter pin out. Hammer on an impact socket and zip it off with a 1/2" impact gun. Itll come right off... Done it 100x's.....

this is how she sits now after swapping cabs. She's a '92 Sonoma now! Now Its time to fix both rocker panels, both cab corners, driver side floor pan, & driver side rear cab support. grind the while frame, por 15 it, & fix both front frame to cab mounts. Also remove & grind off all surface rust under cab & por 15 it. Lot of work but thank God I enjoy working on my truck!!! The finished product is gonna be awesome!
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Ok so here's a few updates... unfortunately nothing engine related, all body work & welding.
As of now I have replaced the 2 rear cab supprts, passenger front cab support & backing plate. I replaced the metal on both sides that run the length of the cab behind the cab supports and behind the rockers. I used all 18 guage steel. I just finished redoing the caged nuts for all the body mount supports. I re-did the mounts & cage nuts exactly like factory. I used that Rustoleum rust desolver on the nuts, & wow, that stuff works awesome! Strips the rust right off. Then I wire wheeled everything, primed them with 2 coats, then por 15 undecorated everything on the inside that wasn't close to where I had to weld. I used weld thru primer for those areas. I took off the cross support that has the 2 body mount supports & the seat & seat belt mounts on them. I think the extended cab get this support. Not sure if the reg cabs have this. Cleaned all the rust off, undercoated, new caged nuts, then welded it back up. I used all 16 guage steel to make the caged nut cages. This was all after I did both sides rockers, cab corners, & cab corner extensions! Next up is driver side floor pan, backing plate, & cab support. Then pretty much all rot & rust repair will b finished & i will be able to get back to building my lq408!

Not sure exactly how I'm gonna go about it but for the winter I might rent a spot in my bosses garage to store the truck & finish building the motor. Then after all the snow passes start dropping in the engine & trans & all that good stuff. I keep the truck outside of his shop so I def don't want this truck to see any of the winter outside of a garage! Lol!

Also can't wait to get rid of the ugly yellow paint! Almost forgot, both doors need new bottom skin, inner & outer. Not much, only 2 little rot spots. Might just buy 2 new shells instead of messing with the skins.

Ok so here's a bunch of pics. Trying to show everything & remember everything I did on the truck!...

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Here's some more pics...

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