Let’s face it: GM’s Gen III and Gen IV engine families have taken over virtually every facet of motorsports. Repowering your, well, anything with one of GM’s 1999-newer small-block engines, commonly referred to as LS engines, has become incredibly easy. But in an aftermarket world where wiring harnesses, motor mounts, exhaust systems, and oil pans are commonplace, one area that may leave you scratching your head is the front engine accessory drive system.
Maybe you are dealing with a Corvette engine that you want to make fit a truck application. Or perhaps your framerails won’t let you use the truck accessory layout and due to hood clearance or other factors you really need the F-body car setup. Or you are simply starting with a takeout junkyard or brand-new crate engine and need to dress up a bare long-block. Aftermarket systems can be overpriced, overly brackety, and overly complex.
Chevy Performance neatly packages factory drive systems for its engine family under one part number. The package includes everything you need to dress up the front of your engine with top-quality factory parts. Whether a supercharged LSA, a Corvette, an F-body, or a truck accessory drive layout, the fit and function is flawless and the price just can’t be beat.
We were sitting on a truck-based 5.3L LC9 crate engine destined to go into one of our vintage 4x4s. Instead of scouring junkyards for brackets and bolts and then fitting them with dubious used parts or parts-store replacements of questionable quality, we scanned the Chevy Performance catalog for a front accessory engine drive (FEAD) system that fit our needs. We ordered Chevy Performance’s LC9 FEAD (PN 19258438), which includes all the brackets, bolts, accessories, and belt to mount an alternator and power steering pump to the front of the truck V-8 for right around $450. Since this vehicle will have working air conditioning, we also ordered Chevy Performance’s add-on air compressor kit (19260892) for just under $390 and had everything installed in less than an hour.
If you are installing the PN 19260892 air conditioning kit, begin the whole FEAD installation with the A/C compressor bracket. The A/C kit includes the compressor, bracket, seven mounting bolts, serpentine belt, and belt installation tool (shown at right).
Bolt the bracket to the engine block with the three shorter bolts included in the PN 19260892 kit and torque to 37 lb-ft.
After you bolt the bracket on, the air compressor can be bolted to it with the three longer and one shorter bolt. Torque the bolts to 37 lb-ft. Make sure to keep the port covers on until you are ready to hook up your A/C lines.
The A/C belt installation tool just slips over the harmonic balancer and has a lip that grabs the belt and rolls it onto the harmonic balancer as the engine is rotated. It is a handy tool for future use, so toss it in the toolbox when you are finished.
Position the serpentine belt on the A/C compressor pulley and behind the harmonic balancer pulley. With the included installation tool in place on the harmonic balancer, rotate the engine with the crank nut and a breaker bar to slide the belt into place. It is a tight fit, so be sure to do this before installing the power steering pump.
Here is the finished A/C compressor installation. Be sure you install the A/C belt before the rest of the FEAD since it lies behind the serpentine belt for the rest of the front accessories. You will never have better access to it than right now.
The Chevy Performance FEAD system comes with detailed instructions that walk you through each step. All the brackets, accessories, and individually wrapped hardware are included. It’s very easy and, naturally, all fits like a glove. We began the FEAD installation with the power steering pump.
The power steering pump is a shiny new unit, not a rebuilt parts-store questionfest. Begin by installing the bracket to the pump. Be careful not to damage the reservoir torqueing the nuts to the required 37 lb-ft.
With the steel bracket attached to the back of the power steering pump, you can install the three bolts that retain the pump to the engine, but don’t torque them until the rear mounting bolts are installed finger-tight.
Once all four bolts have been started you can torque them all down to the required 37 lb-ft. Be careful of the steel return line. You don’t want to bend or pinch it while working on the engine.
A power steering pulley and installation tool are included. The installation tool is essentially a long bolt, nut, and heavy washer.
You need to make sure the power steering pulley is perpendicular to the pump and the pulley shaft is square in the pulley bore as it starts going on. We tried the included pulley installation tool, but we stripped the threads on the bolt before the pump pulley was fully installed.
With the nut-and-bolt installation not working out so well for us, we bought a pulley installation tool at our local auto parts store. The pulley went on like a dream with the proper tool, bottoming just flush with the end of the shaft.
The alternator included with the Chevy Performance kit is a 145-amp DR44 unit that should have no problem powering any of our off-road electronic toys. The alternator installation is a piece of cake. Just set it atop the bracket and torque the two mounting bolts to 41 lb-ft.
The final piece of the puzzle is the idler pulley, which gets bolted down to 37 lb-ft.
The kit even includes the serpentine pulley. Make a note of the part number for future reference.
The finished product is all ready for a lifetime of dutiful service. And the best part is there are no wacky brackets that require adjustments and we have the peace of mind knowing that all our accessories are brand new and right from the factory.