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LS Engine Builder's Guide

Posted in How To on September 8, 2013
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Author: Cole Quinnell Photos: Courtesy of Manufacturers

There are basically two types of off-roaders: those who love LS engines and those who haven’t had the pleasure of piloting a vehicle with one of these potent power plants. The current LS engine is to modern engines what the small-block Chevy was to the flathead Ford. The leap in design technology has given us an engine with far superior power output without sacrificing reliability or drivability. Dreaming of a 500-plus horsepower engine that idles at 750 rpm and weighs 200 lbs. less than a cast-iron small-block Chevy? You can get it in a crate motor from Chevrolet Performance with a warranty! And that’s just the tip of the LS engine iceberg! Check out this roundup of performance parts for the lust-worthy LS engine, and we’ve even thrown in a couple of complete engines.

Chevrolet Performance Crate Engines It makes sense to start with the original source of all LS engines: General Motors. Chevrolet Performance offers a host of LS crate engines and accessories that are helpful in fitting the engines into just about any chassis or vehicle. One of our favorites in the lineup is the 515-horsepower LS3 engine (PN 19244552). This provides you with an aluminum-block 6.2-liter engine to minimize weight but maximize horsepower per liter. It comes with a carburetor-ready intake manifold to which you can add your own carb, throttle body EFI or replace with a port EFI system. The engine makes 515 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 469 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Chevrolet Performance

Chevrolet Crate Engine Photo 67321435 This LS3 crate engine from Chevrolet Performance makes 515 horsepower and 469 lb-ft, yet will idle at 750 rpm.

MSD ATOMIC EFI FOR LS ENGINES Looking for EFI for your LS engine? The MSD Performance next generation of Atomic EFI may be just the ticket. The LS version of the Atomic system incorporates the electronics into the fuel rails of the system. There’s no bulky ECU to mount and therefore no wires to route to and from – it’s all on the engine, hidden in plain sight. MSD Atomic EFI systems were designed with two major goals: to simplify EFI and deliver overall performance to your engine. Simplicity is achieved through wireless technology to ease installation, plus the Atomic is simple to program with no laptop required. Performance is delivered through advanced control of the fuel and ignition, just as you expect from MSD. Atomic EFI (915) 857-5200 www.atomicEFI.com

MSD Atomic EFI Photo 68810886 The Atomic EFI system for LS engines puts everything in the fuel rails, saving you time and effort for installation.

Hedman’s Universal Block Hugger Hedders for LS Engines Space comes at a premium when you are trying to shoehorn a big engine into a small vehicle. Designed to accommodate very restrictive space limitations, Hedman’s Block Hugger Hedders are ideal for the enthusiast who needs better exhaust flow than the factory manifolds without taking up any additional space. Manufactured in the USA, Hedman LS Block Hugger Hedders are available in an uncoated finish or in Hedman’s exclusive HTC Ceramic-Metallic finish that combines the look of chrome with the benefits of ceramic coating and are covered by a lifetime warranty. Hedman Hedders (562) 921-0404 www.hedman.com

Hedman Hedders Photo 67321438 These Hedman Hedders stick close to the engine, which is often exactly what you need for a custom LS engine swap.

Moroso Oil Pan for GM LS Series Engine Blocks This Moroso oil pan is designed to be used in most LS applications and LS conversions. The front of the oil pan is 1.75 inches deep to the beginning of the 6-inch deep sump. The generous pan has a 7-quart capacity and 3/16-inch thick, precision laser-cut steel rail. While factory-cast LS oil pans crack when objects hit them, the Moroso pan is made from 16-gauge steel that also makes repairs easier. The pan will clear a 4.125-inch stroke with most steel rods, and features a race-proven diamond shape four trap door assembly and anti-slosh baffle that keeps oil contained in the oil pump’s pick-up area during the roughest conditions. Moroso (203) 453-6571 www.moroso.com

Moroso Oil Pan Photo 68810949 This Moroso pan is fully baffled for off-road use.

Lunati Dual Valve Spring Kits The new Lunati LS Dual Valve Spring Kit features precision-wound, heat-set dual valve springs that deliver the required seat and open load pressure, plus total spring travel to accommodate cams with aggressive gross valve lifts of up to 0.660 inch. The kits include extreme usage valve springs, retainers, locators, valve locks and valve stem seal kits. Each is carefully tension-matched and all supplied components come complete and ready to install. Also included are Lunati CNC-machined, 4140 chromemoly steel retainers, CAD designed to deliver maximum strength and durability. They are CAD and FEA optimized and CNC-machined for higher RPM use in extreme applications such as endurance circle track, off-road, road racing or marine uses. Lunati (662) 892-1500 www.lunatipower.com

Lunati Dual Valve Spring Kits Photo 67321441 The Lunati dual valve spring kits are just the ticket for performance camshafts up to 0.660-inch lift.

Dart LS Next Block The new Dart LS Next block is the first significant change in the bottom end architecture of the LS engine platform. By eliminating the “Y-block” design and utilizing conventional style main caps and oil pans, Dart has addressed the problems resulting from the LS engine’s separated crankcase bays. Windage is greatly reduced, resulting in increased power and improved lubrication. The main webs are significantly stronger because the bay-to-bay breathing windows are not required in the Dart design. Deleting the windows also allows the cylinder barrels to be extended by 0.375-inch into the crankcase, providing greater piston support for all combinations without requiring a taller deck. Two standard bore sizes are available – 4.000-inch and 4.125-inch – with a maximum bore of 4.220-inch. Maximum recommended stroke is 4.125 inches, allowing for displacement up to 461 cubic inches. Dart (248) 362-1188 www.dartheads.com

Dart LS Block Photo 68810952 Made in the U.S. on all-new tooling and affordably priced, the Dart LS Next block delivers exceptional value.

COMP Cams LS Front Covers The COMP Cams LS Front Covers are designed to work with the raised cam height setup of the Racing Head Service (RHS) LS Race Block, as well as the standard cam height of the GM LS block. Designed for high-performance applications, the LS Front Covers are built to fit with double roller timing chains and high-pressure/high-volume oil pumps with no grinding or other modifications needed. The covers include provisions for an easy bolt-on timing pointer and external crank trigger, and come with a gasket and crank seal. The covers also are compatible with any brand’s regular big-block Chevy crank trigger kit. Comp Cams (800) 999-0853 www.compcams.com

Comp Cams Photo 68810955 The COMP Cams LS Front Covers are built for LS1, -2, -3, -6 or LS7 engines, and each part number fits both the applicable RHS LS Race Block and all other LS style blocks.

RHS Pro Elite Aluminum Cylinder Heads RHS Pro Elite LS7 Cylinder Heads are the aftermarket’s first high-performance LS-style head to feature a raised intake runner design that fits both stock and aftermarket LS7 intake manifolds and valve train setups. These fully assembled heads are designed with a 12-degree valve angle and unique 0.220-inch raised intake runners to provide a better line of sight into the cylinders and allow for an improved short turn. The heads also utilize the popular LS 6-bolt head design, making them compatible with both the RHS LS Race Block and most GM LSX Blocks. The raised runner and rolled valve angle increase overall flow capability, while an upgraded water jacket design improves thermal conductivity. Racing Head Service (RHS) (877) 776-4323 www.racingheadservice.com

RHS Pro Elite Cylinder Heads Photo 67321444 RHS Pro Elite Aluminum Cylinder Heads for LS7 applications are now available in fully assembled versions that are perfect for small and large cubic inch LS engines.

Redline Performance LS Engine Packages Redline Performance has been in the off-road industry for more than 20 years and specializes in complete engine packages for sand, dirt, drift, classic cars, short-course racecars and even marine applications. Redline Performance builds a variety of LS engines to meet customer needs, and carries all the parts and accessories needed for engine builds and upgrades, as well as offering complete engine rebuilding services. Redline Performance also builds and sells EFI systems for most engines, along with offering all types of V8, V6, 4-cylinder and rotary engines that range from 200 horsepower to 1800 horsepower. The company also has an in-house chassis dyno, so it can provide tuning services for almost any type engine. Redline Performance (714) 777-5758 www.redlineperformance.com

Redline Performance LS Engine Package Photo 68810958 Redline has a number of LS engine packages that can make putting a powerful engine in your next project easy.

FAST LSXRT 102mm Intake Manifold From 1997 until now, GM has impressed many performance enthusiasts with its cathedral port truck engine designs. To make these designs perform even better, engineers at FAST have recently teamed up with the airflow specialists at RHS to develop the all-new LSXRT 102mm Intake Manifold for Cathedral Port GM Truck Engines. Following the path charted by the original FAST LSX Gen III Manifold, the new LSXRT features a modular design that allows for easy disassembly and porting. Extensive testing led to a runner design that yields an incredible 36 peak horsepower gain over the stock intake, on a stock 6.0L engine with a Big Mouth 102mm Throttle Body, with no loss in torque. And, like the recently introduced LSXR Gen IV car manifold, this design features the ability to remove individual runners for modification. FAST (877) 334-8355 www.fuelairspark.com.

FAST Intake Manifold Photo 67321447 Maximize airflow and performance of GM 4.8/5.3/6.0L cathedral port truck engines and cathedral port LS1, -2, -6 race applications where hood clearance is not a concern.

CBM Motorsports TT 454 After years of real world research and development CBM Motorsports has developed engine packages with parts combinations that provide powerful and reliable naturally aspirated, supercharged and turbocharged LS race engines. The CBM TT454 shown here is twin-turbocharged, making over 1,000 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm and 975 lb-ft of torque using 10 lbs. of boost with a compression ratio of 9.1:1. This engine features CBM custom-built CNC-ported LSX cylinder heads, along with a forged lower end, and it is fully balanced and blueprinted. CBM Motorsports (909) 291-7554 www.cbmmotorsports.com

CBM Motorsports LS Engine Photo 68810961 CBM builds a range of LS engines for racing and off-road performance use.

Holley HP EFI Computer and Wiring Harness Kit for LS Engines If you’re using an LS engine and have retained the factory fuel injection system, the Holley HP EFI ECU and wiring harness kit makes it easy. The wiring harness plugs into the factory engine sensors and connects to the original fuel injectors, and it can control the ignition timing as well as the fuel injection. Holley HP EFI systems are equipped with four programmable inputs and four programmable outputs that are ideal for most vehicles with a single power adder. This feature allows the user to configure the system to support a wide range of controls, including boost control, progressive nitrous, water/meth injection, speed inputs, fuel pump control, AC inputs, timing retard inputs and various other uses. You can use a laptop to tune the system or purchase an optional handheld controller that allows you to make broad changes to the fuel and spark without a laptop. Holley (270) 782-2900 www.holley.com

Holley HP EFI Computer Photo 67321450 This Holley ECU and wiring harness kit literally takes just a few hours to install, giving you complete control over your new fuel-injected LS engine.

Flex-a-lite LS Engine Conversion Aluminum Radiators The Flex-a-fit radiator from Flex-a-lite, with its patented cooling technology, provides you with a durable performance aluminum radiator for your LS-powered truck or custom off-road vehicle. The radiators are built at Flex-a-lite’s U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility, allowing the company to configure them easily with the inlet and outlet positions needed for an LS engine. Flex-a-fit aluminum radiators feature patented sidetank tank technology. The “T” channels offer 130 percent better heat transfer, a durable mounting system for the radiator, electric fan and optional oil cooler or expansion tank. Flex-a-lite (253) 922-2700 www.flex-a-lite.com

Flex A Lite Radiator Photo 68810964 LS conversions often require the radiator inlet and outlet to be on the same side of the radiator.

Flowmaster Scavenger Series Elite Line of Stainless Steel Headers Quality was the utmost concern during the development of the Scavenger Series headers and it shows, as Flowmaster made laser-cut 3/8-inch-thick flanges standard on the entire line as well as 14-gauge 409S stainless steel primary tubing. To ensure leak-free connections, Flowmaster equips all of the long-tube designs with modern ball flange collectors with the corresponding reducers that eliminate the need for gaskets associated with traditional three-bolt collectors. Elite headers of all configurations receive a high-temp silver ceramic coating before leaving Flowmaster headquarters. Flowmaster (707) 544-4761 www.flowmastermufflers.com

Flowmaster Scavenger Headers Photo 67321453 Ceramic-coated with thick flanges and heavy-duty primaries, the new header line delivers high-end features backed by the historic Flowmaster name.

High Strength ARP Head Studs ARP offers high-strength replacement head studs for factory torque-to-yield (TTY) head bolts. Factory TTY head bolts are typically torqued to 100-110 percent of their rated preload in the assembly process and yielded by design (because they are yielded they should never be re-used). In comparison, high strength ARP head studs are preloaded to 70-80 percent of their capacity and provide a significant margin of safety. Moreover, using studs instead of head bolts has proven to be far better in terms of preserving the integrity of the block threads. The increased clamping force that is available through use of ARP head studs expands the sealing window of the head gasket and prevents failures in high combustion pressure environments. All ARP studs are heat-treated in-house, centerless ground to ensure concentricity and thread-rolled after heat-treat to provide maximum fatigue strength. ARP (800) 826-3045 www.arp-bolts.com

ARP Head Studs Photo 68810967 All ARP studs are heat-treated in-house, centerless ground to ensure concentricity, and thread-rolled after heat-treat to provide maximum fatigue strength.

Painless Performance LS Wiring Kits With more than 25 different LS series kits, Painless Performance Products has answers for nearly any LS swap. Painless offers three basic wiring kits for LS engine swaps; EFI Harness only, EFI Harness with an ECU and an EFI harness integrated with a chassis harness. The EFI Harness is available for nearly any LS series engine transplant ranging from a 4.8L truck engine to a flex-fuel 6.0L with throttle by wire. These kits require the factory ECU, and Painless offers a re-flash service to provide only the circuits and controls that a customer needs. For swaps based on crate engines, Painless also offers EFI harness kits that are supplied with an ECU. The latest kits are designed for someone rewiring their vehicle during an LS conversion. These kits are based around a 26-circuit fuse block that is fit with connections for the LS engine and automatic transmission as well as the complete vehicle wiring. Painless Performance Products (817) 244-6212 www.painlessperformance.com

Painless Performance Wiring Kit Photo 67321456 This Painless Performance harness is designed to control ’99-’05 4.8/5.3/6.0L engines with a 4L60E trans combined with a complete chassis wiring harness.

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