There are many important tools you'll need before beginning to assemble your first LS1. You already have the majority of these, and they are so generic they don't merit a mention here (various metric wrenches, a feeler gauge, and so on). We'll start with some of the more important, purpose-neutral tools you might already have, then go on to tools needed for engine builds. Finally, we'll conclude with tools that are specific to LS1 builds.
All prices quoted are from the manufacturer if sold direct; otherwise, they are from Summit Racing. While you won't see all of these tools used in this month's issue, we'll get to the ones we miss next time.
OK, so you probably already have one or two torque wrenches lying around. Basically, torque measures the force needed to turn a fastener, and while this force is not the same as knowing how securely the fastener is actually clamping the part(s) the fastener is screwed into, there's normally a strong correlation between the two. Thus, the reliance on torque figures for many bolts in an engine.
Physics of the situation aside, the problem is that these suckers don't last forever: over time, their internals stretch and accuracy is lost. The result is in an under- or over-tightened fastener. So you'll need to buy at least a couple of new ones: one for torquing normal-size fasteners (around 100 lb-ft is the max you'll need for an engine build) and another for tightening smaller fasteners (with accuracy in the inch-pound range).
Torque Angle Gauge
General Motors specifies "torque-plus-angle" fastening procedures for some of the major bolts used to hold an LS1 engine together. For example, the rod bolts are torqued to 15 lb-ft plus 75 degrees; cylinder head and main cap bolts are tightened in a similar manner. This method is designed to prevent the false readings that torque wrenches can sometimes give; for example, if the fastener's threads have been improperly lubed, or a metal burr contacts the underside of the bolt's washer and adds resistance to turning.
In order to perform this procedure, a so-called torque angle gauge is necessary. This one from Snap-On retails for $67.85. However, this little item will not be necessary for each and every LS1 build. The reason is while GM uses this method to torque many of its engine fasteners, many aftermarket manufacturers do not. As you'll see in the feature story, ARP uses a simple torque spec on its main and cylinder head bolts and studs, and Lunati uses fastener stretch figures on its rod bolts. We suggest not dropping the coin on this baby until you have all engine parts picked out and know the fastener tightening method the manufacturers specify.
A caliper is a tool used to accurately measure inside and outside dimensions as well as depth dimensions. You'll need it during the engine build as there are lots of measurements to take and verify during engine assembly, and accuracy and precision are a must.
This 6-inch Powerhouse caliper is known as a "dial" caliper because of its use of a dial readout, which indicates measurements down to the nearest thousandth of an inch. So-called "digital" calipers also are available and have a digital readout in lieu of this unit's mechanical dial; however, they are significantly more expensive. The Stainless Steel Dial Caliper shown carries PN POW151205 and includes a protective case. It can be had for $44.95.