Techin’ In With Fletch - December 2013

Dan Fletcher Dec 18, 2013 0 Comment(s)
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Got a restoration question that’s been puzzling you? Send it to: [ m ] Super Chevy, Fletch, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619. [ e ] questions4fletch@yahoo.com [ f ] 813-675-3557

Going Shopping

Can you recommend a shop in the Tampa Bay area to tune/diagnose my 1987 Monte Carlo SS? I’m trying to find a reputable shop to work with that knows a little about LS swaps and known issues. I just performed an LS engine swap/build into it, and need a diagnostic run on it. Here’s my issue: It cranks and runs but bogs down after it idles for a while, and it runs really rich like its dumping too much fuel into the cylinders. Everything in and on the engine is brand new, and I want to get a diagnostic to figure out what the problem is. I’m currently deployed to Afghanistan at the moment, but want to find a shop asap so I can get my baby on the road and cruising when I get back. Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Also, I really enjoy your magazine and all the features in it. I’m a huge fan so keep up the great work guys. Super Chevy all the way!

MSGT David J. Young
United States Air Force

Super Chevy has done stories with Anti Venom High Performance in Seffner, Florida, just east of Tampa. This shop specializes in LS swaps. In fact, associate editor Patrick Hill followed along recently as Anti Venom owner Greg Lovell did a 5.3 LS swap in an ‘80s Caprice recently for an upcoming issue. Contact Greg at antivenomefi.com; 813-381-3995 or 813-690-0175. I also called my buddy Tom Tiberio, a New York transplant that lives in the Tampa area. He has done a lot of LS work and swaps, so I pegged him. Tom suggested that you contact Jeremy Formato at Fasterproms in Lutz, Florida. He’s worked with Jeremy for many years and is always satisfied with the results. Here is a link to their website www.fasterproms.net/index.html.


Wagons, No!

I have a pondering question regarding possible factory Super Sport Chevelle wagons? Was there a possibility to order an authentic Super Sport Chevelle wagon back in 1968-1972? If so, how many could there be to date? I have been seeing people adding SS396 and SS454 badges to their wagons. I have been hitting the blogs and online automotive chat rooms to no avail.

On different subject, I have a 2002 Z28 with a stock LS1. A few months back my alternator went bad due in part to a power steering pump leak. Pump and alternator replaced and the Camaro is back on the road, but ever since the alternator went, the engine has been running hot. Prior to the alternator going bad overheating was never an issue. The factory needle surpasses the 210-degree mark on the gauge cluster. I have changed the water pump, thermostat (186 degrees), radiator cap (16 lbs), every morning I check the radiator tank removing the cap and it is full of coolant. I also checked the floor where the Camaro is parked and there are absolutely no leaks. I regularly check the plastic radiator tanks and show no signs of leakage or cracks. I had a mechanic friend hookup an OBD-II scanner plugging all the car’s info and he cited that everything is in working order. I did an oil change to visually inspect the oil and found no evidence of water in the oil. Also would adding oil stabilizer to my Camaro hurt the catalytic converters or cause any damage? My Camaro has 93,150 miles on the digital odometer. Any help would be met with great appreciation. Keep up the good work.

Jose R.
Torrance, CA

Sorry, no factory SS option for the station wagons. El Camino yes, wagon no. Starting in 1970, a wagon could get the same 402 that was offered as the SS396/RPO Z25, but no SS option package, badging, etc. If peeps today want to add SS emblems to their wagons, who am I to say not to? I think that vintage of wagon is extremely cool!

As for your LS1 Camaro running hot, 210 degrees in a modern fuel injected car is not at all hot. However, if this is hotter than it was running before, I have a few thoughts. First, one wouldn’t think the alternator or power steering pump could be related to the manifestation of a cooling issue, but it is a car, so anything is possible, lol. Dad always told me to go back to what you changed last, so let’s chase it that way. Obviously, the water pump wasn’t removed for the previous repairs, so nothing should have changed. It’s not like it’s an LT1 that’s gear driven with a coupler anyways, and I really don’t think there’s any way to possibly install the belt incorrectly. At this point, you’ve replaced the pump, thermostat, etc., and one can hopefully assume that the radiator didn’t somehow mysteriously plug itself over night. As such, one is left with no choice other than to believe that the coolant flow is more than likely appropriate. There could also be an air pocket in the cooling system.

If a vehicle is running hot, or overheating for that matter, there are really only two potential reasons, coolant flow or air flow. You don’t mention if the problem is at idle or at speed, or both; only at speed would clearly point you towards air flow. Check the radiator for external blockages, i.e.: leaves, grass, miscellaneous debris. Assuming it’s clear, I’m going to suggest that your electric fan is probably not working. Was it unplugged during the initial parts replacement process and never re-connected? Perhaps the control relay went bad or the fan just chose this moment to go south? Stranger things have happened.

Lastly, regarding the oil stabilizer, I certainly can’t see a down side to adding it.


Gen I vs. Gen III or IV?

Super Chevy has done an excellent job covering Gen III and IV Chevy engines while still providing information on traditional GM engines. I particularly enjoyed the article in the June issue comparing the 5.3 and 4.8 engines and how they respond to upgrades. The only problem is this coverage has made me realize the incredible power and mileage potential of these new engines and has shaken my confidence in my previous plan to equip my 1972 Monte Carlo with a torquey 383 small block. Now I am leaning towards a Gen III or IV engine. What would be the best Gen III or IV engine for a heavy car like mine in order to best balance performance, cost of acquisition, and fuel economy? I want to build a fun and efficient cruiser that can move quickly when necessary. The engines I have been exploring are the 5.3 truck engine, which can produce solid power and be found for cheap in junkyards across the country, or a 6.0 truck engine, which produces more power, but is more expensive and less common. I am looking at the truck engines for their typically lower costs and ability to use 87 octane fuel. With either engine I would plan to add long tube headers and a slightly hotter camshaft.

Thank you very much for your excellent magazine and your help!

Grant Miller
Via Email

Both methods of approaching your situation will work well, and I’m sure you’d be happy with the results either way. If you’re going to go with current technology, I’d lean towards the Gen IV 5.3. Although it would be nice to save the weight afforded by the aluminum block in the LH6, you’re looking at a significantly reduced population of donor vehicles. The iron block LY5 was used in a wide variety of SUV’s and trucks from 2007 through present times. Potential candidates would include Chevrolet’s Avalanche, Tahoe, Silverado 1500, and half ton Suburban, or the equivalent in a GMC flavor. Units born with the LY5 have a vin with an eighth digit of J. Original horsepower and torque ratings varied slightly from SUV to truck, but 320 and 340 are close enough for general discussion. Obviously, this can be spruced up substantially with some simple upgrades.

The easy part is probably finding the motor. Sure, there’s lots of literature on the swap and conversion, but there are quite of bit of changes required to retrofit a new style motor in an old school car. In addition to all the mechanical things, you’re looking at all the control functions as well. Yes, it’s all been done many times before, but it’s certainly not as easy as just “drop the motor in and start cruising”.

If you choose to go with an old school 383, or any other displacement for that matter, all you’re going to need to worry about is the motor itself. We recently built an absolute stone of a 383 for my younger son Timothy’s ’69 Nova Super Street car, and it made 480 hp and nearly that much torque. I think I had about $3,500 into all the parts, and everything was brand new. It’s a docile, low rpm piece that should run forever. While it’s no rocket, the car has gone a best of 10.70 at 2,900 pounds.

So, I guess really the question is this; are you up for a major project in order to reap the benefits of new technology, fuel injection, improved fuel economy, etc.? Or do you prefer the ease of a plug and play install? No computers, no wiring issues; just simply get the tune up right and burn rubber. I’m far from lazy, but I’m an old dog.

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