Research is a wonderful tool, and is the first tool you should pull out of your tool box before starting any project. Speed bump: This particular engine and induction combination hasn't found a lot of ink in the media - especially under the hood of a Corvette. It isn't something you'll likely read about in the "how to" sections of other car magazines, or get a lot of hits with your search engine on the internet. I'm not saying it hasn't been done; that would be stupid. It just hasn't been written about very much-at least that I've been able to find. It's something that we researched as independent components - that is - the 383 crate engine here, and the Street Ram fuel injection there. But not the two as an assembly. Research led us to emails and phone calls to suppliers, and interestingly enough, it was split about 50 / 50 as to "Yeah, you can do that" to "No, that won't work". The ones that said it wouldn't work were just too negative for me, so we went for it.
With the crate engine sitting in the engine compartment of our Corvette, we pulled the pre-assembled Street Ram Injection System out of the box from the supplier. Man, it looked mean with the over-sized runners and larger throttle body. We sat it atop the crate engine and located the mounting bolts for it. Pothole: The injection needs to be disassembled so the intake manifold can be installed to the Vortec heads' bolt pattern. No big deal, except that the $40 Accel gasket set will tear when you pull these assemblies apart-an added expense. Why an Accel gasket set? Because they are e-x-t-r-a thin, and the stock tuned port gaskets won't work. OK, the intake manifold is installed, new gaskets are in hand, the runners and air plenum are installed. Pothole: The oversized runners won't bolt up until you relieve the right front and left rear manifold bolts and make room to the extra fat runners. Has anyone done this before? The bolts are now relieved, the air plenum and runners are installed, and everything looks great. Fast forward to our initial startup. Another pothole is encountered as a small vacuum leak was evident from the get-go, and was traced to an E.G.R. port on the bottom side of one of the runners, partially covered by the gasket. Down goes the assembly again, and another $40 gasket set is procured after we seal up the hole with a pressed-in welch plug.
I had read before that the chrome plated GM Performance Parts aluminum valve covers won't fit the tall Vortec-headed engines when the Corvette is equipped with power brakes. I just figured these guys didn't know what they were doing. After all, we've put them on the ZZ4 engines with power brakes (ZZ4 engines have shorter aluminum heads). As Bugs Bunny said to the Gremlin; "Hey Mac, let me take a whack at it". Well, ok, they won't fit. So instead of losing the chrome plated beauties that we had already installed and running the Medusa snake-head lady models that came with the engine, we decided instead to change the power brakes. Not to delete them, but to change them. A supplier with a direct link to the manufacturer got us this street rod booster that's 7-inches in diameter, will give us the clearance we need for the good valve covers, and has been converted to mount up like a Corvette booster should. That should work beautifully. Pothole: The actuator rod in this street rod booster is like a turtle that won't stick his head out of his shell; it's too short to actuate our Corvette master cylinder. So it's off to see Jerry Rose, a client and fellow Corvette owner that owns Rose Grinding and Mfg. in Miamisburg, OH,to have a stock Corvette master cylinder actuator rod turned down and threaded to match the installed end of the wimpy actuator rod. All is well again.
Brackets were no big deal, but as you already know; when you add headers to the equation, the picture changes for mounting up the engine accessories. It is important to have proper belt alignment for our drive belts, so we opted to make some of our own brackets,and then we sent all of the brackets out to the chrome shop for some added bling. This decision came after we had decided to go with the March billet aluminum pulleys, which was a decision we came up with after investigating a serpentine belt drive system. Now we already have aftermarket air conditioning on this car, so it seemed only natural to contact the same company that made this system and talk to them about their serpentine drive system. Makes sense, right? Speed bump: It seems that in order to use their serpentine belt drive system, you have to use their 'serpentine belt drive system air conditioning compressor' instead of their 'regular v-belt drive air conditioning compressor.' Really? How does the compressor know what kind of belt is making it spin? Anyway, it is what it is, and we couldn't feel the love or see the reasoning in trashing a perfectly good compressor just to change the belt drive system, so we did the very best that can be done with standard v-belt drive pulleys with the polished billets from March.