It's the little things in life—and hot rodding—that can sometimes be the most frustrating. For example, take the innocuous steam vent line found on LS engines. In the past, guys with beautiful engine bays were forced to run ugly rubber hose and equally unattractive hose clamps to address this engineering necessity. In the interest of aesthetics, some gearheads just plugged the holes in the heads. But the steam vent line provides a vital function, and deleting it from the equation can cause cooling problems.
We came up with a nice-looking and functional solution for our project cars, but it was a huge hassle. Today, life is a bit easier since C&'R Racing has released an off-the-shelf solution to the steam line woes. Their kit comes with a ton of good-looking fittings and enough easy-to-work-with black nylon braided hose to make this plumbing endeavor painless.
We headed over to D&'Z Customs in Kewaskun, Wisconsin, to follow along as owner Randy Johnson installed it on his badass Camaro project.
01. This is the LS steam vent line kit from C&'R Racing. It came with a slew of black -4AN push-lock fittings, block adaptors, and enough black braided hose to easily get the job done. The kit (PN 78-10000) set us back $139 from Summit Racing.
02. The factory steam line runs across the front of the engine from one head to the other. Its job is to keep steam pockets from forming in the upper corners of the heads. Some guys just cap them off, but that's not a great idea. After all, it's there for a reason.
03. After pulling the two bolts, we removed the OEM steam line from the engine. Ours was held in place with 4mm button-head Allens, but more typically they are secured with 8mm factory bolts. If you get extra fancy and swap to stainless fasteners, then make sure to dab a little anti-seize on the threads.
04. Two block fittings were included with the kit. One had a single outlet port while the other had two. This gave us great flexibility with how to run the steam line. In our case, we decided to use the twin-port fitting on the passenger head.
05. We then used the existing hardware to install the two fittings to the block. Before putting them in place we applied a small amount of oil (or you could use antifreeze) to the small O-rings on the bottom of the fittings.
06. After that we did a test-fit of the 90-degree -4AN fitting. With the intake in place it's challenging to get a wrench on the fittings, but it can be done with minimal cursing.
07. It was then time to mock up the line that extends between the heads. The kit came with enough hose to let us route it however we pleased.
08. With the length figured out, we used a hose cutter to trim it down to just the right size. The best part about the black braided line is that it's easy to work with.
09. Equally easy is using the push-lock fittings. We simply slid the hose over the barbed end until it was seated in the flange. A little dab of antifreeze (or oil) made the process even easier.
10. As we said earlier, the toughest part was getting a wrench on the inner fittings. Most of this was due to the overhang of the Magnuson blower intake, so this will be less of an issue on a standard LS intake. We used a 9⁄16-inch wrench and were careful to not over tighten and crack the fitting. We also took care not to mar the finish on the fittings.
11. Now, you have a choice here. You can run the steam line to the radiator, which is how GM does it, or you can plumb it into the suction side of the water pump. If you decide to go to the water pump, you'll need to drill and tap a hole, taking care not to get aluminum shavings in the pump. This is how we run the steam line on our '68 project car, and after five years we've had zero issues.
12. Before installing the fitting, we applied a little liquid Teflon thread sealer on the 1⁄8-inch NPT threads.
13. Our C&'R Racing radiator came with the needed port already in place, so we decided to utilize it for the steam line.
14. We figured out the best routing for the steam line and then cut and installed it just as we did earlier.
15. And just like that we were done. The install was easy and looks a ton better than just plain rubber hose and clamps.