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Accessories for Your Chevy LT1

Jeff Smith Jan 22, 2018
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It's a brave new performance world out there and technology's getting a big push from engines like GM's new Gen V gasoline direct injected (GDI) engines. STREET RODDER has jumped head first to offer up the details you need to know to embrace the Gen V technology. If you've been following this series on the LT1, you already know it is the base engine for the current Corvette and also the 6.2L V-8 in the Camaro. To no one's surprise, much about this engine family is new and as a result there is a big demand for information on what fits and where.

One of the first issues that a Gen V transplanter will face is the accessory drive or, in GM speak, the front engine accessory drive (FEAD). This is what we will focus on for this story. You may also be aware that the Gen V engines are also used in trucks beginning in 2014, including both 5.3L L83 and 6.2L L86 versions. Let's start by looking at the harmonic balancers.

Spanning these applications are three different balancers. Similar to how balancers changed length with the Gen III and IV LS engines, the Gen V truck balancer is the deepest of the three and features three separate grooved serpentine pulley drives. The Camaro and Corvette balancers are the same overall depth, but the serpentine grooves are in different positions. A balancer with main belt grooves closest to the engine is the Corvette version, while a balancer with two sets of main pulley grooves identifies that as a Camaro unit.

This is important information because—as you may know—none of the Gen V engines come with a power steering pump because GM cars are now equipped with electric power assist steering (EPAS). So if your plans call for a Gen V engine with hydraulic power steering then an accessory drive with an integrated pump is a must-have item. Luckily, we've found several aftermarket companies who have kits designed to accommodate this requirement. Even better, between these different companies they offer well over a dozen optional approaches to solving the accessory drive quandary.

Any good LT engine swapper will tell you that it's all about real estate and what will fit. Narrow street rod engine compartments will limit the application of some of these systems. Several of these FEAD conversions require changing to the Gen V truck balancer, which adds over 1 inch to the engine's overall length compared to the Corvette version. If air conditioning is part of your plan, a couple of these systems leave the compressor at or near the factory position, which may create crossmember clearance issues. Moving the A/C compressor up on the top improves clearance, but often adds width. For any potential swap, it would be best to obtain overall dimensions for the kit to help you decide.

The systems we will outline in this story are from Chevrolet Performance, Dirty Dingo, Drive Junky, Holley Performance, ICT Billet, LS Brackets, and Eddie Motorsports. There are more sources out there, but these are all we had editorial space to cover. Each offers a slightly different take on the Gen V accessory drive challenge so by investigating each of the systems this should offer a greater understanding of which ones meet your goal.

Several of these kits offer the advantage of sourcing the larger parts, like the water and power steering pumps, alternator, and belt tensioners, either from new or used sources. We have created a list for each of these systems based on the major parts you will need. We've also priced all the components through either Summit Racing or RockAuto, but performing your own research may drop the cost even further.

There are essentially two approaches to each of these accessory drives. The first is an entire system listed as one part number. These kits are simpler to order but usually more expensive. The second avenue is more the traditional hot rodder's way of doing things. You buy a set of brackets that allows you to blend a combination of LS and LT truck parts to create a system that fits your needs. Both will do the job, so it comes down to which one fits your style.

Corvette LT1

Chevrolet Performance lists this Corvette accessory drive in its instruction sheet. It comes with all the parts and fasteners to bolt it on but without a power steering pump. While this might seem like a glass-half-empty proposition, it's also the perfect opportunity to convert to EPAS.

It's beyond the scope of this story to dive too deeply into EPAS, but Unisteer, for example, offers an EPAS package that can be adapted to an existing steering column (this will require fabrication work), or Unisteer also offers a complete Tri-Five EPAS column that will bolt right in. This allows the more technologically savvy to integrate the latest in automotive technology into a hot rod.

There are other companies like American Powertrain that can offer systems as potential EPAS upgrades for older cars. It's a great opportunity to show off at the local car show by just turning the ignition key to on and easily turning the steering wheel with the engine not running. That should impress your friends.

Corvette Parts List

Holley Performance

Several years ago, Holley came up with a really nice universal aftermarket accessory drive system. The kit was designed to accommodate all three different LS balancer depths with mounts that used spacers for the deeper Camaro and truck balancer depths. They've now adapted that same mounting system to an LT engine by using a 1997-2004 Gen III Corvette (LS3) water pump and spacers. Like the Dirty Dingo and LS Brackets kits, Holley employs the deeper truck harmonic balancer and spacers for a Corvette water pump. This is accomplished with the Gen V PN 21-5 bracket kit, but that's just the foundation.

To make it simple, Holley completes the system with an alternator, power steering, and a Sanden A/C pump under PN 20-137. Another option that might save you some money is you can buy just the necessary Holley brackets and supply your own alternator, power steering pump, A/C pump, pulleys, tensioner, and belt. Holley offers all these part numbers in the instructions.

Holley's brackets are cast from permanent molds so they look much like factory pieces, and in some ways cleaner so this is a slick way to create what would appear to be a factory accessory drive that includes power steering. With all the different options available (all the way down to just an alternator), it's far too complex to go into every variation. So you will have to do some homework to figure out the system you want, but Holley has done all the engineering for you.

Holley Parts List

Dirty Dingo

Dirty Dingo was one of the first companies to jump into the Gen V engine conversion area with engine mounts and they also offer a nicely executed accessory drive that includes a power steering pump. The kits are offered in several variations, either with or without A/C, placing the compressor high on the passenger side. Dingo also offers the choice of either the Type I or Type II power steering pumps. Like some of the other kits, the conversion starts with a Gen V truck balancer that is significantly deeper than either the Corvette or Camaro balancers. This creates the room to mount the alternator and power steering pump inboard slightly.

The main Dingo kits supply just the brackets and the extensions for the water pump. For a simple alternator and power steering system you will need the truck balancer, Corvette LS3 water pump, power steering pump and pulley, idler, and a belt. The kit will supply the fasteners. You will also need a pump reservoir and attendant pieces. Plus, you will need to relocate the VVT sensors on the front of the cover in order to clear the water pump. We did not include power steering hoses since those will be application specific. Our parts list contains the major parts you will need and we've included a couple of options, so don't just order all the parts on our list. Do your research as likely your application will be different.

Dirty Dingo Parts List

*includes $20 core charge, remanufactured pump

ICT Billet

This kit converts an LT1 to alternator and power steering. The basic kit comes with the brackets, two idler pulleys, and the necessary fasteners. There are several parts you must supply. If the LT1 is from a Camaro or Corvette, this kit, like many of the others, requires changing to the deeper truck L83 or L86 balancer. Unlike the others, it uses the truck L83/L86 water pump so no modifications to the VVT connections are required. This kit will also clear either the LT1- or L83-style intake manifolds and allow the use of the stock truck A/C compressor because it is driven off a separate belt but still mounted low on the passenger side. The alternator itemized in this parts list is for a Gen III Camaro or truck, which is the small case alternator rated at 104 amps. Larger case alternators are available but will require a longer belt.

ICT Billet Parts List

LS Brackets

This company has been around for a few years, first creating a budget-based Gen III/IV bracket solution. Recently, owner Darrin Gartrell has created a simple bracket assembly that mixes and matches several generations of LS accessory drive parts. The simplest version kit offers an alternator and power steering pump drive assembly mounted with a large aluminum plate and matched to an earlier L99/LS3 water pump, tensioner, and even a Gen III alternator from a truck or LS1 Camaro application. Like the other adapted kits, this system requires the use of the deeper Gen V truck balancer. The advantage to these kits is using early, less expensive LS parts.

If air conditioning is to be part of the plan, you can add the A/C mount that will integrate with the existing package. We have not listed all of the components necessary to complete this package since the optional belts get numerous, but these are the main components and LS Brackets supplies all the necessary fasteners with the brackets. The system was brand new when Gartrell let us in on this so the engine used is an L83 5.3L with the vacuum pump still attached to show that it will work with his modified package but it is not required and can easily be removed.

LS Brackets Parts List

Eddie Motorsports

In terms of simple systems this might be one of the easiest and best conversions yet. Eddie Motorsports has created this simple Type II hydraulic pump conversion that bolts directly to the Corvette-style accessory drive system but does require the addition of an ATI aftermarket balancer. The reason for the ATI balancer is to offer mounting bolts for the added pulley that drives the power steering pump. This obviously will add roughly 4 inches to the depth of the system, but even with the ATI balancer, the price is still significantly under $900.

They also offer an A/C delete kit if that fits your fancy, as well as a conversion to a Sanden-style A/C compressor that works in conjunction with the stock factory FEAD, so Eddie Motorsports offers plenty of options. The price shown will vary depending upon the style and finish you choose.

Eddie Motorsports Parts List

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