Before the builder can torque down any bolt he must first scan the appropriate bar code for that set of bolts. This sets the torque wrench to the proper setting and prevents errors since the system won’t allow the builder to scan the next fastener until the first ones have been scanned and torqued.
As we said, every torque operation is recorded by the computer and tied to that particular engine. If there was ever a failure, this serial number could be input and a complete history of this engine would pop up. In case you’re curious, this is the 12th retail-production LS9 ever made.
At three different spots along the build line there’s this symbol. If any step was missed, or if a bolt was torqued out of spec, the icon would be a sad red face. The computer checks, combined with the old school paint marks by the builders, ensures nothing is ever missed on an engine built at Wixom.
With the supercharger installed, the engine is sealed and pressure tested. Air is forced into the oil and water passages and the computer makes sure there are no leaks. If the pressure isn’t held, the builder has to figure out where the leak is occurring, and fix it before the engine can move further down the line.
Once the LS9 passes the pressure test, the builder installs the flywheel and dual-disc clutch on the engine. A weight is taken—in this case, a svelte 530 pounds—then the LS9 is tested. It’s run first by natural gas so it can be externally balanced. After that, it’s hooked up to a DC motor and put through a 45-minute cold test.
When the engines are done, they are double-checked and sent offsite for 20-minute hot-test and dyno validation. It takes from 4.5 to 5 hours to build an LS9 at Wixom. This means they can churn out around 45 units a week. Will we ever see an LS7 or LS9 under the hood of a new Camaro? We’ll keep our fingers crossed. If not, there’s always the option of buying a crate engine and doing it ourselves.