Installing the GM 350 Ram Jet

The start of the Maximum Overdrive Corvette Project Car begins with the Ram Jet engine swap

Chris Petris Jan 21, 2005 0 Comment(s)
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We replaced the original Ram Jet oil pan with an '86-'90 L98 Corvetteoil pan for proper ground clearance. The L98 pan is available from GMPerformance Parts under PN 10055765. A new oil-pump pickup is requiredfor the L98 oil pan. The Ram Jet oil pump uses a high-flow 3/4-inch tubepickup assembly, PN 12550106. The early Corvette oil pans aren'tavailable, so the L98 pan is a nice touch.

Since we had decided on the '67 big-block hood for cold air and the lookof the Stinger, it was installed for a trial fit. After installing thehood and engine, the big-block hood had enough clearance for thethrottle body without any modifications. The hood also allowed plenty ofclearance for fresh-air ducting. We decided to use the big-block hoodwith cowl intake air provision.

Next it was time to accessorize. There were a few options for theserpentine-belt drive system. We liked the Vintage Air A/C system fromprevious installations, and it seemed natural to use the Vintage AirFrontrunner accessory drive system and A/C system for a total

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With a coat of Chevy Orange, the Ram Jet looked more like itspredecessor. The ram's horn manifolds bolted right up so the factoryside exhaust could be used. We installed the plug-wire shields toprevent damage. We used all the original plug-wire brackets andretainers to allow radio shielding installation.

package. The Frontrunner pieces were well finished and thought out. Theyuse an OE-style belt tensioner that tightens the belt with engine-rpmtorque load.

Next was an efficient aluminum radiator and electric fan that couldhandle extended idle periods with the A/C on. Be Cool Radiators had adirect-fit module that included an aluminum radiator, a high-flow2,800-cfm electric cooling fan, a wiring kit with temperature switch, aradiator cap, and an overflow reservoir.

We had to consider the 350 Ram Jet fuel system requirements up frontbecause of the electronic fuel injection. We needed an electric fuelpump with a 5/16-inch fuel-return line and additional wiring. We firstthought about modifying the original fuel-sending unit, but with timeconstraints and the original fuel tank's condition, a custom tank withall the latest technology was considered.

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The engine is in place and ready for connections. Because of the VintageAir Frontrunner design, the engine could be installed with allcomponents in place. Notice the plug wires changed color. In our hasteto assemble, we forgot the Ram Jet engine comes with a set of GMPP underexhaust manifold plug wires. So we installed the GMPP wires and a GMPPcoil to fit in the original coil bracket. This required modifications ofthe wire harness.

We did some research and found Rick's Hot Rod Shop that listed a customfuel tank for the '65 Corvette coupe. Rick and Hector at RHR wereknowledgeable and easy to work with. Hector said they could put togethera stainless steel tank with fuel pump and sending unit in a few weeks.The tank came in on time, and was a work of art. It fit in the originallocation with a few minor modifications, which saved considerable time.

To ensure the new components would be happy and work optimally, weinstalled Lectric Limited wire harnesses from front to rear.Unfortunately, wire harnesses are often overlooked. After 40 years, theinsulation and wire becomes brittle and can cause low voltage to keycomponents, which eventually causes damage. Dash gauges will also beaffected by the high-resistance wiring.

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The Ram Jet looked correct from the bottom side. Notice the oil-filterarea--there are two coolant hoses that connect an L98 oil cooler. Thealuminum tube that runs along the oil-pan rail is connected to theheater hoses. The L98 oil cooler is a simple addition that lowers theoil temperature about 25 degrees.

Next was the dash, and we had a problem with the early mechanicaltachometer. It needed electronic movement to work with the Ram Jetengine. Instrument Services in Monteagle, Tennessee, confirmed theconversion could be done without permanent changes. The originaltachometer mechanism could be restored to mechanical operation ifnecessary. Instrument Services converted the fuel gauge to use a0-90-ohm fuel-sending unit, which was in the new fuel tank.

We decided an interior facelift was necessary. The seats, door panels,and quarter-panels were installed at the Knoxville Expo by Al KnochInterior Components. The carpet, dash, and glovebox door were in faircondition, but looked rough with the new components. The paintedinterior trim pieces were fair with scrapes and scratches; but we hadtime--why not finish the interior?

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We fabricated this cowl induction hood insert. The hood will receivefinishing touches at a local body shop. It's designed to seal to anairbox that surrounds the air filter.

Some pieces required outside restoration. The hood and headlight bucketswould be replaced along with painting the front half of the car, whichadded more aggravation to the equation. But there was no extra time. Toget the car finished by the Hot Rod Power Tour, we had to stay onschedule.

We hauled the '65 back from Knoxville. In retrospect, the projectstopped just short of a major restoration in record time. In futureissues, we'll go into detail about the RHR fuel tank, fuel-systemplumbing, Vintage air A/C, Frontrunner, BeCool radiator module, andinterior harnesses and gauge installation.

Sources

Vintage Air
San Antonio, TX 78266
800-862-6658
www.vintageair.com
Chevrolet Performance Parts
Detroit, MI 48232
800-577-6888
www.gmperformanceparts.com
Al Knoch Interiors
Canutillo, TX
www.alknochinteriors.com
Rick's Hot Rod Shop
El Paso, TX
915/760-4388
rickshotrodshop.com
Lectric Limited
Bedford Park, IL
www.lectriclimited.com
Clock Doc (Instrument Services
Sewanee, TN

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