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1979 Chevy Corvette - Part 10: We install the 383/Keisler five-speed combo into Project Shark Attack

For putting power to the pavement we install our 383 with a Keisler five speed

Oct 20, 2005

The dyno results are in, and the new 383 Project Shark Attack engine isready to install. We broke in the camshaft using an 800-cfm Holleycarburetor, but we finished the dyno testing with a Holley throttle-bodyfuel-injection unit. We made the same horsepower with better torquenumbers in most areas with the Holley TBI unit. We'll discuss the tuningand dynamics of the Holley throttle-body injection in an upcoming issue.

First, we had to get the engine compartment ready to accept the engineand transmission drop. The engine compartment had plenty of oil andgrease on the fiberglass firewall and inner fenders, which caused someconcerns. A major problem was how to get the paint to stick to the oilyfiberglass. We decided to paint the firewall and inner fenders the carcolor, which is '93 Corvette Torch Red, after applying a coat of PPGDP90LF primer to the engine compartment. Amazingly, the primer andcolorcoat stuck extremely well to the firewall and inner fenders, withno fisheyes anywhere.

Since we're doing a body-on restoration in record time (to make the 2005Hot Rod Power Tour), an overall comprehensive plan of attack can savemany hours of aggravation. Careful planning saves labor and preventsextra shipping costs. By planning labor operations up front, you canforecast the necessary parts to complete each phase of the project,preferably before general panic sets in. Stick to the plan and make surethe engine is prepared for installation. It's easier to assemble anengine on a stand and check bellhousing runout and concentricity, ratherthan wrestling with it in the engine compartment.

Before installing the engine, we removed the OE quarter-inch steelfuel-return line, then installed the 5/16-inch steel fuel-return linethat's necessary for the TBI fuel-injection unit. Now for some planningnotes: The TBI unit requires an inline fuel filter, so we should installthe A/C evaporator case to see what's necessary for the fuel filter andfuel-line placement. Installing the evaporator case before the enginesimplifies the task and saves time.

Another timesaver was to replace the positive battery cable that'srouted down the transmission tunnel. Our current positive battery cablehad the terminal end cut off, as a quickie repair bolt-on batteryterminal was used. In doing so, we decided to replace both batterycables with M&H Electrical Fabricators' correct look and fit batterycables.

We wanted to get rid of the old mechanical clutch linkage, so we askedKeisler to provide its latest technological upgrade hydraulic-clutchassembly. The assembly used a hydraulic actuated clutch-release bearingmounted to the transmission's input-shaft retainer housing. The kit camecomplete with master cylinder, hydraulic clutch-release bearing, hoses,reservoir, and all attaching hardware. Since this was the firsthydraulic clutch install we've attempted, we thought about the requiredsteps and decided to install the hydraulic master cylinder before theengine was in place.

The last item to replace is the fuel-system vapor canister tucked awayin the driver-side inner fender. The fuel-vapor canister is oftenoverlooked and should be replaced after 10 years. The fuel vaporcanister stores fuel vapors that build up in the fuel tank. In today'sworld, that means better fuel mileage. Ever wonder why you might havesmelled a fuel odor at the driver-side fender? The original hosesdeteriorate over time, with the charcoal in the canister eventuallycrumbling into dust, limiting its ability to store vapors. This causesfuel odors. We make the canister operable on all cars, whetherfuel-injected or carbureted.

Now that the ancillary pieces are in, we can set the engine in place andinstall the engine-mount bolts. A transmission jack is used to put thetransmission in. We're using a Keisler-engineered Tremec five-speedtransmission kit that has all the necessary pieces for installation.With the time constraints we have, the Keisler kit saves many hours ofdesign and fabrication. We wrapped up the installation in approximatelyfive hours, including speedometer-cable installation.

We're trying a new shorty-style header design from Hooker so the oxygensensor gets a good flow of exhaust gases for optimum fuel mileage. We'llbe using the serpentine-belt-driven accessories from a '90 Corvettealong with the new MSD 130-amp universal-fit alternator. Stay tuned forthe engine and transmission final installation with the Holley TBItuning.


Make sure the battery-cable retaining-clamp screws or nuts are tight. Ifthe positive battery cable falls down on the driveshaft, you might get asurprise. A few years ago, we had a car in for repair in which thepositive battery cable was left on the driveshaft. When the insulationwore off, the positive cable shorted out on the driveshaft when the carwas accelerated. The positive battery cable has no fuse inline, sodamage can be severe if it shorts.

We used steel 5/16-inch tubing instead of stainless steel tubing tofacilitate the installation. The steel tubing was pushed over the rearframe kickup with a cap over the end to help it slide along the frame.Steel tubing can be formed with your hands to mimic thefactory-installed 3/8-inch fuel line--try that with stainless tubing! Itwill bend, but it it's much more difficult.

The original line clamps were in good shape so we formed them to fit the5/16-inch and 3/8-inch tubing using scrap. We placed the 5/16-inch and3/8-inch tubing in the clamp. Then we used a lineup punch to keep theclamp in alignment while it was formed correctly. Installing thefuel-line clamps can be difficult, as the photo shows. Look closely atthe 1/2-9/16-inch slight offset box-end wrench. It was ground to fit theclamp bolts, allowing removal of any fuel or brake-line clamp bolt onthe frame.

The last few sets of engine mounts have been difficult to install, dueto excessive rubber left behind from the vulcanizing process. Now we fitthe mount to the frame extension before engine installation. The enginemount on the left has been trimmed of excess rubber, allowing the enginemount to lie flat against the frame-mounting brace. This can save hoursof aggravation when installing the engine.

We cut off the existing fuel-supply line where it kicks up to the top ofthe framerail. Once the headers and wiring are in place, the Pure Powerreusable fuel filter will be mounted securely to the framerail. As youcan see, we have plenty to do. In our next installment, we'll show howthe fuel lines and hoses are configured from the filter to the throttlebody.

The Lakewood blow-proof bellhousing provides clutch containment in caseof catastrophic failure. Lakewood hydro-forms its bellhousings to ensurestable material thickness for safety and rigidity. Lakewood'shydro-formed bellhousing fits the small- or large-diameter flywheel,which can cause ground clearance issues. We removed a portion of thebellhousing at the bottom for more ground clearance. Lakewood doesn'trecommend any modifications, but the ground clearance is a major issue.

We mount the hydraulic clutch master cylinder to the firewall in thesame place the mechanical clutch linkage rod boot was affixed. Theoriginal bolt holes are opened up to 5/16 inch, then the cylinder is putinto place. The installation procedure is much easier with the brakebooster and engine out of the car. While the hydraulic cylinder cancertainly be installed with everything in place, we're trying to savetime. Notice the vapor canister in the background.

We install the engine and transmission. Take your time and do it right.

The engine and transmission are in place. We install the customtransmission-mounting bracket from the Keisler Engineered Tremecfive-speed kit. Since everything is in place, we can concentrate on thesupport pieces. We have about a week to go before Power Tour, so themidnight oil will be burning to wrap up Shark Attack.

The 383/Keisler five-speed combo is now in Project Shark Attack.

Now we're ready to get serious with the rest of the project.


Hooker Headers
Aberdeen, MS 39730
PPG Industries
Pittsburgh, PA
Holley Performance Products Inc.
Bowling Green, KY
M&H Electric Fabricators Inc.
Santa Fe Springs, CA



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