While it's no doubt that Chevy trucks are some of America's strongest workhorses, there comes a time when every soldier needs a little extra TLC. When our '90 1500 CK started puffing extra smoke and making undesirable noises from within the engine block, it was time to retire that old 350.
Question was, what to replace it with? While GM Performance Parts offers a plethora of crate engines, you are pretty limited when it comes to emission-control engines. A call to Kevin Kriss at Jim Pace GM Parts Warehouse answered that question in the form of a light-duty pickup replacement engine (5.7L/350 cid). The long-block comes sans induction, ignition, exhaust, or ancillary items such as that, so it's up to the consumer to determine what needs to be replaced and what to simply swap from the old engine.
When deciding what parts to use, we were informed of Edelbrock's Performer Multi-Point EFI system for throttle-body small-block engines. Since GMPP does not manufacture an upgrade for its TBIs, this type of induction seemed to be the best step to take to add that little extra muscle the old workhorse truly deserved. What this setup does is afford the enthusiast a simple and affordable multi-point injection system for use with their vehicle's stock computer. The original throttle body is still retained, though the two injectors are removed and replaced with eight injectors that spray the fuel directly into each port (rather than into the throttle blades, which provides more sporadic and inefficient fuel distribution), resulting in a better air/fuel mixture, better use of fuel, and, most importantly, better performance. Edelbrock claimed a "crisp throttle response with a broad torque curve for power where you drive the most." It sounded good to us, plus the installation seemed pretty straightforward.
Well, before the old mill completely pooped out and left someone in an even worse situation, the engine and the injection system were ordered, then arrangements were made with Chad Vogele from Barry White's Street Rod Repair Company to lend a helping hand with the installation. This is the type of job that can be accomplished in a weekend, but we set aside a week's worth of evenings after our nine-to-fives were finished. Plucking the old engine out, bolting all the components to the new 350, and dropping it in were a breeze. Even the Edelbrock install went smoothly, especially considering the detailed instructions included. (Edelbrock also offers a toll-free Tech Line for any needed assistance.)
Once the R&R was done, the truck was driven around for a few weeks to get everything broken in, then an appointment was made for a chassis dyno test at K&N Engineering in Riverside, California. While GM doesn't offer any horsepower rating on this particular replacement engine, some hard numbers with the new injection would be nice to have. Plus, K&N agreed to bolt on a Filtercharger air cleaner kit as well, boosting the numbers even more.
We did our thing at K&N, then felt a little more could be done to gain that "always appreciated extra boost." Since we were allowing more air in the engine, it seemed only fair to allow more to exit. Our next installment will highlight the inclusion of a full Edelbrock exhaust system along with a CGS high-flow catalytic converter, as well as another trip to the K&N dyno to see exactly what we gained. Stay tuned!