LS3 Engine Engineers - Inside Information

In a VETTE exclusive, we introduce you to the engineers in charge of the Corvette's LS3 engine components. Part 1: Cylinder block, rotating assembly, and oiling system

Christopher R. Phillip Apr 1, 2011 0 Comment(s)
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Oil Pump
Name: Tom Bishop
Title: Design Responsible Engineer, Engine Lubrication and Ventilation
Years with GM: 14

Vemp 1105 08 LS3 Engine 2/9

Other experience: Lube and vent systems development engineer and engine calibrator for Gen IV small-block truck applications, including the 4.8L, 5.3L, 6.0L, and 6.2L

What LS3 part(s) are you responsible for? The complete LS3 lubrication system. This includes the oil pump, oil pan, oil pickup tube, crankshaft oil deflector, oil filter, and oil

What LS7 and LS9 parts are you responsible for? Same

What other Corvette parts have you been involved with in the past? Oil pump, oil pan, oil-pickup tube, crankshaft oil deflector, valley covers, rocker covers, PCV systems (hoses and restrictors), PCV air/oil separators, front covers, oil filter, oil-fill cap, oil-fill tubes for LS2, LS3, LS7, and LS9 engines

Why do you think your LS3 part is the most important part on the engine? The most important part of any engine is the lubrication system. If it doesn't work properly, you're walking home. The oil pump is at the heart of the system and must be optimized to efficiently and effectively feed oil to the engine under all operating conditions, ranging from oil temps of -40 degrees (C) to more than 150 degrees. Corvettes are "track ready" right off the assembly line, and the lube system's performance has the ultimate say on if an engine is ready to race. The LS3 oil pump works in concert with the oil-pickup tube, the crankshaft oil deflector, and the oil-pan design (on which I hold a patent) to deliver oil to the engine at the right pressures and flows. A less-than-optimal oil pump and lube system would result in an engine that would not support the design requirements or meet customer expectations.

What is a focus area you watch when designing the LS3 part, especially knowing it is for a Corvette engine? The porting on the inside of the oil pump received a lot of attention when the LS3 pump was designed. The inlet and discharge-port geometry determine how well the pump delivers oil to the engine. Special focus was placed on port development at high engine speeds to ensure that pump performance meets the high engine-operating requirements associated with the Corvette platform. Port timing, width and depth, and port entry/exit geometry were extensively studied, analyzed, and tested to be sure that the pump's performance was optimized for all operating conditions.

What are the current trends with your LS3 part? Where is it going? Mass reductions are constantly being evaluated and implemented where feasible. Clearances between internal pump components are studied to see where internal drags and frictions can be reduced without sacrificing pump performance. More and more engine devices are hydraulically controlled, and this puts constant pressure on the oil pump to meet the ever-increasing system demands for flow and pressure.

Compare your part to aftermarket parts of the same item. What makes yours better? The LS3 oil pump is better than any aftermarket oil pump out there and backed up with extensive design work and validation testing. Before a pump leaves the GM design floor, computerized analytical tools, like Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), are used to ensure that all features are optimized for performance. Pumps are then built and extensively tested on component bench tests, as well as on firing engine-dyno tests. Finally, the pumps are installed on engines destined for test vehicles and tested on racetracks around the country—like Grattan, Virginia International Raceway, and Road America—to verify that they are track ready from the factory. Some aftermarket pumps are simply reverse-engineered versions of the GM design with cosmetic changes. Some aftermarket pump manufacturers remove or change key features without any technical understanding of the impact.

Do you own a Corvette, a classic car, or have a related hobby? My favorite work activity is riding shotgun in a Corvette on a racetrack during a development-test session, while monitoring lube-system performance. It's like riding a rollercoaster in a rocket ship. My favorite ride is my father-in-law's '79 Light Blue Corvette on an empty country road.


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