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Thread: Lower intake swap / Vortec head & cam install on stock bottom end

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    Serious about performance Tooky's Avatar
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    Jan 2001
    Milwaukee, WI, USA

    Lower intake swap / Vortec head & cam install on stock bottom end

    The time has finally come, for all 6 years I've owned this truck, I've been running the stock 179*/190* camshaft and the pathetic stock 165cfm heads... After reaching 27 PSI with 0 knock I felt like the limit was (nearly) reached for power production on this combo unless I added nitrous. I wanted to do nitrous with the stock heads and cam and try to go for Phil Long's times but those stock heads/cam suck so bad, I just can't wait any longer, I figure 6 years is enough time already. With 24-25 PSI on 93 octane with alcohol injection and full accessories, I got it to run consistent 11.80-12.0s @ 112mph for the last 4 years, with a best of 11.79 @ 114 MPH (back when I had the stock torque converter).

    The plan was to swap lower intakes with a powdercoated spare I purchased, and send my original off to be machined for Vortecs, and then do the install later. RPM said they only need 3-4 days to do the machining so I changed plans and decided to move the schedule up and do this all in 1 shot!

    I'll be installing ~2004 brand new unported, stock valved, OEM #113 Vortec heads with stock "shaft mount" 1.5 roller rocker arms, and a custom camshaft of significant duration. I wanted to have the heads ported but head porting seems like a terrible return on the money invested, not to mention a total crap shoot depending on who does the work. I plan to port the injector bungs of the lower intake manifold myself, and some porting to the stock exhaust manifolds. I've never pulled heads off a vehicle before or installed a cam so this will be a chance to really put my wrenching to the test.

    I'm hoping to get this combo solidly in the 10s by the time I'm done with it. If I can get even a 10.99 on 93 octane with pump gas with this setup, I'll be happy as a pig in shit, considering stock bottom end with 100% stock accessories and practically stock appearance under hood on this minimum budget build. I'm trying to do this upgrade complete for $1000 total, to (hopefully) go from 11.80's into the 10s. With the PTE51 turbo kit, SMC alcohol, Ultimate chip, tuning software/devices, CBR LS1 brakes, etc. I totalled it up about a year ago and it came in right around $3000 total in mods other than the purchase price of the truck, $6000 if you include the max effort 700R4/custom Yank converter.

    I don't know who has the "fastest stock bottom end" SyTy but whoever it is, I'm going to be gunning for them!

    Monday July 23rd I started disassembly. Here's the "before disassembly photo". If everything goes correctly, it should look identical when it's finished.

    Intercooler removed. That's a lot of wires/hoses to deal with!

    It only gets worse. TB/Upper intake removed. Took me 6.5 hours from 9 PM Monday night to 4:30 AM in the morning, plus 1 hour of screwing off. I know there are people who claim they can pull an intake in no time at all, but I don't believe it.... You have to drain the coolant from radiator and IC, first find suitable containers.... jack up the truck, find a drain mechanism for the radiator so it doesnt run down the frame rails and all over the garage, etc. etc. etc. Maybe if you had a shop, or had a race truck with no accessories. Although I certainly don't claim to be the fastest wrench out there I placed all the removed parts on a table in order and tagged with notes/photos to reassemble in the same manner it came apart.

    Tuesday spent 1 hour working on lower intake, did not get pulled. (problems with vacuum cleaner, didn't want all the caked-on crud to fall into lifter valley).

    Wednesday spent 3 hours, got the lower intake off, stripped of parts, photographed, packaged, sent off to RPM for $250 lower intake machining for Vortecs. I am going for a gloss gray appearance, what I feel it should have been stock.

    My first look inside this motor! It doesn't have the lifter "spider" I thought it would. I think this plastic 'rail' type is because the motor was replaced in 1994 (under warranty). Take a look at the heads. I was secretly hoping for L35s Even though I already knew the casting # was just the lowly LB4.. The coolant ports appear practically packed full of shit, even though I change/flush the coolant almost yearly, and I have ran "prestone SuperFlush radiator cleaner" through it once before.

    Here's a look at all the excess metal I intend to remove near the injector bung. What a bottleneck! Wish I would have tried this with the stock motor.

    Here's my original intake fresh off the motor, next to my spare stock lower intake that's been powdercoated gray. I want my Vortec-converted intake to look the same way! GM sure did a shitty job overspraying these intakes with black paint! I think the black looks just awful, like it's packed full of grease & dirt.

    Here's the brand new Vortecs I'll be installing:

    Everyone says it cost $50-$100 (tops) to drill the vortecs for the SyTy manifold. Local shop wants $150 and 2 weeks! Then I called everyone I knew and stumbled across an unbelievable stroke of luck. A friend of mine offered to do it for free at his work next week on his lunch break. Evidently he works at a machine shop and I didn't even realize it.

    I'll be having the valve spring seats/guides cut down to fit standard springs, and drilling holes for the factory SyTy dipstick and ignition wire looms. The goal is 100% bolt on, stock functioning.

    Here's the rest of the details on the build. I'll be tuning the Stock ECM with the Moates Ostrich. Of course I'll continue to use the KILLER stock intercooler for the forseeable future. (Plus, without that intercooler it would never look stock.) The PT51 turbo will stay on as well, until I can truly "max it out".
    Last edited by Tooky; 07-27-2007 at 04:25 AM.
    Josh Straub, Syclone #0044.
    My tuning/tech how-to DIY site: - Learn how to make your truck Fast for Cheap!

    Vortec heads/218* cam 11/10/07: 11.45 @ 117.7 17-20 PSI [timeslip] Vortec Install Thread, 100+ Photos

    * DIY Vortec heads/cam upgrade Budget & Parts List ($1,504)
    * 11.45 @ 117 COMPLETE Budget & Parts List (Every part on my truck! = $8,600)

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