Thinking of 'expanding' my engine build

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
As I view the effects of 17yrs & 235K of combustion events on the inner block walls (and I haven't even taken the pan off, yet!), I'm starting to think that I might put myself in a good spot to at least clean (hot tank) the block, and maybe more.

Reviewing my inbound parts orders, I've got enough invested that I'd certainly be p!ssed if I damaged the motor b/c of insufficiently cleaning the bottom end.

(Note -- I knew what I was in for, cost-wise, before I got this far. No surprises, there, as I'd been planning this for awhile. The 'surprise' was seeing the interior of the engine, and realizing maybe I was being short-sighted.)

So... while my plan was originally to leave the bottom end alone... I'm now planning on dropping the oil pan & cleaning it and the pickup tube, etc. (myself). But now I'm thinking... maybe I should just bite the bullet (time / effort), pull the block, and have it hot tanked.

Unfortunately, I've not dealt w/ a machine shop on a block (assuming I can find one open right now), so I'm kind of in the dark as to what I can / should get.

My 'perfect world'... They take the assembled short block (which has no known issues), hot tank it (which means new cam bearings get installed by default), clean everything up and validate everything looks / measures good, then reassemble, re-hone, etc. (whatever 'etc' is) The engine runs strong now, and shows little actual 'wear' (so far)

Guessing that besides the cam bearings, I should re-ring the pistons & crank bearings? But if not, I'm ok w/ reusing the crank bearings. Not thinking I should disassemble the pistons & then re-use the rings. This is where my knowledge of engine building hits the wall. I know rods should not be reused - does it count when they're going back in the same block / rotating assy? Same for pistons?

If the above isn't feasible, then I'm thinking if I'm on the hook for pistons & rods, I might as well go for the whole enchilada and get a stroker crank to go along with the other goodies. But I would do this if no other real option, as I know it's gonna get reaaally spendy, reaaally fast. Like $3500 - $4000 spendy, with parts / labor / machining.

So... my options as I see it are...

- Clean the block myself, w/o disassembling the bottom end. "It'll be fine"
- Hot tank & reassemble (minimum job on their end; I can put it back together, as well)
- The above, plus new rings, crank bearings, etc. (not confident of my own ability to fit rings to pistons, tbh)
- Screw it -- in for the penny, in for the pound, and spend the $4 grand (I really don't want to do this)

What's a feasible option, if I'm willing to spend, say, up to $1000 all-in (including the hoist and engine stand I'm gonna need on my end) ?

I know some here have done engines, and value their opinions. Maybe I'll get lucky and @Paul Bell will stop by and take a look at this thread, too -- I know he's got a lot of experience, here.
 
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MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
Some Food for Thought about Re-Building GM LS Motors as "Short Block Assemblies":

(1) Get the External Specs and Markings off of your Engine Block ...and call around to some Local Machine Shops and see if they already have the SAME Six Liter LS Motor "Short Block" already Re-Built and Moth-Balled over the corner somewhere. You might be surprised at what is already available to purchase (with a Guarantee) and side-step the agonies of doing everything yourself; short of the actual re-machining required.

(2) The Re-Useable Parts WILL require Cleaning, Inspection, Mike Measurement and Magna-Fluxing for any Cracks in the Cylinder Walls or Lower End Webbing. These include:

(A) The Engine Block: There is no point in going to all of this expense and aggravation on an Ancient Cast Iron Block that has Cracks in the mains or decking that is so far out of whack that it will never do the New Parts justice. Only a Machine Shop Hot-Tanking in Boiling Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide) will get everything back down to the Bare Metal Sand Casting and expose any such defects. Invariably, the Camshaft Bearings MUST be replaced if the Engine is getting the "Hot Dunk" as the soft Babbitt Material will dissolve away down to the Bare Steel Shells they adhere to.

REPLACE THE OLD STEEL FREEZE PLUGS WITH BRASS PLUGS ONLY!

(B) The Connecting Rods: Yes... they CAN be re-used... after being likewise Magna-Fluxed and or 'shot-peened' in order to relieve their metal surfaces of stress points. The normal procedure for additional work involves replacing the very close tolerance Brass or Bronze Small End Wrist Pin Bushings as well. Con-Rods are best replaced as Sets and eBay might be a Good Place to Start. Likewise ...On Line Machine Shops will appreciate the business and may have what you need for less than you might think.

(C) The Crankshaft: I would not consider re-building an engine without using a decent Micrometer Inspection Set of Tools to measure and evaluate all the journals. Neither would I allow the use of any Crankshaft that has been machined over 0.010" due to the big bounce in HP you will achieve from the other performance components getting installed.

(3) Engine-Tech and DNJ sell COMPLETE Engine Re-Build Kits for reasonable prices on eBay ...but you WILL need to know what the Final Specs on the Engine Block are... Post Machining in order to get the right sized Piston and Ring Combinations:


FWIW... This kind of information can often become discouraging... but IMHO... You should be able to Re-Build or Buy what you need for a WHOLE LOT less than $3,000.00 if you call around FIRST and offer your Old Engine Block in Trade to a Machine Shop as part of the deal. If you're patient... You just might find your present Motor's Re-Built Doppelganger resting out there ...just waiting for you come and get it.

There NEVER has been a more ubiquitous motor than the GM LS Engine Series... and you will NOT be the first person who has thought about following this idea to its conclusion. But knowing you from what you've posted over the years is proof enough of your sincerity and determination. Just remember... there are many more ways to Skin this Cat that won't make things either more expensive or complicated.

Check out this series of (3) Videos of 'How to Assemble a GM LS Motor' to get the Look and Feel of what is in store for you if you take a "Hands On" approach yourself with everything and 'work clean' on an Engine Stand from a Novice Engine Builder's perspective who follows that SAME Book you mentioned in your "Build Thread":



 
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OP
OP
Reprise

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
Thanks so much for the detailed info, @MRRSM ... I do appreciate it (along with the kind words.)

I've placed a lot of parts orders online in the last 24hrs (the last one being only a few minutes ago!), so I'm gonna look at this in depth later on; my eyes are a bit tired right now. But just wanted to say 'thanks', for now.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Saw the pics of the cam pull and also thought it looked a little sludged up. Before deciding anything, pull the pan and have a look. It might not be that bad. Pull the caps and see what the bearings look like.

If all is good and it just has the sludge, maybe it'll fine. As long as the pickup tube is good and you put in a new pump, I think it'll be OK. After the break-in of the new cam, run a flush and change the oil, replacing one quart with ATF and keep an eye on it as it gets black. Do a flush at each oil change, which might need to be done more often as the sludge is cleaned out. I'd be using ATF with the oil at each oil change, at least until the oil doesn't get as black as quick.

Reminds me of the time when my '79 Malibu wagon with the 5.0L flattened a cam lobe and when I went in to replace it, it was coated with 1/4 inch of sludge everywhere. There was even an orange sized ball of sludge rolling around in the lifter valley. Replaced the cam, scraped and cleaned as much of the crud as possible and it ran fine for a couple of years until I sold it.
 

Mounce

Well-Known Member
FWIW many people have reused everything on performance builds (Google sloppy mechanics and you'll find the budget build master) but I can 100% understand you not wanting to chance it.

I also noted the major build up of gunk in the block. Not the worst possible but it was impressive lol.

Also, if you end up looking into a rotating assembly or rods/pistons summit has a new line of 'pro ls' parts which are supposed to be more affordable than average, could be worth a study when your eyes recover. Stock, stroker, flat and dished pistons, H beam rods for all the powa, they've got a good selection. I took a quick browse and didn't see much of anything for over $2500. Unknown what a shop would charge to professionally install it but that sure beats your up to $4k estimate if that was parts only. I think that's a recently new line they developed so there might not be much out about them.
 
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MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
Thought this information would be interesting and useful for your Engine Build Project:

INSTALLING AND SHIMMING A MELLING PERFORMANCE OIL PUMP ON AN LS ENGINE:


and then...

HOW TO PRIME A MELLING PERFORMANCE OIL PUMP ON AN LS ENGINE:

 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
On the theme of "Expanding the Engine Building Horizons"... With the idea of trying to maintain Good Oil Pressure… Improved Racing has created an inexpensive “$24.00 Insurance Clip-Pickup Tube Brace” to install on the outside of the Oil Pick Up Tube to LS Gerotor Oil Pump as excellent insurance against dissimilar flange pressure trying to hold the Beefy “O” Ring in place. Not a Bad Idea if you have concerns about suddenly losing Oil Pressure on a steep grade with a heavy tow behind the Truck by air cavitation at the Worst Possible Time.

http://www.improvedracing.com/oil-pumps-mechanical/ls-engine-oil-pump-pickup-tube-brace-clamp-p-642.html

IMPROVEDRACINGCLIPINSTALLED.jpgIMPROVEDRACINGCLIP.jpgIMPROVEDRACINGCLIP1.jpgIMPROVEDRACINGCLIP2.jpg
...and this is a Hands On Installation Video with the VOP describing WHY it makes sense to install one:

 
OP
OP
Reprise

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
So I spent the last few days figuring out what building out the bottom end would add, from cost, effort, and risk (sans local machining work, b/c the 1-2 shops I'd deal with / trust, aren't open right now). I did look at the Summit 'LS Pro' rod & piston sets; the LQ4's crank is cast, but regarded to be strong, and if I could keep it, I'd be OK with that.

After looking at the detailed Pro LS descriptions that Summit's rep provided on another forum (I can link to it, for anyone interested), I've reached the conclusion that those would be very good parts, from a price / performance perspective... USA forged, with lots of little 'value-added' things added; varying configurations (e.g.; dish / domed / flat top; .0005 and .0030 overbores (and more), and a couple of different rod configurations, too). All priced very competitively - I think a full set of rods & pistons were priced at about $1150 and change; might've even included file-to-fit ring set). For USA forged parts -- that is not bad at all. They don't make a 'LS semi-pro' line (cast parts). I also looked at GM Gen 4 rods / pistons, since that's a popular way to go (the rods are powder coated, and the pistons have a skirt coating to guard against scuffing). The TBSS engines have the Gen 4 bottom end, of course.

From a 'minimum machining' perspective... after some research, it appears that at 230K, I'd be looking at a more or less 'mandatory' cylinder bore... maybe as little as 5 thousandths, if I'm lucky (described as 'basically a rehone'). The crosshatching being visible does *not* mean that the bores have no wear (and there's a ridge up top of each cylinder, which also indicates 'bore needed').

I'll come back with some pics & thoughts on my own motor in a minute. A little tease on that... things might not be as 'bad' as we (I) thought - ?

First, some housekeeping...

@Mounce -- thanks for the heads up on the Summit parts. I 'knew of them', but know a bit more about them now, and would be happy to have them in a motor.

@Mooseman -- Appreciate your input, as always. I did pull the pan, pickup & windage; will write more about that in a minute.

@MRRSM -- As it turns out, I had actually viewed the videos of the guy building the LS, a few months ago. Wasn't wasted time to go over them again, from my standpoint. Thanks. And I see you linked a couple more vids re: Melling pumps. Will watch those soon (and I hope I *don't* have to shim the pump!). And as I write this, you post even more for me to look at -- the pickup tube bolts. Yes, I knew of the brace. I may go with something like that (although I've purchased parts from Improved Racing before and not been thrilled with them... I'll save the details). Thanks again!

Now for some pics & info on what I found on my existing motor...

The pan was pretty good, except for the bottom of the sump.
The pickup tube had crud on it, but the screen itself was good - no clogging (which makes sense, given how I've been saying this thing has good pressure, considering its mileage.)

Here's the 'top' side of the windage tray (facing the rotating assy) -- not bad at all, IMO (the opposite side did have a good amount of crud(e) on it -- I won't lie):

WindageTop_1.jpg

And here are a couple of shots of the rotating assy -- which are better than I expected (note the block's side walls, as well):
RotatingAssy1.jpg

RotatingAssy2.jpg

Closer-up of the area around cylinder 5 (I don't see any scuffing, in the area I can see, but I don't pretend to know what I'm looking at, either):
Piston_5.jpg

And cylinder 8:
Piston_8.jpg

So, after looking at things here on the bottom end, and seeing nothing more than varnish (which, I guess is to be expected, given how fast this thing rotates!), I'm now thinking... "clean it up, button it up, and roll with it." The only thing that bugs me is the top underside of the block, around those cam bearings -- I will do the best job I can around them, but if it looks like the topside of the valley (which I haven't shown), I expect a lot of gunk.

BTW, the earlier shot which showed the back cover, behind the cam bearings... the front cover looks almost exactly like that -- so I already knew what I was seeing, there.
I *could* pull the trans back, pull the back cover off & clean (or replace) it. Aligning it properly to both the crank seal and the pan do cause me some concern, I'll admit. And it's not leaking, at least for now.
The front cover *will* be clean & fresh (you saw the one I painted, I'm sure).

Not gonna lie -- I'm seeing pros / cons to both approaches. $, time, effort, chance of something going wrong, etc., etc. Until I pulled the windage tray & saw the rotating assy, I was leaning toward pulling the motor & full rebuild. But now... ? I'm pretty much right back to the 'original' plan of leaving the bottom end alone.

If nothing else, I now have an opportunity to replace the motor mounts (brace one side of the bottom of the block at a time, with the pan off -- any issues with that?)

I haven't yet pulled any of the rod caps, btw. Those are TTY, so I'd rather not start messing with them, given that I believe things will look 'ok' on the cap bearings.
 
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MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
If you decide to change your mind...

For $2,999.99 ...this Short Block Motor has everything necessary, custom built and ready to go and very reasonably priced:


SHORTBLOCKLSMOTOR.jpg

3062 - LS3 375 Short Block (Cast Iron)
  • GM 6.0L LY6 GEN 3/4 Cast Iron Block (4.030/4.065/4.070 Bore Specify)
  • GM ZO6 New Crank 3.622 stroke 24 or 50 tooth crank reluctor
  • 6.100 Scat I-Beam Connecting Rods

  • ARP 8740 Rod Bolts

  • Speed Pro Pistons

  • Hastings Ring Pack

  • Clevite Rod & Main Bearings

  • Dura-Bond Cam Bearings

  • Digitally Balanced Assembly

  • Fully Assembled

  • Accepts LS1, LS2, LS3, L92 Cylinder Heads

  • $350.00 Core Charge Included
Allow 15-20 working days for assembly based on order.
 

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