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Alright so I’m finally thinking of ls swapping my 72 and I found a 5.3 including a tsp cam, tsp chromoly pushrods, valve springs and lifters with arp bolts for 1400. Engine has 100000 so I would of course be doing a refresh on all gaskets and seals and oil pump. He says cam was used for about 1000 miles. What do you LS guys think is it a good deal
 

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Hello Augie,

I did an LS swap into my 70 EC with a stock, unmolested motor and have been happy - paid $800 for the motor and $500 for its still attached 4L60E transmission. Even though I'm happy, an LS swap is a complicated undertaking and is more expensive than simply repairing your current engine.

Quite seriously, I read two books on LS swaps before buying my engine and these highlighted all of the little details:

New engine mounts, radiator changes, electric fans, different driveshaft, driveline angle problems, moved or different transmission cross member, powertrain control module reprogramming and placement in the vehicle, headers likely required, electrical system wiring changes, air cleaner is different, oxygen sensors required, different engine wiring harness, air conditioning system changes, different transmission shift linkage, different gas pedal arrangement, different oil pan because 5.3 liter pans hang too low for an El Camino.

I'm still working through air conditioning (haven't even started solving) and I'm probably forgetting something. It has been about two and a half years on this journey and you can read about it in my build thread.

Why that particular engine? Seems to be a race engine for somebody. The 5.3 liter LS engine family is cheap and abundant in the junk yards of America. Mine had 150,000 miles on it with good oil pressure (35-45 PSI-ish) hot, cold and idle and good 165-175 PSI for compression. It was pulled from a wrecked but running vehicle and threw no codes at that time. The transmission had problems after installation and had to be rebuilt.

Do you know any of these details about the engine you describe above? Why was it rebuilt at such a low mileage for an LS engine - typically good at over twice that mileage? Why is he getting rid of it now? I'd rather stick with an engine that was built by the factory and never touched internally by somebody else.

I really don't want to sound alarmist or worrisome here but an LS swap is a big deal that won't happen quickly or cheaply once everything is factored in. But now that it is done, I love the dependable starting and power.

Questions?

Rick
 

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I was going to do the LS swap before buying my 69 el Camino but fell in love with the 1978 low compression 454/Th400/2.73 that was in my 69 el Camino... It runs great on 87 octane, starts without issue with the low compression. I've driven most all of them and this set up is hands down my favorite for a street only car. Drag racing would be a different story..

I recently found out the motor and trans had only 1000 miles when installed in my car many years ago then it sat for decades. It came from a brand new demolished 1978 Book Mobile truck.
I mistakenly got a 427 air cleaner lid and decided to put it on, you really cant tell the difference... I even like the "all business", painted valve covers..
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hello Augie,

I did an LS swap into my 70 EC with a stock, unmolested motor and have been happy - paid $800 for the motor and $500 for its still attached 4L60E transmission. Even though I'm happy, an LS swap is a complicated undertaking and is more expensive than simply repairing your current engine.

Quite seriously, I read two books on LS swaps before buying my engine and these highlighted all of the little details:

New engine mounts, radiator changes, electric fans, different driveshaft, driveline angle problems, moved or different transmission cross member, powertrain control module reprogramming and placement in the vehicle, headers likely required, electrical system wiring changes, air cleaner is different, oxygen sensors required, different engine wiring harness, air conditioning system changes, different transmission shift linkage, different gas pedal arrangement, different oil pan because 5.3 liter pans hang too low for an El Camino.

I'm still working through air conditioning (haven't even started solving) and I'm probably forgetting something. It has been about two and a half years on this journey and you can read about it in my build thread.

Why that particular engine? Seems to be a race engine for somebody. The 5.3 liter LS engine family is cheap and abundant in the junk yards of America. Mine had 150,000 miles on it with good oil pressure (35-45 PSI-ish) hot, cold and idle and good 165-175 PSI for compression. It was pulled from a wrecked but running vehicle and threw no codes at that time. The transmission had problems after installation and had to be rebuilt.

Do you know any of these details about the engine you describe above? Why was it rebuilt at such a low mileage for an LS engine - typically good at over twice that mileage? Why is he getting rid of it now? I'd rather stick with an engine that was built by the factory and never touched internally by somebody else.

I really don't want to sound alarmist or worrisome here but an LS swap is a big deal that won't happen quickly or cheaply once everything is factored in. But now that it is done, I love the dependable starting and power.

Questions?

Rick
the motor hasn’t been rebuilt he bought it at a junk yard and bought the cam and everything and it just sat there. Now I understand it might be complicated but I’m going carb set up so that will be simple all I need is msd so I won’t use the factory harness for transmission I’m using my th400 so nothing under there is gonna change when it comes to angles and drive line.
 

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Never know for sure what you got, but 100k miles isn't bad for an ls. got friends with 150 to over 300 k on untouched daily drivers. The 5.3's as we know are much more common & affordable, but with the new parts listed that's pretty good price. If it's ran 1000 miles, it's past the average done wrong failure point . Valve cover gaskets I know are o ring, if not dirty nearby I'd leave alone. Other parts of ls engine require different procedure to line up, such as cam cover, not sure if I'd mess with any of it or oil pump if engine looks reasonably clean. Now if truck pan in place,it will need to be swapped , so you will need to tear into that part.

People get rid of smaller & even bigger LS engines all the time with or without common upgrades, so no reason for that to be an alarm. If I could afford , I may have a chance at an LS7 simply being all new upgraded past factory limitations.

looks like you're going the aftermarket carb use wiring setup which will eliminate many other variables that would hassle someone without a complete take out setup. Not sure if it still uses knock sensors, but if it does, which are under the intake old older engine, change them.

Plenty of info out there all over the place, but things vary widely with many different how to options on out vehicles. No point in me getting into too many of em.
LS engine do behave differently. They prefer long tube headers & big exhaust. Even a 5.3 can be happier with 3", though 2.5 is good. I'm thinking of black widow mufflers for my next exhaust for sound & getting rid of drone. Radiator requirement is also much less with ls engines, a great positive. Modern oil sealing is another positive.

As long as you have decent mechanical skill, patience, & can budget for all the possible extra's, no reason not to proceed. My Ls swap done in 2002' is not one of my regrets in life. All those against an LS swap may have their good points, but that's their opinion. Great for them, but they ain't you. Get it in there & you can always upgrade to you needs, or wants. One of my next mods will be to make it less LS appearing, since I had so long & now most everybody else is raining in on my be different parade.
 

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I bit the bullet and through all the trouble I've gone through would do it again in a heartbeat. It's way more work but the results are so worth it! I so enjoy just reaching in and twisting the key to show off how easy it starts! I see you are in TX too. If you decide to pull the trigger on it feel free to hit me up with any questions you have. Trust me, I've made every dumb-***** mistake on the way and know how to fix it!

Joe
 

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I bit the bullet and through all the trouble I've gone through would do it again in a heartbeat. It's way more work but the results are so worth it! I so enjoy just reaching in and twisting the key to show off how easy it starts! I see you are in TX too. If you decide to pull the trigger on it feel free to hit me up with any questions you have. Trust me, I've made every dumb-***** mistake on the way and know how to fix it!

Joe
I’m trying to decide what route to go with either throw in a 350 or start fresh with a ls. Ls is something I’ve always wanted to do when I got the car but I don’t know what expect with the ls like I said I will be going carb set up for more simplicity but if I do go that route I’ll for sure message you if I have question
 

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I put a LS1 in my 85 and didn't have major issues. I had way more problems getting it by Colorado emissions than with the install. Make sure you have a bucket of money sitting around as it seems like "scope creep" can sure become reality. Beefed mine up a little with cnc'ed heads and a little more cam. It had a rattling lifter so a little more cam was a no brainer.

I appreciate the old school vehicle characteristics inc. carbs, manual chokes etc. but also enjoy the newer engine benefits.
I see a lot of folks removing the old style engine and trannys and going LS. But I don't see many folks removing LS's and reinstalling old style engines and associated equipment.

Like others have said do what makes you happy. There are plenty of valuable opinions either way. No big deal if you do a couple of engine swaps if you change your mind as you progress. Plenty of market for use parts if you need to sell due to a changed mind or opinion. One of my most used phrases is "we do it nice cause we do it twice!"

Best of luck to you no matter the path you choose. I'm sure you will have fun and enjoy.
 
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