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Thread: 5.3 swap into '94 Full Size Blazer - aka Big Ugly - build thread

  1. #1

    5.3 swap into '94 Full Size Blazer - aka Big Ugly - build thread

    This is my first post, so hopefully itís the beginning of a thread that ends in success with all kinds of cool sh** along the way and lots of pictures and info. Either that, or at the end itíll be a sweet youtube video of me lighting the truck on fire.

    This is Big Ugly. Kind of an odd name, considering itís not really that big, and there are lots of uglier trucks out there, but when a name sticks you just go with it. For the record, my wife hates itÖ but once a name is there, you canít get rid of it. Sorry wife, I donít make the rules.



    I washed Big Ugly onceÖ didnít feel right. Probably wonít make that mistake again.



    Anyway, back to why where here. Big Ugly is a í94 full size Blazer, she has the worst designed 4Ē lift ever, and a 350 TBI motor that, as all of you know, can barely get out of its own way. 35ís and 3.42ís donít help. Combine all that with towing a 5,500lb Malibu Wakesetter and trailer, toss in a steep boat ramp and you probably know what happened next. YupÖ same thing that happens to everyone else sooner or later, the 4L60e popped. Beefy little trans, that 4L60, isnít it? Kinda like itís built with toothpicks and duct tape and someone at Chevy said ďthis is a great design, letís keep this for a decade and a half, shall we?Ē

    Anyway, I digress. I was in the middle of researching LQ4 swaps, because that has been the plan for a while when something finally puked, when a friend of mine called me this past weekend with some news that made me OK with making some concessions on the build. He just bought a running í05 Z71 Suburban that had been hit on the side. He wanted the full interior, but for a small chunk of change he told me to come snag everything I needed in order to make the swap work. Radiator, electric fans, all accessories (ac compressor, condenser, alternator, ps pump, hoses and lines, starter) engine, transmission, accel. pedal, TAC module and harness, engine harness, ECU/ECM etc. Ė Whatever I need is fair game. Having spent the last 6 months reading about these swaps until my eyes bled, I jumped at the chance and said ďIíll be there Saturday.Ē - So, thatís 4 days from now.
    That brings me to why Iím here. Hopefully this will be a place for me to share my successes and document my frustrations with their ultimate resolution (God willing). I imagine Iíll be venting as well, but I doubt thatís anything new. Iíve read most all of your build threads for OBS Chevyís, and Iíve just about memorized the ďlisatahoeĒ document that S&P did and Iíve talked to several friends that have swapped LS motors into all manners of cars.

    Hereís my ďto grabĒ list from the donor Suburban this weekend. From my research, this should be a 5.3, L59 with a 4L60e trans, drive by wire. If you happen to see something Iíve left off the list, then by all means feel free to speak up. The truck is two states away, so Iím not making two trips.
    Engine
    Transmission
    Intake with maf, etc.
    Radiator
    Coolant hoses/lines
    Trans cooler and lines if there is one, although Iíll upgrade it to a much larger one
    Electric fan(s)
    AC condenser
    AC lines
    AC compressor
    Alternator and wires
    Starter
    PS pump, with lines
    Engine wire harness
    ECU
    Accelerator pedal and assemble
    TAC control module, and wire harness to TB
    All vacuum hoses, fuel rails, misc wires attached to sensors etc.
    Any fuse box / relay box with relays under the hood.

    The ďTo BuyĒ list. Here are items that are swap specific, based on my reading Iíll need to purchase. Again, if you happen see something blatant that in your experience I might not have on my list, feel free to speak up.

    Wire Harness Ė Iím paying someone to make it as plug and play as possible. Iím mechanically inclined, Iím electrical harness retarded. Itís just one of those things. (The exact vendor is up in the air, I spoke with Current Performance, but their lead time is 6-8 weeks from date of order, and have emails out with Speartech, Tech Rods, and PSI. Iíve read good things about all of their harnesses Ė however I havenít read every swap thread on the planet, so if you have seen something negative in the more recent past point me in the direction of that thread so I can read and make my own decision. Iím also going to call S&P tomorrow and speak with them, as they didnít have an email address I could shoot my list to. I read that I should probably call Speartech as well, since he responds better to phone than email, but Iíll give him a day or two.) This is the big part for me, since itís the part Iím least proficient at troubleshooting if something were to go funky.
    Fuel pump, probably the AC DELCO EP-381, or maybe Iíll do a Walbro since Iíve had lots of luck with those in previous builds.
    Motor mount brackets, probably Dirty Dingo or similar
    ĎVette fuel filter / regulator
    AC bracket to move the compressor Ė this I have to research a little bit more, Iím reading that you have to run an aftermarket compressor, the Sanden I think is recommended most, because of something to do with how the compressors cycle on and off differently.


    Misc stuff that all swaps need:
    Coolant, oil, trans fluid, brake fluid
    Electrical tape and enough zip ties to build a bridge across the Hudson river
    Fuel line, hose clamps, a small blood sacrifice to the car gods before I start
    Blahblahblah


    OK, so thatís it. Just the beginning of a regular build thread I suppose. Iíll take pics of yanking the motor this weekend and post them. Probably nothing excitingÖ I imagine there will be bourbon involved so hopefully I donít forget something on my list. I plan to grab a whole helluva lot more than I need, and then can firesale the rest to someone that can use whatever parts I donít.

    OhÖ and the screen name is just an old inside joke from several forums ago. I donít actually sell meth, kick babies and have neck tattoos or anything. Again, sometimes a name just sticks. (not that thereís anything wrong with selling meth, kicking babies, or having neck tattoos Ė itís your boat, whatever floats it)
    I like things with spark plugs...
    ... oh, and boobs - I like those too.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Fort Hood, TX (for now)
    Posts
    134
    Welcome to the world of swaps and plenty of cursing!! I'm still in the tail end of my swap but have yet to fire because I keep getting pulled away for "work" issues. I'm in for the progress on your build!

  3. #3
    ha, Thanks. Glad to know I'm not the only one heading down this path at the moment.

    I came here to update the thread.... I went to go order parts the other day and had my friend send me the VIN so I could double check a few things. He was off on the year. In fact, he was WAY off on the year. That's what I get for not seeing it first before planning everything, but I'm glad I checked.

    It's an LM7 from an 01. So, throttle by cable, not wire. No electric fans. And I had him send me a picture of the fuel rail, it's return style (with the regulator on the rail, not externally.) So, a little bit of bad news, and a little bit of good news. Now I just have to replan a few things. Guess I'll wait till Monday to order what I need. :/
    I'll also be heading to a salvage yard to snag electric fans and make sure that I have the harness company still wire in the plugs for them.

    Have only done reading on the DBW swaps, so I have to figure out if the donor truck cable will swap over with it, and if how cruise hooks up. At this point I suppose it's just going to be "shove it in the engine bay and just see what it's going to take."

    Also sad to see that no one has found a way (at least that I can find) to use the donor truck / LS AC compressor etc. What bracket did you end up using for yours? I'm really considering the bracket and compressor package from Current Performance. Just order it all together, and be done with it.

    PSI is winning the battle of the harness, but Speartech is a close second. John is super knowledgeable and I like the fact that he tests them fully before shipping, but PSI was really friendly, knowledgeable as well, and the real winner was their turnaround time is about two weeks faster. (John seemed like he was worth the extra money that you would spend with him though, for what it's worth.)

    After I get back home on Sunday I'll take stock in what I have sitting here, what I'll need, and then drop some change on Monday with the parts folks.

    Waiting on an email back from Black Bear Performance about a tune, and a response from Texas Speed about the Comp 265 cam... want to make sure that I land a cam that has a killer idle, but doesn't kill ALL the power below 2500rpm (I'm ok with a little less tq, just not 35-45 ft lbs kind of less)

    From what I can tell, this is the best way to tell if you have a "return style" - it has the regulator built in on the fuel rail setup on the drivers side.
    Last edited by ibelonginprison; 03-13-2015 at 02:16 PM.
    I like things with spark plugs...
    ... oh, and boobs - I like those too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Quakertown, Pa.
    Posts
    368
    Hi and welcome to the site. Sounds like your swap will be similar to mine. Make sure you grab the exhaust system too. You can never have too many pieces of the puzzle to get the engine up and running.
    '93 Chevy 1500 4X4 ECLB with a '99 Silverado LQ4 6.0 and '99 Escalade 4L60E. SOLD IT!!

    New toy: 2001 2500 HD 4X4 Extended Cab Long Bed


    John

  5. #5
    Thanks for the welcome, guys.
    OK, made it home last night and back at my adult job today. 6 hour drive Friday night to North Carolina, spent 8 hours yanking the motor, trans and the rest of the stuff I (might) need, Saturday afternoon-evening, put it in the truck on Sunday morning, filled the bed with everything else and drove 6 hours back to Birmingham.

    I'm pretty exhausted. I have some photos that I'll upload later this morning and a few lessons I learned.
    First thing I learned, Evan Williams 10 year single barrel is actually pretty tasty. Has a good sweet nose to it, and I enjoyed it almost as much as my Basil Hayden's. Which surprised me.
    I like things with spark plugs...
    ... oh, and boobs - I like those too.

  6. #6
    So the donor truck had passenger side damage where it brushed a wall, and had some light damage to the front. Broken grill and headlight, and the bumper was dented. But no core support damage, and none of the lines up front were touched. Honestly, I should have bought the whole truck, brought it back with me minus the rear interior that my friend wanted for his 2500 ‘Burb, and then turned this thing into an SAS’d weekend trail bitch. But, I didn’t think of that till after I was halfway through yanking all the stuff out.

    Pulled the covers and hoses before I remembered to snap a few pics. I was a little braindead after driving till 2am. So here’s pretty much where I started….








    Mice had just begun to find a few wires, my friend jumped a few wires together to make sure that everything still fired up. I wasn’t terribly concerned because it was just in two spots, and I’m replacing the entire harness anyway. I did, however, check the rest of the wiring and pull all of it to take with me just in case. Looks like I’ll have to find a harness for the coil packs on the drivers side.







    Continued to pull things out. Got the radiator, AC condenser etc. out of the way. I brought them home with me.













    Decided to take the accel pedal and throttle cable. Hadn’t ever taken a gas pedal out before, so figured why not. It has a little c clip/retainer clip on each side that keeps it in the bracket. I used needle nose pliers to push the clips off, then slid the pedal to the left, then tilt and remove. The cable is easier, just snap the cover off and slide it back up the cable, push the head of the cable back, then slide the cable up and out. I took pictures of it a little more closely once I had it out, since it was hard to get shots under the dash. As for the cable itself where it goes through the firewall, just pinch the two tabs inward (or use a screwdriver and do one side at a time since it’s hard to get anything that far up behind the dash) and push it through. This was probably the easiest part of the day, ha.















    Thankfully my cruise control question was answered when I looked at it. There’s a stand alone module with its own throttle cable. I just unbolted it from the firewall, unclicpped the harness, and laid it over the top of the motor to take with me. It should be a pretty straight forward process to bolt the module up on the firewall of the Big Ugly, make sure the cable doesn’t bind on anything, then just make sure I have the option for cruise built into the harness.




    Since I didn’t make a blood sacrifice till much later, so I poured a double of basil, neat, and dumped a little out as a sacrifice to the swap gods. Seemed like that appeased them enough to make the afternoon go really well.




    Rolled the truck inside when it started getting dark. Opted to cut the front core support since the truck is going to scrap after we’re done anyway. Certainly made life easier.
    Went ahead and removed the fan while we were at it, for three reasons:
    1. it was out of the way
    2. probably easier to do it when it’s in the truck than on the ground
    3. I’m planning on going electric fans, as of right now, so made sense to just get it out of the way.

    Thankfully this was pretty straight forward. Put a large pipe wrench on the nut/shaft between the fan and the motor, use a pry bar with a piece of rubber (for extra friction) to hold pressure on the pulley, then smack the wrench with a deadblow hammer. Two quick knocks and it was loose, and the fan came off.



    I like things with spark plugs...
    ... oh, and boobs - I like those too.

  7. #7
    Towards the end of the evening we had a bottle of the Evan Williams single barrel from ’05. It was tasty, but I forgot to share a few drops with the swap gods, which evidently they noticed… the transmission knocked over the catch pan filled with transmission fluid as it was coming out, and as you can see in the last photo, made the floor look like we killed a hooker. Nothing that 4 bags of oil dry couldn’t handle.
    -__-










    I’d like to make it seem like it was “that easy” but there were a lot of little things we had to do once we thought we were ready to get it all out. We trimmed the fuel lines by the bellhousing, I’ll be running fresh ones so ‘eff em. The exhaust manifolds, downpipes etc. were a bit of trouble due to rusted bolts, but that’s normal I guess. A plasma cutter made short work of the stuck parts. I won’t be reusing that stuff anyway.
    Had to disconnect the shift cable by the frame rail, not sure yet how it will mate up with my existing shift cable or if I’ll use it at all, but we’ll see. The motor mounts were a little bit of a pain in the @ss to get to, but with some extensions and an impact we came at it from the rear. We ended up just removing everything from the frame for clearance reasons. Decided to drop the front diff assembly, took 5 minutes and helped add another few inches of clearance for the oil pan. It would be easy to put back in place if you wanted to jack it up and put the bolts back, but we let it hang since it would come out in the next few days. Note: it disrupts the steering to the right if it’s chillin’ and gets in the way of the pitman arm. Haha

    Hindsight being 20/20, I’d have loosened the transfer case, then dropped the transmission separately and pulled the transfer case off, then pulled the motor out the front by itself. That would have been “easier.” But this worked out alright.
    Only casualty was a broken coil pack and a scrape or two on a knuckle. Other than that, it was just about what you would expect. All in all I’d say we had 8 hours in pulling it, maybe 9 hours if you include bourbon breaks and dinner.

    The drive home Sunday felt pretty nice with a bed full of truck parts. Tonight I’ll pull the motor out of the back of the truck, take pics of the injector clips to make sure I tell them the right ones and get my wire harness ordered tomorrow. This week I’ll strip the existing harness off the motor, label everything appropriately so that it’s easy to plug and go when it’s time to drop the motor back in. Still haven’t decided if I’m going to do a camshaft or not, but that decision will be made by the weekend most likely.

    This week I’m going to get video of the truck running with the TBI motor so I can sell it on Craigslist with proof of it running, then start the process to pull the motor out of Big Ugly in another couple weekends.

    Last edited by ibelonginprison; 03-16-2015 at 02:18 PM.
    I like things with spark plugs...
    ... oh, and boobs - I like those too.

  8. #8
    So that was an easy way to drop a smooth grand... have all these parts ordered and coming either this weekend or next week:

    PSI harness, wired for cruise control and AC control. $570
    http://secure.ultracart.com/catalog/.../KIT-1010.html

    Dirty Dingo adjustable motor mounts: $120
    http://dirtydingo.com/store/product_...oducts_id=1367

    AC Delco Fuel Pump: $38 shipped
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Fuel pump strainer: $9 shipped
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    LS intake port... S&P mentioned it, figured it was better to buy it and not need it, than need it and not have it. It was only $6.
    http://www.summitracing.com/parts/nal-12559760

    5/16 fuel line fitting for the fuel return $15:
    http://www.summitracing.com/parts/rus-644113

    3/8 fuel line fitting for the fuel rail $15:
    http://www.summitracing.com/parts/rus-644123

    -6an host ends/fittings (x4) $20:
    (4 items @$5 per) http://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-220690

    5/16 fuel line / tube fitting for return fuel line $10:
    http://www.summitracing.com/parts/ea...6erl/overview/

    20' -6an stainless braided hose $75:
    http://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-230620

    And since I'm towing a 5,000+lb boat in the summer months every now and then, the biggest mother effing stacked plate transmission cooler I thought I could go overboard with behind the grille. roughly 9x23 inches. $130
    http://www.amazon.com/Tru-Cool-LPD47...=AIRZZ7YDFO57W
    I like things with spark plugs...
    ... oh, and boobs - I like those too.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Fort Hood, TX (for now)
    Posts
    134
    So far, you're blowing my build thread out of the water!!Good job with all the details!! Keep it up, we're all watching your progress and waiting for details. Now I'm off to rethink my thread lol

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Quakertown, Pa.
    Posts
    368
    Great pics. You're off to a good start.
    '93 Chevy 1500 4X4 ECLB with a '99 Silverado LQ4 6.0 and '99 Escalade 4L60E. SOLD IT!!

    New toy: 2001 2500 HD 4X4 Extended Cab Long Bed


    John

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