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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have gone through my 4th engine in 4 years. 496 Big Block, high compression. Each engine has not even lasted a year. When they blow you are out several grand to build a new bottom end. So...it's time to sell all the good stuff from that engine and build my first LS turbo. I do have someone who is helping to guide me with the purchases but I wanted to run them by you guys in this section and see what you think.

Goal: 5.80's in the 1/8 and 15-20mpg on E85.

I can get complete 5.3's out of 2003-2003 suburbans with ECM, wiring harness, starter, and alternator for $600-700. I was going to use EFilive or Hptuners and modify the wiring harness. The plan is to use a single 80mm turbo on the passenger side and just flip the truck manifold upside down. I was going to leave the drivers side manifold the stock position. I have heard that the stock fuel rails will support quite a bit of fuel so I was going to use them. I will either use the stock intake or an LS6 Intake

I currently have a th400 with transbrake and 3.90 gears. i can either keep the th400 and have the convertor tightened and swap the gears to 3.42's OR I have someone who will sell me a BTE 4l60E with overdrive that I can get for $600 and then I could just keep my 3.90 gears. The gears are only a couple of months old. I could easily sell my Th400 for $600 which would be a wash.

I don't plan to do any suspension mods because with my 498 13.1 compression I was running 1.35 60ft times and sometimes tripping the beams with my back tires. So I think the suspension should be fine. Mainly the gearing and the convertor will need to be adjusted.

I have heard plenty about the stock 5.3's being able to hold plenty strong for a 1000hp build. Any opinions are welcome but the plan is no upgrades to the block because if I blow it I just want to swap blocks out. I am up to doing some work on the stock heads if need be. I figured different springs, etc..

This will be a daily driver and plan to drive it all over to different tracks and race. I figured I would race it on E85 and then drive it on 91 with lower boosts if that is possible. E85 is everywhere here locally but may not be when I drive to other parts of Missouri, etc...

Not sure on what cam would be best in numbers to achieve my goal, injector size, etc.. This is going in a 69 Chevelle with a 4" cowl hood. Any ideas and pictures would be great. I want to have this completed and running by March.

Thanks in advance.
 

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There are a few things that have been coming to light as more people do the junkyard builds with the LS engine.

The stock parts hold a ton of power as long as the tuneup is right.
The small bore small stroke stuff is seemingly more durable than the others.
Even though they will live...they degrade faster than good aftermarket parts.

A friend has been beating on 5.3's all season... He steadily had to add more boost to keep it running the same number. The rings were letting go and the motor was leaking down bad. Everything looked right, just wouldnt seal. As it turns out nobody makes a good ring for the stock bore and.piston sizes of the 5.3 yet. Hes used 4 stock shortblocks so far this year.

If your gonna shoot for 1000 hp, I would suggest going with a 6 liter instead. The 4 inch bore has aftermarket rings readily available, plus it will allow the use of a better breathing cylinder head. Rod bolts and now rings seems all you need to reach 4 digit hp reliably and have the engine last longer than a season, which after reading your post, is a big concern for ya.

Truck vs LS6 is a wash. The truck intake makes just as much as the 6. Id be running it until you decided to run an aftermarket like a proflo XT.

Keep the 400 and change gears. Its stronger than the 4l60. Is 3.42 as tall as you can go? Id try something in the 3.2x range if it was possible.
 

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A friend has been beating on 5.3's all season... He steadily had to add more boost to keep it running the same number. The rings were letting go and the motor was leaking down bad. Everything looked right, just wouldnt seal. As it turns out nobody makes a good ring for the stock bore and.piston sizes of the 5.3 yet. Hes used 4 stock shortblocks so far this year.

Call AES. They just built us a 5.3 shortblock.

Diamond pistons, forged rods, and a stock crank setup.
 

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Your fuel economy expectations on e85 is a bit out there.
 

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I would keep the 400 and swap gears.

The 3.06 1st gear along with the 3.90 will probably be too much gear
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the opinions. It's good to know the Th400 will be enough. The only reason for the 5.3s is how cheap they are and readily available. Only 3 miles from my house. I agree the tune will be key. The 15-20mpg was traveling on 91 octane. I was going to race it on E85. Have a street tune and a race tune. My fuel tank already has a drain valve that I can drain fuel pretty quickly or shut the fuel off so I can clean the filter etc.. I was getting 11.2 mpg on my 498 on E85 all the time so I didn't think it was too far with the small block and turbo. What is the normal mpg with the set up.

I was actually going to run the first 5.3 as far as I could in tune and boost until she blows. At that point I would know what my limit was. Then replace. However, I would keep the same tune but at that point upgrade to arp rod bolts and some head work on the second block. The 6.0's in this area are scarce and go for 1200-1400 in price. That was the main reason.

As far as gear goes, I'm not worried about the street driving part of it. I already had no problem with the 3.90's. What would be the best gear for perfomance for the 1/8th and 1/4 do you think? What ratio? I know 3.2's were recommended but that seems awful high. Maybe a 3.31?

I have never really purchased anything off ebay because of trust but several people have mentioned the Ebay turbos are not that bad. What type of single or dual turbo's would I be looking at? I figured setting up a single would be easier and easier to tune.

Finally, so I don't have to ask the same questions that have probably been answered a 1000 times. What forum section would be the best just to gain some knowledge specifically for my 69 chevelle or at least the closest? Thanks again.
 

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The reason for the gear ratio is because turbos love to be under a load. Most guys I know who are running in the 8's with a car like you are building are running between a 3.0 and a 3.25 gear.
 

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Why would you swap fuels to drive it around? How far you going?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
how much does the car weigh you are putting that 5.3 in?
It did weigh 3700lbs with me in it. But I will lose a couple hundred lbs changing out engines and can take another couple hundred off this winter working on sections of the frame. I am also adding a cage and figure that will ad a 100lbs. So I am hoping when this engine goes in that it is 3400lbs with me in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Why would you swap fuels to drive it around? How far you going?
First. That is a sick ass car!

I really dont want to swap fuels. In my local area you can get E85 anywhere. However, I want to race at Memphis, Arkansas, St. Louis, KCIR, Bowling Green, Ky. Some of these drives will be 7hrs each way and E85 will be tough to find on those routes. So I thought I could drive to those places with a safe tune and 91 Octane and then when I got there race on E85 if I had to. Then I could bump the tune up. If it ends up being too complicated I will just stick to E85 because the majority of my driving will be local and E85 is $2.45 a gallon.
 

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Why not just race it a c16 and drive it on 91? Why even bother with e85?

Oh and thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Mainly because I can get E85 everywhere here for $2.45 a gallon. For a 105 Octane, that is pretty cheap. I have also heard that you don't need a meth injection kit or a cooler when using E85. Just seems like it might be a pretty simple set up. If anything I would just stick with E85 for doing everything. No plans to buy high dollar race fuel.
 

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Why not e85 and trailer it when its far away? who wants be far from home and break anyway. its cool to say you drove it out and back but when it breaks it just sucks
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That's a good point. In that sense I am kind of lucky. There is a guy who has a turbo LS1 work truck that runs 11.50's in the 1/4. We were going to pull a trailer with his truck because he wants to race. And as crazy as it sounds put a hitch on my car. If for some reason he ever broke down I would haul him back and if I broke down then he can haul me back. It is all flat terrain and highway where we want to race. No crazy places to pull a trailer. I don't own a trailer or a truck so that was the only option I had.
 
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