Porting and Polishing the Throttle Body

throttle body before porting and polishing

Throttle Body Before porting and polishing

Porting and Polishing the Throttle Body was a bit of a mystery for me.  I was able to find bits and pieces of the process on YouTube, but no video (I found) showed the entire process from start to finish.  As with all my other videos, I don’t intend for this to be a “how to” video, just more of a “this is how I did it” video.  I hope that between the video and any comments I might get on YouTube, it might help someone else out.

I broke down the porting and polishing process into several phases.  First degreasing, second porting, then sanding, then polishing.

With degreasing, I started with brake cleaner, but found it hard and frustrating to get into all the nooks and crannies of the throttle body.  After removing the sensors, I sprayed the whole thing with Easy Off oven cleaner and let it sit in the hot sun for about 20 minutes. Then I broke out the old fashion wire brushes and went to work on scrubbing.  The result was a dull, non-reflective piece of aluminum, but fairly clean.

Next, I moved on and continued to clean it up with some brass brushes that I affixed to my drill press (and moved the throttle body around the drill press).  I started out with a dime sized brush and then went with smaller brushes for the hard to reach places.

porting and polishing throttle body

Throttle Body After porting and polishing

Next came porting.  I started with the 2 big bits you see in the video, and then moved on to much smaller bits based on what I was trying to port.  The kit came from eBay and was fairly cheap.  The 2 big bits were from Lowe’s and were a couple bucks a piece.

I grinded and grinded away, trying to get rid of the big bump that caused the air to miss almost a centimeter of the throttle plate.  My goal was to make that bump flush so the air would utilize the entire plate from edge to edge.  There are also two ports on my throttle body for the 2 sensors.  I also attempted to file those down and make them smoother.  I went overboard and put two holes through the wall of the throttle body.

At this point, I decided the throttle body was junk, but continued on with the project solely for the purposes of learning.  Also, because my engine is STILL at the machine shop and I was bored.  You have to be either extremely bored, or just plain crazy to port and polish.  It takes many, many hours.

Next came sanding.  I got a kit from Jegs with 60, 80, and 120 grit sandpaper.  I guess these are called barrel sanders, but I’m not 100% sure.  If you have read any other article on this blog, you know I am a complete noob, and I make no secret about it, and most of the time, I don’t know what stuff is called.  Anyway, I used the kit (again using the drill press) and went through the sanding process from 60 to 80 to 120 grit.

Next phase was harder.  I used old fashion wet/dry sandpaper and took the throttle body through 400, 600, 800, 1200.  This is where I got kinda sloppy and stopped worrying about the small cracks and crevices.  In the back of my mind, I didn’t even know if the throttle body would be savable with the 2 holes I put in it.  More on that later.

Polishing – I got the cotton polishing bits you see in the video (again on eBay) and proceeded to polish starting with the black bar, moving on to the brown bar, then the white bar.  After that, I polished with a coat of Mother’s Aluminum polish and was done.  NOT!

I took the throttle body to a friend who knows how to weld, and he said that trying to weld aluminum would just make the holes bigger.  He was not the one who recommended the Alumiweld (that I ultimately used), I found Alumiweld on my own on YouTube.  He recommended just getting a new throttle body.

When I found the Alumiweld solution online, I had to give it a try, so I ordered some for Harbor Freight.  You see the final glob of aluminum I placed on the back side of the throttle body in the video.

Then it was back to sanding.  40/60/80/120, then a break, then 200/400/800/1200.  Then back to polishing.  Black bar, brown bar, white bar.  Then the final result is in the video.

I’m putting the video on YouTube in hopes to get some constructive criticism on the process I used and for thoughts on if the damn thing is even usable.  I’m not sure how much heat the throttle body is subjected to in the engine bay, and if those “welds” will even hold.  If you are reading this, feel free to comment here on the blog, or over on YouTube.  Thanks for reading.  Here’s the video!

Cleaning Parts GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec LS Engine – vid # 23

With the engine off to the machine shop, I decided to clean some parts.  After watching hours of YouTube videos, I started with brake cleaner, and then moved on to Easy Off oven cleaner.  It is a great de-greaser.

Rear main seal cover GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine before cleaning

Rear main seal cover GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine before cleaning

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine valve cover comparison before and after cleaning

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine valve cover comparison before and after cleaning

So far, I have done the valve covers, timing cover, rear cover, valley cover, oil pickup tube, harmonic balancer, and AC compressor bracket.  The oil pan and windage tray went to the machine shop to get done by a pro.

In a future video, I may try my hand at polishing some parts.  I’m not sure why – no one will ever be able to see any of the parts on this engine as it is covered by a huge fan shroud,  and every hose and electronic connector imaginable, but I do want to learn.  I guess it depends on how long the motor stays at the shop and how eager I am to work on stuff.  I also have plans to clean, port, and polish the throttle body.  We’ll soon see where this ends up.

Rear main seal cover and valve cover GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine during cleanin

Rear main seal cover and valve cover GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine during cleaning

Front timing cover, rear cover, valley cover cleaned (but not polished) GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Front timing cover, rear cover, valley cover cleaned (but not polished) GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

 

 

 

 

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment.   Thanks!

 

 

 
 

Remove Pistons, Rods, Crank (short block) GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec LS Engine vid # 22

pistons-connecting-rods-remove GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec LS Engine

Pistons & connecting rods from a GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

I didn’t intend on having to remove the pistons, connecting rods, mains, and crankshaft, but then again, I didn’t think it through, either.  In order to get the engine in the bed of my truck, it couldn’t sit in there crank side down.  I also couldn’t lift it up (from the stand) in the bed of the truck either.  It had to go back on the hoist, and I had to remove the short block to get it to the machine shop as safely as possible.

Crankshaft from a GM Chevy Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS Engine still in the block

Crankshaft from a GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine still in the block

I totally did the connecting rods incorrectly.  If anyone actually reads this, don’t do what I did in the video.  Remove one connecting rod at a time and re-bolt it to its cap.  I later learned that the factory breaks these two parts, so each rod is an exact match to its cap.  The way I numbered mine, I was able to reverse engineer which one was which, but I lost about 20 minutes in the process.

Chevy Tahoe GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine down to the bare block

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine down to the bare block

The mains were mostly not a big deal.  Except #3 – it had a death grip and would not come out.  I ended up giving up on it (I was not sure how hard you could whack it with a rubber mallet), and returning to it the next day.  My hands, wrists, and arms were ready for battle again and with enough pushing, pulling, and tugging, it finally came out.  The crankshaft came right out and I immediately wrapped it in bubble wrap.

Chevy Tahoe GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine going to the machine shop

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine going to the machine shop

I had done it!  I was down to a bare block.     My biggest automotive achievement prior to this was some oil changes, a couple of tune-ups (on old school distributer engines – not this coil by cylinder stuff), and slapping on a few bolt on mods.  This was a real achievement for me.  However, not even close to how I hope I will feel when I get it back together and [hoping and praying] that when I turn the key, all will be well.  That day has yet to come.  As I write this, the engine is still at the machine shop.

 

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment.   Thanks! 

Arrival at A & K Rebuilders in Lake Wylie, SC

Arrival at A & K Rebuilders in Lake Wylie, SC

 

 

 

  

Removal of the rest of the wires GM Chevrolet Tahoe Vortec LS engine vid 16

Ground Strap, bottom of block, drivers side - GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Ground Strap, bottom of block, drivers side – GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

No matter how hard I tried, I missed some wire connections.  The first was from the negative battery cable to a ground under the block on the driver’s side.  Also grounded to the same place was a branch from the bunch of wires (from an earlier video) that went along the bottom of the timing cover and the front of the oil pan. These wires are actually the ones that go to the starter.  They are affixed to the block on the passenger side and needed to be separated.

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine wires everywhere

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine wires everywhere!

Yet another type of connection on the Tahoe GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Yet another type of connection on the Tahoe GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Then, there’s the branch that breaks off at the top of the firewall near the AC accumulator.  It dips down the firewall and disappears along the frame.  It eventually goes to the passenger side O2 sensors.  It’s a long sucker with several fix points, but I wanted it out of the way for engine removal.

None of it is hard to do, it’s just that it seems like GM used a wide variety of connections and retainers.  I had to go slow and make sure I didn’t lose my temper and just pull the connections apart.

Every connection seemed like it was different on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Every connection seemed like it was different on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

 

 

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment.   Thanks

 

 

 

Transmission Bellhousing Bolts Removal GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec LS Engine vid 15

Some bell housing bolts are easier to get to on my Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS

Some bell housing bolts are easier to get to on my Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS

The 15 mm head on this bolt made turning nearly impossible. I replaced all the bolts with 12mm by ARP. Much easier to put on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS on the Tahoe

The 15 mm head on this bolt made turning nearly impossible. I replaced all the bolts with 12mm by ARP. Much easier to put on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS on the Tahoe

One of the top bellhousing bolts hiding behind a bracket on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

One of the top bellhousing bolts hiding behind a bracket on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Transmission bellhousing bolts, how hard can 8 bolts be?  Well, the two on the bottom were pretty straight forward and easy.  The next two side bolts (on the driver’s side), not too much harder.  On to the passenger side.  There is a !@#$%n bolt ….. it hides behind the Y pipe and some hard transmission cooler lines AND is wedged in between two metal “ribs” on the transmission itself.  Getting a ratcheting wrench in there would have been great, but it did not work for me because it was too fat to fit between the ribs.

I heard (on the forums) of guys using a 3 foot extension from behind, and over the tranny to get to it.  I tried this and failed miserably.  Maybe because I don’t have a 3 footer and was using 3 [one] footers interconnected.  Also might have been due to the 4 wd transfer case.  I can see where this might be much easier on a 2wd without a transfer case.  Anyway, I ended up using a universal on a deep socket curved at a precarious angle.

Bell housing bolt pass side - Note the angle of the wrench. This is how I got it off my Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS

Bellhousing bolt pass side – Note the angle of the wrench. This is how I got it off my Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS

It fell off about 40 times, but 1/8 turn by 1/8 turn, I did finally get it.  For reassembly, I will get either the 3 footer, or, someone said a “wobble” socket extension was very helpful.

On to the ones on top.  After much deliberation, I had to lower the transmission cross member down to drop the front of the tranny enough to get good access to the bolts from the engine compartment.  Both of the top ones have 13 mm nuts holding a brackets (that need to come off) prior to taking the actual 15 mm suckers off.  If I had been aware of this ahead of time, I would have saved myself some tears.  Yes, I think I actually cried some at this point – it was late and I just wanted the damn engine to be separated from the transmission.

Top bell housing bolt has a 13 mm nut holding a bracket, and then a 15 mm nut to the engine block for the 5.3 Vortec in my Chevy Tahoe

Top bell housing bolt has a 13 mm nut holding a bracket, and then a 15 mm nut to the engine block for the 5.3 Vortec in my Chevy Tahoe

 

 

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment.   Thanks!

 

 

 

 

AC Compressor Removal GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec LS Engine vid 12

There are 5 bolts holding the AC Compressor on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine, 3 on top and 2 on the bottom

There are 5 bolts holding the AC Compressor on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine, 3 on top and 2 on the bottom

Here are the 5 bolts to the AC Accumulator on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine.

Here are the 5 bolts to the AC Accumulator on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine.

One of several electrical connections to the AC Accumulator on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

One of several electrical connections to the AC Accumulator on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

AC compressor removal was straight forward for me once I figured out where all the fastening bolts were.  I watched video after video and they glossed right over where the bottom bolts were.  I figured this was just one of those things that was so obvious, I should have known it going in.  But I didn’t know it, so I took care to make it obvious to anyone in my video.

The trick with the AC compressor (as with the power steering pump) is to keep the system closed, unbolt it from the block and just set it aside.  Not too much more to it than that.

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment.   Thanks!

 
 

Remove Timing Cover & Chain, Camshaft GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec Engine LS vid 10

In order to remove the timing cover, timing chain, and camshaft, you have to remove just about everything in every video that precedes this one including:  Airbox; radiator hoses and radiator; fan shrouds, fan, water pump; Harmonic Balancer Pulley Bolt and Harmonic Balancer Pulley.  If you are doing a cam swap, you are most likely  going to do new valve springs too, so that means a bunch more…  Spark Plug coil packs, intake manifold, valve covers, rockers, push rods, exhaust manifolds,

Getting ready to take timing cover off on my GM Chevy Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Getting ready to take timing cover off on my GM Chevy Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Timing cover off on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Timing cover off on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Camshaft is within sight on my GM Chevy Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Camshaft is within sight on my GM Chevy Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Starting to pull camshaft on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Starting to pull camshaft on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Camshaft is out on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Camshaft is out on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

For the timing cover, I didn’t know that in addition to the bolts on the front that you can see, there are two more coming up from the bottom.  A few easy bolts gets the cam sprocket off, and a few more for the cam cover.  I made sure my cam sprocket was at the 6:00 position and # 1 cylinder was at top dead center, too.  I’m not sure if this was necessary, but I did it anyway.  The cam gets a few water pump bolts up front and it’s just a matter of coming out slow, while turning the cam as it comes out.  If it gets stuck, turn the lobes and back it in some, then try again.

Biggest surprise for me?   With the water pump bolts on, I could not get the cam out.  The bolts ran into the AC Compressor before the back end of the cam would come out.  I removed the water pump bolts and held the prize in my hand.

 

 

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment.   Thanks!

 

 

Remove Lifters & Heads GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec Engine LS vid 9

Head getting ready to come off - GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Head getting ready to come off – GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Head off on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Head off on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine Lifter Trays

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine Lifter Trays

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine lifters are out

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine lifters are out

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine cylinder head is out

GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine cylinder head is out

Much needed beer after head removal on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Much needed beer after head removal on my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

In order to do the eventual cam swap, I have to remove the lifters.  In order to get to the lifters, I have to remove the heads.  In order to remove the heads, I had to remove the exhaust manifold.  I watched plenty of videos on YouTube where guys were able to do the cam swap without removing the heads, but I’m pretty sure that with these heads, they had to come off.

So there’s a lot to it. I also took care to remove the head bolts in the reverse order of the install order, and that was at ¼ turn at a time, so it took a while.  Completely necessary? I have no idea.  But the Haynes book said to do it that way, so I did.

Problems I ran into:  Driver’s side head bolt closest to the firewall would not come completely out.  It rubbed on (close to) the firewall and made removal difficult.  Also, I was not sure what was still bolted to the driver’s side head (from the alternator/power steering pump bracket) as it would not budge after removing all the head bolts.  Passenger side was pretty straightforward.

Removing the lifters is pretty straight forward.  I used one of those “magnets on a stick” tools and they all came out without too much of a fight.

 

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment.   Thanks!

 

Remove Intake Manifold Throttle Body & Fuel Retainer – Video 6

Unhook all the fuel injector harnesses with a pick

Unhook all the fuel injector harnesses with a pick

The intake manifold removal process was a big gnarly, scary mess (but I did it, so anyone can)!  So many connections, so many bolts, and other stuff.  I bagged and tagged everything, and recorded a lot of video, too.  The folks at www.1aauto.com have some great videos, theirs are worth watching.  But, like the half hour gear head shows on TV, they gloss right over some stuff that, to a newbie, is very daunting.

Throttle control can be tricky on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Throttle control can be tricky

My 02 Tahoe throttle and cruise control are “old school” meaning, mechanically connected.  I understand that newer technology allows for “drive by wire” which, I guess, is wireless throttle?  Anyway, I had to disconnect mine, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how because 1 A Auto skimmed right passed it.  A lot of times, pros gloss right over stuff because they assume that the step is so easy that any moron could do it.  Sometimes, us noobs, (or is it just me?) need that extra little help.

Throttle body on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine is just 3 bolts

Throttle body on the GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine is just 3 bolts

The throttle body is cake, but those connections for the fuel injector sensors is crazy confusing to a noob.  I spent a little extra time on these in my video (and the throttle cable stuff) for that reason.

The fuel lines can be a nightmare if you don’t know (here we go again) about the retainer clips that you have to undo PRIOR to just the regular task of disconnecting them.  You need a special tool to disconnect the fuel lines, but not knowing about the retainers can make this an agonizing process.  I go over that part in the video, too.

Use fuel line disconnects to easily separate the fuel lines

Use fuel line disconnects to easily separate the fuel lines

Other than that, it is just the sheer quantity of stuff that disconnects from the intake that make this a hard step.  I recommend bagging and tagging everything well, and taking video (my opinion that photos just are not enough) for this step.

GM chevy vortec LS engine Intake Manifold Removed

Intake Manifold Removed

 

So, check out the video, and be sure to check out my other videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like and comment. Thanks!

 

 

 

Remove Water Pump, Harmonic Balancer Pulley Bolt – GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec Engine LS Video 3

With the radiator, fan shroud, and fan out of the way, (see video 2) the water pump removal is actually quite easy.

remove old water pump

remove old water pump

I removed the tensioner pulley, then the thermostat housing and 6 bolts later, the water pump was off.  Special thanks to a guy who goes by OldskoolFunk on YouTube for cautioning us that the water pump bolts are a little different, and use of a template is very helpful.

I wish I could say the harmonic balancer pulley bolt was just as easy, but it is not.  It’s on there, and on there good!  The hardest part is the fact that torqueing the bolt moves the pulley, too.  I tried a strap wrench, but there was no way.  I hit it with penetrating blaster and let it soak overnight.  The next day, it was a combination of heat and an air wrench that got it off.  Here’s the video. NOTE: This is video 3 in a 20 + part video series.