Install Timing & Rear Covers, Harmonic Balancer and bolt – Rebuild Video 2

Special tool for getting the harmonic balancer on safely

Special tool for getting the harmonic balancer on safely

GM Truck Vortec LS Engine back from machine shop

GM Truck Vortec LS Engine back from machine shop

The first thing I did when the block came back home was paint the oil pan to match the rest of the block. I had never taken the old front and rear seals out, so out they came. Next, I put the new front and rear seals back in and then used a special tool to get the harmonic balancer back in properly without damaging the seal or the block.

Next came a little measuring of the crank shaft snout to the hub of the harmonic balancer, and finally the insertion of the new ARP harmonic balancer bolt.

 

Harmonic balancer tool in use

Harmonic balancer tool in use

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

 

Machine Shop Short & Long Block – Rebuild Video 1

So, the rebuild begins!

Vortec LS block freshly cleaned, decked, honed, and painted at machine shop

Vortec LS block freshly cleaned, decked, honed, and painted at machine shop

The engine was at the machine shop for about 10 weeks. He told me he was busy and it would probably be 8, so 10 was no big deal. I have heard of others waiting 6 months to a year to get their block back.

Crankshaft getting balanced at machine shop

Crankshaft getting balanced at machine shop

I was originally planning on just having the machinist clean, deck, and hone the block, and clean and do some work to the heads. The guy (Scott at A&K Rebuilders – Clover, SC (803-831-2718)) was awesome. He kept sending me updates with photos and I was wowed by his workmanship, and attention to detail. I wanted to rebuild the entire engine myself, but having never done it, (and the fact that this is a daily driver) I had him do the short block. All those micro tolerances kind of scared me anyway, and to have him do it with professional tools & knowledge vs. me doing it with plastiguage and cluelessness made perfect sense.

Camshaft and mains GM LS Vortec Truck Motor

Camshaft and mains GM LS Vortec Truck Motor

Then we decided (together) to go ahead bore it and upgrade the pistons, rings, rods, and valves – and after some thought, I had him just finish the long block. Now that it’s done, I wouldn’t change my mind given a second chance. Not on this motor – the one that gets me to work every day. I’ll have other chances in the future to do it myself.

Freshly cleaned and ported heads w new valves

Freshly cleaned and ported heads w new valves

So, in this video, I show the images he sent me from the shop; I detailed the parts that went into the block, and I wanted to throw a shout out to all the YouTube car guys that helped me get through not only the build, but the tear down as well.

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

 

 

GM Vortec LS Mahle Pistons Scat Rods, Comp cam, lifters, rods, rocker arms, springs

GM Vortec LS Mahle Pistons Scat Rods, Comp cam, lifters, rods, 1.72 rocker arms, springs

 

 

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 Alternator, Valve Covers, Rocker Arms, Push Rods GM Chevy Tahoe Vortec Engine LS vid 8

Valve covers prior to removal on my GM Chevy Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Valve covers prior to removal on my GM Chevy Tahoe 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

I’m happy to say that the removal of the alternator, valve covers, rocker arms, and push rods was very easy!  Everything went exactly as you would expect them to go.  My only exception was the dramatic difference in coloring of the rocker arms and valve springs from the passenger side to the driver’s side.  Passenger side was gold in color and (to me) looked healthy.

Valve cover removed showing rocker arms and springs GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Valve cover removed showing rocker arms and springs

The driver’s side looked brown, burnt, and very unhealthy.  I posted a question on one of the Tahoe discussion boards, and never heard back from anyone.  So either, it was a stupid question, or no one knew the answer.  I still don’t know.

Pushrods and rocker arms from my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

Pushrods and rocker arms from my GM 5.3 Vortec LS Engine

You will notice the careless way I threw all the push rods in the box.  I already purchased a cam, new springs (and hardware), new rocker arms, and new push rods, so I was not too concerned about where everything ended up.  I did keep the rockers in order, just in case something came up that I needed to identify what was what.  If you are planning a cam swap without replacing the push rods and rockers, take care in knowing exactly where everything came from.

By the way, you can’t pull the valve covers until you have removed the spark plug coil packs (check out Video 5).

 

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