Express van LS swap. (actual LS engine,actual express van)

Performance modifications, tips & tricks

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playtoy_18
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: oklahoma

Express van LS swap. (actual LS engine,actual express van)

Post by playtoy_18 »

6 months ago I finally broke down and bought a wheelchair van for the daughter.
Couldn't find an express or savannah cheap enough to mod,or already modded.
Ended up with an Econoline ready to go,needing maintenance. Already put over $2500 in parts rebuilding front end,brakes,wheels and tires.

Stop by a buddies today,and he has a 2001 express explorer conversion.
Real sweet,all the options. Sounds like head gaskets on the vortec went.
Needs a couple things,but after hearing the price was $400 and for another hundo he would throw in a 4.8 Ls motor with a lifter tick I figured why not.

So,short story long-I can do the swap and wiring etc..
But they started using the LS in 2002 or 2003.
Might it really be as easy as buying the mounts and harness from a later model LS equipped van?

I've got a couple LS motors laying around,and I could really deck this one out how I couldn't with the econoline.
Exonoline has a 6" drop floor but I couldn't bag it without major work.
My wife is short,and wants a ramp instead of a heavy lift.
So I want to drop the floor,channel the body over the frame and then bag it so it will sit as low as possible.
The econoline also only has a rear seat,didn't even come with the front captains. The Express has both rear huge captains chairs and sofa bed.
And lastly,it is Chevy.

I'll post some pics after he drops it off tomorrow.

playtoy_18
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: oklahoma

Post by playtoy_18 »

Here she is.
Needs cleaned up inside,new driver seat cover and miscellanous body kit stuff.
Also has a few dings here and there and the hood is ravaged by hail looks like.
New hood and a deal with our paintless dent repair guy should solve most problems.
Gonna verify the engine has a blown head gasket first off,if it is sucking coolant in from a bad intake gasket prob just change it and worry about swap after the frame and floor modifications.
My chevy tech buddies are gonna keep an eye out and i'm going to cruise some larger pullaparts when i'm in dallas next week hopefully and take pics/compare to see if the swap is simple.
Near as I can tell,mine being an '02 has the standard gmt400 suspension.
Looks like it changed to the silverado stuff in '04.
Still reading,getting ready to make a plan of attack.
Wish I wouldn't have dumped $6k into the Ford van already.

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CrazyHoe
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Post by CrazyHoe »

Nice

z71gmc06
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Post by z71gmc06 »

I like the windows.

Whipped383
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Location: Salt Lake, 97K1500,ECSB, 383,Whipple,0411,Marine, 03K2500,CCSB,8.1&Allison, Whipple in progress

Post by Whipped383 »

I thought the LS expresses where a different body style?

playtoy_18
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: oklahoma

Post by playtoy_18 »

That might have been when they changed to the "slash cut" looking front end i'm not sure.
I had not realized vans were so far out of style until I started driving them lol.
Ford made thier last econoline last year,now they just have the crap transit and transit connects which are basically purpose built for commercial applications.

I've not been able to figure any more out,but have a plan beginning at least.
I'm going to finally have a lift installed in my shop to help facilitate and that's what i'm concentrating on now.

Plan is to yank the body off in my shop to go ahead and swap the motor out.
At the same time i'll go ahead and do the required suspension work/airbag system.

The rest will really depend on what happens next.
We'll take measurements after sitting the body back on with the suspension on the ground.
That is when we will make the decision whether or not to ditch the running boards as well as how much (if any) we will need to drop the floor "only" between the B and C pillars to facilitate angle of entry as needed for the ramp.

Trying to wrap up some other stuff I am behind on and currently saving cash to pay for all the parts.
Hoping to get it all done pretty quick when I pull it in shop since most of it is simply bolt on and/or stuff I have plenty of experience with.
I also plan to call in favors from all my other dealer tech and mechanic buddies to help get it done quickly.

Whipped383
Posts: 2104
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake, 97K1500,ECSB, 383,Whipple,0411,Marine, 03K2500,CCSB,8.1&Allison, Whipple in progress

Post by Whipped383 »

I had an 03 in the other day, LS and different body than yours.

Looking forward to seeing how this turns out. My dad is on his second caravan that is wheelchair converted by VMI. Lucky devil gets workers compensation to pay for the conversion on them

playtoy_18
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: oklahoma

Post by playtoy_18 »

A buddy of mine who is a local Chevy tech stopped by today and wanted to look at the van.
He talked me into firing it up and putting the scantool on it for the hell of it,we're not confident of the buyers diagnosis.
Mode $06 showed cyl 5 and 4 misfiring and we noticed it was getting hot so killed it to check coolant.
Lol we found the top radiator hose disconnected and no fan or clutch installed.
I don't even wanna mess with diag now,just yank it.
I liked the idea of maybe fixing a bad injector and driving it while I saved up money but eh.

playtoy_18
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: oklahoma

Post by playtoy_18 »

Well,started on the motor.
Got a low mileage 5.3 stripped to shortblock and cleaning up.
I picked up a brand new GM Hotcam kit and new lifters from a guy on facebook 3 towns away for $450.
Picked up an entire gasket kit from ebay for $100
Went ahead and ordered a couple sets of stainless bolts for the topend for $25ea.
Got the heads cleaned up and stripped down,they are 243's.
Going to do some slight port cleanup on ports and set up the springs slightly tighter.
Picked up a set of Dirty Dingo adjustable swap mounts for an 88-98 2wd c1500 for $105.
So far mainly been claning parts,i'm actually doing a genIV 4.8 as well.
Disassembled 5 pair of LS heads the other day lol.
For headers a couple buddies have a couple sets of swap headers for different vehicles and see what fits well.
I also started a gofundme page as well.
Main reason for the gofundme page is if we raise enough money we won't need to sell our current van to recoup costs.
That leaves us free to give the van away to someone who needs it instead.
Figured a whole lot of people could give very little to help pay forward alot? Anyway it was worth trying,people love LS swaps and vans and kids and bagged vans so why not.
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playtoy_18
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: oklahoma

Post by playtoy_18 »

Small setback,gonna have to decide how to proceed.
Not sure how I missed it,hell I can see it in a pic I took last week cleaning the shortblock up.
Block is cracked,unuseable and not gonna waste time or take the chance attempting repair on this application.

But,on the good side i've gotten the heads cleaned up and ready for valve job then put together.
Basically just gasket matched,cleaned up valve guides and knocked off the sharp edges.

I can go a couple ways here with what i've got onhand.
I actually have an LQ4 on a cradle under my loft I was going to go all out on for my s10 later.
I also have been cleaning up a 4.8 at work same time as the 5.3,currently sitting in exact same state as the 5.3 sans block cracks.
The 4.8 won't have the power I want,mainly torque for towing. It could,but i'm already off budget.
The 6.0 will make plenty of torque easily,but there goes gas mileage.
So probably just put the 5.3 rotating assembly in the other block,hell considering using the pistons as well but not sure I want that much compression and the need to run premium.
Regardless which I choose,now it's a full rebuild as either choice will need cam,crank and rod bearings.
Maybe i'll find another block also though,and still throw together the 4.8 to sell off for funds.
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Hog
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Location: 1997 Chev ECSB L31 350 1997 GMC Sierra SLE RCSB, Ontario

Post by Hog »

Cool build, I'm all about helping people out and paying if forward. My godaughter has Cerebral Palsy and requires a van with a ramp.

I really don't think that fuel mileage between the 5.3 and 6.0 is really a major issue. Most of the fuel economy talk comes from talks when comparing the 1.2 ton 4l60e equipped 5.3 trucks and the 3/4 ton 4l80e equipped trucks as that wasa the only way to get a 6.0 in a truck. 6.0 was available in a 1/2 ton truck until the 2004 B4V Texas Truck of which they only built 957 for 2004. I cant find comparable B4V VHO Texas Truck 6.0LQ9 fuel mileage numbers to compare to a 2wd extended cab truck with the 5.3 to compare each other to.


The 5.3 Escalade 2wd was rated at 14/17 mpg city/highway
The 6.0 LQ9 Esky AWD was rated at 12/16mpg.

So really only about 1 mpg on the highway, and that's with the 2wd vs. AWD driveline as well.

I would think that there could be instances where you may get better fuel economy with the 6.0 vs the 5.3, depending how you drive.

peace
Hog

James B.
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Post by James B. »

I haven't seen one crack like that. I wonder what sort of torture it took for that to happen.

Whipped383
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Post by Whipped383 »

Probably froze is my bet

Chevy 97
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Post by Chevy 97 »

I tend to think it froze too. Freezing can do a lot of damage.

It can even move mountains.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Slide

Speeder
Posts: 10766
Joined: Fri Apr 30, 1999 9:12 pm
Location: 2015 Tahoe 2WD 5.3L 6L80E, 2008 Colorado work beater, 2003 Dodge Dakota pro-touring project

Post by Speeder »

The 4.8 block is also the 5.3 block, so if you really want a 5.3 and the rotating assembly on the 5.3 is OK you can put it in the 4.8 block. If you check the back of the block you should see 4.8/5.3 stamped into it. Just don't let Hunt Engines touch it. They're behind the GMC dealer that's between Towson/HWY 71 and 540 in Fort Smith.

I'll also add, if you put the 4.8 rotating assembly in a 6.0 block, you have pretty much the same stroke and bore as the old style 327.

CrazyHoe
Posts: 6228
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Post by CrazyHoe »

playtoy_18 wrote: Image
No way! The LS block is so strong, it would turn freezing water into "Ice II", maybe even "Ice III"...

What Happens When Water Freezes in a Box So Strong It Can’t Expand?
http://gizmodo.com/what-happens-when-wa ... 1500919062

For sure this is TBIâ„¢ evidence.

Whipped383
Posts: 2104
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:12 pm
Location: Salt Lake, 97K1500,ECSB, 383,Whipple,0411,Marine, 03K2500,CCSB,8.1&Allison, Whipple in progress

Post by Whipped383 »

CrazyHoe wrote:
playtoy_18 wrote: Image
No way! The LS block is so strong, it would turn freezing water into "Ice II", maybe even "Ice III"...

What Happens When Water Freezes in a Box So Strong It Can’t Expand?
http://gizmodo.com/what-happens-when-wa ... 1500919062

For sure this is TBIâ„¢ evidence.
What in the world would be strong enough to withstand 43,000 psi to make ice II?

CrazyHoe
Posts: 6228
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:30 am
Location: Mtl; '98 2dr4x4 Tahoe, L31,Hookers Long T, 0411,EFIlive, 4L80-E,dual 3",marine int+inj

Post by CrazyHoe »

Whipped383 wrote:
CrazyHoe wrote:
playtoy_18 wrote: Image
No way! The LS block is so strong, it would turn freezing water into "Ice II", maybe even "Ice III"...

What Happens When Water Freezes in a Box So Strong It Can’t Expand?
http://gizmodo.com/what-happens-when-wa ... 1500919062

For sure this is TBI™™ evidence.
What in the world would be strong enough to withstand 43,000 psi to make ice II?
Er... Like I said, an LS block can. ;)

From the pics, looks like something of immense power wanted out.

Why my first guess was TBIâ„¢, but yeah, one of the ice types is plausible.



BTW, Ice XV needs 147,000 psi.

The deepest point of the ocean has 16,000 psi.

Speeder
Posts: 10766
Joined: Fri Apr 30, 1999 9:12 pm
Location: 2015 Tahoe 2WD 5.3L 6L80E, 2008 Colorado work beater, 2003 Dodge Dakota pro-touring project

Post by Speeder »

Whipped383 wrote:
CrazyHoe wrote:
playtoy_18 wrote: Image
No way! The LS block is so strong, it would turn freezing water into "Ice II", maybe even "Ice III"...

What Happens When Water Freezes in a Box So Strong It Can’t Expand?
http://gizmodo.com/what-happens-when-wa ... 1500919062

For sure this is TBI™™ evidence.
What in the world would be strong enough to withstand 43,000 psi to make ice II?
TBIâ„¢ uses 1000 times more pressure just to shoot spitballs through the moon when TBIâ„¢ is bored. TBIâ„¢ is only bored when TBIâ„¢ wants to be bored.

playtoy_18
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Mar 01, 2006 7:07 pm
Location: oklahoma

Post by playtoy_18 »

Wonder if anybody has ever TBIâ„¢'d an LS?
Hmmmm....

Anyway,I stripped down the 4.8 I had and now have a good block.
I was seriously contemplating using the 4.8 pistons and bringing up the to 11:1 but decided against on advice from a buddy.
So currently where i'm at is prepping the block.
Unfortunately no funds to square the block up or anything so she's going together with just new bearings and no machine work other than the heads.
Got the double roller timing set in,I just use the duralast branded set from Autzone that is made by SA gear.
I've used it on a couple other builds with good results and it's only $120.

Still need to go over the crank and all the rods and mic them to verify for bearings.
Also need to order new rings.

Haven't pulled the van in and pulled the motor/trans yet. Waiting till the motor is closer to together so when I yank them I can rebuild trans real quick and go ahead and bolt everything in (with TB TC)
Once it's bolted in just gotta do the harness,which I have yet to mess with at all.
Not sure how i'll tie into the van yet or anything with it,but should have plenty of supplies and such in the shop so no cost involved.
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