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Thread: Adding another Vortec V8 to the fleet

  1. #1
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    Adding another Vortec V8 to the fleet

    Bought a 1997 Astro van with clean title for $300 + $95 tow. Non-running with the whole front clip removed and stuffed inside the van. Come to find out the engine was in the middle of being replaced and the transmission appears to be fresh as well. The older gentlemen that owned it had bought it to repair and resale, but became ill and passed away before the project was finished. The new owners of his property wanted to reclaim their backyard awning. Once I started making my way from one end to the other inside the van I found a stash of new parts for the thing. New radiator, trans cooler lines, a/c compressor, idler and tensioner, and alternator. It has not been registered or inspected since 2007 and when the title was transferred in 2006 it only had 102K on it. To read the actual mileage I will have to reconnect all the wiring but its not a huge concern at the moment. I pulled the 4.3 that had been rebuilt by a machine shop out of the van as it had been open to the elements for several years without valve covers or timing cover on it. I found numerous hacks along the way and could not believe it when I found the oil pump pickup tube packed with the thickest grease you have ever seen in your life! (I usually put a little petroleum jelly in the pump body itself and leave it at that. Luckily the hood and van enclosure looks to have kept the 4.3 in good shape. The 4.3 is getting sold though and a L30 305 with about 150K from an 01 Express van is finding its way under the hood after getting rings/bearings and resealed. I may put a F-car cam in it if I can find one reasonably. I am going with the L30 over the L31 because I feel the 4L60E will live a little longer behind the L30 and the factory L30 tunes are all built for the same exhaust/02 sensor configuration the Astro 4.3 uses. That is an o2 sensor near each manifold, one after the Y-pipe before the single cat and one after the cat. The 305 will also be a nice bump in HP/TQ over the 4.3 and run smoother without hurting mileage much if any. The 4L60E has the factory 4.3 high stall converter in it and 3.42s with an open differential. Really do not feel the 350s added power could be effectively used. I have a nice pair of shorty headers that look like they will fit nicely on the 305 too although the rest of the exhaust is staying stock. I have two thoughts on using the V8 over the V6. The rebuilt V6 is worth more than the 305 V8 and the van is worth more with a V8 swapped in. Its a no brain, win/win IMO. I also need quite a few parts to complete the V6 install but have EVERYTHING for the V8 minus the $58.00 V8 conversion engine mounts. I thought the ones I had in my garage for the 4.3 to V8 S10 would work, but they end up about 1" too narrow on both sides. If you bolt one side in, the other side is 2" from bolting int. Was going to rework those mounts but I am just ordering the Astro specific mounts and I will keep the S10 mounts for a V8 S10 in the future. I may just build this one to flip, have not decided yet. I will take plenty of pictures of the engine build and swap.





    I cleaned the whole 4.3 engine out and sprayed it with white lithium grease to keep it from rusting any further but it has never been fired. The oil pan had about 3 table spoons worth of water in it.


    The L30 short block, will probably wait until the short block is in the van to put the heads on it as it was much easier to get the V8 short block in than the V6 long block out and there is plenty of room to install the heads/headers in-chassis.
    Last edited by Fast355; 04-20-2015 at 06:52 AM.

  2. #2
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    The L30 395 is going back together with a Lunati flat tappet high efficiency 268 grind cam.

    The block cleaned up well, the bores are honed, and the crank has been polished. New bearings and rings are going in it.










  3. #3
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    Getting closer! I pulled the engine harness completely out of the van yesterday, finished assembling the engine after getting the correct ring set. I cleaned the engine by spraying denatured alcohol on it and then painted it. I still have to pickup the V8 distributor cap and rotor as well as a wire set. I am still waiting on JTR for the V8 engine mounts I ordered at the beginning of last week. I did not get as far along as I wanted to because I was helping my brother put a 4.7 in a Dakota. I still have accessories left to install.

    Last edited by Fast355; 05-04-2015 at 06:38 AM.

  4. #4
    Fuel Injected! brian617's Avatar
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    Thats a beautiful paint job
    89 K1500 Scottsdale 5.7L 5spd 3:42

    Build specs: 97 4 bolt main block 350ci, Eagle rotating assembly with flat tops and 4 valve reliefs, Dart 165cc/67cc Iron Eagle heads, Manely SS valves and springs 110lbs seat @1.7, GM Ram Jet cam 196/206 @.50 .431/.451, stock intake and throttle body, heads and intake gasket matched, Delco EP377 fuel pump @ 22 psi, 427 PCM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by brian617 View Post
    Thats a beautiful paint job
    Thats was only the first two coats, lol....That being said I I really had no intention of detailing the engine just cleaning it up a little. You will not see 90% of the engine once its in its habitat.

  6. #6
    Fuel Injected! Roadknee's Avatar
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    Fast - Have you found a ring package that works well (or one to stay away from) when freshening up these Vortec blocks? Northern Auto sells an inexpensive kit with the metric Hastings rings, but I have no experience with these.

    Here's a pic of my bore. This is only 10 fairly rapid strokes with a ball hone.

    Attachment 8978

    I'd like to learn anything else you can offer for freshening these motors.

    Thanks

  7. #7
    Carb and Points!
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    Hey Fast - Just curious man but what drove the decision to run a flat tappet cam instead of going with the hydraulic roller given the state of today's oil?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A View Post
    Hey Fast - Just curious man but what drove the decision to run a flat tappet cam instead of going with the hydraulic roller given the state of today's oil?
    A $30 Lunati cam and a motor I really didn't care about too much. I have never lost a lobe on these older grinds other than a factory 80s 305 cam and those were known to grind themself away.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fast355 View Post
    A $30 Lunati cam and a motor I really didn't care about too much. I have never lost a lobe on these older grinds other than a factory 80s 305 cam and those were known to grind themself away.
    I understand the price is hard to beat there and I'm the same way as far as the only cams I've seen wipe a lobe are factory pieces. Probably has to do with the volume heat treated, a few are sure to be missed that wouldn't make the cut normally. An interesting build none the less, I'll be watching. Good luck!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A View Post
    I understand the price is hard to beat there and I'm the same way as far as the only cams I've seen wipe a lobe are factory pieces. Probably has to do with the volume heat treated, a few are sure to be missed that wouldn't make the cut normally. An interesting build none the less, I'll be watching. Good luck!
    I should have updated this. We were in the middle of rehabing my mothers vacant duplex and I ended up stripping the Astro van and selling the body and frame to the wrecking yard. I picked up my 1-ton suspension and hydroboost system for my Express in trade for the Astro and I got a little money. A couple of days later I walked into the shop and my brother had pirated my 305 to replace the bent rod 305 in the Corvette.


  11. #11
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    Update- This poor 305 sat in the Vette before getting dropped into a 1980 Camaro to sit then finally found its way into a 1999 Tahoe. Have the Tahoe up and running. It fought the whole way. Previous owner had wired in a replacement crank sensor pigtail and although he matched like colors, two of the wires were swapped in the connector. Once I found that and replaced the fried sensor got it running, adjusted the valves and broke in the cam. This little 305 would have been fun in that Astro. Runs good in the Tahoe. Working on tuning the Black box for it now. LOVES Timing and I had to up the MAF and VE tables 10-15% in places to keep it from being lean. Pulls about like a stock L31 350 in the low-midrange and pulls signifigantly better from 3,500-5,200. Stock poppets are running 80% DC at 5,000 rpm to hold a 12:1 afr on E10. Timing is 32 BTDC at 5,000. We kept the stock torque converter and the Tahoe has a 3.73 G80 rear-end with heavy aftermarket 17" wheels and 31.5 tires on it I managed to break them loose a little but for the most part it just takes off and goes
    Last edited by Fast355; 12-14-2015 at 10:32 AM.

  12. #12
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    I thought I would chime back in on this. I added some parameters and history tables to my HP Tuners datalogging software to help tune the 305. I was fighting a start and stall issue at random times as well as a stall shifting into gear. I first doubled the normal idle air volume that I see in Park/Neutral and programmed it into the startup airflow table, then upped the decay time to 6 seconds, cold started the engine, dropped it right into gear (no stall) and used to software to average the idle airflow against the coolant temp values in the In-Gear Idle Airflow vs Coolant table to program those values. With the engine fully warmed up, I put the shifter into Park and observed the MAF sensor drop about 1.5 gms/sec. I offset the Neutral Idle Airflow vs Coolant table down 1.5 gms/sec. I then set the Distributor CMR to the factory specified 0*. I unplugged the MAF sensor to run the engine on the VE tables. Then observed the sensor readings while my brother drove the truck in mixed driving conditions around town and on the highway for about an hour. With a good amount of data, I used the fuel trim history tables to calibrate the VE tables. I then plugged the MAF back in and tweaked the MAF tables. I had previously put a performance oriented timing advance table into the PCM and adjusted the speedo and shift tables with BlueCat trans tuning software. I cleaned up the command shift time table and gave it a good line pressure table from a previous L31 Suburban I had tuned. Nice quick shifts without being too neck snapping. Much better than the lag in the stock shifts. In about 2 hours I was able to clean the tune up to the point the Tahoe fires right up, idles well, does not stall, transitions to off-idle and wide open throttle without bogging and feels nearly as refined as if it had come stock. Not bad for a 268 cammed (110* LSA) 305 in my opinon. I need to pickup the correct 305 knock sensor and knock module for the truck. The 350 sensor in the 305 block is picking up ALOT of false knock. I was seeing 4-8* of knock retard from 50 KPA and 1,200 rpm and beyond. Almost as soon as the throttle was open it was reading knock. I put a factory 305 timing table back in the PCM and saw the same exact result, except the engine was very gutless. I ended up looking at the maximium knock retard table and as soon as the PCM turns the knock sensor on it is reads maximum retard. Not sure if its a bad sensor from the 125K 350 or just because it is the wrong sensor. Either way I turned the knock sensor off (because I really don't like them either) and put the performance oriented timing map in it. It immediately woke up even more without the 4-8* of constant retard. Cruising down the highway it has no problem holding lockup in overdrive at 2,000 rpm @ 70 mph even uphill. When it downshifts though it comes to life and easily accelerates. At wide open throttle I am having to feed it enough fuel at 5,000 rpm to make about 285 hp at a brake specific fuel consumption of 0.5 lb/hr/hp. When it accidentally rev'd to 5,200 rpm I was feeding nearly 300 HP worth of fuel to it. We did discover that we need to pull a valve covers back off and play with the valve lash adjustment one more time on the driver bank. We have a single lifter that taps on startup, cold or hot for about 15-60 seconds before going away.* Starts right up, idle sits at about 1,200 rpm for about 6 seconds and then starts to decay down to the Idle speed target. Warmed up it idles nicely at about 750 in Park and 625 in Drive.

  13. #13
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    So I am going to say the little 305 broke in well and still runs great. Has a small oil leak at the rear main and the 4L60E is starting to slip a bit. Will address the rear main when the 4L60E comes out and an 80E goes into its place. A few months aggo the truck got parked when a few issues popped up. The steering box and pump started leaking at about the same time. The OE fuel spider started acting up too. A few days later a rear wheel came off the truck at 75 mph after a trip to Discount tire a few days earlier. All 5 lugs were sheared flat with the axle flange when it happened. Picked up a 3.73 G80 rear-end from a lower mileage K1500 Suburban and replaced the front rotors with ones for a light duty 2500 Express van. Added a set of 04 Titan 17" offroad wheels. Changed the pump and steering box. Finally I took 2 different spiders, resealed the injector o-rings after testing and cleaning the best 8 poppets and replaced the regulator. After cleaning they all had a nice spray pattern. Truck is running better than ever. After replacing the spider with the cleaned and resealed one the truck is running a bit rich and needs some retuning work but plan on going with an 0411 soon. Also one of the cats went out and the cats were both changed to 2.5" Thunderbolt high flows and a magnaflow muffler put in place of the stock one. Still running the stock tubing before the cats but 2.5" after and running the stock tailpipe. Needs a donut gasket replaced on the passenger side one day whenever we get around to it. Also found the correct knock module and changed it and the knock sensor. False knock is also now gone.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqs1Q1eabek

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