So, "Where do I start?" you may be asking yourself. Well, that's the easy part. You can always get a nice engine built by your local engine builder, but another great option is to go with a GM E-ROD engine. The E-ROD LS3 is basically a stock 6.2L LS3 engine as you'd find in the C6 Corvette and 5th-Gen Camaro SS. And that's good news. This engine has a 10.7:1 compression ratio, a 204/211 degree cam duration with .551"/.522" lift for the intake and exhaust cams respectively that's good for 430 hp at 5,900 rpm. The engine has a 6,600 rpm redline and electronic cut-off. When fitted with the supplied ECU and harness, exhaust manifolds, catalytic converters and down-pipes, this package is emissions legal in all 50 States. The only downfall is price if you're on a tight budget. If you source your own LS3 from a bent car, you can get the job done much cheaper and save some cash while living more sustainably by recycling that awesome V8.
If you're thinking of going with an EROD installation, there are a couple of important things to consider in the instruction sheet. They are as follows from the DOs and DON'Ts section of the GM EROD manual:
- Ensure the MAF Sensor is mounted in the middle of a minimum 6 inch length of 4 inch diameter tube, and is a minimum of 10 inches from the throttle body.
- Ensure the fuel pressure is a constant 400 kPa (60 psi) with the engine running. This is what the control system has been developed to run.
- Vacuum reference the fuel system, it must run constant 400 kPa (60 psi).
While the DOs and DON'Ts section of the GM Instructions are much more thorough than what we show above, the 3 items above are particularly important. Regarding the fuel pressure statements above in both the DOs and DON'Ts section: The factory PCM is calibrated to expect a steady 60 psi fuel rail pressure all of the time while the engine is running. The fuel injector scaling and tables are calibrated with the constant-rate fuel pressure considered as a constant value in the PCM software with only the manifold vacuum (or pressure) and system voltage affecting the injector flow rate. If you install a fuel system with a return-style regulator, DO NOT vacuum reference the regulator as this will change the fuel rail pressure according to manifold pressure. Doing so will cause improper fueling as the calibration in the EROD PCM cannot adjust for the change of fuel pressure. In fact, the only way the PCM can correct for varying fuel rail pressure are those systems that are equipped with a fuel rail pressure sensor. So, for all LS swaps using a P01, E40 or E38 controller, you must ensure that the fuel regulator is NOT vacuum referenced. This is as simple as leaving the vacuum port open to atmosphere on aftermarket adjustable pressure regulators. Easy, and it doesn't cost you a dime!
The other tid-bit above about the MAF is also of particular importance. This is because without meeting those specific requirements, (airflow tube being 4" diameter, and at least 6" long, with the MAF positioned at least 10" from the throttle body), the MAF transfer curve programmed in the PCM calibration may be off by a significant margin and this may negatively affect both engine fueling (running excessively rich or lean) as well as ignition timing. You must, therefore, stick to what the specifications indicate. However, what do you do when you don't have the space? Well, you build what you need as far as the induction system goes and you recalibrate the MAF transfer curve using software such as that made by HP Tuners. First, a quick lesson in why this issue exists and then the explanation of how you can easily solve it:
To properly sample the mass of air flowing through a tube, the sensing element must be exposed to a laminar air flow. To do this, ideally the length of the sample tube should be 5 times greater on each side of the sensing element than the diameter. So, for example, if you have a sensing element positioned in a 4" diameter tube, you would need 20" (4 x 5 = 20) of tube length on either side of the element to ensure laminar flow across the sensor as the air flows through the tube. Any less IN FRONT OF, OR BEHIND of the sensor may cause turbulent air flow and thus inaccurate readings. To keep it accurate, the above rule-of-thumb tells us that the measurement tube would need to be 40" long if the diameter were 4" (20" of tube before and after the sensing element) to ensure a laminar, turbulent-free air flow across the sensing element. That's great for the lab and for theory. In the real world, few vehicles have the real estate available to allow for the fitment of a 40" length intake tube (the signal lag would also need to be compensated for in the airflow modeling as well, but that's another story). Well, as there's a little bit of wiggle room, GM has determined that for their MAF sensor and the capability of the modern PCM, you only need a 6" long tube. But remember, the MAF has to be placed at least 10" from the throttle body (again, to ensure laminar flow as much as possible). If you can't manage that, you need to make some minor adjustments to the PCM calibration in order to ensure that the engine doesn't run too rich or too lean. So, build the intake you need (as you can see Jason did in the photo above) and then tune the engine on a dyno or track to get the data you need to recalibrate the MAF curve. In the case of this truck, there's about 16" of curved tubing between the throttle body and the MAF sensor. This will prevent any intake reversion from negatively affecting the MAF readings, but we still have to correct the MAF transfer calibration in the PCM to ensure proper airflow modeling by the PCM and thus proper fuel and spark timing strategy. Here's how it's done...
Begin by downloading the original PCM calibration and saving it. Next, save the calibration under a new name, such as "T1" or whatever your heart desires. Then, open up the calibration file by clicking on Engine, then Airflow, and then MAF Calibration. You should see a screen similar to the one below.
From underneath you can see the attention and thought that went into this build. Nascar fans will recognize the suspension layout.
The C10 got a custom-made fuel tank along with an external pump, filter/regulator and proper fuel lines with 8-AN (1/2") fittings.
The rear suspension and brakes are designed to give this truck the benefit of both a great ride and awesome performance. Notice the water stains? This thing gets driven! No trailer queens here.
It's these two tables that you'll be dealing with; Airflow vs. Frequency Low and just below that, Airflow vs. Frequency High. But before we do anything to these tables, we must determine how much we may need to modify the tables, so we first log the data from a short drive as well as at a full stop and idle while the engine is at proper operating temperature and the engine oil is up to temp as well.
and lines keep the engine well fed while a custom air suspension keeps the ride smooth and civil. When things get out of hand, a set of Wilwood brakes bring things back in line and under control. In short, this is one tight ride and it's built to move out.
The LS3 gets a custom front accessory drive along with a custom-fabricated air intake. It looks proper when nestled behind the custom rad support.
If you feel you've got the perfect hot rod and you'd love to drive it daily, why would you settle for anything less than modern performance, great fuel economy as well as the awesome drivability and reliability that a modern powertrain can provide? If you've got a museum piece, great! Leave it stock and restore it to it's original glory. If it's a driver that you want to enjoy, get a modern powertrain installed and ride like you've got class and can haul ass. That's what Jason at Elite did when he installed an LS3 in this '66 Chevy. This truck was gone through from top to bottom, including bringing it up to modern performance standards with a proper suspension and brake setup. There are quite a few custom pieces on this truck that keep it safe while allowing the owner to explore the dark side of the speedometer. A custom-made fuel tank