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Old 04-02-2016, 04:01 PM   #1
WHAMMO

 
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My unlucky/newbie/very long cam swap DIY notes

I just thought I'd share my experience to help other newbie/DIYers outhere!

I will try to break it down into small notes, so it could be an addition to your favorite DIY cam swap thread.


1. BOOKS/USEFUL THREAD

1st would be to read www.LS1howto.com cam swap thread on fbody.

Then print Robertsway how to cam swap DIY thread on it, to have it close to you when you work. Take note he swapped in a ' ECS big blower cam'' in 2010. That means the cam was around 600' lift(not much by 2016 standard) and his car do not have the electric PS pump like the 2013' and up Camaro.

Then you could educate yourself with this book; by Josef Potak (machinist for TSP) http://www.amazon.com/Build-Modify-E...5553737&sr=1-1

For those who dont know, ls1tech/corvetteforums are goldmines for any problem along the way. You tube is your friend obviously.



2. PARTS NOTES

-LS2 dampener GM part #12588670 is an ABSOLUTE MUST, I dont care what anyone says. Why? I opened mine and after 20k miles, top of it was broken and already fell into engine and worst the big metal spring could have fell too!!
After reading many threads, some known builders shared that 1 out of 2 was broken when they did the cam swap!! That tells a lot. You have to remove oil pump to change the stock crap tensioner.

Some say its due to aftermarket underdrive pulley, but I installed mine after 10k miles. I had a fbody for 7 years with U/D pulley and never had problems with the same pulley. Of course it had the LS2 dampener in there.

-ATI pulley/harmonic balancer. If you havent upgraded your pulley, now is the time. Stick with your favorite brand, or upgrade with ATI/Fluid damper for peace of mind. I'm sticking with my cheap U/D pulley for now but wished I had a ATI now. ATI can be found for 380$us new and others from 200-250$us. Stock piece is not great and many have failed.

-ARP Cam gear bolts. If you are going with ARP, do not put ARP lube on it; straight from the Josef book; blue loctite and torque to 28 ft-lbs. Some ARP bolts became loose with the ARP lube on cam gear. You dont want that! You could go with GM bolts and save yourself this overthinking I had.

-Timing chain. After a lot of thinking, I decided to stick with GM stock piece, which is now the upgraded LT1/LS3 chain. I think to myself it has to be strong since its the same chain for LS7 (7k rpm) and newest LT1. A quality harmonic balancer should make your chain last longer. C5R chain is what most go with, but its 155$us a piece VS 40$us for the GM. There has been a case of broken C5R, but seems to be an isolated case.

-Oil pump. If you didnt know, a bunch of stock GM failed over the years. I dont think GM fixed anything since 'most' are running fine. Your call to upgrade to Melling oil pump. I've been warned that a hi volume can suck you oil pan dry. So I went with hi-pressure. A lot of plp are running the hi-volume with success. You will get a bunch of opinions on this. Most of the time, upgrading is the way to go.

-Oil pressure gauge for 1SS optionned Camaro. If you want to know whats the oil pressure on startup, you need install either the GM console kit(plug and play) for 320$ or so OR if you dont want to pay for this and chose more usefull gauge for your application, you can go with this one, or this other one, for exemple. Then this is where another nightmare begins if you didnt know about all this; GM is using 16mm for the stock oil pressure sensor, located behind the intake manifold. Most aftermarket oil sensor use 1/8 NPT. So in order to keep your stock unit, you must use a 'T' fitting, which is freaking rare, like non existant. And you might be ending with T aligned towards the intake manifold so you wont be able to install your new one. Bottom line, you need this, only available in Australia LOL ebay link BEWARE OF THE SHIPPING DELAY! My car was ready but waiting for 3 weeks for that :(
Then you need a sensor unit with the oil pressure gauge of your choice.

**EDIT, after the job done, I suggest anyone to buy the damn stock 4 gauges pack kit from GM cause wiring was a long but, still rewarding, process. OR if you want a numeric single gauge, get this adapter that goes above the oil filter. Man that would have been a lot easier, and cheaper too.

-Fuel lines cleanup and plumbings Because you need to remove the intake manifold to change the cam and access the oil pressure sensor, you might wanna clean up the fuel lines. Its the standard flip up procedure.Thread by JDP motorsports on it.
OR you can buy this Russell line with those Russell quick release fuel lines fittings
and this Earl's 'Tee' fitting for a fuel pressure gauge install.

3. TOOLS

Valve springs tool. I bought the 35$ 'one' everyone seems to be using and let me tell you its an absolute piece of shit if you are installing double springs or any springs rated higher than 600' lift! Alumium part will bend in every way and the bolt's thread will not sustain the stress of the higher/stiffer springs! It broke during I was holding the locks!! Risk of injuries, cut myself a bit. It will not compress the springs straight and you risk bending/breaking the valves! Plus even with thick folded rags to protect your heads, it will leave some marks!
Go with the Trickflow tool or the Crane tools, which is THE ONLY TO GO IMO. Do not cheap out, unless running stock springs. Maybe with single springs rated under 600'. Even then..

I was only able to do 3 cyl before the tool completly let go. I oiled the bolts and it changed nothing. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! It is a poor backyard setup, nothing more.

Ratchet wrench with flexbible head. An absolute must for the pickup tube bolt! Cant do it without it.

A good calibrated torque wrench, 3/8 AND 1/2 drive, ideally. You need the big 1/2 one too for the U/D pulley/head torque is you are pulling the heads(which is easy while doing the cam swap).



4. INSTALL NOTES/ NEWBIE ADVICE

Ziploc bags, paper notes and pictures. Take pictures to document your stuff and it will help you remember small details you did not think of at first. Separate all bolts in ziploc bags with a paper tag in it. I was able to see that the timing chain tensioner was already broke before touching anything close cause I had a picture of the timing cover freshly opened.

Uninstalling/installing the pulley requires a REALLY BIG breaker bar along with a 24mm socket. Be sure the socket is well seated and be prepare to use a lot of force. No it wont break! When reinstalling, be sure have the specific tool or make yourself a cheap one; a longer threaded bolts, strong grade, bunch of washers.
Be sure you have enough thread into the crankshaft so you wont strip the thread of the crank..if not, well you need a need crank. Or burn the car.

2010 and 2013+ electric PS difference. Not big, but enough that you NEED TO REMOVE completly the alternator to unbolt negative wire bracket running around the oil pan. Takes 2 sec (really) to remove the alt and gives you all the room to unbolt the oil pan bolts then. I tried to stick to the DIY and lost a lot of time removing those bolts with the alt still attached.

And because of the PS assembly, you wont be able to torque the front oil pan bolts with a torque wrench, so you know. Well I didnt bother to try.

Oil pan lowering. Lower the most you can without unbolting it. The most space you have, the better you can work on the pickup tube.

Oil pump removing.Well it is a PITA. Watch those 2 videos from Melling 1st to know whats going on before jumping in this. Video1 Video2 Too bad I found those after installing mine. I strongly suggest to evaluate if dissabling the oil pump would take less time (a lot less I'd guess!).

I can tell you that I forgot to turn the crank before bolting the pump to center it, and that made me worried as hell till the end. For now everything is alright!! But no mileage has been done yet since its untuned.

So, after you successfully removed the oil pickup tube(dont forget to put rags under!) and the 4 oil pump bolts, time to remove. Resist forcing it, even if its almost impossible. I forced a little and the pickup tube was a bit off angle. So when you try to realign the little bolt under there, its a mess. I managed to gently pull up the pickup tube with a tie-wrap while screwing the bolt in there. Good luck and take your time, really. Use your best cell phone camera to see whats going on under there. Be sure to seat the oil pump gasket on the pickup tube. Bunch of blue loctite on this, cause loctite will spread on your fingers when you are trying to catch the thread. I dont know if you have to oil the o ring, but I did it, VERY LIGHTLY.

Measuring stock and new camshaft. Good idea to take picture of the new cam before and measuring cam base circle, a good reference for pushrod length later on. Generally, aftermarket cam base circle are smaller and needs longer pushrods.

Measuring pushrod length. Well I tried the TDC method(explained in Robertsway DIY) and for and unknown reason, math didnt add up. Me and my friend(mechanic) thought about this for 4-5 hours and end up with the EO/IC method and it worked better IMO.
Newbie advice; zero lash is achieve when the rocker is JUST sitting flush between the pushrod and tip of the valvespring retainer. Do not force the rocker because it will move up and down, so you will be past zero lash and your math wont add up! Just so slightly sitting flush. Then I could achieve zero lash.
Heres the method . In resume, you must end up doing 1 to 1 3/4 turn when torquing to 22ft-lbs your rocker with the right length. Less or more means you need something smaller or taller.
Ended up with 7.4 needed. Stock were 7.375.ou need this comp cams pushrod length checker Remind you those pushrods length are common with stock LS3 heads.
Another method is the dry marker method; you fully mark the tip of the valve with the marker and rotate the engine few times to see what is the swipe pattern. Rockers have to be on the springs you are measuring, of course.

Valve spings swap. As I said, you need the right tool or you will score your heads, and will go crazy over this. With the right tool, its a breeze. Do not forget to put the piston to TDC before working on it, or using air to keep the valve up, which is a method I dont thrust, but thats me, a noob. You dont wanna drop a valve in the engine. You can work 2 pistons at a time before turning the crank into another TDC cycle. I suggest you use the air tool at the same time so locks are easier to remove and install; then you dont have to compress the springs too much.
Icant stress enough though that the TFS/Crane valve tool is an ABSOLUTE BREEZE to work with compare to the Tims tool. You can do 2 springs at a time, no marks on the head, straight spring compression, locks are easily put into place but slightly rotating the tool, if needed.

-Manifold intake removal. Pretty straight forward; 30mins max. Link
DISCONNECT THE 2 REAR HOSES before forcing anything. Breaking the sensor in the back will cost ya more than 100$. I was able to get some small Vice Grip plyers to grab the hose's collar in the back. It sucked. You can move the intake a bit forward to gain some space. A good trick is extend the 2 hoses before putting the manifold back in.

This where I'm at for now. Just need to button up and pray for some oil pressure and good healthy valves after this valve springs tool nightmare. It is rewarding to do and learned a lot doing it. Its not something you do as a noob over the weekend. Takes a lot of time alone. Thinking of lifting the heads now to inspect valves and port em while at it.

*UPDATE*
Car is stalled because I have to wait for a stupid T fitting for the oil pressure gauge installation. I updated the parts list.

Pics in order; broken timing chain tensioner(at the top you can see the piece missing), then 2 pics of the oil pickup tube.

Good luck!
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:25 PM   #2
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Some great advice there!

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Old 04-02-2016, 05:44 PM   #3
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I can only imagine the stress of opening up your block. This is a really good, thorough discussion that everyone should read.
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Old 04-02-2016, 08:33 PM   #4
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Some great advice there!

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I can only imagine the stress of opening up your block. This is a really good, thorough discussion that everyone should read.
thank you, I corrected my grammar a bit and added some more advices. Its a resume of all warnings and useful infos I read on great LS sites/books.
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Old 04-13-2016, 04:33 PM   #5
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Some other stuff added to the list about fuel pressure gauge/line and oil pressure gauge installation.
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Old 04-21-2016, 03:09 PM   #6
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Start up day finally came, after countless hours of searching and learning and swaring. It started perfectly without any problem. I went with an aftermarket oil pressure sensor and unplugged the stock one(it wont trigger any CEL by the way). Oil pressure is 53psi hot and 58-60 cold, for now. Melling Hi pressure pump. I'm glad my little misaligned oil pickup tube story did not mess my pump install!

CONCLUSION
Its the most rewarding job I have ever done and I can tell and I'm a better backyard mechanic now! I hope lifters are gonna hold up well and for a long time even with the high lift. BUT, I dont remember beeing as nervous as I was before startup up the car!!

I think the thing is I'm so used to badlucks, that I always foresee the worst case scenario and read/watch everything I can to avoid it. And because of that, it took me 4-5x longer than the average guy.

For the tune, I'll be going with Steve at RDP with an SCT4. Gonna check the A/F ratio on a dyno along with numbers.

I am pretty happy with the clean up job with the fuel rails/blue valve cover/intake manifold insulator removed and, to come, orange painted strut bar. I strongly suggest the fuel rail flip upgrade. 100x better and easier to work on the engine now.

Heres a video to wrap this up. Valvetrain is noisy, especially with headers and I removed the intake insulator.
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Old 04-21-2016, 03:19 PM   #7
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Just finished my cam install too, surprisingly easy job. Just take your time and make mental notes or pictures of where everything goes.

Very rewarding to do it all yourself !!
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Old 04-21-2016, 05:27 PM   #8
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Just finished my cam install too, surprisingly easy job. Just take your time and make mental notes or pictures of where everything goes.

Very rewarding to do it all yourself !!
What cam did you choose?
Thats the way to go!! I sure do had some pleasure doing it! Some steps were rougher than others.
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Old 04-21-2016, 10:43 PM   #9
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What cam did you choose?
Thats the way to go!! I sure do had some pleasure doing it! Some steps were rougher than others.
226/236 110 LSA
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:21 PM   #10
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226/236 110 LSA
Nice choice! How is it? Dyno tuned or remote tune?
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Old 04-22-2016, 08:45 PM   #11
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Nice choice! How is it? Dyno tuned or remote tune?
Going for a dyno tune next week.
I have only run it for a few minutes to make sure there are no leaks.
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Old 05-15-2016, 01:29 PM   #12
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Knowing what you know now, how long would you estimate it would take you to do it again if you had all the necessary parts/tools on hand?
Reason I ask is I've hear there are shops out there that will do the swap but insist on pulling the motor to do so. It's a small block Chevy for crying out loud. Sounds like overkill to me, or maybe just an opportunity to upsell the customer on other upgrades, "while we're in there".
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Old 05-21-2016, 06:33 PM   #13
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love seeing people who aren't afraid to dig into their motors . . awesome!
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:10 PM   #14
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Nice choice! How is it? Dyno tuned or remote tune?
Numbers are decent for cam/headers/cai/160 stat/LS7 plugs/hi flows and tune.
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