my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby cosway [OP] » March 17th 2009, 1:04am

Friend of mine put a 4.3L into his Fiero and tells me it is "easy" to drop a 350 into my 2003 Chevy Astro. From what I read here it aint that easy.
so what the deal, is there a weekend swap or not?

THANKS
KEN
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby headgorilla » March 17th 2009, 1:23am

I can't imagine it being a weekend swap.....
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby robkerel » March 17th 2009, 2:12am

Anythin is possible...the knowledge and proper tools help though!! :cheers:
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby Gary » March 17th 2009, 2:15am

It's the yr van your working with that make it harder somewhat.Stricter emissions laws and not being able to use a 5.7 and only having a 5.3 to use which is virgin territory somewhat for motor mounts and accessories and having to drop the sub frame or cut the rad support,using the computer controls for the tranny that comes with the engine.I have read threads where guys are working threw the issues,but I don't remember if anyone has completed one yet.As a side note,the older vans are probably one of the easiest swaps anyone would ever want to do.
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby kidhauler » March 17th 2009, 4:52am

If you want to do a v8 astro get a 91 or older. The TBI is the same as the v8 so you just change the injectors to a larger size put in a v8 to the computer and extend a few wires. Then the engine bolts right in on a set of ebay motor mounts. We did a swap on the weekend once we rolled the van into the garage on Thursday night and had the engine in and running Sunday night exhaust hooked up and driving. The emissions levels changed in 92 so the test is harder to pass even tho it is still a TBI engine.
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby CDGsafari98 » March 18th 2009, 3:15am

So kid hauler what would you recomend i do with my 98 with a serious knock on the current 4.3. i wanted to do a v8 with a six inch lift
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby kidhauler » March 18th 2009, 5:46am

If you don't have any emissions testing in your area then a Carbed swap would be easy. If you want to keep it emissions legal then i would look at getting a v8 out of a 98 vehicle and swap the entire computer and wiring harness to the engine. i know that this is a lot of work but it is do able. the other option is to rebuild the V6. with a set of headers and some intake work you could get some decent power out of the engine. If your not looking to drag race you would probably be happy with a extra 30-40hp over a stock v6.

Hope this helps
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby cosway [OP] » March 18th 2009, 5:57am

I'm talking 380HP small block chevy lol not an extra 40 hp :)

ps. emission is not a concern
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby lotuseclat767 » March 18th 2009, 12:25pm

I've got some suggestions and comments on this, nothing more:

(1) No swap or engine replacement is a weekend chore the first time you do it on a specific vehicle. It took me three days to get the old V-6 out of my van and only an afternoon to get the V-8 in, bolted up and ready to fire. However, if I remove the v-8 again, it will come out in a matter of hours and I could bolt it back in just as quickly.

(2) Emissions per year models are a concern. If you do a 2003 model V-8 swap, it has to meet 2003 emissions standards as far as federal concerns. However, some states have strict emissions laws that will not allow engine conversions beyond what was available from the factory. Check your local laws. That is why I made sure my 93 V-8 swap met 93 emissions standards federally and just in case my state finally went to emissions testing.

(3) Carbs suck. Fuel injection is the way to go. GM has provided the wonderful TBI that is plug and play. My 1993 was one of the first v-8 swaps to actually use the GM TBI system as far as on the internet. I know this because I searched for hours before my swap and found no information. If it wasn't for the guys on the GM ECM list I would have never attempted the fuel injection. The ultimate is a TBI with Megasquirt, a do-it-yourself fuel control system that you tune with your laptop! I haven't gotten to the Megasquirt stage myself yet.

(4) My V-8 was installed for smoother operation than the 4.3L that I called "old shakey". Remember, 1993 model that was famous for loping and shaking. Anyway, I originally designed it for smooth running and fuel economy because it was my daily driver. Now, it is a toy and I'm not happy with the mundane specifications of the V-8. So, I'm seriously thinking about a slight boost with the supercharger I've got or even maybe going crazy and adding dual turbos to the mix! So, build your V-8 and pick your fuel system carefully to match exactly what you want to use your Astro for.

(5) Don't forget that the 4.3L can be turned into a killer motor of its own right. It would be bad enough to be stomped by an Astro with a V-8, it would be worse getting stomped by an Astro with a V-6!
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby astrovan98 » March 19th 2009, 11:31pm

Engine Swap 101:
There is no such thing as a "weekend swap".
If you think that it looks easy, you haven't thought it out completely.

I have swapped a 2005 5.3L Gen 3 V8 into my 1998 Astro, and am about 85% complete. This is a very advanced swap, and is not for the hobbiest or newcomers to engine swapping. It was started October of 2008, and I expect another 1 1/2 to 2 months to fully complete (but I'm a perfectionist, and I spend a lot of time on the detail work to prevent problems in the future). I have spent at least 40+ hours per week since October 1st 2008 on this project.

The best and easiest V8 swap for the Astro/Safari is the L31 5.7L Gen 1 small block. It will work with your current VCM, and will need minimal wiring additions (add wiring for the extra 2 injectors), and a small amount of pin relocations on the VCM connectors. Your local G.M. dealer can reprogram the VCM to work properly.
It was originally my first choice for my swap, but I was more exited to take the time and install a 5.3L. Lots of fabricating on this engine. Nobody makes anything to support this swap. Conversly, there is an abundance of suppliers that make swap parts for the L31 5.7L engine into the vans. The 5.7L is by far the most practical V8 swap for our vans.

Here's some details on the L31 %.7L Vortec engine:

The Vortec 5700 L31 is a V8 truck engine. Displacement is 5.7 L. It is the last production Generation I small-block from Chevrolet. The cylinder heads feature combustion chambers very similar to those of the LT1 V8, but without the reverse-flow cooling. As such, the L31 head is compatible with all older small-blocks, and is a very popular upgrade. It offers the performance of more expensive heads, at a much lower cost. It does, however, require a specific intake manifold (a Vortec head has four bolts attaching the intake manifold as opposed to the traditional six bolts per head). The L31 was replaced by the 5.3 L 5300 LM7. The 2002 model year was the final year for the L31 5.7 L small block V-8 whose origins date back to 1955. The Vortec 5700 produces 255 horsepower (190 kW) and 330 ft·lbf (450 N·m) of torque. It is currently being produced as a crate engine for marine applications and automotive hobbyists as the "ramjet 350" with minor modifications.

L31 applications:

* 1996-2003 Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana full-size vans
* 1996-1999 Chevrolet/GMC C/K full-size trucks
* 1996-1999 Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Suburban full-size long-wheelbase SUVs
* 1996-1999 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon full-size short-wheelbase SUVs
* 1999-2000 Cadillac Escalade
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby lotuseclat767 » March 20th 2009, 1:49am

Hey, astrovan98,

Right on! The only "weekend" swap I have ever done was in 1979. I and a friend of mine crammed a 302 V-8 and automatic into one of the old German Capris. We started on Friday night and had it on the road cruising on Sunday night. Total Time for this "weekend" swap? About forty hours. We simply took catnaps on the shop floor when we absolutely couldn't stay awake anymore. He'd already had everything like the drive shaft, motor mounts, and so forth made up before the swap or else it would have taken a week or more. Planning is important and having everything at hand is critical to a "quick" and easy swap.

Nearly twenty years later finds me stuffing a v-8 into my Astro. Once more we spent weeks researching, measuring, and pre-fabricating as much as we could. Even then, we screwed up because of something we had overlooked. We forgot there was a difference on how the accessories mounted between a Vortec V-8 and a pre-Vortec. My bud, an engine building genius and machinist extraordinaire, re-machined everything while I was sweating three days trying to get the old V-6 out. In case you guys are wondering, there's a lot of garbage under the hood that is simply not needed. You should have seen the pile of trash I sent off to the scraper. Total time of swap: 40-50 hours from the moment I removed the grille until I fired it up and drove it around the block for the first time.

Maybe I'm getting old, but, I've found that perfection can sometimes be the enemy of completion. I think we've learned long ago that "good enough" is good enough. I learned this lesson while researching and working on my Locost 7 build, a scratch built sports car I've yet to finish. Ever wonder why Detroit leaves so many components with such large adjustments, and why so many shims are used throughout the body and chassis? They ain't worried about perfection either! Nothing wrong about being a perfectionist, that is what makes really great projects into really awesome projects. Keep up the good work!
Dino
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby Gary » March 20th 2009, 2:32am

Truly not to jack this thread,but when I was kid,we used to have engine parties.It was when a bunch of us guys would get together and swap a engine on one of our cars.The drinking age at that time was 18 and these parties would involve way too much beer.Yeah-hehe-we got to do some of the things twice because the beer got in the way. :cheers: Budding mechanic's who it was amazing no one ever got hurt while drinking all those cases of beer.

Years later much changed where it takes from 80 to 120 hrs to properly assemble a race SBC and it is all business.Not even a radio playing in a locked garage.Total focus on what is being done.No distractions at all and because of that haven't had a failure in 20yrs.Checking and rechecking every part.


I had a standard joke.The statement of the comic books like Hot Rod,Popular Hot Rodding,Car Craft,"Sub and Tub in a weekend".Well that never happened in home shops.Atleast none I have ever worked in.

When I go to do the Ole Yellar V8 swap-what I want the most of all is it to show in every way the yrs I have been at this kind of thing.Solid mechanics done right the first time with a clean long term effect that can not be denied.It doesn't matter how long it takes.I am going to just enjoy every moment watching it all come together.At my age,it is likely the last one and my best effort.
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby Nutsy » March 20th 2009, 8:15am

astrovan98 wrote:Engine Swap 101:
Here's some details on the L31 %.7L Vortec engine:

The Vortec 5700 L31 is a V8 truck engine. Displacement is 5.7 L. It is the last production Generation I small-block from Chevrolet. The cylinder heads feature combustion chambers very similar to those of the LT1 V8, but without the reverse-flow cooling. As such, the L31 head is compatible with all older small-blocks, and is a very popular upgrade. It offers the performance of more expensive heads, at a much lower cost. It does, however, require a specific intake manifold (a Vortec head has four bolts attaching the intake manifold as opposed to the traditional six bolts per head). The L31 was replaced by the 5.3 L 5300 LM7. The 2002 model year was the final year for the L31 5.7 L small block V-8 whose origins date back to 1955. The Vortec 5700 produces 255 horsepower (190 kW) and 330 ft·lbf (450 N·m) of torque. It is currently being produced as a crate engine for marine applications and automotive hobbyists as the "ramjet 350" with minor modifications.

L31 applications:

* 1996-2003 Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana full-size vans
* 1996-1999 Chevrolet/GMC C/K full-size trucks
* 1996-1999 Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Suburban full-size long-wheelbase SUVs
* 1996-1999 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon full-size short-wheelbase SUVs
* 1999-2000 Cadillac Escalade


So does this mean a crate Ramjet 350 and the 5.7L vortec are the same? Will the RJ350 use the same PCM as my 2000 AWD Safari?
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby kidhauler » March 21st 2009, 3:02am

i am not saying to jump in and start spinning wrenches with no prep ahead of time. Read up on what is needed and get all the parts together first. Then get a few gear head buddies together and get on with it. We did the swap on Canadavans 90 in a weekend it can be done if you have the tools and the shop space to do it. We ran into a few small glitches but we had the tools there to fix them.

If you don't have the engine put together and the hoist ready and the shop clean and set up then yeah its going to take along time. Also doing a swap on a newer van is going to take a long time. Look at how long it took Peter to put the 502 in his van he had tons of fab work to do and also had to do lots of custom wiring and one off computer controlers and displays. Do your research ahead of time and get the tools and parts you need ahead of time the actual swap of getting the engine into the truck and bolted back into one peice isn't that difficult if you are prepared. I you just start wailing away at it then your going to run into major road blocks and be months getting it done.
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby astrovan98 » March 21st 2009, 3:30am

The Ram Jet 350 engine is designed for pre-1976 vehicles and does not have any emission controls. It comes complete with a controller, wiring harness and instructions. It is part # 12499120.
The Vortec 5.7L is an emissions engine and as such it's controller is not compatable with the Ram Jet 350.
If you planned on using a 4L60E, 4L65E, 4L80E or 4L85E transmission, G.M. has a stand alone transmission control module, part # 12497316.
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby Mr_Roboto » March 22nd 2009, 10:48am

astrovan98 wrote:The Ram Jet 350 engine is designed for pre-1976 vehicles and does not have any emission controls. It comes complete with a controller, wiring harness and instructions. It is part # 12499120.
The Vortec 5.7L is an emissions engine and as such it's controller is not compatable with the Ram Jet 350.
If you planned on using a 4L60E, 4L65E, 4L80E or 4L85E transmission, G.M. has a stand alone transmission control module, part # 12497316.


You could get rid of the ECU that GM uses and use a stocker ECU with the wiring mods mentioned,and some work from a tuner. The cam is still VERY tame by EFI standards. A stock TPI or LT1 F-body cam is hotter than a Ramjet cam. Hell it may even run on a stock tune, without all that much tweaking.
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby Gary » March 22nd 2009, 11:27am

Guys-guys,let this old guy haul this thread back into reality.Someone,anyone-show me the money for a 350 Ram-Jet.Petey told me he has 30 grand invested into his 502 van.I believe that to be true.What with a 350 Ram-Jet the engine alone would be a least $7,000 delivered to your door.That is only the engine without any controllers, custom mounts,custom wire harness,custom exhaust,ect.Then the reality of having it installed in a 4,000lb Astro van that has the aero of a barn pushing down the road.A van that is in the best case all on it's own is only worth about $2,500.If it's going to happen,show me the pic's and make me a believer.
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby cosway [OP] » March 23rd 2009, 5:21pm

my last 2 swaps were weekend swaps.

V6 chevy out 350 chevy in.
307 chevy out 327 chevy in.
but these were not fuel injected cars.
ps. regarding emissions, I don't live in a "state" im in a "Province" :)
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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby astro355 » March 23rd 2009, 5:45pm

Gary wrote:Guys-guys,let this old guy haul this thread back into reality.Someone,anyone-show me the money for a 350 Ram-Jet.Petey told me he has 30 grand invested into his 502 van.I believe that to be true.What with a 350 Ram-Jet the engine alone would be a least $7,000 delivered to your door.That is only the engine without any controllers, custom mounts,custom wire harness,custom exhaust,ect.Then the reality of having it installed in a 4,000lb Astro van that has the aero of a barn pushing down the road.A van that is in the best case all on it's own is only worth about $2,500.If it's going to happen,show me the pic's and make me a believer.


Come on, Gary. Its doesn't matter what you think these vans are worth, just what each owner thinks his van is worth. I've got $2,000 in the block alone not counting the machining I done to it.http://www.fasterthanthem.com/product.php?productid=98766340 And then you add the exhaust, intake, ignition, suspension and drivetrain mods, that's a considerable amount. But I don't let those numbers really bother me because at the end of the day, I am very happy with my creation.

That's a horrible thing for you to say.

I also believe that Petey has that much in his van, unfortunately, mine goes faster. :confused:

But to answer the OP's question, it can be a weekend project. As long as you have everything you need and you already tested (fired up) the engine before hand and know with the way its going in, that it will run.
Diagnose 1st, never be a parts changer!

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Re: my friend said it is an easy swap but you guys say?

Postby Gary » March 24th 2009, 12:59am

astro355 wrote:
Gary wrote:Guys-guys,let this old guy haul this thread back into reality.Someone,anyone-show me the money for a 350 Ram-Jet.Petey told me he has 30 grand invested into his 502 van.I believe that to be true.What with a 350 Ram-Jet the engine alone would be a least $7,000 delivered to your door.That is only the engine without any controllers, custom mounts,custom wire harness,custom exhaust,ect.Then the reality of having it installed in a 4,000lb Astro van that has the aero of a barn pushing down the road.A van that is in the best case all on it's own is only worth about $2,500.If it's going to happen,show me the pic's and make me a believer.


Come on, Gary. Its doesn't matter what you think these vans are worth, just what each owner thinks his van is worth. I've got $2,000 in the block alone not counting the machining I done to it.http://www.fasterthanthem.com/product.php?productid=98766340 And then you add the exhaust, intake, ignition, suspension and drivetrain mods, that's a considerable amount. But I don't let those numbers really bother me because at the end of the day, I am very happy with my creation.

That's a horrible thing for you to say.

I also believe that Petey has that much in his van, unfortunately, mine goes faster. :confused:

But to answer the OP's question, it can be a weekend project. As long as you have everything you need and you already tested (fired up) the engine before hand and know with the way its going in, that it will run.


Astro355-Not trying to be a horrible person here.Any race car I have been involved in has had a budget and we figured in advance how much we where going to spend so we knew that selling a winning car we would profit from the sale.Been doing that for many,many yrs.

In my case-here is the quote that sums up where I am at with my Astro:

When I go to do the Ole Yellar V8 swap-what I want the most of all is it to show in every way the yrs I have been at this kind of thing.Solid mechanics done right the first time with a clean long term effect that can not be denied.It doesn't matter how long it takes.I am going to just enjoy every moment watching it all come together.At my age,it is likely the last one and my best effort.

As far as a weekend swap-well I agree with you as long he has had all his ducks in a row in advance.
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