$400 Well Spent: LS1 Engine Teardown
May 24, 2016 update to the BMW M3 project car
Our last update had us in a seller’s field buying a dirt-cheap 1997 BMW M3. The reason? We wanted to build a V8-swapped monster, of course.
This engine is the other half of the puzzle. We picked it up from a forum member for just $400, knowing only that it was supposedly complete, but in pieces. We weren’t willing to chance using an engine that’d been taken apart and stored in a shed without rebuilding it, so we signed up for an engine rebuilding class at our local tech school, Daytona State College. For just $750–about the price of the machine work we’d need–we were signed up to spend two nights each week rebuilding our own engine from start to finish, with full access to all of the tools we’d need to do so.
Step one: Disassembly. As we tore into our LS and started taking measurements, we determined that it had never been rebuilt, and was actually in surprisingly good shape. It’s a 1999 LS1, which means 5.7 liters of sweet American displacement for our dainty German car.
This is going to be a fun project.
|Not a subscriber? Each magazine contains even more details on our project cars. Subscribe to Grassroots Motorsports now.|
Those aluminum blocks can't be bored more than 0.003" I think. The truck blocks are heavier but can be bored, glad yours doesn't need it! My 6.0L from a van still had visible cross hatch in the top travel of the rings, you are right, marvels of engineering!
That is a fantastic idea. 750$ to learn to fish. Instead buying from the fish market everyday. Thanks for the idea.
Did not know there was such a thing, but what a great concept
Learn to fish? Thats like teaching someone how to operate a fishing trawler and then giving them a length of line and a hook and sending him out into the world. Unless they plan to buy a machine shop, where are they going to have access to all those cool machines? Sure they will walk away with some assembly knowledge, but don't most of us on this board already have that. Still looks like a fun way to spend a few evenings.
Check your local community colleges for classes. We did a lot of work on our challenge car in a class like what Tom did.
I've been trying to check my local college for classes as a way to work / learn on my project but finding nothing.. Maybe I'm just bad at finding it as Raleigh NC has like 1,000 colleges in the surrounding area it seems.
local classes are good... not saying otherwise.... BUT a shop with over 200 years of collective (6 people) experience is a complete different story
In reply to tr8todd:
Let's see you come up with a better analogy.
In reply to Coldsnap:
You might also want to look for Vocational/Tech schools. Also, community education programs done by local towns/voc-tech schools.
The Wake Tech main campus used to have rebuilding classes several years ago. Not sure where you live in Wake County, but check Durham Tech and Johnston Comm College as well.
Need a new-in-box Fluidampr (F-body style)? I bought one for my Camaro and never used it.
It doesn't matter if he'll ever have access to that equipment again, if he ever needs to rebuild another engine (spoiler alert: it's GRM HQ, he will), he'll know the complete process of what it's is happening to it..
Not only that, the writing/reporting will be that much better from a thorough understanding of what is being done.
Money well spent.
TiggerWelder wrote: Those aluminum blocks can't be bored more than 0.003" I think. The truck blocks are heavier but can be bored, glad yours doesn't need it! My 6.0L from a van still had visible cross hatch in the top travel of the rings, you are right, marvels of engineering!
Some of the aluminum truck 5.3 blocks can be bored out to the LS1 bore size, which is something like .100" bigger.
Tom, I'm a bit surprised you haven't done one yet. If you haven't, there's nothing like hearing that first one roar to life for the first time. Don't forget to yell, "IT'S ALIVE!" in your best Boris Karloff imitation.
Rebuilding an engine is easy: I did my first one on the greasy floor of my garage when I was 18. Used the coin operated car wash to get everything clean for like $3..
Many tech schools don't have a pressure testing machine.
Inspect the are around the center head bolts on the intake side and look for cracks...
Very cool. I remember the first motor I did an overhaul on, an old Lycoming O-320 that had timed out. Never told the poor bastard why I declined a ride after I hung it off the front of the airplane.
No matter what the outcome its a great skill set to have and teaches you, at the very least, about why being meticulous in close tolerance situations is important. Also why a torque wrench is important unlike what some would have you believe.
In reply to GTXVette:
Partly because I'm 6' and was 250lbs and partly because didn't fit real well in the cockpit (One sort of lead to the other.) I was as confident in the engine as I could be as it ran well on the test stand after overhaul.
Was the seller planning to convert it from EFI to SU carbs?
alfadriver wrote: Check your local community colleges for classes. We did a lot of work on our challenge car in a class like what Tom did.
If you don't mind me asking, which school was it?
Ian F wrote: Was the seller planning to convert it from EFI to SU carbs?
No, that's Tim leaving parts in my pile (again).
Is this project dead or in delay?
Sorry about that, Tim. Been busy around here lately. It's been delayed, but you'll start seeing updates again next week. Long story short: I needed to make more room in the garage before going deeper into the build.
Tom-thanks for the follow up-I'm surprised...figured it lost interest and dropped off the plate.
Excited to see this build continue. Hope to learn me a thing or two... Or eight.
You'll need to log in to post.
All 1997 BMW M3 updates
Honing In On Honing Time
We get our LS1-swapped BMW M3's block ready for honing.
Pumped for Pistons
Shiny new parts start arriving for our LS1
Project V8 M3: Tapping Our Block
We clean our low-buck LS1's threads.
Does our LS1 Measure Up?
We dissect our Chevy V8 to see what's broken.
$400 Well Spent: LS1 Engine Teardown
We crack open our M3's new heart.
Craigslist Peril: BMW M3
We grab a dirt-cheap BMW M3.
3 days ago in News
Now is a great time to renew or start subscribing to our magazine.