Does our LS1 Measure Up?

Dec 16, 2016 update to the BMW M3 project car

Our crankshaft's journals measured within spec, but a few were scored. That's probably why this engine was pulled out of service.
Our engine came with "853" heads, which are some of the worst flowing heads to ever come with an LS-series V8.
Each of our cylinder bores measured round and square, with very little overall wear.
Though we're planning to upgrade to better heads, we practiced measuring the volume of our old ones.
We wrote down each measurement on this sheet, designed by the school.

We’ve got a simple dream: Race a V8-swapped 1997 BMW M3. That dream had us standing in a Daytona State College classroom learning how to build a race engine. Why? For the same amount of money we’d pay in machining on a normal engine rebuild, we’d have one-on-one instruction and learn how to do every step of the process ourselves. The school even provided all the tools we needed.

Now that our engine was disassembled and cleaned, it was time to see what we really had. We measured every relevant part of our engine against factory specifications. Why? Knowing how big everything was let us plan our build better. Would we need to overbore our cylinders? Would we need oversized main bearings? Until we measured, we didn’t know. Fortunately, everything in our engine measured within spec, meaning we had essentially a blank slate to start with.

That begs the question: Why was our engine removed and disassembled? After removing the crankshaft, we realized why: at some point, the engine had been slightly starved of oil, and scored a few of the rod bearing journals on the crank. It was probably knocking when it was taken out of service.

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Reader comments:

TheV8Kid
TheV8Kid Reader
Dec. 16, 2016 11:43 a.m.

Looking forward to see how this turns out. I really enjoy working on these engines. I have rebuilt enough of them that they are like Legos to me now.

What are your horsepower goals?

What heads are you planning to use? LS6?

You guys using the stock PCM?

TimM
TimM New Reader
Dec. 18, 2016 6:24 p.m.

An update-excellent!

Looking forward to the next installment.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
Dec. 19, 2016 11:08 a.m.

Right now, I'm shooting for 400 horsepower with lots of room for boost without any additional modifications. That's why you'll see some shiny forged parts going in soon.

I have a set of LS6 heads on my bench, but I haven't gone through them yet. It's either that or a set of aftermarket heads–still weighing the pros and cons there.

I've got an AMPEFI MS3Pro Ultimate ECU and drop-on engine harness ordered.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
Dec. 19, 2016 11:32 a.m.

So... you can take a class to rebuild your engine 1:1 with a pro guide, machine shop on the premises and when you are done ... so is your engine?

This is brilliant.

How do you search for something like that?

kanaric
kanaric Dork
Dec. 19, 2016 11:43 a.m.

This engine in E36 or S13/14 Nissans is probably my favorite combo equally for LS swap candidates.

I would actually like to see someone take on a E36 vs S14 LS swap shootout one day.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
Dec. 19, 2016 12:06 p.m.
Huckleberry wrote: So... you can take a class to rebuild your engine 1:1 with a pro guide, machine shop on the premises and when you are done ... so is your engine? This is brilliant. How do you search for something like that?

Yes, that's correct. Here's the rub, though: Because most programs like this are at community colleges, your mileage will totally vary depending on where you live. And normally, a class like ours would have had 5-15 people (our semester wasn't well attended for some reason). Still, though, it's a great learning opportunity and you end up with a finished engine.

Search for "engine machining" or "engine rebuilding" or something like that. Some schools might only use "school" engines, but if you explain that you're an enthusiast, not a kid looking to get a job at an engine building shop, odds are they'll be flexible. You'll also pay more if there's some sort of certification involved, but again you can always negotiate.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
Dec. 19, 2016 12:27 p.m.

Now that I know it exists somewhere - I'm searching. I have torn down and re-assembled many an engine with good success but I would love to be hands on when it comes time to punch it out, line bore it, balance the rotating assembly and so on. The machining is something I have always just handed out to a shop.

We have a vocational school here where I took welding classes that had negotiable ala carte subject matter, and they do have an automotive program but they don't appear to have anything that caters to a specific sub-topic like that as a class. You have to sign up for the whole 2yr program.

TheV8Kid
TheV8Kid Reader
Dec. 19, 2016 1:11 p.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: Right now, I'm shooting for 400 horsepower with lots of room for boost without any additional modifications. That's why you'll see some shiny forged parts going in soon. I have a set of LS6 heads on my bench, but I haven't gone through them yet. It's either that or a set of aftermarket heads–still weighing the pros and cons there. I've got an AMPEFI MS3Pro Ultimate ECU and drop-on engine harness ordered.

Nice! Sounds like a lot of fun. You should be making about the same power my Studebaker is making. How much do you think the car will weigh?

Boost sounds like fun. That's what I would love to do on my car as well. You have good tastes, my friend.

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