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Thread: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

  1. #1
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    Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Here is carpet-bombing of this forum by me...

    Wasn't sure if this belongs in 'Performance Muscle' but here goes.

    I have a 2001 LS1-engine GM Australian Commodore VX factory-fitted LS6 intakes with freer exhaust otherwise stock. A4 3.07:1

    Current cam is lovely flat torque, max 195rwkw@5,700-5,900 and it's strong but not strong enough!

    I need better grunt in the 2,000-5,000rpm ... the engine needs a minor bearing idler thing now (it wouldn't happen on a Toyota) at 115K kms and I thought a bigger cam, e-tune and 3.45:1 would be good.

    Current cam from memory is 194/200 .490 112? which works well and has really only 2nd gear on the road to do anything legal.

    So here is a plan:
    Rapid Motosport Dominator cam package about US$1,100 plus post these seem to come at
    218/224 .578 114 or around 210/216 .525 depending on where you go on their website ...

    Stock air intake since it's usually quite cool air in Canterbury NZ here unlike Australia. I already have the stock VX International exhaust without cats (legal here) and it has a good resonator behind two freeflows, sounds almost like stock, no resonance/drone.. and much of my driving involves listening to music.. or talk, or just being quiet generally

    ECU re-write to suit RON 95 (USA 91 ?) with shorter gearing to 3.5 or 3.7 with the 4L60E it should if the timing and fuel is written right be tighter faster and better./ then maybe lower the car 1" approx and

    the issue is, how far do I go with the cam for midrange? LS2s seem to take the longer cams well with skilled ECU writers... but the LS1 cam change I welcome advice.

    Lorna is well, there are juvenile birds in the summer air, a nice 20C + Dave the mechanic broke bones in his left hand in a speedway crash on Sunday and the boy Simon is commanding the ship.. amazingly, he is a very fine mechanic AND person and loves his work.
    So all is well.

    ob












  2. #2
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Does "needs a minor bearing idler thing" mean that you've found the source of THE NOISE at last?


  3. #3
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran
    Does "needs a minor bearing idler thing" mean that you've found the source of THE NOISE at last?

    Yes and no. The noise is getting worse and happens with a warm engine now, but without stripping the bits on the front of the engine we still cannot say exactly what is causing it. I need a better ear than mine when it's cold but that means lending them the car etc. Could be alternator or one of the pulley bearings on the rh side front. The rattle occurs on the overrun as much as acceleration so we think it's NOT inside the engine. When you accelerate 2,000-4,000rpm as in typical 2nd gear it sounds like severe pre-ignition, if you give it those revs with hood up in the shop it's still not possible to say where exactly it's coming from. We think we will have to wait for something to break, or else replace everything.



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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    A bit of web-browsing has brought an offer of a Australian 'Crow' camshaft springs and pushrods for the 2001 LS1 (LS6 intake) but I thought the US dollar is in the toilet and thus the US camshaft kits would be nearly as cheap and include retainers and valve seals... as buying from Oz.

    See the dilemmas of we poor starving artists-in-garretts?.

    The Crow cam price covers a 'flash' of the ECU and I've asked for details of how they set the 'tune' wth regard to the engine, exhaust system, fuel, etc.

    It's my feeling that a $200 'flash' mail order Australian set of numbers would be nicer on the pocket than the US cam supplier's system which I think would require a custom tune...

    A custom tune here can start at $US800 with maybe 4 dyno runs etc...

    Of course there is the option of just driving the car as it is, but where is the fun in that?

  5. #5
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Do you have access to a mechanic's stethescope?

    You place the end of the metal probe on the center part of a bearing, and you can hear if it's going bad.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    You place the end of the metal probe on the center part of a bearing, and you can hear if it's going bad.
    I use the cheapskate's version - a long screwdriver. Of course, it sometimes isn't possible because of restricted access, & can involve some rather ungainly postures!

  7. #7
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    Do you have access to a mechanic's stethescope?

    You place the end of the metal probe on the center part of a bearing, and you can hear if it's going bad.

    Chip H.
    Dr DollyWell's Doctor by Burl Ives has the best sound ever of listening to an i/c thing, as well as assuring you that no bearing are going bad.

    The loud rattle above 1,500rpm cold and 2,000-5,000rpm warm is still "somehere" towards front of the car engine, when it is louder than the exhaust under acceleration,

  8. #8
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg

    The loud rattle above 1,500rpm cold and 2,000-5,000rpm warm is still "somehere" towards front of the car engine, when it is louder than the exhaust under acceleration,
    If you keep the noise at the highest level, the source may soon manifest itself.

    You have double checked the engine mounts?

  9. #9
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    double checked the engine mounts?

    Interesting.
    ?
    I think it's gonna take a while to get worse... there is no obvious weakness structurally... might take a guru to drive it.

    It sure takes the fun out of wide-throttle acceleration. Dave guru broke his hand in a race 'event' last weekend... I might see if he can start it drive it cold and test it once his hand settles with three broken bones (codeine +pararacetol) when he is bored.

    Have further stuff about cam etc none of which is surprsing (change the engine cam etc you really need a full re-write) soft cam + 'chip' or 'flash' just makes the car run with earlier spark at low-med and richer top...

    The local race ECU guru who does GM V8s for race cars spoke to me for a few minutes this lunchtime and I think he thinks srtraight changes are a bit silly from factory but was polite especially when with the more modest cams, and he said the "factory ECUs are fantastic in what they can do". and thus a combo of a mild cam (215/221 plus a 'chip) could be good while our dollar is so high...

    I think a 'general' -style chip just makes the car feel better with more early advance and fuel if on good fuel and makes open-loop a tad rich. The cam would flow more air. Might just make a good combo .. although it would need less initial spark.

    The girls at the shop were very protective of Chris. So I mentioned my age and car-tuning with SUs and Lucas and my age and motorbikes and I got him at lunchtime.

    Plan A is nothing
    Plan B is buy the cam 211/218 package from Aus and then do the 'chip'
    Plan C is get the 'chip' for the ECU done and then buy the camshaft.\

    of course I could do nothing, and make train pictures.









  10. #10
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    double checked the engine mounts?

    Interesting.
    At the same time, check the transmission mount. I once had a car which had a transient vibration which tore out the trans mount and upon replacing the mount, the vibration became worse. It's a very long tale but the bottom line is that a balance weight in the torque converter had gone adrift. Who knew that torque converters had balance weights?

  11. #11
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Was that a certain Honda Legend?

    There's no vibration, no loss of power with my LS1 noise... the rattling and ticking some thought might be an exhaust manifold cover, but it ain't, and oddly it sounds worse inside the car than from the outside (I think) and occurs under power AND overrun..

    Anyway I have ordered a CrowCam 215/221 114 .525 LS1 cam with new springs and pushrods from Aus., and fitting that will require the front of the engine to be stripped re-assembled. Our dollar is reasonably strong against the Aussie.

    Can't be bad...

  12. #12
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by robmcg
    Was that a certain Honda Legend?

    There's no vibration, no loss of power with my LS1 noise... the rattling and ticking some thought might be an exhaust manifold cover, but it ain't, and oddly it sounds worse inside the car than from the outside (I think) and occurs under power AND overrun..

    Anyway I have ordered a CrowCam 215/221 114 .525 LS1 cam with new springs and pushrods from Aus., and fitting that will require the front of the engine to be stripped re-assembled. Our dollar is reasonably strong against the Aussie.

    Can't be bad...
    It was, indeed.

    I'm at a loss to understand the need for a new cam. How much overlap will it have, there's no point in recamming if the engine will still idle under 2,000 rpm. For less money a few ice-pick holes in the muffler will equally impress the ignorant pedestrian.

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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    I'm at a loss to understand the need for a new cam. How much overlap will it have, there's no point in recamming if the engine will still idle under 2,000 rpm. For less money a few ice-pick holes in the muffler will equally impress the ignorant pedestrian.
    LOL! Judy would be amused.

    I got a message from her a few weeks ago. She still needs to be taken-in-hand.

    You think I'm gonna spend $2,000 to get street cred? I wouldn't lower myself. Although it would be fun to put a serious cam in...

    The guys who will do the change
    http://www.ls1howto.com/index.php?article=23

    there are three guys Dave the mid 30s worried the best mechanic I have ever seen and two competent younger guys... they are all neat people so the cam swap will be when they have a slow week this autumn your spring... Dave Walsh is a type of man who doesn't much like management, and has a one-hoist shop and has to turn customers away.
    He broke bones in his left hand in a stock car race crash last week. He built a 9 sec normally aspirated 1949 UK Ford Anglia with 350 Chev two years ago.
    When he builds engines uses a 'sterile' room and uses micrometers and flat edges a lot. He built a and engine for one racing season with modified V8 sedans and it lasted a full season. The his boss raced it untouched towards next season and they kinda parted...

    anyway I need 16 long pencil magnets to hold the cam followers while the cam is out. Any lying around in your or JGR's garages?

    here is Dave, the girl is an ex-carer. We were doing something on a 300ZXTT Nissan



  14. #14
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    I'd buy the cam install tools, or make 'em.

    I don't trust magnets that much.


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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran
    I'd buy the cam install tools, or make 'em.

    I don't trust magnets that much.
    I'll leave it to Dave to make the call. Thanks for the opnion. The install tool would probably be Dave's preference, and mine, but I don't get too involved in the actual work. I would personally prefer to be the one who pulls the old cam out and 'feels' the new one in, but once he takes the job I won't even watch..
    Ideally I would pay for Dave to pull the engine out and optimise the heads and manifolds but I think factory-build is pretty damn good already. The engine makes 350hp AND averages 25mpg (US gallons) without trouble. And can haul the 1650Kg sedan 0-60 in well under 7 secs.

    I nearly bought a CompCam US 265 LS1 kit at US$995 which has retainers springs seats seals pushrods and cam and it is slightly longer than the CrowCam and has more lift but I opted for the milder Aussie version because I am not doing a dyno tune. I will see how it runs and if I want I can post the PCM to Aussie for it to be 'flashed' with more timing low down. As you may know I have built a lot of BMC Lucas SU engines and finding the right timing and fuel was a very pleasant art, and everyone who drove my cars thought I was some kind of magician.
    I used to get up in the middle of the night and change needles, do a test drive, change springs in the 25D4 distributor, test drive again, and get back to sleep, all from the wheelchair.

    Some have said I might as well put a very big cam in if I am going to all the trouble, but my experience in building engines is that the big cams need custom tuning and I don't have the facilities nor do I like dyno WOT runs.
    Dave is back after the stock car crash where he has badly broken his left hand a week ago, but the three bones in the middle of his hand are broken I don't think recovery will be too quick or easy.

    The cam will eventually run as good or better than stock and then I might look for a shorter diff. Could alter the cable-throttle so it works quicker and then someone will say, hi-stall converter and so on, but these things are just for art, as I told Margaret, who is now in counselling.

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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    I'm at a loss to understand the need for a new cam. How much overlap will it have, there's no point in recamming if the engine will still idle under 2,000 rpm. For less money a few ice-pick holes in the muffler will equally impress the ignorant pedestrian.
    And I am wondering when you got the feeling you get when an engine you built goes well.
    I thought long and hard about building a good BMC 4-speed auto but this alloy LS1 is a serious work of art.

    Just changing the timing would improve it but why stop there?

    I posted elsewhere a link to a short video of a seriously rebuilt alloy US V8 doing a 9.65 quarter. Normally aspirated.

    http://www.rapidmotorsports.com/project_cars/ls1_9s.cfm

    down the bottom there is a short video normally aspirated. ...Art. should you wonder what te mid nines actually means..

    I think Eric's fastest bikes would kinda look like Chinese mopeds by comparison, but I am content with my Opel-derived LS1.
    High summer here. The young girls underdress and the older check moles for skin cancer.


  17. #17
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    " Who knew that torque converters had balance weights? "

    I've seen the things tack-welded on several GM torque converters...

  18. #18
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Drive it with the new cam and give the ECU time to adapt; that may be all that's needed.

    A shorter axle, high stall converter, and faster cable will just ruin the drivability.


  19. #19
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Agree on the stall converter.
    Every stoplight will become a drag strip.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  20. #20
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    Re: Rob's LS1 Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    " Who knew that torque converters had balance weights? "

    I've seen the things tack-welded on several GM torque converters...
    One would think that there is a better way -

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