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Relentless - 1977 280z LS (5.3l L59) swap

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I call it relentless, because that's what it's taken to get this far.  This project (LS swap) is no joke...not to discourage anyone wanting to do a LS swap, it's just a journey to be enjoyed.


My hope is this will help a few people plan out their build or get one started.  I've gotten 90% of my information from this site, so I say thank you to all who have contributed.


Here's my Parts list so far: (i'll update this first post until it's driving)(Pics to follow)


1977 280z (started as automatic)


L59 5.3L Vortec - 2002 Chevy Avalanche


JCI Parts
Engine Mount Set - $295
Transmission Mount Set -$135
Driveshaft - $330

1.75" Headers - $425


Engine parts

Spark Plug Wires (best fit for JCI headers) - MSD 32829

LS6 Intake/Fuel Rail/Injectors - Ebay
98-02' Camaro Oil Pan - $250 - 12628771
Camaro Oil Pan extras - $120 - Ebay Kit included:
    - Windage Tray - 12558253 
    - Oil Pump Pickup - 12558251 
    - Engine Oil Dipstick Tube - 12551577 
    - Engine Oil Dipstick - 12551581 
    - Oil Pump O-Ring - 12557752 
LS6 valley cover (built in pcv) - $95 - 12577927
LS6 PCV Hose - $4.99 - 12594779
PCV Plug - $10.50 - 12568011 (Plugs driver side rear valve cover pcv port on truck motors)
LS1 Intake Manifold Bolts - $19.99 - 650-020 (z-car depot)
LS1 Intake manifold gaskets - $21.78 - Fel-Pro MS 92438
LS1 style injector plug pigtails - $12.99 - EV1-8 (ebay) (I might get new connector bodies and crimp new terminals, heard soldering could cause more resistance.) 
Alternator bracket, Low - $59.99 - ALT27 (lsxinnovations) (truck alternator + truck spacing)
To drill Block for Alternator mount - 11/32" drill bit (hardware store or online)
To tap Block for Alternator mount - 10mm X 1.5 Tap (hardware store or online)
Serpentine Belt (fits low mount alternator with no other accessories) - $18.05 - Dayco 5060548
Ribbed idler Pulley - $14.49 - Dayco 89015

02' Camaro Clamshell Motor Mount - $25

Ecm Flash and program - $75 - Brendan @ LT1swap


Tremec T56 - 2002 Camaro (LKQ)
SDPC LS7 Clutch/Flywheel kit - $506.98 - SDLS7CK
    +Clutch Alignment tool - $6.99 - (addon to clutch kit ^)
Pilot Bushing (Oilite Bronze) - $10.99 - National PB656HD
    -(alternative) Pilot Bearing - $18.85 - GM 14061685
Slave Cylinder - $44.16 - LuK LSC265B
Fitting (slave to clutch line *attached to slave*) - $14.27 -  Russell 640281
Clutch line (Master Cyl. to Slave) - $14.52 - Russell 655090 33"
Remote Bleeder (*attached to Slave*) - $31.30 - Quarter Master 710105 (this worked, but I had to order the extra parts below to make it work)
    +10mm Crush Washer  -  6173642 (speedway motors)
    +10mm x 1.5 to -3 AN Male- -$19.54 (washers + adapter) - 6174043 (speedway motors)

Fuel System
7/16" Fuel Hose, Gas Tank to Fuel Pump - $12.65 - 5ft of PRO 1 Fuel Line Hose 7/16" ID
Hose Clamps, Gas tank to Fuel Pump - $5 - 7/16" Hose clamps 4pack Oreilly's (qty.2)
Shutoff Valve, Before pre-filter(at gas tank) - $7.40 - SharkBite 22461LF (1/2" barb PEX)
Fuel Filter (Pre-filter before fuel pump) - $13.43 - Baldwin BF7693 (100 micron)
Fitting, Fuel Pump inlet (m10x1 to 8an male) - $8.75 -  Walbro 128-3040
Fitting, Fuel Pump inlet barb (8an female to 1/2" barb) - $11 - JEGS 100847
Fuel pump kit - $88.98 - Walbro GSL392-400-939
Fitting, Fuel Pump outlet - $10.99 - Earl's 991953 (10mm x 1 Male to 6 AN Male)
Fitting, 6AN straight coupler (between Pump and FPR fittings) - $10.22 - Russell 640000
Fitting, 3/8 hardline to 6AN (Fuel Rail and FPR (inlet)) - $9.99 - Russell 640850 (qty.2)
Fuel Pressure Regulator - $62.25 - ACDelco GF822
Fitting, FPR outlet (to gas tank) - $8.11 - Dorman 800-120
5/16" Fuel Hose, Return line (FPR to Gas Tank)  - $15.95 - 7ft of EFI Fuel Hose 30R9 5/16" I.D. (4 hose clamps included)
Fitting, FPR outlet (to fuel rail) - $6.73 - Russell 640940
AN Fitting qty.2...... (to connect pump to fuel rail)
Braided PTFE..... ("     ")
Pending Fuel System Total:  $274.70


Exhaust System

2.5" stainless v-band - $24.99 - Evil Energy (amazon) (qty. 2)
Exhaust Manifold Bolts - $7.99 - Doorman 03413


Homemade Parts
Ron Tyler R200 Diff mount - $0.00 - Labor + 1/4" plate
    Poly Diff Mount  - $29.99 - Energy Suspension 3.1108G


Random Parts
Rear Output Seal (T56) - $16 - National 710426
T56 to Engine Block Bolts - $19 - GM 11515768
Knock sensor wire harness - $47.57 - 12601822
Knock sensor (x2) - $36.99 - 12589867
280z halfshalf u-joint - $26 - Neapco 1-0029 (drivetrainamerica)(fits well, includes low profile zerk fitting that also fits well)
Mustache Bar Poly Bushings - $27.42 - Energy Suspension 7.1102G
Steering Rack Bushings - $16.95 - Energy Suspension 7.10102G







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Found this automatic Z with an incredibly clean body for a decent price so I jumped on it.  


Price was mainly due to the fact it grenaded both sides of the block and put a window in both sides, rod sticking out and all.  So I pulled it with my buddy.






Found some rust under the battery tray, and a crazy repair job (Z sheet metal is hard to deal with, but this repair was special) so I cut it all out and welded in some new metal, that's some tough welding.


I lit the insulation on fire inside the car which caused a panic attack, so I stripped almost all of that out of the firewall passenger side to finish welding.












Tried to do it in one piece, but ended up having to splice a second piece in








Made a tray (used 1x1 angle to support it, not shown)




Undercoated the bottom side of the patch, and bed lined the engine bay side just to plug any pinholes I missed while welding.

Cleaned and painted the engine bay matte black.  (tedious but therapeutic)









Installed JCI motor mount kit.   Pretty straight forward, had to dremel the wheel well side of the compression rod "metal cup" to get the nut attached to secure that part of the motor mount.




Drivers side:




12mm x 1.75 x 150mm bolt and lock nut needed to bolt engine to frame (not in JCI kit)(hardware store)

10mm x 1.5 x 40mm bolts for tranny rubber mount (not in JCI kit)




Passenger Side:




Installed new steering rack bushings while it was open




Made a Ron Tyler style Diff mount






Removed Transmission Mount Ears (still need to paint)




Removed entire old fuel pump and lines (left the p-clip mounts along the frame rail to hold the brake line in them)




Started mocking up the fuel system (walbro 255) (1x1 angle iron, with 3/4" spacers to make a equal plane for Pump and Pressure Regulator)




The fuel tank upper port is 7/16", lower port is 5/16" (for anyone wondering). Ran some lengths of hose for now until I get pump mounted somewhere, most likely bolted to the drivers side fuel tank strap lower bracket. (i'll get pics later once installed)




Installed a clutch pedal from a craigslist score (came with bushings, bolt, and pedal stop)...One of the hardest things i've done in my life, :D tight area up in there.






Engine Arrived....(more to come)





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First mod I did to the dirty motor was  mount the lsinnovations low mount alternator bracket


Mounted it backwards with the lower bolt only




Drilled/Tapped the engine block to m10x1.5 about 1" deep for the upper bolt. 











Bend the coolant steam vent forward slightly

Twist the main Coolant return neck to the passenger side a bit(used a torch at the base of the neck and a rubber mallet)




Bend the fuel inlet on the rail to clear the coil




Old valley cover vs LS6 Valley cover (with pcv built in)




Valley cover removed




Installed LS6 valley cover and new knock sensors




plugged the pcv port on the drivers valve cover at the rear. (this setup takes only one line from the ls6 pcv valley cover to the intake)


Jumping around in my pics to get caught up 

Removed R180 to install a R200, R200 mustache bar and new poly mustache bushings.




Cleaned old Mustache Bushings out to install Poly ones




Installed new Luk Slave, 33" clutch line and fitting, as well as remote bleeder into T56






Removed Flexplate






Installed Oilite Pilot Bushing






Installed Flywheel + LS7 clutch








Getting it all tied together




Installed Camaro Oil pan/windage tray/pickup tube










Started modding the truck manifolds, waiting until the engine is mounted before going further with that.

Ground off the heat shield nubs (DON'T cut off the far right one very much, it's recessed out inside and I cut a hole that I had to weld back up. Thankfully this metal welds great with mild steel mig wire.


Plan is to weld a small extension with o2 bungs, then V-band after that.





That's pretty much where i'm at, I plan on painting the transmission ears today that I cut off, then test fit the motor at some point soon!


Wiring has me a bit nervous, but hopefully it goes smoothly with some help from you guys.

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Keep the updates coming! Looks like a hell of a project.


One-question: The JCI mounts... do these use GM rubber mounts or does the JCI kit come with actual rubber mounts? From your pic I just see metal adapter mounts.


Also, is the JCI trans mount rubber too?


Any kit I buy must be rubber (been there done that and won’t do poly mounts on a street car ever again).

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8 hours ago, luke87gt said:

One-question: The JCI mounts... do these use GM rubber mounts or does the JCI kit come with actual rubber mounts?


I'll definitely keep this updated.  Almost ready to install the motor/trans, that'll be big for me.


The JCI kit uses rubber mounts on all points, that's a big reason I chose it as well, plus he's been a really nice guy to deal with.


The kit comes with a rubber trans mount (any part# 2337 works), and passenger rubber mount setup.





Passenger side of block



You need to buy the drivers side stock Camaro rubber mount separately (I used part# Powertorque B3064).


Driver sides of Block



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Fuel setup work tonight.




3" ID C-Channel fits perfectly over the fuel tank strap, tapped some 1/4-20's into it.  The rest is 1x1 angle iron and 1" flatbar strut.




Tapped a rubber spacer to rest against the gas tank on the far end.




Strut pulls everything slightly forward to lock it in place




Return line plumbed in, waiting on a 1/2" barb fitting for the inlet.




Hopefully it works well at this level, it's as low as I felt comfortable getting it, might make a skid plate for it eventually.




Got it plumbed together. 



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R180 to R200 swap complete, new mustache poly bushings,  Half Shaft u-joint, Ron tyler mount. 


I ground the energy suspension mount to contour the top of the diff, and it still dropped the nose of the diff .25", which hopefully leads to a good driveline angle with the T56.

These pics remind me of how dirty everything is, but the function is solid!  :bling:  Cleaning and painting is not my forte at this moment. 





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  • 3 weeks later...

Installed a Champion 3-row Radiator with their fan/shroud combo






Found some Rubber insulators at the hardware store to buffer it




The Radiator comes with overflow tube guides, I had to bend them off to fit the shroud





Used the Fans as a guide to drill and tap the Aluminum Shroud 1/4"-20




The Champion Radiator fit extremely well, the welds are great too.



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Got a Tilton 75-875U Clutch Master (7/8")

(ordered a 90 degree -3AN male out the back to be able to mount the windshield washer bottle in the stock location)  the upper nut that mounts the clutch master to the firewall is extremely tight, im gonna sacrifice a 12mm wrench cut it in half, and grind it thin which should work well.


My car was an automatic so I needed to make a clutch pedal clevis out of some 1/8 inch flatbar with a 5/16"-24 nut welded on for the Tilton pushrod. 






For the intake I bought some silicone parts, made a diagram that might help someone in the future with sizes.  (Using a Truck 5 wire MAF which is 3.75" in, 3.5" out)



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Started thinning out the truck harness and got all the standalone wires labeled and ready for a relay/fuse panel.  


LT1Swap.com was a lifesaver, watched his youtube video and read the pinouts for my year as I went and it was extremely helpful. 




Thinking of mounting the ECM in the engine bay since the truck layout is a bit funky.

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On 5/28/2019 at 8:29 AM, Richard Oben said:

Great work, thanks for the great pics. R

Thanks Richard


22 hours ago, walkerbk said:

Having done the wiring before. I would mount the harness on the engine and make sure that your can get the ECU to where you want it.

That's a good idea, this weekend i'll mock it up and see what's going on.  Just checked over your thread, lookin great so far especially dealing with that rust which isn't easy.


I saw your fuse/relay location but didn't see your ECU, do you have that mounted somewhere yet?

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Tonight did the swap from truck injector connectors to EV1 style using (https://www.psiconversion.com/products/pigtails-extensions/ls-vortec-pigtails/KIT-1012.html).


The people at PSI are great, I screwed up my first two crimp terminals and they're sending a few more free of charge.  Hopefully these pics will help someone else not follow my mistake.


I learned quick to go slow and watch the crimp closely to keep it straight and even in the crimper as well.


Truck Injector Connector 



Press in the metal tabs 2 places on both sides



Pull it all apart



Strip end (alongside EV1 connector and terminals)



SLIDE WIRES THROUGH CONNECTER BODY NOW (I learned that the hard way and had to cut off two good crimps)


The Conductor (bare wire) crimp I used 1.6mm, seemed to be real solid.  The Insulation crimp I used 2.8mm.



Aligning the Conductor crimp in the 1.6mm slot



Bottomed it out for now just to get it evenly started



Ready to crimp the conductor



First one turned out ok, I think better crimpers would roll the metal over easier.



Slowly crimping to keep it from twisting because it loves to






Then they pull back into the connector and click into place



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On 5/31/2019 at 2:41 PM, DonH said:

quality photos man! thanks! 

Thank DonH


I spent last night thinning the harness completely of all unused wires, there was a lot of them.  The harness is a lot easier to bend into positions now.


The only connector i've had to lengthen was the Alternators 2 wire plug since Im using a low mount position.


The truck harness had a 2 wire VSS plug to Pins 20, 21 so i'll chop that and solder in a T56 VSS pigtail I bought. 


Here's how the harness routed and temporary ECU placement (will need to make some sort of ECU mount).  Fuse/Relay box will hopefully replace the Fusible link area next to it.


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On 6/3/2019 at 7:36 AM, DonH said:

way to go man - I spent 3 hours last night getting my harness ready - Question - Where will be the final mounting location for your ECU? 


Pretty set on the old charcoal canister location (close to where it's at in the pic just above).  Hopefully in a water resistant holder of some sort. 



Got a JTR LS1 T-Fitting with 1-5/16" in and 1-1/2" out with bleeder and 1/4" barb for the steam vent hose off the heads.  




Truck 5.3l water pump upper outlet is 1-5/16", the stock replacement Champion Radiator has 1-1/2" ports top and bottom so I had to reduce the top side only, the bottom outlet on the truck water pump is 1-1/2" so that's good (if I can find a shape to fit).  


Spent a while in the back of O'reilly's with wire bent in shapes for Radiator Hoses.

The two I got for the upper splice/reduction (both gates numbers) 22155 (1-1/2") & 22436 (1-5/16")

Highlighted the general sections I used.




22436 (1-5/16") Initial cut piece from water pump




Connected to T-Fitting and 22155 (1-1/2") to Radiator




Some shots from different angles

Does anything think there will be a problem with the bleeder being below the highest point?  The bend from the water pump is higher, and the heater hoses to the firewall are a lot higher.






Started mocking up the intake, gotta cut the 3.5" aluminum tube and buy more (12" won't be enough).






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