5.3L Vortec engine swap and other upgrades

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
36,387
Salem, Oregon
The setup I have isn't autometer except for the black trim piece. Using autometer gauges would have made the whole setup around $800. Instead I used a $180 6 pcs gauge set off ebay and got a programmable fuel gauge from speedhut to match the others. Total setup was about $350.

That's why I got rid of it. With my cluster going out and not wanting to deal with integrating the two systems it just made sense. Although I'm still trying to figure out the vss sensor from jeep to GM and what the best route to go is
Okay, that makes sense. I like it the way you did it better anyways. I thought about reusing my factory gauge cluster, but I think it just complicates things more by having to have two PCMs communicating with each other.

I'll be curious to see what you end up doing with the VSS sensor.
 

Alex0413

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 26, 2018
133
Baton Rouge, LA
Had to acquire the engine from Texas but the trip wasn't to bad and she made it fine.View attachment 73890
Got her Unwrapped and ready to put on an engine stand
View attachment 73891
Thought I could make this more... dirtable… since my carport it pretty small... turns out it doesn't work well because the engine is pretty top heavy... weird! hahah
View attachment 73892
Either way, There it is, just waiting to be installed!
View attachment 73893

LS TJ with a 5 speed, I'm in on this build!!!!!

Where in Louisiana are you located? I'm in Baton Rouge!
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
So, I took another hack at the heads today and was able to rescue the hole. I went at it with a new bit, cleaned out a lot of the bolt and then just drilled it out so I could tap it and install a heli-coil to match the original thread size. I managed to get the last bolt out tonight as well. I took my Dremel with a very narrow bit and but out a groove to make it like a flat head bolt. I then took my impact driver backed it out... by far the easiest bolt to recover and I think ill try that from here on out. I didn't have pictures of that, but here's how I repaired the second stuck bolt hole

bolt rethread 2.jpg


bolt rethread 3.jpg


bolt rethread 4.jpg


bolt rethread 5.jpg


bolt rethread 6.jpg
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
LS TJ with a 5 speed, I'm in on this build!!!!!

Where in Louisiana are you located? I'm in Baton Rouge!
Thanks man. Hopefully I can make some progress on this thing now that I have the head bolts out. But I'm out here at Fort Polk in Leesville. greatest city on earth! said no one ever! lol. If you have no idea where that is, its about 3 hrs north west... or like and hour north or Lake Charles off Hwy 171.
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
Anyone doing an engine swap using Novak engine mounts and is looking for some freshly painted and properly cured headers? Turns out these headers don't work to well with the Advance Adapters engine mounts. When you look at the pictures, I still have to fit an 8th inch piece of metal and a bolt head between the exhaust and inner mount... with out it melting bushings... so I'll probably just have to use the stock truck manifold which is what advance adapters recommend since they don't have one made yet... it just sucks... if the manifold was shifted back maybe half an inch it'd be no issue....

Oh well. When I painted the headers I used the VHT paint, primer and clear coat. I used three coats of primer, three coats of paint and then two more coats of satin clear coat. Let it dry for an hour and them baked it in the oven per the recommended temps. So 30 mins at 250 degrees, cool 30 mins, 30 mins at 400, cool 30, and finally 30 mins at 600 degrees. The coating isn't chemical resistant unless you cure it properly which a lot of people skip and end up with crappy results later down the road. Either way, they cost about $350 unfinished, they apparently don't need gaskets because of the way they're designed... seems weird to me but go check them out, either at the Novak site or on the Sandersons Street Rod Headers website.

But if anyone's interested PM me. Don't mind my greasy prints on them, it'll wipe off. But here's the pictures to show you what I'm talking about though... I guess it wouldn't be a project with out a few issues here and there... or in my case... here... and here and here and over there! haha

20190129_215209.jpg


20190129_215228.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: JMT

Alex0413

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 26, 2018
133
Baton Rouge, LA
Thanks man. Hopefully I can make some progress on this thing now that I have the head bolts out. But I'm out here at Fort Polk in Leesville. greatest city on earth! said no one ever! lol. If you have no idea where that is, its about 3 hrs north west... or like and hour north or Lake Charles off Hwy 171.
I do know where Fort Polk is, are you in the Army? Do you ever ride at Sicily Island? Spring Fling is April 13th, your rig should be ready!
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
I do know where Fort Polk is, are you in the Army? Do you ever ride at Sicily Island? Spring Fling is April 13th, your rig should be ready!
Nice! Nah I'm in the Air Force. Where like unicorns out here, people hear stories about us, but they never see us! haha. I just got out here a few months ago and then started taking the Jeep apart so I haven't been anywhere. It sounds pretty fun though. I'll try to get this thing ready before then and see if I can get the time off.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JMT

Alex0413

TJ Enthusiast
Oct 26, 2018
133
Baton Rouge, LA
Nice! Nah I'm in the Air Force. Where like unicorns out here, people hear stories about us, but they never see us! haha. I just got out here a few months ago and then started taking the Jeep apart so I haven't been anywhere. It sounds pretty fun though. I'll try to get this thing ready before then and see if I can get the time off.

Sicily Island is the only place you can go rock crawling in Louisiana. Spring Fling is one of the biggest events of the year there: tons of people camping all weekend, rock bouncer races, modified races, night rides in the rocks. It's a ton of fun! I'll be there, let me know if you can make it!
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
Installed the flywheel, clutch and transmission tonight. Had to make a few adjustments to the space and pilot bushing... the directions weren't to clear with the kit so I kind of guessed it... I was wrong but got it figured out when I tried to install the trans and it stopped about an inch short lol. Here's some pictures. Never mind the rats nest on top, I just tossed the harness up there to keep it out of the way when putting it in and out of the Jeep.

75274


Here's the Pilot bushing and spacer I was talking about. Before I had the brass pilot pushing pressed in flush with the back of the spacer (silver circle around it) so it stuck out. I had to take a socket and tap it the rest of the way in. The most descriptive part of the instructions explains that the side of the spacer with the groove in it needs to face out... I figures its easier to tape the Pilot bushing in if its wrong than to try and get it back out later. Either way, it worked out and I got it set up right.
75275


75277


Everything bolted up well, but it's only held on by 5 bolts... I mean their strong bolts and you also have the 2 alignment pegs to help keep it in place...but I'd expect it to mate up to every bolt hole. there's one hole near the top that's maybe only half a bolts width off and it just seems weird that its not designed to line up... Anyways. It seems like a pretty good product so far. I'm excited to get this thing in the Jeep so I can get the driveshafts ordered
75278
 
Last edited:

Mike_H

Rust Belt Heavyweight
Supporting Member
Feb 28, 2017
4,172
Grand Rapids, MI, United States
Wait, your adapter doesn't match up to the block? That seems wrong. I think I'd call advanced adapters or Novak (whomever you got it from) and let them know whats going on. They may have sent you the wrong part?
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
Wait, your adapter doesn't match up to the block? That seems wrong. I think I'd call advanced adapters or Novak (whomever you got it from) and let them know whats going on. They may have sent you the wrong part?
So it does bolt up, but I'm assuming that they have a one size fits all bell housing engine bolt up pattern... and then they mill out the trans portion specific to the trans being used. They have a part that specifies with the gen 3 engines, you may only be able to use 5 bolts and I think it's because the same bell housing can also be adapted to older GM engines that have a similar but slightly different bolt pattern. I can cut a notch out to allow the last bolt to be used, but i dont think itll be necessary. I just think they could have elevated the top part of the housing and drilled it to specifically for the gen 3 and it would add an extra comfort
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
Got some new headers in today and tried to test fit the engine with the transmission attached. Turns out that my engine lift is to short. If only I had an extra 3 or 4 inches I'd be able mount it with the trans. I'm headed to harbor freight tomorrow to pick up a 2 ton Lift. It has over a foot of extra length to the lift arm so I shouldn't have any issues. Right now the hydraulic cylinder is hitting the front of the jeep frame. I got my new speedhut gauge in as well so ill toss some pictures of that up later too. Unfortunately its raining its ass off right now so I cant really do anything more with the jeep. Maybe ill go get a 10x10 sunshade and pop that thing up over the engine bay lol... with the temps starting to pick up, it might not be a bad idea anyways. Don't mind that I have the hood resting on the lift. I was done for the night and wanted to cover it as much as I could before the rain came lol... don't want people telling me "It'll really help if you lift the hood up" haha.

77070

I was a little worried about the clearance of the end of the headers, but so far it looks like its going to clear everything just fine

77071

It has a neat pyramid to help prevent turbulence as the exhaust meets together... not sure if it'll help much, but I thought it was a pretty need added touch that I haven't seen on some much more expensive headers.

77072

Just needed 3 more inches!!! I even have the arm over extended and it was still short... Don't try this at home disclaimer?

77073

I tried to match the new gauge up as much as possible. It's not perfect but its not really an eye sore. the most noticeable thing is being able to see the bottom of the needle.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Alex0413

Piedmont-tj

New Member
Mar 12, 2019
1
South Carolina
Hey there, I know this is late info but if you take an old exhaust bolt and weld it to the broken stud you can back out the broken manifold bolt. I am in the middle of a 5.3 swap on a 98 tj and went through the same mess you did. I just have a flux welder I use and it worked perfectly. The steel welding wire does not stick to tha aluminum heads. Same thing happened when I changed my NP231 input. I broke a bolt and used this method to extract the steel bolt. Good luck on your build!
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
Hey there, I know this is late info but if you take an old exhaust bolt and weld it to the broken stud you can back out the broken manifold bolt. I am in the middle of a 5.3 swap on a 98 tj and went through the same mess you did. I just have a flux welder I use and it worked perfectly. The steel welding wire does not stick to tha aluminum heads. Same thing happened when I changed my NP231 input. I broke a bolt and used this method to extract the steel bolt. Good luck on your build!
Hey no worries, Yeah I tried, the bolt was broken to deep to be able to weld to it. I ended up taking a carbide bit and basically cutting a line in it and was able to back it out with a flat head. The other ones were a huge pain but I got all three out so that's always good.
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
So it's been a while since I last posted. Work has really been keeping me from completing this thing... well and the project itself. I'm still having fitment issues with the exhaust even though I installed a 1 inch body lift. I took the exhaust manifold off and got it all bolted up but then found out that the newer NV3550 output shaft was a 23 spine and my orginal transfer case off my AX-5 was a 21 spine so that was fun. I got that all taken care of, I bolted up the transfer case and I finally got to take measurements to order my SYE and CV drive shaft combo. I've worked on the wiring a little but I need to do some more research on that. So now it feels like I'm on the homes stretch... sort of. There's still a lot left so I'll probably start a checklist so I can see how much progress I have and what's actually left to do. Here's some pictures of what I've done though. There was a pretty long process of putting the engine in, tack welding the mounts, pulling it out, putting it in, pulling it out again, letting it sit around for a few weeks, Hitting stuff with hammers and so on. The pictures start with the fully welded mounts and actually having the engine mounted. Enjoy.
88399
88400
88401
88402
88403
 

Longhorn84

Member
Aug 20, 2018
52
Houston
Thanks for the update! I’m about to start my swap (2004 4.0 and nv3550 to 5.3 and 4l60e). I’m writing up some preinstall plans, I think I’ll put them on google docs to eventually share with others. Would you and the other swap guys want to participate in tweaking it with me?

I think if we are detailed yet concise, it would be a huge resource for other TJ owners looking to build the courage to start!

I’m thinking links to parts, links to videos/threads, things to think about before starting, tips and tricks, etc.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
Thanks for the update! I’m about to start my swap (2004 4.0 and nv3550 to 5.3 and 4l60e). I’m writing up some preinstall plans, I think I’ll put them on google docs to eventually share with others. Would you and the other swap guys want to participate in tweaking it with me?

I think if we are detailed yet concise, it would be a huge resource for other TJ owners looking to build the courage to start!

I’m thinking links to parts, links to videos/threads, things to think about before starting, tips and tricks, etc.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I'd be down to help. It's always good to pass on my knowledge to help prevent anyone from making the mistakes I've been making right off the bat. Like buying two different exhaust manifolds that probably wont work lol. or checking your trans output shaft and transfer case input shafts to make sure they're the same before you're about to install them... or really just understanding everything it will take going into it. I thought this would take a couple weeks... here it is a few months later. Granted work has gotten in the way, but every write up I've looked at makes it seem like it's a weekend job. Maybe if it's your profession... but jeeps came with so many different parts from the year before or after, it really takes looking into your specific year to get it right from what I've seen so far.

Novak makes some really awesome write ups and have great conversion parts, but some of their stuff is confusing. and then theirs advance adapters which make awesome kits, but their instructions are just terrible. I feel like the person that made their instructions just assumed you've done it 10 times before.

But yeah, I'll try and contribute what I can as I finish out my engine swap for sure.
 
OP
Jeeper25

Jeeper25

Member
Jan 13, 2019
26
Louisiana
Dropped the fuel tank and installed the Novak pressure regulator bypass and return port. I added some fuel resistant RTV to make sure it all sealed up well. and then I pulled out the dash and test fit the new gauges and they look pretty good. I might paint the mount flat black to match the rest of the dash, but I'm diggin it.

20190417_191008.jpg


20190417_191602.jpg


20190417_201257.jpg


20190417_222308.jpg


20190417_014943.jpg