4.8/5.3 engines

Old 01-09-15, 06:32 PM
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I'm new on this topic, I've put rotaries in a lot of different cars, but this will be the first for me to put something else in a Mazda. I just picked up a 5.3 that will be going into my son's 2nd gen convert. I will be using a T5, and for information about how do it check out the last issue of Hot Rod magazine, they have all of the details in there. I'm sure I'll be coming back with questions for those who have done this in the months ahead as we get along with it.
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Old 01-10-15, 11:16 AM
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Do NOT go 4l60e, 4l65e. They are way to expensive to hold anything over 450. 450 is the point where they fail fast. I wouldn't waste your time or money on something you will have to change in the future.

I am running a 4l80e. They came stock behind diesels, 6.0 and up gm trucks, gm vans, etc. This is a beefy trans it is physically bigger than alot of autos and because of trans tunnel on FD you can only run a single passenger side exhaust so on FDs you have to be turbo or fender exit exhaust.

For your goals and budget I would recommend a cd-009 swap. They can be had for 600 or less from junkyards, they are a later 350z trans and hold up great stock. Do not get a cd-008 they are first years 350z trans and they suck hard.
Here is the adapter kit: LSX LS1 LS2 LS3 LS6 LS7 LS9 L98 Engine to 350Z 370Z VQ Transmission Compound Adapter Plate
stock cd-009 trans:
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Old 01-20-15, 12:24 PM
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To me it sounds like the OP isn’t interested in making a ton of power over stock 4.8/5.3 range or spending much money. If this is the case, the 4l60e (that came on 5.3/4.8’s) is the cheapest and easiest route by far. They will also hold up much better in a light weight Rx-7 chassis. Run it with the factory ECM and be done with it. With the Rx-7’s rear end ratio’s you need an OD trans or a manual. Manuals are expensive… so if you don’t want to spend the money your stuck with an auto.

Craigslist is your best bet to find good deals on used 4.8/5.3’s. Expect to spend $500-800 for the engine.
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Old 01-21-15, 09:10 PM
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The idea is that I want a 4.8 or 5.3 for "right now". I want a manual transmission. I don't want to spend the money all at once for an " epic build". I have a family, after all. So I'm going for the "right now" and "least expensive" route currently. A lot of drivel I spewed out was for later on down the road when I can collect parts and make some real, no kidding drag car worthy power.

It's doable, as is with the configuration I had before. I put a stock $400 drivetrain in my convertible for the "right now" factor. I saved a little and built/installed a megasquirt ecu. I saved a little more and built/installed a hybrid turbo. I fabricated my own v-mount, I fabricated my own exhaust, and pieced together a car over time that put ls1-powered camaros and corvettes to shame. It finally bit the dust one day because I didn't tear down the engine (the one from that $400 package) when I got it. Turns out, when I pulled it apart I found that the front rotor, although still in tact with all the apex/side seals in great condition, the engine was rebuilt with junk parts. The rear rotor blew the apex seals while cruising. The front rotor housing had some deep grooves in the compression and exhaust areas, most likely from a previously blown engine. Lesson learned I guess. It did last about 5 years like that, and about 350 rwhp, so not much to bitch about. I just think it's time to move on to something less... shitty really. I like the rotary still. I still want one, bit the convertible is too heavy a car to not have torque. And the fumes. Oh my God the fumes from a premixed rotary are just awful. And for the money you could sink in to it, the return you get is less power per dollar, and way worse mileage. I'm committed now.

As for cheapest? Yeah, I would like to not superfluously blow money on it. I don't need to drop $2k for an "install kit" when I can use a little intelligence and some fabrication skills to put an engine and transmission in. Not hard really.

So what I think I've decided on is a 5.3. They're more abundant than the 4.8, and somehow less expensive. Weird. I'll probably drop the money on a T56. They're hard to find around here, and pretty expensive, but it's what I want. I'm sold now after watching a friend of mine twin turbo charge his 2011 5L mustang (700+ rwhp) through a t56 for 2 years now and it's never broken anything. Pretty damn tough transmissions as it turns out. For the "right now" factor, I'm going to flip the truck manifolds and run the exhaust from in front of the engine. In time, I will be placing at least 1 turbocharger there, so I figure I'm just saving myself a little fab work and a little money... for "right now". If I can't find an LS1 intake, my hood is already trashed from having to add a stupid fiberglass vent for the v-mount, so I might as well throw on a cheap fiberglass cowl. I already need a new hood, so later on I'll find that intake (if I don't find one sooner) and replace the hood with a proper aluminum hood. And the oil pan is a necessity, so f-body pan it is. So buying the motor, trans, oil pan, FG cowl, and a new blank megasquirt wiring harness (current one is being sold) will take up about half my budget. The remainder should go towards whatever incidental **** that comes up. If anything is left over, it will go towards buying up the necessities for my go-faster build.

Hopefully
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Old 01-22-15, 11:48 AM
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Engines are the dirt cheap part. There are a few reasons a 4.8 is better off than a 5.3. The big limitation of a "fast" FC is the rear end. More specifically the limit gearing choices. A 4.8 has a better bore/stroke ratio for boost and RPM. Basically it revs higher and puts less stress on the rods which are the weakest link on the gen3 engines. It also allows for cheaper converter choices when going with an auto. Since you're stuck on the manual, we'll ignore that. I've seen a healthy 4.8 buzz to 7500 or so without issue. That’s on 100% factory bottom end and mostly stock valve train. I wouldn't run a gen3 5.3 over 6800. The higher RPM window is a big advantage when your gear limited. At big power levels a T-56 isn't going to live long anyway, esp if you shift into the OD gears under load.

Fbody pan isn't a great option either. The sump/pickup is almost in the center of the pan. The oil pickup is easily uncovered under hard acceleration with an Fbody pan. This means you either need to blow another $200 on the improved racing baffle setup if you plan on any sort of racing with it. Cheaper to buy the aftermarket rear sump pan by the time you add in the baffle. A better option by far is to use a rear sump truck pan and have it cut down. Then extend the pickup tube to the aft of the sump. This is very common these days. The c5 corvette pan is also a good low profile option with better pickup positioning than the fbody pan.

Truck pans are dirt cheap, I'd give you one if you were local. I've got several just laying round.

Modified truck pan.




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Old 01-22-15, 06:29 PM
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Yeah, I know the engine is the cheap part. I already had that figured out. Usually it seems like the expensive part is all the peripheral shenanigans that make it expensive. Things like engine management, mounting kit, radiator, driveshaft, etc. I already have everything covered as far as the peripherals go with the exception of the driveshaft, but I'll figure that out when I get there. I had a T2-NA driveshaft made at a local shop, so I'll probably use them again for a T56-T2 driveshaft.

Does the C5 pan really fit? It has those huge wings! I didn't think that one was possible in an FC?

Anyways, if I find a decent 4.8, I would rather have one of those. If I can't, then 5.3 it is. So far, the 4.8 is looking pretty scarce.

Oh, and thanks again for the info everyone. You guys are really awesome.
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Old 01-23-15, 10:07 AM
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The C5 pan does not fit. I don't even think that cut down truck pan would fit in an FC. The front part of the pan looks like it would hit the steering rack unless you raised the engine.
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Old 01-23-15, 03:37 PM
  #33  
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Sooo, which pan?
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Old 01-23-15, 05:18 PM
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F body. Everyone uses the F body pan in the FC and FD for a reason. Use anything else at your own peril.

You can cut down the truck windage tray to fit the F body pan I believe. The F body windage tray only covers 2/3 of the crank or so.

Good deal on the F body pan. The pan comes with a gasket and is ready to bolt on:
https://www.superchevyperformance.co...tCode=12628771

And F body pickup for that pan:
http://www.superchevyperformance.com...p/12558251.htm

You'll still need the Fbody dipstick.

Or spend $308, buy this, and be done. It is EVERYTHING you need.

http://paceperformance.com/i-5133402...l-pan-kit.html
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Old 01-25-15, 12:19 AM
  #35  
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Everyone will have their prejudices - find someone who has done a v8 swap into an RX-7, driven it for a few years, and then done a JDM swap and driven it for a while. That would be me.
A lot of the V8 guys will have strong opinions about that "JDM crap", even though they know nothing about them. My Ford 5.0 powered FB was a lot of fun, drove it for 9 years, and actually sold it because I ran out of garage space, and someone offered me a lot of money for it. I then did an RB20 swap into another FB, which is my current daily driver. Not quite as fast as the V8, but MUCH nicer to drive and I get about 27 mpg all around driving, 30 on the highway. People who say nothing is as smooth as a rotary have never driven behind an RB motor.
You can see photos and detailed writeups about both my RX-7 swaps in the automotive section here : stilettoman.info

I like the RB20 so much I am doing another swap described here:

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Old 04-09-15, 12:12 PM
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I've had a cast iron 5.3L LM7 but ditched it for the 5.3 aluminum L33. If you're not planning on boosting, it's worth the 100 pounds in savings
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Old 04-09-15, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by AGreen View Post
Sooo, which pan?

As said above the F-body pan is a poor choice because of the central oil pickup. With the $200 Improved racing baffle system the Fbody pan works well. Without it my oil pressure would dip under hard acceleration. (on the street and at the track) Because Billy-Bob used an f-body pan and his engine didn't immediately explode, that doesn't make it optimal. There's a lot of monkey-see-monkey-do in the LS swap world. I'd suggest researching and making your own decisions.


Originally Posted by edmorl View Post
I've had a cast iron 5.3L LM7 but ditched it for the 5.3 aluminum L33. If you're not planning on boosting, it's worth the 100 pounds in savings
It’s more like 80lbs and the Alum blocks are PLENTY strong for boost. Rods/crank will go well before the alum block on a 5.3. Some of the alum blocks are even stronger than the cast blocks because they use a Siamese-bore cylinder block design.
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Old 09-17-15, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by AGreen View Post
OK, so I went to lkq on new years day. They had a 50% off sale that day. Had to go in to work at 3:30 that day, so I knew I wouldn't have had time to pull it myself. So I go out in the yard and enthusiastically search for my donor. Within a minute I located the engine I wanted. 06 trailblazer with the LL8 engine. It was complete minus the alternator, but another one that was sitting close by had one. So I talked to the guy at the counter and he pointed me in the direction of 2 guys standing outside. "Go talk to them if you want it pulled". OK, so off I go. They look at it and I tell them I want the engine, ecu, wiring harness, and everything that it'll need to run in another car. They were surprisingly taken back by that " odd" request, but they finally agreed and said $300. Hmm... OK, so they want $300?! Even less than listed. "Sweet, so i just go pay up front?", I said. " No, you pay us". "Wait, so I just pay you guys and that's it?" "No, you pay us, we'll pull the motor. We don't work for them. Whether you leave it here or pay them and take it is up to you". (Mind you, they sound more intelligent in my recollection than in real life... they were retards) So that's when it sank in. These knuckleheads are freelance mechanics working the yard. So I stroll back up and talk to the guy at the counter. I asked them why the guy wanted to charge me $300 to pull a freakin engine when their website says it's $350 pulled. He comes out to look at it and says it's going to be $400 for everything I want, but lkq doesn't pull parts. " But I can show you on your website that it says $350 pulled!" The guy kind of stammered a little and goes inside with me to a computer and shows me a different web page than what I saw. "See, there's no price 'pulled', just a price for it, its core, and an extended warranty if you want". Two words is all I spoke (can you guess which two? I'll give you a hint, it wasn't 'no thanks') I go back home and look at the site. Yep, I was right. How could they have something different?! I go back to he site a few hours later... and it's changed to what they had in their office. Hmmm. Seems shady.

So whatever. The search is back on for a 4.8 or 5.3.

So now, let's talk transmissions. I want a manual, but damn is the T56 expensive. Can't see myself justifying over a grand (minimum) for a transmission, especially when they all have pretty high miles. So I thought about doing an automatic like a 4L60e or 700R4, but I can't bring myself to make my " fun" car an automatic atrocity. It would hold the torque better, but still... you know. Can't really have the same fun with an auto. Anyways, I start looking in to an alternative and I come across the T5. Now, the internet ***** ALL over them. But is it really that bad of an option? I'm not some sideways-hat wearing teen who slams every shift and sidesteps the clutch every gear change. I feel pretty respectable when it comes to caring for my cars, and I only romp on the throttle on occasion, but only for the duration of a gear, then a nice, smooth shift, easy transition, followed by another romp if the speed limit allows. From what I found, the WC T5 is found in all gen3/4 camaros (different input shaft splines) and mustangs. The mustang GT T5s were built to handle around 300-330 lb-ft, which is in range of the 5.3. So how viable is that option? I've done a lot of searching and found minimal info on putting one behind a gen4 small block. Seems like people run in to issues with the slave cylinder and TOB. Anyone have a more definitive answer?
For what its worth, ive never seen a LKQ that pulls the engine for you, you always have to come with tools ready to do mechanic work to get what you need.
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Old 09-23-15, 02:02 PM
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Not sure what your budget is, this may save you a lot of headaches.

http://www.norotors.com/index.php?topic=22905.0
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Old 10-27-15, 08:33 PM
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Well, it's been a while and I've done a lot of research and searching. I looked in to doing a LR4 or LM7 or even an L33...but it all lead to the same thing. If you're going to pay that much for all the LS1 peripherals, then why am I fooling with anything other than an LS1? So I searched for a local LS1(or 2,3,6 whatever) and what did I find? Nothing.

What I did find is a gen 1, TPI engine and transmission, complete with all accessories, wiring harness, ECU, and anything necessary for making it a straight drop in. And I paid $800 for it all. Now, you might say "why the hell are you messing with a 240 hp iron block?" Well, the answer is simple. First of all, I like the look of the TPI engine. Most importantly, I'm moving soon and I don't have time to wait for an LS engine to pop up for sale. And it's going to **** off a bunch of people and I like that part a lot.

Anyway, I'm excited as all hell now because I finally found something I can put in my car. I got to get working on it now because that move date isn't getting any farther away.

On that note...
What's the best mount kit to use? The only thing I've found is that Granny's sells a kit for regular SBCs, but everyone else has only kits for LSx engines.
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Old 10-28-15, 08:33 AM
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Granny's is the best kit for an SBC.
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Old 10-29-15, 05:25 AM
  #42  
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I figured such. I havent seen another sbc kit, just lsx.

I may try fabricating my own. It's not rocket surgery. Get the angles right and make good welds and it should last forever.
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Old 01-04-16, 01:29 AM
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I've used a 6.0l pull out lq4 and used all the truck accessories with the grannies kit and the eBay alt relocation kit everything works fine and super cheap use a cobra jet hood scoop and you're ready to go !
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Old 01-05-16, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by AGreen View Post
I figured such. I havent seen another sbc kit, just lsx.

I may try fabricating my own. It's not rocket surgery. Get the angles right and make good welds and it should last forever.
Any progress? Granny's stuff is good unless you're trying to mount a T5 in your FB that came with an auto
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Old 01-05-16, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Freeskier7791 View Post
Any progress? Granny's stuff is good unless you're trying to mount a T5 in your FB that came with an auto
i thought the grannies kit fit like garbage, had 2 of their kits..... motor mounts are super soft engine jumps around all over the place when i drag race. also the oil pan is resting on my PS rack still haven't fixed that

ronni is supposed to be the better one from what i hear
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Old 08-28-16, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Freeskier7791 View Post
Any progress? Granny's stuff is good unless you're trying to mount a T5 in your FB that came with an auto
Short answer: yes

Long answer:
I tore the engine down and was planning on just doing a quick refresh on it. It was in such bad shape that it required a full on rebuild. I went with forged pistons, bored the engine 0.030 over, then realized that I have the 10.5:1 CR pistons. So I found some 76cc heads that drop the CR down to 8.5:1.
I found a local selling his granny's kit for $400, but it had the wrong transmission mount and the driveshaft was for a TH350. Since I'm using a 700r4, I had to shorten the driveshaft 3.5". I fabricated a custom transmission mount, and now it's it's sitting in there quite well now.

So now I'm working on finishing the ECU, wiring, plumbing, and it should be about ready. I think the biggest issue will be routing the exhaust. I will be using a T70 turbo, but right now I want it running without the turbo. My plan is to buy the turbo, mount it in front of the engine, route the exhaust properly, then remove the turbo and fab up a small section of pipe that connects the manifolds to the downpipe. I'll run it naturally aspirated until I get the tuning bugs and other issues worked out, then put the turbo back in.
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