Installing a LS1 Motor in my 1977 Camaro-Part 3

Now that the engine bay and bottom of the car were presentable, it was time to get the motor ready.  Since I was planning on installing a Billet Specialites front runner kit, everything stock needed to come off the front of the motor.  I sold the stock PS pump and alternator for $400 to recoup some of the money I spent on the motor.

To make it easier to work on the motor, I bought a set of tools specifically for the LS motors.  Sure makes it easier when you have the correct tools.

The first challenge was removing the harmonic balancer.  Since this bolt is torqued to 240 ft lb and my impact wrench only goes up to 200, it was time to replace my at least 30 year old impact wrench.  I applied some heat and, even then, it was all my new impact wrench could do to remove the bolt.  To make sure the the crank did not turn, I installed the flywheel lock from the tool kit and used the puller from the kit as well.

Once everything was out of the way, I could begin installing the front runner pieces.  The directions are very straightforward and everything fit perfectly so it went well.  Again, installing the new harmonic balancer presented some issues.  At some point, 240 ft lb had to be applied to the motor on the engine stand.  To keep the engine stand from overturning, I lowed two of my arms on the lift over the base of the engine stand.   First the old bolt is used and in three steps, the torque of 240 ft lbs is applied.  Then the old bolt is removed and the new bolt is torqued in three steps as well.  The difference here is the last step requires turing the bolt 140 additional degrees from the second setting.  To do that, you mark 12:00 and 6:00 on the bolt head and then make a mark for 140 degrees.  The trick is to hit the 140 degree mark and use at least 236 ft lb of torque.  So I set the wrench at 236 and it was well past that when I had reached 140 degrees.  Hope I don’t have to take it off anytime soon.

The remainder of the installation was relatively painless.  I had to leave the alternator off as the bolt that would hold the chain for the hoist was behind it.

As a precaution, I decided to change the rear main seal.  There also appeared to be a little seepage around the rear cover that contains the seal.  I removed the cover and used the appropriate tool to install the seal.  To take the cover off, you must also remove the oil pan.  Since the oil pan is an integral part of the construction of the motor, the alignment of both the front and rear covers and the oil pan are critical.  I used the alignment tool in the GM tool kit to make sure everything was square.  New seals went on the rear cover as well as the oil pan.

Next up was installing the LS6 intake.  When GM came out with the LS6 manifold, they changed the water lines that ran under the LS1 manifold.  To make the LS6 intake work on my LS1, I had to get a front water line and two plugs to fill the holes where the rear lines had run.  Once that was done, I installed new seals and bolted it on.  The stock fuel rains were kind of Army green in color.  I painted them satin black.

While the LS1 motor had water temp and oil pressure senders, they would not work with my gauges.  I could not remove the stock senders as the computer needs to have their readings to make the motor run correctly.  An internet search came up with a location for the water temp sender.  Directly above the starter there is a water jacket plug.  Remove the plug, insert an adapter and then I could mount a 1/8 NPT 27 sender.  There is plenty of clearance with the starter.

My son and I installed a LS1 motor and tranny in his ’79 El Camino about 18 months ago.  Matt had discovered that above the oil filter is a plate with an indentation in it.  Once you drill out the indentation and tap the hole, the oil pressure sender could be mounted there.

On LS1 motors, the ignition coils are mounted on the valve covers and are butt ugly!!  Edelbrock makes a polished aluminum cover for these.  Unlike other covers I have looked at, Edelbrock has you remove the coils from their mount and mount them directly to the rear of the polished cover.  The advantage here is that the cover can sit lower and hide all of the coils.  I am not wild about having the Edelbrock script on the covers, but, overall, they do look good.  I used my Dremel to cut the brace holding the fuel line so I could bent it up to clear the covers.

To mount the motor in the car required adapters.  Dirty Dingo Motorsports supplied mine.  They are their “slider” model which allows up to 2 1/2″ of movement front to rear.  First you apply the plate to the block.  Next the stock clam shell mount that was on the small block mounts to the other plate.  The second plate mounts over the studs and the nuts are just finger tight at this point to allow for movement.  These mounts let you use the stock motor mounts that are mounted on the front crossmember.

The last step in preparing the motor was aligning the bellhousing with the block.  I installed the aluminum flywheel that came with the motor.  My son Matt had the dial indicator to do the bellhousing alignment.  I had watched him do this on his car but had not done it myself.  No better time to learn than the present.  After talking with Matt, I was able to get the bellhousing within the .005 spec by taking out the stock straight dowels and replacing them with .14 adjustable dowels to dial in the alignment.

The aluminum bellhousing came from Keisler Engineering and adapts my Richmond 6 speed to the LS block.  Keisler also sent along the correct pilot bushing adapter to work with my transmission.  Autozone will loan you tools with a deposit equal to the value of the tool.  The deposit is returned once the tool is back in their hands.  I got the pilot bushing puller and easily removed the old bushing.  The new one was easily tapped in.

Next I had to install the clutch arm pivot ball and adjust it.  The spec calls for the ball to be mounted 4.75″ from the front plate of the bellhousing to the tip of the ball.  This assumes you have a .950″ flywheel.  If your flywheel thickness is different, you adjust the measurement accordingly.

I purchased a new Centerforce Dual Friction clutch.  There are two dowels located on the flywheel  and the clutch must be placed so that the dowels fit into the appropriate holes on the clutch for balance reasons.

Now the motor was ready to go into the car.



  1. Hello Jerry, my name is Brandon and this is amazing thread that you have put together. I came to the part about the Edelbrock coil covers and how you do not really favor thier script on top. Well I am with Top Street Performance out of Downey,CA and we are always looking to re-create products that our competitors do not have. We also came up with a LS coil cover made from Fabricated Aluminum which we showcased at SEMA 2011 in Las Vegas. I’m not sure if Fabricated is the look that you are going for but it’s worth taking a look at:!/photo.php?fbid=291221890917648&set=pu.240808925958945&type=1&theater

    I’d like to know what you think about our design. You will have the options of plain or polished aluminum and primed black ready for paint. We plan to feature this product Mid January 2012. Keep an eye out for our banners on LS1 Tech.

    • Thanks for the compliment. You covers appear to be very nice but I prefer the Edelbrock cast covers to the fabricated ones. I am not a big fan of showing the welds. One’s taste here depends on what overall look one is after. I also like the fact that the coils mount to the bottom of the Edelbrock covers thus lowering them even more around the valve cover. Actually, I have had very few negative comments about the Edelbrock script. Many have said the covers give my motor, upon first glance, the appearance of being a big block.

  2. I love your car and only hope I can do what u did to my 77

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