Dress it Up
Hot Rod|February 2021
HOW TO MAKE AN LS ENGINE LOOK AND PERFORM BETTER
Steven Rupp

Even with all the LT goodness coming from GM, the go-to mill for engine swaps is still the tried-and-true LS. After all, LS1s and all their variants are turning up more often in wrecking yards. Hundreds of thousands of them out there mean the prices are great, and the LS has amazing aftermarket support. We picked up this LS1 from a wrecked fourth-gen Camaro for just a few grand. We figured with some work and a few parts, it would be perfect for a 1956 Chevy that needed an LS swap. Besides, cleaning up a used LS engine will end up being far cheaper than buying a new crate engine.

01 Junkyard LS-swap candidates are typically filthy and need a deep cleaning before anything can be done to make them look better. We also double checked everything and replaced the head gaskets since it was pretty easy to do at this stage. So, after pressure washing and pulling off the heads, we used a steel bristle brush and a lot of degreaser spray to clean every inch of the aluminum LS block. Remember, if you miss a spot the paint won’t stick, and nobody wants that.

02 After a lot of elbow grease our LS block was squeaky clean. We even cleaned the carbon off the top of the pistons. Even though it’s clean, it still looks like hell, so to make it look new we’re going to give it all a coat of paint.

03 Tape is your friend. You don’t want paint in the engine, and taping it all up is easier than trying to clean offoverspray. Just like painting a car, the effort you put into the prep will pay offin the final product.

04 Rather than tape off the timing area, we simply put the timing cover on and shot it as well. For a color, we chose a gray called Cast Iron. Multiple thin coats is the way to go to avoid drips and runs. Consider different colors or using contrasting colors for different parts.

05 You could paint the stock valley cover, but ours had holes in it for the knock sensors that we were ditching. A nicer option was this black billet valley cover from Holley. We also grabbed a stainless LS accessory bolt kit from ARP. A few fancy parts and some nicer bolts is an easy way to dress up an LS engine for your swap project.

06 More power is never bad, right? Well, since we had the engine apart, we opted to slide in a new camshaft from Comp. The Comp stick (PN 54-414-11) we slid in was a 216/220 (@ 0.50-inch) duration with a lift of .525/.532 and an LSA of 114. A bigger cam would make more power, but we were going for balance since the Chevy this was being swapped into is more of a cruiser.

07 A new cam meant we needed stiffer springs, as well, so it was easier just to source them, along with new seals and hardware, from Comp. The Comp upgrade kit (PN K54-41411) includes new lifters (PN 850-16) along with the springs and all the necessary parts for a better deal than buying separately.

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