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Vortec EFI on an early 406 SB...

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by rjfguitar, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. rjfguitar

    rjfguitar 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    I have a smog prob here in cali and need to do something different with my carb setup. I have a nicley built up 406 and I want to swap in FI. I am thinking AFR or world product heads with the vortec intake pattern and get a 96' and later FI system. I got a quote for $350 for the ecm, intake and everything on the intake like the throttle body, injectors,etc. He told me to have a wiring harness made to make it easier. I am looking for around 50 to 75 more HP over my current stock heads and carb with a better power curve. What did it take some of you guys to put the vortec injection on a non vortec motor with vortec bolt pattern heads? What did it cost when finished and running? Performance? Pics? thanks!
     
  2. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    If you think you're going to GAIN power putting a Vortec EFI system on a 406, your thinking is already flawed. The biggest engine that setup was offered on is a 350 which is more than 10% smaller than your 406. It will not flow enough air for you to even think about GAINING power.

    It may or may not work well with your camshaft, either.

    I think your best bet is to try an aftermarket EFI or something highly modified. It takes quite a bit to feed a beast like that 406 with aftermarket (read huge flowing) heads.

    I don't know exactly what you do with your truck, but if you need more power than you have already, I really don't know what to say. I am going to EFI, but I'm going to do it on a fairly stock engine and use stock parts to simplify the whole thing.

    I think you're going to have a real hard time with this project.
     
  3. kennyw

    kennyw N9PHW Premium Member

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    Actually the Vortec heads (or aftermarket heads like he is talking about) would be a big improvement on both flow and cumbustion chamber efficiency. The bottle neck is probably going to be a factory intake manifold. But there are aftermarket manifolds to improve flow available for the vortec style heads. Common trick with 350 TBI motors is to run a 454 throttle body for better flow. Plus you will likely need to have a custom chip burned for the motor you build. But power gains are very possible with some planning.

    BurbinOR had a TPI 406 he built in his old Blazer that would be a good model to go by.
     
  4. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    The Vortec heads would be alright and yes, you're right, a drastic improvement over the crap heads he has. However, that stock EFI setup is going to be so restrictive, and the throttle body so small (450-500 CFM) that there's just now way it will sufficiently feed such a beast.

    I would have suggested the 454 TBI setup, but he wants to run port injection. Anyone think that any of the stock port injection setups will work on a build 400 SBC? I can't really see any except MAYBE TPI working well at all on a 400 with extensive modification.
     
  5. rjfguitar

    rjfguitar 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    First off tim, why do you think those vortec motors are so quick? They are very good motors with a very good fuel/air delivery system. If you are not aware the later model FI systems have a mass air flow sensor that compensates for what the motor wants. The older TBI systems are all map style and will not adjust to a cam or intake, etc change. With the newer systems the mass air flow Sensor will compensate for a cam, intake, etc, change. I am also looking at the edel. pro flow multi port system but it's 2K and I have a hard time buying aftermarket heads also. Plus I have heard that the GM ecm's are smarter than the aftermarket ones. If I did this I would get some upgrades for the stock vortec FI systems. An edel TPI intake,bigger injectors, hi performance mass air flow sensor,K&N filter charger, and a custom chip to help out mass airflow sensor compensate for the 10% increase in motor and performance parts. As far as having more horsepower, FI makes it run better and a better power curve,If I'm going to spend a bunch of money I might as well get some more ponies out of it. I don't think this would be very hard of a swap with some time, patients, and all the parts. slap on the heads, TPI intake,vortec dist., mount the ECM where my old one is, electrical power is already there, route the new wiring harness and plug it all in, install electric fuel pump and it should run. /forums/images/graemlins/thinking.gif
     
  6. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    The mass air sensor isn't going to adjust for airflow that is not there. A stock 350 Vortec is 255 HP. I'd say that your 406 is quite a bit more than that.

    I simply think that you're trying to make the stock setup do more than its cabable of. I just think you've got too much motor for a setup designed for 350 CID and a 5,000 or so RPM limit.

    I think it could be done with TPI, but I have my doubts that the Vortec setup has sufficient aftermarket to feed your engine.

    I don't have first hand knowledge on this issue and I'm sure that someone else will chime in. I think it'd be do-able with a bigger intake, injectors, and throttle body, but I think for the optimal setup, you're going to want something better that that.

    When I was referring to aftermarket EFI I didn't mean some BS $1200 hack job like Holley is selling. I meant a good system made to flow the 800 or so CFM your engine needs to perform to its fullest.

    I think you're going to open up a lot of potential with a new set of heads, especially aluminum. I'd hate to see you with some crappy aspiration that didn't meet your engine's requirements. You'd have a kick ass motor that was choked to 4,000 RPM because it wouldn't be able to breathe.

    I may be off here though--the stock Vortec setup may be more capable than I'm giving it credit for. I just can't see where engineers designed a system for a 255 HP motor when it is capable of handling the 350+ HP your engine makes.
     
  7. BurbinOR

    BurbinOR 3/4 ton status

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    Dorian should chime in on this one, to help the discussion. I'm a little confused on this one.

    I did a PURE TPI (MAP) conversion on my 79 w/406. It was built from the get go for TPI (proper cam, etc). Your current existing cam that was most likely picked for your current carb may not be FI friendly.

    What I think I am reading is you want to put vortec heads and all the new style vortec injection on your 406 bottom end. NOT do a TPI conversion, tho later on you do mention using TPI intakes, etc. /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif Can't have it both ways I don't think. Unless someone is making some new hybrid setups that I haven't heard about you need to decide on one path. Maybe Vortec heads and TPI (think there's a Vortec TPI base available - check over at www.thirdgen.org for the facts on that one). If you go to later (96 up) injection, you are basically saying use the entire top end and wiring, sensors, etc on your 406 bottom end. Not sure if that's even possible. Really, I don't have a clue. Some questions -

    1. Head bolt pattern the same?
    2. Are the newer motors reverse cooling (a la LT1)?
    3. What can of worms using newer tech will you open up (OBDII, VSS, dual O2 sensors just to name a few)?

    Not saying it can't be done, as I'm sure someone has transplanted a newer Vortec-based injection system on an older car (heck, guys are putting LS-1's in all kinds of hot rods) but where you'd get the tech for it I have no idea.

    Biggest issue - the chip............it will have to be custom as you are likely not using the VSS, etc.

    Depending on your budget, I'd either go all out and get into the new hot setups (vortec) or stick with 'old school' TPI or TBI. By the way, I think you can get enough flow through a TBI for your 406 by using a 454 TBI unit or maybe even the Holley 670 CFM unit.

    Another option (notice I'm just throwing thoughts up here at random) - Edelbrock MPFI. PM Derf00, he has a system running on his and son's (Bullet) 383 that appears to ROCK.

    Lot of planning to plan on /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif here - remember if you go TPI or any 'high pressure' system you need to run new all steel fuel lines to the feed lines.........43.5 psi should not run through stock rubber hosing.

    Overall, the least expensive way to go is pure TBI. Harness, vortec heads, vortec intake, sensors and get busy with it. All FI systems unfortunately will require some kind of chip burning - wish I'd bought the equipment a couple of years ago and started learning and burning, I'd make a decent side income off it for all of us.

    Many other thoughts, define the project a bit more and I and the others here will be happy to help!!! /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
     
  8. rjfguitar

    rjfguitar 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    I have a 406 built with a comp 268H cam, 9.2to 1 compression, performer intake, edel. q-jet, stock heads. My plan was to buy aftermarket heads with the vortec intake pattern( I can't run iron vortecs because the combustion chambers are too small for my pistons)96' or newer vortec intake with everything on it, ECM, sensors, and anything else I need. I will have a wiring harness made for ease of installation. I basically wan't to take a complete ,say, 98' vortec 350 and dump the short block for my 406 short block just with AFR, EDEL, or WORLD heads with the same intake pattern as the vortecs. I can see staying around 2K for this setup all done and running. The local junk yard said he would give me the intake and everything for $350. Once I had everything installed I would get a high performance mass air flow sensor and a chip made to compensate for the cubes and cam. I'm sure some of you are aware that the 96' and later FI have a mass air flow system instead of the older speed density map system. This means the stock system can adjust itself when a cam, intake,etc change is made. Another route is a 454 TBI setup with aftermarket heads but that isn't any cheaper than going late model TPI and isn't much better than my carb now. As for the Edelbrock Pro flo, I like it a lot but with aftermarket heads and that system it's about 3 to 4K. /forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif
     
  9. rjfguitar

    rjfguitar 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Maybe this will help. My dad has a 98' suburban. I want to convert my 406 to the exact same fuel injection setup as his 98'.
     
  10. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Ok, the Vortec swap. Take a look online and see how much info there is about converting a COMPLETE Vortec setup to an older vehicle. Case closed. (not saying you can't do it, just that you won't get any help)

    Getting/using/making a butchered up harness is EXACTLY what you say you DON'T want to do. Fuel injection setups run the way they do because they are a COMPLETE package. You can't cut extraneous stuff out (for the most part) without problems in other areas. On earlier stuff (TPI for instance) AIR and EVAP could be removed, and the computer would never know. With OBD2 (Vortec) you will have such stuff as fuel tank pressure monitoring. I would bet if you looked at the Vortec wiring manual, you'd see there are no longer two harnesses...TPI/TBI essentially used two harnesses. The standard cab/ignition harness, and the ECM harness on the passenger side.

    All of this stuff can be worked around of course, the only issues are time and money.

    I personally don't think I'd settle with a stock TPI (or Vortec) setup for a "strong" 406. If you want it to go fast, TPI simply isn't where it's at. TPI's long runners (17" or so apparently) are great for torque, but they REALLY hinder upper end airflow. Don't forget, TPI was designed around the 305, the 350 was an afterthough to that system.

    If you want to run something on a 406 for power, I'd seriously look at some of the aftermarket stuff, such as the mini-ram. You'd use a stock GM injection setup, minus the intake/base and fuel rails, at least thats my understanding. Probably use a more conventional bolt pattern too.

    I had considered the Vortec setup, but to be honest, I didn't have THAT much time on my hands. I can easily see that being a year long process for someone that is motivated, JUST for the planning and understanding of the system.
     
  11. rjfguitar

    rjfguitar 3/4 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    hmm, well maybe I better look closer at the edel. Pro flo setup and the TBI454 setup. What do you guys think about those 2?
     
  12. 87GMCJimmy

    87GMCJimmy 1/2 ton status

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    Just so ya know, you can get around fuel tank pressure monitoring by using a 96 computer. I put a 99 5.7 vortec/4l60e tranny in my truck and used a 96 computer to get around VATS. As I was putting it on I found out the bonus of it not having the fuel tank pressure stuff.

    However, I don't think this really matters b/c he's going to need a custom program for the 406 and when he does this he can have some of the diagnostic tests turned off.

    It would be possible but I think to do it right you'd be pretty close to the 2k mark anyway. Example, buying bigger injector's, throttle body, manifold, custom program, etc. Go get one of the aftermarket system that's tunable and I think in the end you will be much happier.

    Mike
     
  13. Thunder

    Thunder 3/4 ton status

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    I really think you are opening a real can of worms. Espically with Califs smog laws.
    Custom tuning a later model ECM for an older truck with hot engine will cost some bucks.
    First You will need the whole complete set up incluning Cats.
    Then you will have to get it in without butchering it too much
    Then
    I would venture to guess to make it all run right,and pass smog. You will have to take it to a shop with a Dyno and a flash programer. Leave it for a week and let them dial it in. Cost at least 600 to 800 dollars+. You cant just buy a plug in aftermarket chip that will work.

    The simplest way would be to go TBI. you can get a custom kit from turbo city or howell. And get it up and running for under 1500. It may be able to pass smog in Cal.
    I would call Turbocity. They are a California company and used to dealing with your smog laws.

    Be careful of some of the aftermarket MPFI systems out there. many plainly state they are : "Not legal in California" If they dont have that CARB # I dont think thay will pass.
     

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