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Vortec heads on a TBI 454?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by afroman006, Jul 23, 2003.

  1. afroman006

    afroman006 1/2 ton status

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    I want to build some sort of big block for my burban but cant decide what. I really want a 454 or 502 vortec but thats big bucks and I'm still in high school so I dont see that happening. What I thought would make a good engine is vortec 454 heads on a normal TBI 454 with a few little doo-dads here and there. I figured its a logical choice since 350 vortec heads are all the rage. Anyone here done this? Anyone know where I can find a set of these heads or a price? Will a normal TBI intake manifold work with these or will I need some kind of special adapted thing? Thx
     
  2. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    I don't believe a tbi intake will work and they don't make a special adapted one. For the 350 swap you need a different intake and they make them but 454 doesn't have that. I don't hear of people doing Big Block Vortec motors often if ever. Vortec headed Small Blocks are somewhat the rage but you can get better heads for similar pricing for small blocks. Vortecs are not all that great in the scheme of heads they are just good factory units. You would probably be better off using some old cleaned up carburated big block heads with some homegrown port polish work and just redrill your intake to fit. Sure you wouldn't have that extra 20 some horsepower but hey you could spend all the junks you save trying to convert to vortecs and get a good cam and headers.
     
  3. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    Personally, I would get an older Mark IV or Gen VI block and get some #781 or #049 heads and clean them up (skip the Gen V blcok b/c head selection is REALLY LIMITED without the use of a special head gasket or spending $1600+ on aftermarket Aluminum jobs....turst me I have a GEN V /forums/images/graemlins/angryfire.gif)...

    The BBC Vortec heads have one thing going for them...They have a small combustion chamber (100cc) when compared to some of the other later-model BBC open chamber heads(118cc) The do offer a flow improvement over the "Peanut Port heads" but not really enough to warrant grandeur status.

    You want a recipe for a MEAN BBC (take into account that this will have a pretty rough idle)?

    -Mark IV block (preferably 4-bolt), prepped correctly (bored, decked, align bored as needed)
    -Stroker crank 4.25" stroke(and spend the $$$ to get a decent forged one)
    -Good 6.385 forged rods (I went with Eagle ESP's)
    -Forged FT or slight dome piston (depending on the cc of the heads, desired CR, etc)
    -049 or 781 or similar heads, (ported, matched, polished, shaved, bigger valves)
    -Comp XR276HR cam (if you wanna save some $$$ get a flat tappet insted of the hydraulic roller, as a roller setup can run like a Grand for all the bits and pieces)
    -Good intake
    -and a decent carb

    That'll get you in the 500hp realm /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gifEASY
    /forums/images/graemlins/pimp1.gif
     
  4. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    Oh if you wanna run TBI, don't expect stellar HP numbers...Just build the engine as I siad above, but use the Edelbrock performer RPM intake and the 454 TBI unit with an adjustable FPR

    I am running a Gen V 454 with quite a few lower end mods but the stcok peanut port heads, a "truck torque" cam from GMPP (just a Crane 2020) and a TBI with adj. FPR...I love the motor...it is a strong MOFO, esp. down low in the RPM range...


    Chris
     
  5. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    [ QUOTE ]
    Vortecs are not all that great in the scheme of heads they are just good factory units.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Gotta disagree here. I've no clue if the Fastburn chamber design existed before the Vortec heads, but even if it did, that design can probably be considered revolutionary.

    Head flow numbers are not the only indicator of a good head, and apparently the L29 Vortec heads also have a re-designed chamber, although I can't find any specs/pictures of it.

    I'm not saying they are the best option out there, because they are difficult to work with, (cost of intakes, so on) and because aftermarket companies are making cylinder heads with the same or similar chambers, better flow numbers if you desire, with "standard" intake bolt patterns. But I am saying that if you rely solely on flow numbers to judge a head, you are missing another critical aspect.

    Chamber design improvements are one reason some motors are running 10:1 on "crappy" 87 octane gas, with 9.5:1 being easily achieved.
     
  6. thatK30guy

    thatK30guy 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I would check out the World Products Merlin heads. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif /forums/images/graemlins/deal.gif /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
     
  7. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    the big reason that you can run 10:1 on crappy fuel is aluminum heads dissipate the heat better and a good polished up combustion chamber will be less likely to detonate due to there not being little pointy burs in the chamber. Not to say the chamber design doesn't play some role.
     
  8. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Vortec heads aren't aluminum, and IIRC, all the SBC Vortec motors are 9.5:1.

    You are right, head material makes a difference as well, but the potential of the head is better if the combustion chamber is more efficient. There is simply no question the fastburn chamber is better than the "old" stock style. Can't remember what they call it.
     
  9. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    I thought you were talking about the new SBC Fastburn heads from GM performance, they are aluminum. My mistake.
     
  10. afroman006

    afroman006 1/2 ton status

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    Well its gonna be TBI for sure if not all out vortec. I have 2 1/2 454's at my shop. One is an unassembled genuine vintage LS-6 (all parts for it stay together /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif). One is an assmbled, complete 2 bolt main out of a 84 truck. The last is an unassembled short block from somewhere in the 70's. If I dont get another complete engine, I'm going to have one of the 2 bolt blocks converted to splayed 4 bolt. Anyone have any idea how much of a PITA it would be to put a complete vortec engine into a 91 burb? Would it prety much be, remove old engine, puter and wiring harness, then install new engine puter and wiring harness? IMO vortec's are the best gas engine ever and I reeeaaaaallllllyy want one but I dont really know... Thx for the help.
     
  11. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    best gas engine ever? take it down a notch? Who talked you into such a Vortec frenzy? They may be about the best PRODUCTION gas motors but I have seen mildly built up Vortec motors get their butts handed to them by mildly built TBIs. I agree with the others you will probably be better off using an older motor and heads say that 2 bolt you have. Can't build a TBI motor to the gills but you can make a strong torque full big block that will move your burban just fine. Good luck finding a complete Vortec setup on a budget.
     
  12. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I've got to agree that they aren't the "best engine ever", so don't set yourself on one just because of some reputation. A well-thought out engine can be built that is more powerful than the Vortec, but it's gonna cost some money. Probably less than a complete Vortec swap though!

    All Vortec refers to (IMO) is the head design, and the injection setup. Even then "Vortec" appeared on TBI vans way before the CPI Vortec setup came out.

    No, it will not be a plug and play. You'll need to get the proper wiring diagrams for that year vortec truck, the proper service manual for that year, and then have the fun of rewiring your truck like a Vortec one. It's an entirely different body style, much more modern, which means the PCM has many more functions than was ever considered when the 73-87 C/K line ended, and the wiring harness is much more integral to the injection system than it was on say the TBI K5's.

    Speaking of PCM's, if you want an auto tranny, you'll either have to make the 4L80E or 4L60E work in your truck, or get a non-auto Vortec setup, or you'll be paying/learning how to modify the computer to think it's a manual transmission truck.

    It will be rewarding when you are done, but in no way shape or form will it be done anyway that can be considered cheap. Unless you are Bill Gates. Even if you get the Vortec motor for $500, I bet everything else will be an EASY $500, or you will spend years waiting to find each piece at a cheap price.
     
  13. afroman006

    afroman006 1/2 ton status

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    The tranny thing is not a concern as my burb already has a 4L80E . I do think they are the best production gas engine, however. They have great power, are as reliable as I could want and get respectable mileage to boot. I guess I'll prolly end up going with a TBI 454 for simplicity's sake. I guess I need to find a complete engine so I can get all the accesory brackets and whatnot from it then assemble bit and pieces together into and engine that will suit me. Is 450 HP reasonable with edelbrock heads and other things here and there from a TBI engine? Thx
     
  14. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    I would say more conservatively 400 hp but its a big block so TORQUE! Are you sure you have a 4l80E? I didn't think they came around till 93. I have a 4l80E in my 2500 and hope someday to convert to a big block but not anytime real soon.
     
  15. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    450HP is gonna cost you money.

    One more thing to consider, with a swap like this, a PROM change will be mandatory. Making major changes to an injected engine setup, and not making sure the engine is running as good as it can, (PROM "calibration") is wasting a lot of potential of the injection setup.

    Better look into the chip burning scene.
     
  16. fortcollinsram

    fortcollinsram 1/2 ton status

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    450hp is starting to push the limits of a TBI set up. The stock TB only flows 670cfm...there are guys at www.454ss.com that hog them out a bit more to flow some more...Dude, I have a VERY mild 454 in my K5 with TBI..I built this thing for torque and it has just that...I pulls your nutz to the seat from 1500 to 3500 RPM...BUILD YOUR OWN ENGINE....you can make a engine that is much better and just as reliable as a production engine with aftermarket parts...Go talk to the dude over at 454ss.com....Those guys will guide you the right way to make more power than a GM Crate 502 will less money and better parts...

    It is ALL about getting parts that will work well as a combonation...For instance, don't go out and get some HUGE aluminum Rect. port heads and only throw in a 204* @ .050" cam...Like wise don't put a HUGE 1/4" mile cam in a BBC with 156 peanut port heads...

    It is about the parts mathing...and you can do it with all factory designed parts if you want...(heads, rods, pisotns etc..)
     
  17. afroman006

    afroman006 1/2 ton status

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    Yes I'm positive I have a 4L80E as its the whole reason I bought this truck. With the throttle body, I think I'd go with one of turbo city's ones as they are tricked out beyond belief. I will go check out that other website though. Thx
     
  18. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    I don't think Turbo City sells 2" bore throttle bodys. They sell a slightly worked over factory one. It seems like its tricked out beyond belief but I did almost the exact same stuff in a couple hours with a used throttle body and a die grinder. I am running that TB on my truck now and didn't notice any difference. I think I need a fuel pressure regulator. My friend with a tricked out 89 runs the Turbo City setup and loves it. For his motor with slight work it works really well. Like i said you can do the stuff yourself all except I think they may increase the bore size very slightly, that I couldn't really determine and just didn't try. There is an article on 454ss.com about running a Holley 4 barrel throttle body, sounds pretty sick in my mind and would probably work REALLY well for a tricked out motor since its 4 injectors and 4 inlets.
     
  19. afroman006

    afroman006 1/2 ton status

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    From what I remember right offhand, they have an increased bore size, shaved throttle plate rod part thing, matched injectors and maybe some kind of electronic work. Its been awhile since I've looked at their stuff. One thing I am interested in thought is the electronic device they sell that, with the flip of a switch, allows you to select between "fuel economy", "stock" and "performance" settings for the TBI. They have all kinds of cool [I love Jeeps] how could I pass it up? Holley 4 barrel TB /forums/images/graemlins/eek.gif /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif. Would that work with a stock computer and harness? Thx
     
  20. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    need to rewire a little at the injectors and a new chip but other wise it would work. As for that chip thing I don't know about it and I would never use it if you were already gonna be running a nonstock chip. I think it just adjusts the fuel curve and maybe bottom end fuel pressure and performance chips already do that. Most likely it fools the computer into thinking things like bad o2 readings and whatever to make it think its running lean, not the best route really. And there is no electrical stuff done to the TB on the Turbo City tb. There is nothing electrical to really be modified. Unless you want to mess with the TPS and in that case be prepared to not idle or downshift or run well. Well thats what happened when mine was screwed up.
     

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