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vortec Heads

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by MilpitasK5, Nov 4, 2002.

  1. MilpitasK5

    MilpitasK5 1/2 ton status

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    I've been having problems with my engine warming up and I finally got the chance to let some of the guys from this site see and hear it.
    It basically runs way too rich when it's cold and the RPMs are all over the place. As soon as it gets a little warmer, the idle goes up like normal.

    Zakk and Iceman both say I have bad valve seals so I should just get some Vortec heads. They explained it to me but it was early in the morning and I'm a newbie to wrenching.

    Any feed back on that would be greatly appreciated. What will this do for my engine and how much will the parts cost?

    Thanks in advance! /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif /forums/images/graemlins/k5.gif
     
  2. marv_springer

    marv_springer 1/2 ton status

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    I run the Vortec heads..... I don't think there's a better buy for a small block head. /forums/images/graemlins/deal.gif

    Marv
     
  3. Shaggy

    Shaggy 3/4 ton status

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    <font color="green"> Vortec heads are worth a significant power increase, 50hp over stock iron heads if memory serves. You'll need the heads, about $450 or so complete from GM, and an intake manifold that will bolt to them since the older style one will not work. </font color>
     
  4. MilpitasK5

    MilpitasK5 1/2 ton status

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    Does this do anything to smog?

    That sounds good! /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
     
  5. heavy4x4

    heavy4x4 1/2 ton status

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    Additional question: Are any of the intake manifolds made for vortec heads equipped with the bolt pattern/bore for a tbi?
    Where do you suggest to get all of the part? Catalog like jegs or summit, or an engine shop?
    Sorry, not trying to hi-jack the post, just have questions that I think are relevant to the topic at hand.
     
  6. MilpitasK5

    MilpitasK5 1/2 ton status

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    No worries on jacking the post. I need to know where I should get them too! /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif
     
  7. Shaggy

    Shaggy 3/4 ton status

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    <font color="green"> Edelbrock makes a conversion intake manifold, but t doesn't seem to have EGR. If you need the EGR you might need to look for a different intake. Scoggins-Dickey has the assembled heads for $228 each. You'll need to get gaskets and new valve covers also. Not sure about what else you might need, this is the deepest I've ever really looked into this swap. /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif

    *EDIT*

    In looking into this deeper, Scoggins-Dickey sells a complete swap kit for $995 that has everything you need, including the manifold for TBI and the EGR parts. /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif</font color>
     
  8. jms

    jms 1/2 ton status Author

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    Vortec heads don't have the exhaust crossover passage. That affected EGR and EFE on my '85. I've put the EFE back on but disabled the vacuum line to run it. As for EGR, you'll need the EGR supply tube and a place on the exhaust manifold or header to connect the tube; the other end goes into the intake manifold on the driver's side.
     
  9. zakk

    zakk 1/2 ton status

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    well, i am not sure about the SMOG legality of them, but the manifolds are a bit pricey. i think you could easily do the whole swap for under $1000.
     
  10. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    It will *probably* drive your NOx up somewhat due to increased compression ratio (later heads are 72CC?? Vortec 350 heads are 64CC) but that probably won't be noticed at all if you still have a cat converter that is working correctly, and since you ask about smog, I'm assuming you have to run a cat anyways.

    EGR will be an issue of course as has been mentioned, no exhaust crossover to run it, hence the scoggin-dickey EGR kit.
     
  11. MilpitasK5

    MilpitasK5 1/2 ton status

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    Thanks guys!! /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif
    I do have to run cats. I'm running two right now b/c I have true duals (sp?). Get's kinda scary when I get it smogged. They stare at it for a few extra minutes but I'be been lucky so far. /forums/images/graemlins/thumb.gif

    So what other options do I have for heads? This friend of mine has a set of aluminum heads that were on his truck for a while but blew his engine. He says that he had them resurfaced and little work needs to be done before they go back on.
    What do you all think?
     
  12. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    What *I* think is, compared with any other NEW heads, the Vortecs can'tbe beat. Nothing else that comes close to them in flow, efficiency, resistance to detonation, and what have you, can be bought for anywhere near the same price.

    AL heads are great IF they have the same characteristics (or better) than the Vortecs. Valve size, Combustion Chamber shape ("fast burn") flow numbers and maybe even center bolt valve covers. (I like them better)

    Problem is, AL heads that meet or beat the Vortecs in performance, (AFR 190's for a rough comparison) are over $900/pr as I recall. L98 heads aren't even close to the Vortecs in flow numbers.

    You can go with stock earlier heads, but again, the power gains aren't there, since A)you have to worry about CC's depending on year, and B)the combustion chambers SUCK on earlier heads, when compared to the "fast burns" of the Vortecs and like heads.

    What kind of heads does he have? If you could get a deal on some good AL heads (again, AFR for example) that didn't require the moreexpensive later Vortec bolt pattern intake, and didn't require much work, then they'd be a good choice. AL is better at disipating heat, which means a bit more compression with less danger of detonation, which would be getting iffy with iron headson 87 octane and 9.5:1 compression, even with the better fast burn combustion chamber design.
     
  13. twenty_below0

    twenty_below0 1/2 ton status

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    I agree with Dy on the Vtecs being good, BUT by the time you buy everything for them (like the kit for a GRAND, WOW) you would be better off doing some looking around, Ebay, a new set of Trick flow specialty heads for SBC for around 850.00, is by far the better value, and or some other choice heads, Aluminum is the superior design! So if the whole kit is the option for the 800.00 to 1000.00 dollar range you'd be ahead to go with some good Aluminums that can utilize the manifold etc. you have already, The point DY made about the ALum. heads is really good, they will run a higher compression on lower octane fuel without detonation, 9:5.1 on 87 doesn't work for beans 90 octane would be needed, on the other hand 10:.1 with 90 and aluminum heads would be easily achieved, and as the old story goes, COMPRESSION makes ponies with out the compresion the ponies dont come (some exceptions but generally speaking this is true) Also if you have these Alum. your buddy has decked you could probly pull 60cc chambers and with a stock bottom end this would be great might get the 9:5.1 or even a little higher, The machine shop would let you know if this is an option depending on the thickness the decks on these heads have. Either way you'd see much better performance but if the whole package is needed then go ALUMINUM! Just my "tiny" little opinion /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
     
  14. BorregoK5

    BorregoK5 1/2 ton status

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    Not to hi-jack the post, but what about a donor vehicle from the wrecking yards where you could pull the heads, fuel injection and computer in one shot for pennies on the dollar. I spend very little time, if ever at 5000 rpm and almost all between 1500 and 4000, seems like a donor from a 350 might work well for fuel supply and make the conversion to fuel injection that much easier. Any suggestions as to vehicle to look for?
     
  15. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    I can't agree with the other heads being good values comparatively. Nor can I agree with 87 not running at 9.5:1 with fast burns. If 305's ran 9.2:1 on older combustion chambers, 9.5:1 shouldn't be impossible to run.

    First off, you will need/want to change the intake while you are at it no matter what heads you go with. Tack on another $125 minimum right there, even for the "old style" setup.

    I ran some different combos through desktop dyno2k, and the Vortecs made more power pretty much all around, (sometimes suffering a bit at the high end) using other heads as comparisons that would be considered "torque" producing. Even if you don't think that desktop dyno is valid, compare flow numbers. Plenty of charts online that compare them all.

    Dunno why a kit would be $1000, except that you are buying stuff all from GM. $228/ea for those heads is a good deal, but shipping will be on something like 50lbs ea. SO you got the heads, call it $500 for fun. Intake another $150. EGR $60. Then you've got the nickel and dime stuff..gaskets, valve covers, etc., stuff that would most likely be replaced anyways in a head swap.

    I'm kind of biased, I bought my Vortecs first, intending carb usage, bought the intake, then returned it when I decided on injection. I'm stuck, however, so I compared my options, and no matter which way I was to go, it would be expensive. Dump the Vortecs, go with aftermarket heads, and pay $1000 for similar heads, but AL, and still need another intake.

    Don't get me wrong, I like AL, weight savings, detonation resitance, etc., but they certainly are more sensitive to corrosion for one thing, if you aren't into purity in the cooling system /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif If you can get the same or better performance out of a cast iron head, for half as much money, (which is the case with AFR 190's, etc. vs Vortecs as I found) I think the Vortecs are the way to go.

    He threw in injection there at the end, so I'll comment on that.

    Injection makes Vortec head swapping tough...ok, expensive. There aren't enough options. The cheapest way to use Vortecs and TPI is the scoggin dickey TPI base, at $400. $400 for an intake isn't cheap, however, thats the CHEAPEST way you are going to get a Vortec head/TPI swap done with off the shelf components.

    I'm not to up on the heads besides the Vortecs, all I know is that most, if not all, TBI heads suck. IIRC, they are designed for swirl, or for short, cut down on flow. Good for low end, but they can be beaten by almost all of the newer heads...L98's, Vortecs, anything with the Fast Burn chamber design, and the revised intake ports don't hurt.

    If I were looking for parts to do a swap, it would be TPI. TBI is easier, but it flat out isn't TPI. TBI was installed in our trucks, it would certainly be the easiest to "retrofit". Take the ENTIRE injection setup out of the '87+ Blazer, 'burb, etc. (or '87 truck) and stick it in yours.

    Again, I think TPI is a better system, and being more complex is not a valid argument vs TBI. It's probably just as much work to do one or the other, with better results from TPI in the end. Look for '87+ vintage TPI Camaros's. Apparently '87 has a more "standalone" wiring harness than later ones, but my '88 F-body setup is pretty much standalone as well. A few things from the fuse panel, but thats not much..Injector power leads, Fuel pump leads, ECM power, etc.

    You can install the TPI stuff without cutting a single hole in your truck (I've already run my wiring, not a new hole anywhere) but it will certainly take time to get in place all of the required items.
     
  16. Shaggy

    Shaggy 3/4 ton status

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    <font color="green"> Dorian, that $1000 kit that I linked to included the TBI intake, that's probably why it costs so much. The carb kits are as low as about $650 IIRC. </font color>
     
  17. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Yes, the intake probably does make a big difference. The difference in price between the GM and Edelbrock carbed Vortec intake is ridiculous when all you are paying fro on the GM one is the Bowtie cast into it.

    From what I recall, Edelbrock is selling TBI Vortec intakes too, no?
     
  18. jms

    jms 1/2 ton status Author

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    Edelbrock Vortec intake, carb, no EGR: ~ $160;
    GMPP Vortec spreadbore intake with EGR: ~ $200; PN12496820, GMpartsdirect.com
    GMPP Vortec TBI intake with EGR: ~ $265; PN12496821, GMpartsdirect.com

    I'm not sure where the big price difference in the kits comes from, can't be the intake alone.
    IIRC, solowookie has used Vortec heads on his TBI engine rebuilds; I'm sure he could provide info.
     

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