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Vortec swap

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Buzz, Oct 9, 2002.

  1. Buzz

    Buzz Registered Member

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    I have an 89k5 and am thinking about swapping the old 350 with a new vortec. Can this be done, I have an automatic transmission btw (if that matters)? What are the problems in doing this? What parts/components/etc. do I need to do this? And what is the dificulty in this, I don't want my mechanic to shoot me for putting this potential burden on him? That's all I can think of for now. Thanks
     
  2. Z85WT1500

    Z85WT1500 Registered Member

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    Well, your 89 is a TBI (throttle body injection) engine, and the vortec is a CSFI (central seqential fuel injection) so anything induction or fuel related will have to be swapped. Don't forget the fuel pump. And I am not sure, but I think vortec's used a PCM (powertrain control module) as opposed to your ECM (electronic control module). PCM's contol the engine and transmission, so you MAY have to do some work there too... don't quote me on that though:). I thought of doing the same thing to my 93, but I haven't been able to find a donor truck cheap enough yet.

    Good Luck and let us know what you find out.

    Jason
     
  3. dyeager535

    dyeager535 1 ton status Premium Member

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    You pay a mechanic to do all the work entailed with the swap, you might as well go buy a new truck : )

    For one thing, the "PCM" (if thats what its called now) will almost certainly want to "see" the auto tranny. If you could still get manual trannies after '96 (first year for the Vortec V8) then you could probably just run with that ECM. Pure speculation there, but whatever tranny you use, will either need to be out of the donor truck, or else you'll have to work around it.

    Personally, I'd keep my eyes open for the engine/tranny/t-case as a whole, and just drop it in, wiring and all.

    The later stuff is more difficult to retrofit, simply because the harness for the ECM/PCM became much more integrated with the other wiring (column, fuse panel, etc) unlike say early TPI stuff, which was a fairly standalone harness.

    You will be wasting your time with the swap if you try and cut corners with wiring, etc., because in cutting corners, you are going to decrease performance, which is the only reason to do a swap like this: INCREASE performance.
     
  4. Diesel Dan

    Diesel Dan 1/2 ton status

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    You'll also need a gas tank from a '96+ blazer. The OBDII systems have a sensor on the sending unit so it can pull a vacuum on the tank to monitor the evaporation canister circuit.

    Look in hotrod or carcraft for the companies that offer components for these swaps into older muscle cars. They will most likely use the LT1 but some may use the Vortec, and most info may apply to your swap.
     
  5. 87GMCJimmy

    87GMCJimmy 1/2 ton status

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    It's definetly doable but if your worried about burdening a mechanic I would stay clear. I'm putting a 99 vortec and all it's electronics into my 87. It's time consuming and not that cheap. I'll probably spend 1000-1200 bucks on putting it in and that doesn't count the cost of the motor. I don't think it would be a problem taking it to a mechanic after the install is comleted as long as you did a high quality install in the first place. No hack jobs. Defenitely need to love working on your truck and having a sound mechanical, electrical, and computer background doesn't hurt. There might be ways to put a vortec long block under your current TBI...but I duno. If you have more specific questions let me know.

    Mike

    Thanks,
    Mike
     
  6. GRINCH

    GRINCH 1/2 ton status

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    I put a 96 vortec crate in my 90, I used edelbrocks MPFI and a new chip from them. Whole package cost me around $3500 by the time I was done. This did include the egr setup and some thorley headers.

    Love the added ponies!!!!
     
  7. Hank75

    Hank75 Registered Member

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    anyone done a earlier swap i have a 75 and was looking at putting a newer vortec in? would i run into the same issues as with the above mentioned tbi - vortec swap? i have 350/t350/203 /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif /forums/images/graemlins/k5.gif
    can't wait for a motor with more power mine is very tired i'd say almost asleep
     
  8. Thunder

    Thunder 3/4 ton status

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    Instead of going thru all that hassle with a Vortec engine swap. Why dont you just put in one of these: 350 TBI performance crate
    These are direct bolt in for a TBI truck and use all the stock 89 TBI stuff.
    Your mechanic will be much happier. So will your wallet
     
  9. marine_enlisted

    marine_enlisted 1/2 ton status

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    I'm doing the same to my 86 shortbox. I had to upgrade to an 87 fuel tanks and senders. (fuel injection needs baffles), I had to use an in line pump (after the tank selector valve). The fuel pump has to put out 100psi for vortec. You should be able to make the in-tank pump from a vortec truck work if your not worried about the keeping the evap system Get a throttle cable from a 96-98 pickup (chevy dealer $20.00) PCM from ANY vortec will work. Mine was from an S-10 V-6 I had Speed Scene Wiring build a custom harness and re-program my pcm to v-8 manual trans( this way I can run my 700r4) . They also removed evap and rear O2 sensors. I will run egr. The only thing I haven't really figured out is what to do about the a/c hoses. I guess I will have to find someone who can custom make me a set. I used all the accessories from the vortec. ALT, PS pump, water pump, A/C compressor. The only part I have left to get is a fan and fan clutch , then I will start the swap I'll post any more problems that I run into.
     
  10. 87GMCJimmy

    87GMCJimmy 1/2 ton status

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    Hey glad to hear that I'm not the only one trying to do this. For the fuel pump you can use one from an 96-98 2 door Tahoe in the 87 baffel tank, direct replacement. It's a hold over from the old style but will put out the required PSI. The AC hoses are easy, there are many shops that with build custom hoses, at least here around Phx. When reporgramming the computer make sure to get rid of the VATS. I'm still trying to verify this but all the shops that I have talked to say that the 96-97 wiring harness is not compatible with the 98-99 one. Just went back and re-read that your using a custom harness, I'm using the stock one out of a 99 tahoe. I working on finding good ways to mount the computer/fuse box and run the wires.

    Good luck!
    Mike
     

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