Step 4: Motor Set-up, Gas Tank, Drive shaft & related parts

Installing Motor Mounts

The next task was to place the LT1 into place. Mark used our universal motor mounts for Small block /Big block & LT motors. We always recommend that the motor be set into the chassis with the vehicle at ride height. The driveline should be down at the transmission 3 degrees from level, with the vehicle at it’s final stance. This allows the fuel/air mixture to run equally to the front and rear cylinders. On fuel injections, this isn’t as much of a concern due to each cylinder having it’s own fuel supply, but it does make a difference on drive shaft harmonics.

Next, we recommend that you center the water pump in the radiator, if possible. This will allow the mechanical fan to work properly, if that’s what your going to use. It’s also a good idea to mount your radiator into place and double check clearances. 

It helps to have as many of the parts that you will be using on the motor. Mark chose to use Sanderson cast manifolds, coated by AirBorn Coatings.

The motor and transmission were positioned with the radiator and fan in place, centering the motor between the frame rails. With the height set, the motor mounts were trimmed to length and tack welded into position. Mark made a cardboard copy of the new recessed firewall to verify the clearances and confirm motor location.

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While the motor was out of the car for the installation of frame boxing and Progressive’s tubular X-member, Mark decided it would be the best time to detail it. Since the donor LT-1 had low miles, Mark basically chose to leave it intact. The block was smoothed and painted. For some bolt-on horsepower, the stock rocker arms were replaced with a set of narrow body, self aligning, 1.6 ratio roller rockers from Crane Cams. Installation was a breeze, the fit and finish on these parts was superb. 

The water pump was removed so that the stock heater fittings could be removed. New AN style heater fittings were installed, which required tapping. Because underhood heat temperatures will not be a problem, the extra line to cool the oil filter was removed and plugged. To dress up the motor, a set of smooth polished aluminum valve covers from Naiser Racing were bolted on. Custom machining on the faces of these valve covers is also available.

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To handle the fuel needs, a stainless steel TPI equipped gas tank from Rock Valley Antique Auto Parts was chosen. It comes with a fuel pump and filter to supply the fuel injected motor. Unlike carberated motors, fuel-injection needs more pressure and a return line, back to the tank.

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Body to frame holes were used for reference to determine the tanks correct location. The original holes in the frame were then transferred to the tank’s flanges and drilled for mounting bolts. In the trunk floor an access panel was added in the middle and the stock one (on the left) was enlarged. This will allow Mark to be able to remove the sending unit, in-tank pump and filter, if they need serviced.

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Mark wanted to package the engine accessories low and tight. So as not to interfere with an air-box he has in the works, running the belt over the throttle body wasn’t an option. Mark chose to design, machine and polish his own brackets. The first step was to swap the original Camaro harmonic balancer for a Corvette unit. This moves the belt location forward for more component clearance. To simplify things and make the whole package look great Mark incorporated covers and pulleys from March Performance. The polished rear exit AC compressor is part of the total AC package from Vintage Air. The lower aluminum bracket mounts it to the block. The balancer and clutch covers from March Performance are also shown.

The stock LT-1 power steering pump was utilized. To mount the pump, the 2 existing mounting holes were tapped for 3/8-24 fasteners from the rear. After painting the pump the new pulley from March Performance was pressed on and the pumps location determined. The aluminum bracket attaches to the block at 3 points.

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The chrome alternator is a 140 amp, one wire unit from Haywire. Their alternators energize at a much lower rpm than most one-wire alternators on the market. With current and any future electrical power demands Mark wanted an alternator capable of fulfilling the need. The aluminum bracket picks up 2 tapped holes in the head and provides a pivot point for the alternator for belt adjustment.

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The last bracket required is to mount the 2 idler pulleys. The idlers from March Performance feature hard anodized wear surfaces and dual roller bearings. The bracket picks up the 2 front lugs on the AC compressor and with the addition of a standoff, one of the water pump bolt locations. To determine belt length a piece of ribbon was routed around the pulleys, then marked and measured. A trip to the local parts store provided the necessary belt. A piece of tapped stainless rod and 2 rod ends provide tension.

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To finish it off an LT-1 water pump cover from March Performance was bolted in place. The covers and pulleys feature powder coating for durability and ease of maintenance.

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To carry the spark to the plugs, Mark chose some of Taylor Cable Products ThunderVolt 50 plug wires. The construction, design and materials utilized in producing these wires provide a wire with a resistance of only 50 ohms per foot. They are 10.4 mm in diameter and provide heat protection to 600 degrees. Each pure silicone Pro Boot is bonded to each wire. The Camaro LT 1 set was chosen, but 2 of the wires needed to longer than stock to accommodate wire routing and choice of exhaust manifolds. This set also includes 2 coil wires to choose from, depending on your application. It’s a good idea to mock up what you need with an old plug wire or piece of vacuum tubing depending on your choice of headers. 

Taylor’s 10.4 mm clamp style wire separators were also utilized for a clean wire routing job. Mark machined some standoffs that picked up stock threaded locations in the heads and attached the separators to them.

Mark also noted that he swapped out the stock wires on his ’97 Dodge Dakota for a set of the ThunderVolt 50 wires and noticed a crisper throttle response, smoother idle and increased mileage.

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 Final paint and other finishes on components and assemblies is something to consider during your build. In Mark’s case, ease of maintenance, (he definitely plans to drive the coupe) and showing well were major priorities. Along these lines Mark wanted to have the aluminum valve covers chromed. After having a chroming shop in his area tell him they couldn’t plate aluminum or re-chrome a modified hood ornament because of pitting, Mark contacted CustomChrome Plating in Grafton, Ohio. Upon receiving some pictures of the hood ornament from Mark, their response to re-chroming it was “No problem”. We will be showing pictures of the hood ornament later in the build, but suffice it to say, Mark was totally wowed by the quality of the repair and re-plating.

As you can see from the pictures of the valve covers the brilliance, depth and quality of plating from CustomChrome is second to none.

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Mark called us back up to have a custom drive shaft made. The proper way to do this is to push the slip yoke into the transmission until it bottoms out, them pull it back out 1″.

*This isn’t as critical on a fixed or solid mounted rear center section like the Corvette. However, on any other moving rear center section, you need to allow the drive shaft to slip in and out without dropping out or beating against the rear seal.

Mark gave us the dimension from center of u-joint cap on the rear to the center of the u-joint cap on the front. The drive shaft was then forwarded, without u-joints, to AirBorn Coatings. Once the coated drive shaft returned to Mark, it was assembled into the chassis.

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