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Username Post: Advice Needed: New Crate Engine Options for 1992 K2500?        (Topic#348195)
92GMCK2500 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 6

Reg: 11-13-17
11-13-17 10:19 PM - Post#2714313    

Hi All,
New on here but wanted to get some good quality advice on 'what path to go down' regarding dropping a new engine into my old 1992 GMC K2500. Its been in the family since new and has sentimental value. The truck has 410kms on the body (SLE, Extd cab, long box), about 275kms+ on the current engine (stock 5.7L/350 TBI) and about 235km+ on the trans (not sure what type/model).

I'd say the engine is on its last legs, i.e. its knocking (very bad and has been for years), exhaust leaks all over, lost compression, oil leaks everywhere and occasionally overheats under loads etc etc. Transmission seems what you would expect for its age but its not great. To note; we use this truck as our camper rig, we have 9.5ft Kodiak camper that we use on a regular basis, weighs around 3000lbs fully loaded, and usually we travel up to 500-1000kms per trip which is a mixture of highway driving (mountain passes) and forestry service roads (rough). Would like to travel further but scared of breaking down too far from home! haha.

Given that this truck will be a full time camper rig and the occasional work-horse around town vehicle, I would like to have a strong and reliable setup that has excellent mid-range torque and responsiveness under load (I would like to accelerate up hills fully loaded no problem). NOT looking for top end power or a hot rod 4x4 machine.

Questions:
- What crate engine would you recommend? is a standard 350 TBI replacement going to suffice? Or, will a new 350 TBI with modifications meet the above specs? Or, is something like a HT383 a better option?

- I'd say all of the engine components are well aged and will need replacing also, whats needed with a new crate engine replacement? I imagine its a long list but I've got not idea about this.
I am not shy of replacing radiators, water/fuel pumps, exhaust/headers, or anything else that is needed.

- Would I be wise to do a full powertrain replacement at the same time? (I think yes...). Transmission recommendations?

Lets get the ball rolling with that for now. As mentioned, I know its an old truck, but I love it and dropping a brand new engine/trans and what ever else in her is still a lot cheaper than a truck with 100kms+ on it. I would like to keep the overall costs around $10-15K, realize this is one hell of a project but its on my life's wish list to do!

Appreciate the help! Cheers!

1992 GMC Serria, K2500 SLE 4WD Extd Cab LB
5.7L (350) TBI (stock) @ 410kms


 
bowtie44s 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3867
bowtie44s
Age: 35
Loc: wv
Reg: 08-29-12
11-14-17 10:16 AM - Post#2714346    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

Are you wanting to do any tuning or do you just want something to drop in and be done?

Jeff

'88 Chevy K3500, aluminum head roller cam 511in³ stroker 10.5:1 compression, 96 NV 4500, 94-98 grille, 305/70-16 (33x12) BF Goodrich KM2s, 91 cluster swap


 
92GMCK2500 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 6

Reg: 11-13-17
11-14-17 07:41 PM - Post#2714406    
    In response to bowtie44s

I want a brand new engine to start fresh with. I am open to tuning/modifying the new engine further to achieve around +/- 250-300HP and +/- 350-400TQ if needed.

I guess a good question is:
Is dropping another stock 350 TBI in and making modifications to meet my HP/TQ goals going to be easier and/or more cost effective than purchasing a more expensive, higher performing, bigger crate engine like the HT383 or other??

Cheers

1992 GMC Serria, K2500 SLE 4WD Extd Cab LB
5.7L (350) TBI (stock) @ 410kms


 
CowboyTrukr 
"7th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 3908
CowboyTrukr
Loc: Salt Lake City
Reg: 06-20-09
11-14-17 08:19 PM - Post#2714421    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

If low cost and easy is the order of the day, with simplicity, a Melling MTC-1 cam in a 4 bolt main block and 3.73 gears gives you a computer compatible engine with a very noticeable torque increase that you will feel immediately.

Beyond the MTC-1, you'll need a custom tune.

Greg

'95 K1500 Z71 EC Short Step 5.7L+0.040/NV3500
'00 Explorer XLT 4.0 V6 Auto
'94 K2500 5.7 NV4500 ECLB - SOLD

"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" Sir Edmund Burke


 
92GMCK2500 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 6

Reg: 11-13-17
11-14-17 10:30 PM - Post#2714431    
    In response to CowboyTrukr

At a stab, with these mods, what HP/TQ would this produce? approx.

Right now I am weighing up between; installing a stock 350 TBI replacement and doing some mods as you mentioned (or a already modified 350 turn key) or just bite the bullet and go for HT383. Haha, I don't want to regret going for the stock (smaller engine) later on as I am thinking we might possibly be pulling a boat behind the truck and camper one day.

1992 GMC Serria, K2500 SLE 4WD Extd Cab LB
5.7L (350) TBI (stock) @ 410kms


 
CowboyTrukr 
"7th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 3908
CowboyTrukr
Loc: Salt Lake City
Reg: 06-20-09
11-16-17 12:45 AM - Post#2714591    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

Without knowing your gears, I'll assume they're 4.10's like my 94 was. Same engine, same chassis.

Base HP is only ~210. With the headers and MTC-1, Standard bore, probably picked up somewhere near 30-35HP. However, torque was the more immediate bennie. Didn't dyno mine, but stock is 300lbft. I got a dramatically noticeable increase on my 94. It's easily over 350lbft and possibly 375. Pulled an empty 16' horse trailer empty up a grade in OD that I used to have to drop down into 3rd prior to the upgrade.

Liked that engine so much that I built one for my '95 short step. Went .040 over on a cheap L05 block, MTC-1 grind cam, kept the 193 heads, went shortie headers again, custom fabbed an air intake mod, put in a 14lb regulator, and dropped it in to replace the 4.3. Talk about fun. Zero computer tuning involved at all. Now, true to form, the 193 heads fall flat at around 4000, but that's because there's no way to pass any more air without going to Vortec heads. The 5.7 with a 3.73 gear set is very snappy off the line and lets me drop right into OD at 80 with a beautiful cruising rpm of 2500. I've never really taken it to redline in 4th to see where I'll end up. I have had it over 90 and it's still wanting to give me more.

My next upgrade will be Vortec heads, roller cam and TBI intake. I'm kinda getting tired of Zinc additive oil.

TBI engines are flat tappet and will require zinc additive oil to preserve the cam.

Start with reality. Your truck weighs 6100 lbs. That's over 3 tons. Next add your boat or camper and you're close to 4 tons loaded or more. That's a lot to ask of a 5.7. Can she do it. You bet. Will she win any trophies doing it. Nope. But who cares. You have one of the most reliable truck engines GM ever made.

Greg

'95 K1500 Z71 EC Short Step 5.7L+0.040/NV3500
'00 Explorer XLT 4.0 V6 Auto
'94 K2500 5.7 NV4500 ECLB - SOLD

"The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" Sir Edmund Burke


 
scrambldcj8 
Senior Member
Posts: 2316

Loc: MA
Reg: 04-06-03
11-16-17 07:32 AM - Post#2714611    
    In response to CowboyTrukr

Just to add to the Melling MTC-1 suggestion. You might even get away with slipping in a 3.75 stroke crank too (383). Keeping things mild and with a goal of low to mid-range can keep tuning to a minimum....if at all. Although tuning is suggested, even on a stocker, just so nothing is left on the table.

If your block is roller ready an LT-1 roller cam is known to play well w/out tuning as is a stock '96 Vortec roller cam. Another one is the Ram Jet 350/HT383/Marine roller.



 
tcndeb 
Senior Member
Posts: 377

Loc: Texas
Reg: 04-18-04
11-16-17 08:52 PM - Post#2714712    
    In response to CowboyTrukr

I've got 400,000 on my 92 Blazer TBI and I've never used the zinc additive. Still runs great.

'92 Full Size Blazer


 
92GMCK2500 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 6

Reg: 11-13-17
11-16-17 09:18 PM - Post#2714715    
    In response to CowboyTrukr

Thanks Cowboy. I am definitely getting a better idea on which re-build option to go with now and finding out more about the entire powertrain which makes sense to upgrade / make stronger at the same time. I'll find out the condition of my current diff and gears and go from there.

With some of the mods you have mentioned I can pretty simply add some extra HP and TQ over a stock setup. This could work well with funds in mind and doing it in stages.

I am going to take all of this and get some options priced out before making a final decision on what to go with! Nice!

1992 GMC Serria, K2500 SLE 4WD Extd Cab LB
5.7L (350) TBI (stock) @ 410kms


 
92GMCK2500 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 6

Reg: 11-13-17
11-16-17 10:18 PM - Post#2714724    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

Forgot to add. Transmissions. I believe my existing tranny is a 700R4 aka 4L60 with approx. 235kms on it (is this right?). Given the purpose and the weight I will be tugging around (described in original post). What would everyone recommend? rebuild the existing one and make some upgrades (gears, trans cooler, flywheel etc?) OR replace with new? If new is the better option, can something like a 4L70E be dropped into a truck like mine?? hell is electronic even a option for me given the existing tranny is not Elec.? Again, the aim of the game is long lasting and strong. Cheers.

1992 GMC Serria, K2500 SLE 4WD Extd Cab LB
5.7L (350) TBI (stock) @ 410kms


 
1983G20Van 
Super Senior Member
Posts: 3687

Loc: Bedford, Texas, USA
Reg: 11-13-02
11-17-17 04:42 AM - Post#2714744    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

You could also find a good 400 block and start your build based on a 400. I was walking out of work yesterday and our scrap guy was sitting there loading up scrap into his truck and trailer. That is when a 70s blue block chevy caught my eye. I glanced closer and noticed it had 3 freeze plug castings in the block with the center one cast shut. I instantly took a closer look and noticed the counter weighted front balancer that identifies it as a 400. If it turns out to be a good useable 400 block (casting 330817, not the most desireable but not the least either) its the best $100 I have spent lately. I would not mind having a 406 or 408 in my 1-ton converted Express van that sees towing duties.

1983 G20 Van, 350 TPI, Ported 906 Vortecs, Edelbrock 3817 Base, ASM oversize runners. Reed Custom Roller cam, 700r4, 12 bolt with 3.08 gears, Doug Thorley Tri-Y headers, true duals


Edited by 1983G20Van on 11-17-17 04:43 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
scrambldcj8 
Senior Member
Posts: 2316

Loc: MA
Reg: 04-06-03
11-17-17 05:12 AM - Post#2714748    
    In response to 1983G20Van

^^^^^^

That has been my exact plan when the time comes to redo the 5.7L in my '94 K Blazer. I will retain the 193's (cleaned up of course)because it just seems they do what they do better than other options....build low rpm grunt. Sure they run out of flow potential above about 4000rpm's....that won't be my intent with this.



 
65_Impala 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 3991

Reg: 12-29-02
11-17-17 10:36 AM - Post#2714771    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

How much of that budget do you ~really~ want to spend?
How much custom work are you wanting to do yourself?
How much wiring and computer programming are you capable of doing?


With the budget you listed, you could make a major change in the truck drivetrain. To move a heavy truck, there simply is no replacement for displacement because that's how you get the low end torque.

You could do a 383 and an electronic transmission with an aftermarket EFI system. You could also do a 0411 conversion, which is basically using a GM LS engine PCM so you get sequential EFI and coil per plug ignition. Something with aftermarket heads and a factory style roller cam. You should be able to hit >350hp and >400ft-lbs torque. Don't forget that crate engines are gross power rated so their numbers are higher than the equivalent factory installed rating.

You could do a big block conversion using something like a Vortec 8100 engine and 4L80e transmission. This will make lots of low end torque to move your rig. The EFI system on this engine is basically the same as a LS engine so lots of aftermarket support for it. I'm not sure the availability of new/rebuilt engines but you could find a complete pull including the engine, transmission and wiring EFI parts and get the engine re-freshened and use the transmission as a core or also get it rebuilt.

This is just a couple of examples of what is possible. There are so many ways to go that it's hard to give a recommendation without knowing how involved in figuring it out and doing the custom install work vs only buying parts that can bolt in and run.

There is at least one company who can take your truck wiring harness and integrate a LS engine wiring harness into it. PSI is the one company I'm thinking about right now. So, if you do the 0411 swap or get a 8100 you could get the wiring done by them so it just drops into the truck ready to go. Then, get it all installed and find a decent LS engine tuner in your area to get it running for you.




 
92GMCK2500 
Forum Newbie
Posts: 6

Reg: 11-13-17
11-19-17 07:27 PM - Post#2714999    
    In response to 65_Impala

My 10-15K budget needs to include labor too. Unfortunately I will be paying for this (darn!) as my skills are limited and Im only comfortable doing basic mechanical repairs/upgrades/parts replacement. Haha it would be better if it could be done for more like 10-12 max.

From my research on forums and at looking sensibly and realistically at my trucks purpose, I am more and more inclined to go with a 383 with a new electronic transmission (4L80-E?) as you have mentioned. Something like the connect and cruise system from chevy HT383 + 4L70-E would be the dream. I've got to be real with this too so getting pricing from the local shops is my next step. Not doubt alot of the old components will need to be upgraded/replaced too so that will need to be $$$ factored in.

Anyone else willing to shed some light on the transmission questions above?? Cheers!

Also to note; my truck has a 14-bolt rear diff and 4.10 gears. Will this be sufficient with my goal of +/- 250 to 300HP and +/- 350-400TQ?? or will it explode into a million pieces when I put my foot into??! ha

1992 GMC Serria, K2500 SLE 4WD Extd Cab LB
5.7L (350) TBI (stock) @ 410kms


 
bowtie44s 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3867
bowtie44s
Age: 35
Loc: wv
Reg: 08-29-12
11-19-17 08:31 PM - Post#2715005    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

Being a 92 2500, I am going to guess it is a 9.5" 14 bolt instead of the 10.5" 14 bolt. The easiest way to tell is the 10.5 inch is a full floater and has 8 bolts around the hub. Not the lugs, the hub in the middle. The full floater is stronger, but the semi floater should be fine as long as you're sensible.

Jeff

'88 Chevy K3500, aluminum head roller cam 511in³ stroker 10.5:1 compression, 96 NV 4500, 94-98 grille, 305/70-16 (33x12) BF Goodrich KM2s, 91 cluster swap


 
scrambldcj8 
Senior Member
Posts: 2316

Loc: MA
Reg: 04-06-03
11-20-17 10:45 AM - Post#2715083    
    In response to bowtie44s

Either rear will be fine with the intended use (as it sounds).

Most cost effective would be a 383 flat tappet (re)build (or OEM roller swap if block is roller ready for that extra edge), it also provide the much needed low rpm grunt you're after.

As mentioned a 406 would be a pretty sweet set-up. My concern would be fueling it? Not really sure what all would be ideal to fuel a very mild 383 or 406 even? I am sure 1983G20 will have the correct advice based on his personal experience. I'd like to know more for comfort before committing to the 406 myself....hint hint

Another thing would be gearing. I know you said camper/tow rig in mountainous areas and travel up to 500/1000km per trip. At what speeds? Because if they're reasonable speeds then a swap to 4.56 gears may be of some benefit as well and not kill you on MPG's (it may actually improve). I do realize it's not much more than the 4.10, but it'll be all in the combination of parts/build/use.

PS. I generally prefer slightly lower axle gearing with these trannies 700R/4L60/4L60E, it tends to take some of the stress of the trans....and the OD helps on the MPG hurt a bit.



 
1983G20Van 
Super Senior Member
Posts: 3687

Loc: Bedford, Texas, USA
Reg: 11-13-02
11-21-17 06:06 AM - Post#2715166    
    In response to scrambldcj8

  • scrambldcj8 Said:
Either rear will be fine with the intended use (as it sounds).

Most cost effective would be a 383 flat tappet (re)build (or OEM roller swap if block is roller ready for that extra edge), it also provide the much needed low rpm grunt you're after.

As mentioned a 406 would be a pretty sweet set-up. My concern would be fueling it? Not really sure what all would be ideal to fuel a very mild 383 or 406 even? I am sure 1983G20 will have the correct advice based on his personal experience. I'd like to know more for comfort before committing to the 406 myself....hint hint

Another thing would be gearing. I know you said camper/tow rig in mountainous areas and travel up to 500/1000km per trip. At what speeds? Because if they're reasonable speeds then a swap to 4.56 gears may be of some benefit as well and not kill you on MPG's (it may actually improve). I do realize it's not much more than the 4.10, but it'll be all in the combination of parts/build/use.

PS. I generally prefer slightly lower axle gearing with these trannies 700R/4L60/4L60E, it tends to take some of the stress of the trans....and the OD helps on the MPG hurt a bit.



Fueling a 400 is not hard just takes bigger injectors and some added fuel pressure. A set of 80 lb/hr 454 injectors at 15 psi will flow more than enough fuel for a mild 383/400. I am actually going to use a set of Vortec heads on my 400 and I am going with a small RV cam. I have a new MTC1 cam kit. Sure it won't make big HP numbers but I am looking for off-idle and midrange torque and decent breathing to 5,000 rpm. The mild lobes on the MTC1 cam are easy on the valvetrain and the lobes typically live a good long life on the crappy oil we have now. I plan to stick with the 1.7 rockers I am currently running. If I can get 350-370 hp and 480+ ft/lbs from the mild 400 I will be happy. The 400s hp/tq curve will shift down approximately 500 rpm compared to a 350. With the same heads and cam the HP will not be much greater than a 350 but the HP will peak at a lower rpm. In the smog days those were built with the crappy 882 heads and tiny factory cam the 350 was 170ish hp @ 4,000 rpm and 275 ft/lbs @ 2,800. The 400 was 180 hp @ 3,600 and 300 ft/lbs @ 2,200ish. When it comes to fueling the lower rpm the longer your injector has to fire between cylinder firings and the easier it is to fuel. Its eaier to make a TBI work on a grunt motor than it is a high rpm setup because of this.

1983 G20 Van, 350 TPI, Ported 906 Vortecs, Edelbrock 3817 Base, ASM oversize runners. Reed Custom Roller cam, 700r4, 12 bolt with 3.08 gears, Doug Thorley Tri-Y headers, true duals


Edited by 1983G20Van on 11-21-17 06:08 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
1983G20Van 
Super Senior Member
Posts: 3687

Loc: Bedford, Texas, USA
Reg: 11-13-02
11-21-17 06:22 AM - Post#2715169    
    In response to 1983G20Van

I will add that my Vortec 350 with the 300 hp marine cam and intake made 240 rwtq at only 1,500 rpm on the chassis dyno. With a roughly 25% loss through the 4L85E and 9.5" 14-bolt that is 80% of its 400 ft/lbs it made at its 3,400 rpm peak (304 tq @ 3400 rpm rear wheel). Even though it is a flat tappet cam I plan to run, I am stepping up in the cam slightly in duration with a slight lift loss. If I can make the same 80% of the 480tq I expect from the 400 that gives me as much as 385 tq (290 rwtq) by 1,500 which is more than most 5.3s make at their 4,500 rpm torque peak. I choose the cam I chose to keep the overlap about the same as well as attempt to keep a similar torque curve. Sure more HP wins races but I don't want to listen to the thing tach 4,000+ rpm everytime I hit a long grade pulling my 6,000 lbs Jayco behind the 6,200 lbs Express van. A big block is not an easy swap or it would already have an 8.1 in it.

FWIW I am running a 4.56 gear and it is GREAT for what I use the Express van for and stupid fun to drive around town empty.

1983 G20 Van, 350 TPI, Ported 906 Vortecs, Edelbrock 3817 Base, ASM oversize runners. Reed Custom Roller cam, 700r4, 12 bolt with 3.08 gears, Doug Thorley Tri-Y headers, true duals


Edited by 1983G20Van on 11-21-17 06:29 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
scrambldcj8 
Senior Member
Posts: 2316

Loc: MA
Reg: 04-06-03
11-21-17 11:37 AM - Post#2715199    
    In response to 1983G20Van

^^^^





 
65_Impala 
Very Senior Member
Posts: 3991

Reg: 12-29-02
11-21-17 03:15 PM - Post#2715229    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

  • 92GMCK2500 Said:
My 10-15K budget needs to include labor too. Unfortunately I will be paying for this (darn!) as my skills are limited and Im only comfortable doing basic mechanical repairs/upgrades/parts replacement. Haha it would be better if it could be done for more like 10-12 max.

From my research on forums and at looking sensibly and realistically at my trucks purpose, I am more and more inclined to go with a 383 with a new electronic transmission (4L80-E?) as you have mentioned. Something like the connect and cruise system from chevy HT383 + 4L70-E would be the dream. I've got to be real with this too so getting pricing from the local shops is my next step. Not doubt alot of the old components will need to be upgraded/replaced too so that will need to be $$$ factored in.

Anyone else willing to shed some light on the transmission questions above?? Cheers!

Also to note; my truck has a 14-bolt rear diff and 4.10 gears. Will this be sufficient with my goal of +/- 250 to 300HP and +/- 350-400TQ?? or will it explode into a million pieces when I put my foot into??! ha




Do you want it to use fuel injection or a carburetor?

The small block connect and cruise kits appear to have an engine that expects a carburetor and the electronic transmission with a stand-alone controller.

You could use the TBI by doing some upgrades to the fuel system, injectors and tuning. But, these days it's getting difficult to find people who can properly tune that EFI system. It's quite possible and not overly difficult, but most tuners just don't do it.

You could throw in an aftermarket EFI system. Then, you end up with a computer for the engine and another one for the transmission. It might be more cumbersome to use, or integrating the bits might give issues.

To get EFI you might be better off with a 0411 conversion on the engine. This would combine the engine and transmission controls all into a single computer. For the most part, this type of swap uses GM parts, so doing repairs or getting replacement pieces is fairly easy. You can somewhat follow service manuals from the donor vehicle. It's an LS based system, so there are tons of tuners out there. But, there are some gotchas so you'll have to find the right shop to get someone who done it before.

Another option is a complete 6.0L LS based truck drivetrain. Get the custom harness built to make it drop in. It'd be all stock LS based, which can make repairs and such easier for most mechanics who have worked on newer GM trucks. However, if you go with a 383 or bigger small block crate engine, you can get more low end torque compared to a stock 6.0L. A 6.0L is similar to a Vortec 350 on the low end.




 
4dr 57 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 4500
4dr 57
Loc: Texas Hill Country
Reg: 11-10-04
11-23-17 08:38 AM - Post#2715455    
    In response to 92GMCK2500

That's a good plan. Unfortunately the connect and cruise system is probably 12k.

It couldn't hurt to ask some place like Scoggin-Dickey if they have an iron block 383 w/sequential fuel injection (which will +/- compensate fuel/spark & cooling for the mountains and flat land automatically. This is something speed density systems don't do very well.

The dream would be that your current induction/fuel system would work on a 383 IF you can get the computer to play along. I'm thinking it might fit the heads. Worth a look-look anyway.
Happy Motoring




 
scrambldcj8 
Senior Member
Posts: 2316

Loc: MA
Reg: 04-06-03
11-25-17 04:52 PM - Post#2715713    
    In response to 4dr 57

To the OP IMO don't overthink this, which will make it into more $$.

A simple MILD 383 or even a 400 can be done with many stock parts.



 
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