Volume III, Issue 8, Page 9

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Max Chevy covers all automotive things Chevy. A new issue of MaxChevy.com is published on the 15th of each month and is updated throughout the month.


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About a year ago, I told you about a problem I was having with my hot rod. It quit on me a couple of times on the road and would have left with my thumb out and worry on my mind, but my young pal Justin Brayman always came to the rescue, even when it meant he’d have to leave the family dinner table to help. I promised to let all two of you who might care about this worrisome situation of the progress we made.

After the first incident, we dropped the fuel line and cleared it with compressed air. We also discovered that the heat sink that had been put at the mid-point of the line was for a carbureted application and that the check ball inside it was closing off the flow of fuel to the pressurized (45psi) system. We left the heat sink in, but took the check ball and actuation spring out so the fuel would actually reach the regulator on the firewall when it was supposed to.

Then we went to the fuel rails. One side was clean; the other had a piece of rubber gasket wadded up inside it that obviously wasn’t helping fuel distribution one bit. With that stuff cleared, the car ran about 100 percent better… until we figured that it was the fuel pump turning surly on us. One night a few weeks later, the car died again.

“Justin,” I croaked into my mobile phone. “It’s the Old Man. I need help. I think the fuel pump took a dump. The car won’t move. Yeah, I’m by the side of Ridge Road just up from Publix.” He told me he’d be right there and hung up. Meanwhile, two good ol’ boys had stopped for curiosity sake to look at the car, both of them about my age. No gloating, only concern and a little car talk while I waited. Neither of these coots understood what the LS engine was or where it came from, but knew about fuel pumps and what can happen to them. Both offered help but I let them go and told them everything would be alright, thinking that maybe I should have asked Justin to drag his trailer behind him.

I’d pulled out of the mall parking lot and with a clear road ahead had not failed to get hard on the throttle. I ripped through First and Second and then just as quickly… nothing. It was as if the motor had been hit in the head with a big ball peen hammer. Though it had crapped out completely and I’d pulled it into the sandy shoulder, it would start and run, but barely. The engine would idle but wouldn’t spin faster than 2,000 rpm. Not enough nuts to limp the three miles back home.

Justin brought dedicated open-end fuel connector wrenches with him, but before he applied them, he asked to hear the pump run. It churned noisily, like there were tiny ball bearings being turned in a tiny drum. “Yeah, that thing’s done,” he said. “I hope you got the spare one I gave you a couple of months ago in the trunk.” I did.

A couple of minutes later, he had the crippled pump in his mitts. He shook it. It rattled. “Yup, this one’s done,” he reiterated. Shortly, he had the replacement on the frame rail and the wiring hooked back up. The car ran as if it meant it, but still needed an expert’s touch on the FAST ECU. I explained those tribulations right here several months back (“Smells Like Gas,” March ‘08). Regardless of the exorbitant cost, compared to the original regime it runs fantastically well and I am very happy with it.

A few friends who’d read about the incident suggested that maybe the voltage was dropping below the required 14volts in the car-length battery cables and told me how to fix that. Low voltage during cranking seems not to be a problem, though. It would take at least four tries at the key to get rumbling accompanied by farting, wheezing, and/or backfiring. Now I have the solution. During cold start, I turn the ignition on and let the fuel pump fill the line and make noise until it quits. A single turn of the key and it lights off just like it ought to and runs smooth and clean. Maybe I should have been doing that all along.

Now the piece that put out 557hp and 577lb/ft on the pump was realistically making 460hp and 498lb-ft at the tires. I like that, but the name of the game is ‘too much is not enough,’ so I got on my mental bike and perused the countryside for a way to make it mo’ betta.  The inexpensive but incredibly capable GM L92 truck cylinder heads cap a bore of 4.06-inches (the one in my engine is 4.160) and can’t be used on anything smaller. The heads I’m currently using are CNC-ported LS6 castings that are good, but still don’t flow anywhere near as much on the intake side on the stock L92 castings. The LS6 ones are meant for 5.7L engine, not a 7.4L like mine. I got my pal Nicky Fowler at Scoggin-Dickey to join with me on this. He’d told me a more than year ago that I could expect something in range of 100hp and 100lb-ft. on top of what the engine is currently producing.

Justin traded me a pair of new bare L92 castings, Matt Hilton at HPS Cylinder Heads offered to clean them up and open up the exhaust side a trifle. Nickey sent me Manley valves, the companion L76 intake manifold and 90mm throttle body (from a Holden sedan), Jesel jumped in with some 1.8:1 shaft rockers, and Moroso provided taller sheet metal rocker covers to clear the rockers and some Super 40 cut-to-length ignition wires. All this is to see if we can make the back tires tap out that magic 500hp number. If this stuff isn’t enough, Crane Cams is waiting just off-stage with a custom-cut bump stick to make certain that it does. I’ll let you know how it all comes out in a giant expose right here at MaxChevy.com.