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Old 10-31-2012, 09:27 AM   #8
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 780

I like the 454SS, but I have a small block in my truck. Would you recommend a 454 engine swap in place of my engine?
Well, any engine swap is possible. There is no doubt the 454 engine is super cool and you can swap it into your truck, but because of the extra torque, you’ll need to upgrade the transmission, preferably to the 4L80E or Turbo 400. The upgraded 4L65E found in performance trucks/cars may also be used, but right now they are relatively new and difficult to find in the wrecking yard. A new transmission would be pretty expensive, but like I said, anything is possible. Another option is to buy a World Products assembled small block short block. They make these up to 454 cid ( I think the “most wanted” of all the big block swaps is the 572 GM Performance Parts engine. Man, that engine would be so cool in an OBS truck. If you can afford that engine, then you can afford the swap.

Personally, I think doing a LS1 swap is very affordable right now. There are enough donor vehicles in the wrecking yard from crashed Vettes, Camaros, and Firebirds to make this an awesome engine swap project. Jimmy P is currently installing one on his 1989 Silverado project: Another modern engine swap would be to use the 5.3L out of the NBS trucks.

Are there any nitrous systems designed for my TBI or Vortec truck?
Yup. Nitrous Works, Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS), and Venom Performance all make nitrous oxide systems for 88-95 TBI-powered trucks. For Vortec-powered 96-98 trucks, NOS and Venom have systems available. Visit their respective websites for more information and where to buy. You can add up to 125 hp with these kits. Nitrous kits on trucks get a bad rap from the ricer market, but they can safely add power for not too much money. Kits are priced between $600-800 and can be easily installed yourself. It provides the same power as a supercharger, but at a fraction of the cost. When used properly, a good nitrous system is a welcome addition to any truck engine. The problem is you can only use it at WOT and you have to keep refilling the nitrous bottles.

Where can I find TBI-engine related performance parts for my truck?

Performance Chips:
Wester’s Garage -
Wait4Me -
TBI Chips -

Larger Throttle bodies:
CFMTech -
XtremeFI -
TurboCity –

TBI injectors:
TurboCity –

What are performance chips or performance tunes and how do they work?
Performance chips are essentially a memory chip that contains a set of instructions that tells your computer (and your truck engine) how to respond to incoming sensor data. Performance tunes differ in that the set of instructions are contained on flashable memory housed inside the computer. Therefore, there is no chip to replace. Chips are available for both the TBI and Vortec Engines. Jet Performance, for instance, makes performance chips for Vortec engines. Other performance chipmakers are out there as well, including Wester’s Garage, Wait4Me, TBI Chips, (Ed Wright) Fast Chips, etc. They can vary in price from under $100 to over $500. Burning your own chips can save you some money or at least allow you to fine tune your engine as you continue to upgrade your engine.

What is chip burning and is it necessary?
Chip burning is simply making your own custom PROMS. You will find that the biggest gains on these engines will come from burning your own chips. The stock chip is very weak and can barely support the factory set-up. Anytime you mod your truck you should look into burning a new chip to maximize its potential. You can get away with the stock chip with basic bolt-ons, but once you add a major upgrade (i.e. new camshaft) chip burning is a must. Alternatively, you can have a performance tuner make one for you, but it will be difficult to get your engine dialed in properly since the chip is made using info on your engine combination, but it is not YOUR engine without any feedback to see how well the tune is working. The solution: datalogging. There is free software available that you can install on a laptop computer and use a special connector to plug the laptop into your cars diagnostic (ALDL) port. Driving the truck while this software is running will collect performance-related data about your engine. These data will tell you what your engine is doing with respect to timing, air:fuel ratio, etc. at respective engine RPM. You can save this data and send it to a chipmaker that will burn you a chip based on the info you sent them. Retest with the datalogging software and finetune the chip again. This strategy will essentially accomplish the same thing as if you were burning the chip yourself. You can find this program from the following link.
Link to data log software
Link: Good starting post for TBI prom tuning

Is my TBI or Vortec speed limited?
Yes, the ECMs have a fuel shut-off circuit once the vehicle reaches the maximum limited speed. Any chipmaker or aftermarket chip/tuner will remove the governor circuit to allow higher speeds. There is no RPM limiter, but max RPM on Vortec engines seems to be 5800 RPM. This is written into the computer code. Some people are trying to develop ways to get around this.

How can I learn how to burn my own chips for my TBI or Vortec engine?
Lots of good resources here/lots to read and way too much to cover:

What is a torque converter and how does it work?
The torque converter is an amazing piece of automotive engineering that connects the output of the engine to the input shaft of the transmission. It is a fluid-coupling device that also acts as a torque multiplier during initial acceleration. Torque converters are rated in terms of stall speed. Stall speed refers the RPM that a given torque converter (impeller) has to spin in order for it to overcome a given amount of load and begin moving the turbine. In other words, it refers to how fast (RPM) the torque converter must spin to generate enough fluid force on the turbine to overcome the resting inertia of the vehicle at wide open throttle. Most torque converter are rated using a reference load of 230 ft-lbs at 2500 RPM. Engines producing more than 230 ft-lbs at 2500 RPM will give you more than advertised stall speed. The opposite is true for engine with less than 230 ft-lbs at 2500 RPM. The increase or decrease in advertised stall speed is only 100-200 RPMs.

How do I choose the right converter for my application?
Choosing the right torque converter is similar to choosing the right camshaft. It can be difficult and it is easy to get bogged down in technical information. The main factor is related to your camshaft choice, since this affects the powerband of the engine. A good rule of thumb is for advertised cam durations up to 260 degrees, a 2000 or 2400 stall converter is a good choice. Advertised cam durations up to 272 degrees, a 2400 or 3000 stall converter is a good choice. Advertised cam durations over 280 degrees, a 3000 to 3600 stall converter is a must.

What are the drivability concerns of a higher stall torque converter?
Proper torque converter selection is the key. You will not have any drivability problems if the torque converter is matched properly to your application. Mismatched components are where problems come in. For instance, if you have an engine that needs a 3000 RPM stall and you install a 2200 (2000 to 2500 RPM) stall converter, it will normally not even provide a 2000 RPM stall, but act very similar to the stock converter you just replaced. How come? Because the engine needs to operate in its optimum RPM range and since the stock torque converter is below that range, it is not getting enough load from the crankshaft side to operate as designed. In other words, the low-RPM torque is much lower on this engine and therefore reduces the advertised stall speed of the converter to under 2000 RPM, similar to the stock unit (around 1600-1800 RPM). Symptoms include engine stalling when in gear while stopped, low stall speed, hesitation when at going to WOT, and bogging of the engine when leaving from stop under WOT. Likewise, too high a stall speed is not good either. Symptoms include high “revs” to pull away from a stop, “marshmallow” accelerator feel when driving at part throttle, transmission and possibly engine overheating, and a pronounced engine rev when nailing the throttle from a cruising speed.

How do I determine the stall speed of my torque converter?
You should be able to footbrake stall the converter to its rated stall speed. If your torque converter has a 2400RPM stall speed, you should be able to footbrake stall the converter to about 2400 RPM.

So when should I upgrade my torque converter?
IMO, not until you’ve upgraded your camshaft. A 2500 RPM stall torque converter installed on a stock TBI engine is a major mismatch. A 3000 RPM stall converter on a stock TBI engine is just plain ridiculous, and you’ve just lost the majority of your engine’s powerband.

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