Engine Swap - S10 V8 Conversion 101: Volume 3
Volume III: The Swap
From the July, 2004 issue of Mini Truckin'
By Mike Alexander
Photography by Mike Alexander
After our V-8 conversion guide and the buildup of the 350-cid crate motor at Joe Sherman Racing, we figured it was time to stop teasing you, put the finishing touches on our small-block, and swap it into an S-10. We used a mock-up motor (and transmission donor) to test-fit clearance, build the motor mounts, figure out the header and exhaust clearance, and get some of the main fabrication work out of the way without harming the new motor. We then moved to the next level by installing the new engine and adding some accessories. We bolted on a full Billet Specialties arsenal, including an air cleaner, water pump pulley, crankshaft pulley, alternator bracket, and valve covers. We outfitted the engine with some of the finest street-rod engine accessories to really make it gleam whenever the hood is popped.
With the motor mounts built, we placed the engine between the framerails and installed a pair of Advanced Adapters Slick Fit headers and Accel Extreme 9,000 plug wires to see what space issues we needed to address. Our S-10 is not the norm because a previous shop needlessly cut out the entire firewall. Since we wanted a completely smooth firewall, and 22-inch rims already posed enough problems of their own, Bobby from Sadistic Ironwerks was able to accommodate our specifications by building a new firewall. This is not necessary, however, with a general engine swap. Depending on the engine placement, you may only need minor firewall modifications. We also picked up a sturdier rearend with disc brakes from our local junkyard, California Mini-Truck Dismantlers, to help us get the most out of our new motor.
Before: This is the clutter...
Before: This is the clutter and anemic power of a stock S-10 motor.
After: The engine swap cleaned...
After: The engine swap cleaned up the engine bay and added real street power to the S-10.
After the exhaust, firewall, rearend, and final engine assembly were taken care of, we installed an aluminum radiator and dual fans from Summit Racing to make sure our S-10 would run cool. With the radiator in place and the motor ready to see some street mileage, the final step was to wire it up using the Painless Performance wiring kit and feed fuel to the power-hungry engine. For more information, contact the companies listed in the source box.
Accel Performance Products
(Accel Extreme 9,000 plug wires)
10601 Memphis Ave., Ste. 12
Cleveland, OH 44144
(complete billet hot-rod engine dress-up, alternator bracket, and pulleys)
500 Shawmut Ave.
La Grange, IL 60526
California Mini-Truck Dismantlers
4002 State St.
Montclair, CA 91763
Caps Brite Hot Coatings
(header and exhaust coating)
4460 S. Chestnut Ave.
Fresno, CA 93725
(hydraulic roller camshaft, Magnum roller rockers, conical springs)
3406 Democrat Rd.
Memphis, TN 38118
Joe Sherman Racing
(engine build and dyno)
2302 W. Second St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(18-circuit universal harness)
9505 Santa Paula Dr.
Fort Worth, TX 76116
(Cyclone intake manifold and 8-inch harmonic balancer)
12705 S. Van Ness Ave
Hawthorne, CA 90250
Quick Fuel Technology
2352 Russellville Rd.
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Sadistic Iron Werks
(installation and fabrication)
15058 Birch St.
Hesperia, CA 92345
Shaver Racing Heads
(Pro Topline 906 cylinder heads)
25950 Belle Porte Ave., Ste. 1
Harbor City, CA 90710
Specialty Auto Parts U.S.A. Inc.
(Alternator, starter, and HEI distributor)
P.O. Box 306
Roseville, MI 48066
(Radiator assembly and engine parts)
P.O. Box 909
Akron, OH 44309
1. To begin the swap, the...
1. To begin the swap, the old engine was removed. The driveshaft was unbolted, along with the transmission. All wiring and connections were unplugged and labeled. The engine mounts were then unbolted, and the engine was picked out and sold to a junkyard.
2. Since we were building...
2. Since we were building our own engine mounts, the easiest way to center the engine in the frame was to measure from the inside of the framerails to the center of the crankshaft. The engine should sit at a 6-degree angle, tilted rearward.
3. Once we had all the measurements...
3. Once we had all the measurements of exactly where the engine would need to be mounted, Bobby measured the engine mounts and cut them from 2x1/4-inch flat stock.
4. The bolt holes were measured...
4. The bolt holes were measured using the corresponding bushing, and then marked and drilled.
5. The sides of the mounts...
5. The sides of the mounts were rounded to clean up the appearance of the overall engine mount.
6. Here's a look at the three...
6. Here's a look at the three pieces that will become a motor mount.
7. After double-checking all...
7. After double-checking all his measurements, Bobby welded the mount together.
8. The mount was welded to...
8. The mount was welded to the frame on all sides to support the weight of the 350-cid small-block.
9. The engine mount is made...
9. The engine mount is made from a 1/4-inch-thick steel triangle, which was traced and is consistent with the motor mount holes on the block of our engine. This piece also consists of 1-3/4-inch tubing and two pieces of 3/4-inch tubing, both of 0.120-wall thickness. The length of the 1-3/4-inch tubing corresponds to the size of our bushings as well as the width of the motor mount welded to the frame. The length of the 3/4-inch tubing determines how high our engine will sit.
10. After all the mounts were...
10. After all the mounts were built and welded together, we dropped our mock-up motor back on the frame. We then bolted up all the mounts to check our measurements.
11. We bolted on the Advanced...
11. We bolted on the Advanced Adapters Slick Fit headers to check the clearance of the motor mounts. It was close, so we took the necessary precautions by having the headers and entire exhaust system CermaKromed by Caps Brite Hot Coatings in Fresno, California, which will help protect the bushings from heat.
12. Once the mounts were in...
12. Once the mounts were in place, the new motor was bolted to the frame so we could finish installing the pulleys and accessories.
13. Not only did we want our...
13. Not only did we want our motor to run good, we also wanted it to look the part. We continued with our hot-rod theme by using Billet Specialties Hot Rod hardware to finish off the motor.
14. The pulleys are an important...
14. The pulleys are an important but often overlooked aspect of engines. When strength counts, you want something that can withstand the test of time. We bolted up a Billet Specialties water-pump pulley because it looks badass and is machined from 6061-T6 billet aluminum, offering incredible balance and strength.
15. Next, we installed a Billet...
15. Next, we installed a Billet Specialties crankshaft pulley featuring the same high-quality craftsmanship.
16. To add to the character...
16. To add to the character of our motor, we decided on a Billet Specialties flamed, oval air cleaner.
17. The alternator bracket...
17. The alternator bracket from Billet Specialties includes easy-to-read instructions that outline the steps to install the bracket and alternator.
18. With the alternator installed,...
18. With the alternator installed, the engine really began to take shape.
19. We chose Accel Extreme...
19. We chose Accel Extreme 9,000 spark plug wires because our headers were a tight fit and the Extreme-series is specifically designed to withstand high temperatures.
20. The wires come ready for...
20. The wires come ready for a custom-fit application, so you can install and cut them to your specific requirements.
21. With the motor complete,...
21. With the motor complete, we could now check for any clearance issues at the firewall. Since we're starting from scratch, Bobby began by measuring the height and width of the opening.
22. After taking all the necessary...
22. After taking all the necessary measurements, including the tranny tunnel height, Bobby measured and traced a pattern on the 1/8-inch steel plate that would soon become a new firewall.
23. The easiest way to cut...
23. The easiest way to cut out a shape with a plasma-cutter is to make a template using 18-gauge sheetmetal, then weld 7/16-inch nuts around the edges.
24. When the template is flipped...
24. When the template is flipped over, it will stand up off the surface of the metal, making it much easier for the plasma to trace.
25. After the firewall was...
25. After the firewall was cut, it was fit to the opening, tacked at all corners, and then welded into place.
26. The cooling system was...
26. The cooling system was taken care of with a Summit Racing aluminum radiator designed specifically for S-10 engine swaps.
27. We then mounted the electric...
27. We then mounted the electric fans, which came as a kit with the radiator.
28. Since we ditched the old...
28. Since we ditched the old fuel system and engine computer and were going with the simpler carbureted fuel system, we decided to use the 18-circuit universal wiring from Painless Performance to make the wiring as clean as the rest of the motor.
29. With the motor swap, our...
29. With the motor swap, our truck is just begging to be driven. Keep a look out for more of our hot-rod S-10 as it nears completion.