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TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

This is a discussion on TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap within the Performance forums, part of the General Discussion category; I have come across a really good deal on a complete 5.3 vortec motor (-computer/harness) with less than 50,000 miles ...

  1. #1
    Will
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    Question TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap


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    I have come across a really good deal on a complete 5.3 vortec motor (-computer/harness) with less than 50,000 miles on it.

    I have a 91 TBI 350 with 200,000+ miles that has had an undiagnosable performance problem for about a year now.

    I have been thinking of doing a motor swap but am scared of the incompatibility issues. My friends have told me that I can bolt the new motor to a 700-R4 and everything function properly. This is very important to me because my current 700-R4 has over 200,000 miles on it and has never given me a problem AND I haven't heard of a 4L60E that can take any power yet.

    Any problems I should be aware of? Is it worth it?
    Any questions or comments are appreciated.
    Flattopwill
    1991 Chevy Silverado shortwide, 2wd, lowered 4/6
    Cowl Hood
    5.3/4l80e swap
    TR220 cam, LT Headers, 2800 stall

  2. #2
    Registered User gr8twhite's Avatar
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Read back through your "performance problem posts".

    Given the level of your knowledge, I'm not so sure your should attempt an engine swap such as this. I'm not saying you're incapable, just that this would be a lot more difficult than trying to fix a misfire.

    It's not that hard, but not a direct swap in (electronically).

    Do a search for more info.♠

    Not, about the misfire you experience. Does this still hold true:

    Quote Originally Posted by flattopwill
    I have a 1991 5.7l 350, auto, Superchips PROM, cold air intake, 700cfm throttle body, Edelbrock Performer TBI intake, stock exhaust manifold with no cat and a 40 series flowmaster.

    Now for the problem...
    I have been chasing a miss in high rpm/full throttle for a few months now. It misses so bad as if to completely cut out one cylinder but only at 3500rpm+ and with more than 3/4 throttle. In trying to fix this problem I put a new distributor in and have only worsened my problems. After putting in the new distributor it has an intermittent miss at idle. It doesnt do it all the time but when it does it is bad. When in gear and holding the brake it will miss worse and sometimes misses so bad it dies. Here's the kicker, if I unplug the ESC bypass (as if to time it) the missfire stops altogether and it runs perfect. Timing is at 4 degrees advanced. The computer has thrown no SES codes. I have checked all the plug wires to make sure they are all on and not touching. I have also checked all vacuum hoses to make sure they are plugged in and working. I tried a stock PROM with no fix. Fuel pressure is at 14psi (although I feel this is definitely an ignition problem).

    New parts:
    distributor
    cap/rotor
    plugs
    plug wires
    IAC
    TPS
    EGR
    knock sensor
    fuel pump
    fuel filter
    cam/lifters/timing chain have bout 20,000 miles

    Maybe its the coil since that's the only thing I haven't replaced? But its weird that it runs fine with the ESC bypass unplugged. PLEASE HELP!
    If yes, have you tried replacing the EST module?

    Seems that if you unplug it and the issue goes away, that's a pretty good indication of where your problem may lie.....

    Here's a littel info on codes related to ESC. Keep in mind, a module can fail and not set a code, the ECM is not always perfect....

    Quote Originally Posted by gntype web site

    CODE 42

    Trouble Code 42 indicates that there may be a malfunction in the Electronic Spark Timing (EST) system.

    During cranking, the timing is controlled by the ignition module while the ECM monitors the engine speed. When the engine speed exceeds 400 RPM, the ECM sends a BYPASS signal to the ignition module which switches the timing to ECM control. The ECM calculates what the timing should be then "tells" the ignition module via the EST circuit.

    An open or ground in the EST circuit will stall the engine and set a Code 42. The engine can be re-started but it will run on ignition module timing.

    The conditions for setting this code are:

    * System in BYPASS mode but the ignition module is still controlling timing

    - or -

    * Engine speed > 600 RPM with no EST pulses (ECM controlled timing) going to the ignition module for 200 msec.


    Typical causes for this code include:

    1) BYPASS line is open or grounded
    2) EST line is open or grounded
    3) PROM or CALPACK not seated properly in the ECM
    4) Poor connections between ignition module and ECM
    5) Poor routing of EST harness and/or poor quality ignition wires (EMI induced electrical noise)
    6) Faulty or incorrect ignition module
    7) Faulty ECM

    CODE 43

    Trouble Code 43 indicates that there may be a malfunction in the Electronic Spark Control (ESC) circuit.

    ESC is used to sense spark knock (pinging) and retard the timing to eliminate it. A knock sensor (located at the rear of the engine block) sends signals to an ESC module which then signals the ECM that knocking is being detected. The ECM will retard the timing by as much as 20 degrees in 1 degree increments. A loss of knock sensor signal or loss of ground at the ESC module will cause the signal at the ECM to remain high. The ECM will act as if no knock is present, and may possibly result in engine damage, if there is detonation.

    Loss of the ESC signal to the ECM will cause the ECM to constantly retard the timing to its maximum. This results in sluggish performance and a Code 43.

    The conditions for setting this code are:

    * Engine is running
    * ESC input signal has been low more than 2.23 seconds


    Typical causes for this code include:

    1) Open or shorted knock sensor
    2) Loose knock sensor
    3) Excessive mechanical noise within engine
    4) Improper or incorrectly installed PROM or CALPACK in the ECM or defective ECM
    5) Intermittent open in the EST line to the ignition module
    Code 42 seems rather important to me as you once posted a code that seemed to be "222" by your description. Is it possible you had a code "42"? Check your ecm again and see if there is a stored code 42. If so, follow the code recommendations above.

    Most importantly of all:

    Stop throwing parts at it!

    You're just going to end up broke......and still no truck. There's a logical sequence to desnagging these problems, this is step one.....
    Last edited by gr8twhite; 01-25-2009 at 10:23 AM.

  3. #3
    Will
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    gr8twhite... thanks a lot for your re-interest in my situation. I had pretty much given up on it after doing everything I know to do as well as taking it to a few mechanics and stumped them as well.

    I dont believe I have replaced the EST module. I had suspected the ESC to be malfunctioning. The CODE 42 does sound relevant to my problem but I havent had a code in a couple years so would it still be in my computer? Also, since it said the the EST and ignition module have to do with starting the engine, maybe it has something to do with my cold starting problem that I have adopted in about the last two months.

    Is the EST module the module located on the passenger side of the TB mounted to the intake?
    1991 Chevy Silverado shortwide, 2wd, lowered 4/6
    Cowl Hood
    5.3/4l80e swap
    TR220 cam, LT Headers, 2800 stall

  4. #4
    Registered User gr8twhite's Avatar
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by flattopwill
    gr8twhite... thanks a lot for your re-interest in my situation. I had pretty much given up on it after doing everything I know to do as well as taking it to a few mechanics and stumped them as well.

    I dont believe I have replaced the EST module. I had suspected the ESC to be malfunctioning. The CODE 42 does sound relevant to my problem but I havent had a code in a couple years so would it still be in my computer? Also, since it said the the EST and ignition module have to do with starting the engine, maybe it has something to do with my cold starting problem that I have adopted in about the last two months.

    Is the EST module the module located on the passenger side of the TB mounted to the intake?

    Yup, if your 91 is like my 89.

    I only wish my fuel and emissions trouble shooting manual wasn't 7000 kms away right now or I'd scan the pages in for you.

    This is the one:



    One note, try to find someone with a simliar truck and swap the module out rather than buying a new one. I'm betting it's pricey. Or, buy one out of the yard and try it out.

    Did you ever try swapping in a stock ECM? Cna't remember if I read that in your other threads....

    Whatever the case, it sounds as if the spark retard is not working for whatever reason. It may be EST module, knock sensor (it can be damaged in installation), ECM or any of the associated wiring.

    That's my best guess (without actually seeing the truck). If it's knocking on acceleration, then it's knocking under load conditions. If you find a hill and "lug" the engine, it should knock the same way. If this is the case, the spark retard system is not working for whatever reason and you need to chase it down.

    The way the spark advance (and retard) system works is the ECM tries to dial in the maximum spark advance as soon as it can, this provides better performance (keep in mind, performance is not just power). If the engine is overadvanced, then it knocks. The ESC system detects this and tells the ECM to dial back the spark advance until knock is no longer heard.

    That's how it works, in a nutshell.

    Obviously, if the ESC system (module/sensor/wiring) is not sending a signal or the ECM is not reading it(ECm/wiring), you'll get knock under load.

    Which it sounds like you're experiencing...
    Last edited by gr8twhite; 01-26-2009 at 06:50 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by gr8twhite
    Yup, if your 91 is like my 89.

    I only wish my fuel and emissions trouble shooting manual wasn't 7000 kms away right now or I'd scan the pages in for you.

    This is the one:



    One note, try to find someone with a simliar truck and swap the module out rather than buying a new one. I'm betting it's pricey. Or, buy one out of the yard and try it out.

    Did you ever try swapping in a stock ECM? Cna't remember if I read that in your other threads....

    Whatever the case, it sounds as if the spark retard is not working for whatever reason. It may be EST module, knock sensor (it can be damaged in installation), ECM or any of the associated wiring.

    That's my best guess (without actually seeing the truck). If it's knocking on acceleration, then it's knocking under load conditions. If you find a hill and "lug" the engine, it should knock the same way. If this is the case, the spark retard system is not working for whatever reason and you need to chase it down.

    The way the spark advance (and retard) system works is the ECM tries to dial in the maximum spark advance as soon as it can, this provides better performance (keep in mind, performance is not just power). If the engine is overadvanced, then it knocks. The ESC system detects this and tells the ECM to dial back the spark advance until knock is no longer heard.

    That's how it works, in a nutshell.

    Obviously, if the ESC system (module/sensor/wiring) is not sending a signal or the ECM is not reading it(ECm/wiring), you'll get knock under load.

    Which it sounds like you're experiencing...
    WOW, the spark advance system does not dial up the spark at all. The ECM commands a spark value from a lookup table. If the advance proves excessive and the engine knocks, the knock sensor sends an ac voltage signal to ESC module (on the intake next to the MAP on 88-92 trucks). The ESC module normally pulls the ECM "ESC" terminal to ground when it recieves power. Once the engine starts to knock, it removes the ground and the ECMs internal circuitry allow the voltage to rise. This is how the ECM senses knock through the ESC module. It then uses the ignition control module to adjust the timing output, EST.
    1997 G1500 Cobra Conversion, 5.7, 4L80E, 3.73 14-bolt 9.5", L31 Marine Intake, CFM TB, 02 MAF, 0411, Custom cam. Doug Thorley Tri-Ys, full exhaust soon.

  6. #6
    Registered User gr8twhite's Avatar
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by Fast305
    WOW, the spark advance system does not dial up the spark at all. The ECM commands a spark value from a lookup table. If the advance proves excessive and the engine knocks, the knock sensor sends an ac voltage signal to ESC module (on the intake next to the MAP on 88-92 trucks). The ESC module normally pulls the ECM "ESC" terminal to ground when it recieves power. Once the engine starts to knock, it removes the ground and the ECMs internal circuitry allow the voltage to rise. This is how the ECM senses knock through the ESC module. It then uses the ignition control module to adjust the timing output, EST.
    Thanks for the more accurate description fast.

    I was referring to the "spark advance system" as a whole, including the module, ECM, etc...

    As the ecm dials up the spark advance by looking up the table and advancing the ignition, that's still what I was getting at. I understand how the system works ....and I would also say it's probably more detail than the OP needs. Perhaps you thought my post meant I was thinking about advance weights and springs, but this is not the case.

    But, I'm not looking to get in a "peeing" match here.

    The important thing for the OP to remember is that the esc system provides the means for the ECM to retard the ignition until the knock is no longer heard, and it seems that is not happening here.

    For what ever reason or component failure.

    Fast does raise an interesting point though. I suppose the failure could be in the ignition module.....
    Last edited by gr8twhite; 01-26-2009 at 08:43 PM.

  7. #7
    S/C Z71
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Bad idea.

  8. #8
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    A 5.3 swap sounds like a great idea. I'd go with the 4L60E if I were you. Your 700R4 may be doing fine now but considering its miles and age a 5.3 will likely finish it off fast.

    Check out www.ls1truck.com for lots of good gen 3 swap info.

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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by slowsierra93
    A 5.3 swap sounds like a great idea. I'd go with the 4L60E if I were you. Your 700R4 may be doing fine now but considering its miles and age a 5.3 will likely finish it off fast.

    Check out www.ls1truck.com for lots of good gen 3 swap info.
    I would go L31/4L60E before I even thought about a LM7/4L60E. It has the same architecture and is a near direct swap and can be accomplished using all factory parts. You will be dissapointed with a stock 5.3.
    1997 G1500 Cobra Conversion, 5.7, 4L80E, 3.73 14-bolt 9.5", L31 Marine Intake, CFM TB, 02 MAF, 0411, Custom cam. Doug Thorley Tri-Ys, full exhaust soon.

  10. #10
    - Luke 1989K1500's Avatar
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Def go for the swap. It will be like driving a different truck with a 5.3 over that tbi piece of crap you have now.
    2001 rcsb Z71 06 clip, lowered, 6.0 LQ9, p&p 241s, cam, PI3600, LPP long tubes, etc. Tuned by TJ of Baker Engineering Inc - SOLD
    1989 rcsb 4x4, solid axled, HP44/14ff, 4.88s, 35s/20s

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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by 1989K1500
    Def go for the swap. It will be like driving a different truck with a 5.3 over that tbi piece of crap you have now.
    I laugh at this, because unless you are ripping around the road everywhere, the TBI is a snappier engine than the 5.3. Torque at crazy low RPMs makes for a snappy feel. No question the 5.3 will walk away from a stock TBI at WOT but around town and cruising down the highway, I always found the TBI more responsive and solid than the 5.3.
    1997 G1500 Cobra Conversion, 5.7, 4L80E, 3.73 14-bolt 9.5", L31 Marine Intake, CFM TB, 02 MAF, 0411, Custom cam. Doug Thorley Tri-Ys, full exhaust soon.

  12. #12
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by Fast305
    I would go L31/4L60E before I even thought about a LM7/4L60E. It has the same architecture and is a near direct swap and can be accomplished using all factory parts. You will be dissapointed with a stock 5.3.
    x2

  13. #13
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by Fast305
    I laugh at this, because unless you are ripping around the road everywhere, the TBI is a snappier engine than the 5.3. Torque at crazy low RPMs makes for a snappy feel. No question the 5.3 will walk away from a stock TBI at WOT but around town and cruising down the highway, I always found the TBI more responsive and solid than the 5.3.
    how long have you been smoking crack?
    08 TBSS
    91 HD 3/4 ton
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  14. #14
    S/C Z71
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Not as long as you.

  15. #15
    shake & bake 91_bowtie's Avatar
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by S/C Z71
    Not as long as you.
    is that really your best effort?

    I just think its funny that farfromfast305 tries so hard to convince everyone that the junk tbi is better than everything else ever produced. In stock form, they are weak pieces of sh!t, and nothing more. He will most likely respond with some vid showing a speedometer of an unimpressive wot run.
    08 TBSS
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    03 Z71 Tahoe

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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap


  17. #17
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by 91_bowtie
    is that really your best effort?

    I just think its funny that farfromfast305 tries so hard to convince everyone that the junk tbi is better than everything else ever produced. In stock form, they are weak pieces of sh!t, and nothing more. He will most likely respond with some vid showing a speedometer of an unimpressive wot run.
    Read what I said, in stock form a 5.3 can't pull itself through a wet paper towel either.
    1997 G1500 Cobra Conversion, 5.7, 4L80E, 3.73 14-bolt 9.5", L31 Marine Intake, CFM TB, 02 MAF, 0411, Custom cam. Doug Thorley Tri-Ys, full exhaust soon.

  18. #18
    shake & bake 91_bowtie's Avatar
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by Fast305
    Read what I said, in stock form a 5.3 can't pull itself through a wet paper towel either.
    I read it, and found it to be laughable.
    08 TBSS
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  19. #19
    - Luke 1989K1500's Avatar
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Quote Originally Posted by 91_bowtie
    I read it, and found it to be laughable.
    Come on now, who needs technology?





    I bet most of these guys are still using VCRs.
    2001 rcsb Z71 06 clip, lowered, 6.0 LQ9, p&p 241s, cam, PI3600, LPP long tubes, etc. Tuned by TJ of Baker Engineering Inc - SOLD
    1989 rcsb 4x4, solid axled, HP44/14ff, 4.88s, 35s/20s

  20. #20
    S/C Z71
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    Re: TBI 5.7 to Vortec 5.3 swap

    Beta FTW!

 

 
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