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Thread: Pulled the trigger on the 383

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Pulled the trigger on the 383

    Just took the '94 Suburban over to my friend's master mechanic garage getting a lung transplant. Ordered a remanufactured 383 stroker with roller cam from S&J Automotive in Spokane. Tom is a custom car builder and fantastic mechanic and is going to charge me around $3700 to buy and install the engine (only charging me half price for his labor). Can't beat that I don't think. Even though the original 350 was towing just "ok", got tired of struggling up 5 and 6% grades at 35 or 40 mph at around 3200-3500 rpm. Used to push it to 4200 rpm with a fastchip but kept cracking exhaust manifolds and you all and everybody else told me I shouldn't do that. Spoil sports.

    Before deciding to put a new engine in the Burb, we looked at several mid-2000's GMC Denali's and XL's with 6.0 and 6.2 engines. Everyone of them had at least 160,000 miles, was pretty worn inside and had a variety of problems such as bad transmission, bad transfer box, shot air shocks, ripped interiors, etc. etc. Plus I got to thinking that I much prefer old school technology. Didn't like the idea of dealing with OBDII computers and stuff I couldn't work on on these "newer" vehicles. Since the Burb is so pristine in and out, cruises to smooth, is so comfortable and since we've had several parts replaced due to wear, I decided I would much rather keep it and buy more power. Most Denali's in the 2005 range were around $10,000 or more, so $3700 for an engine seemed a much smarter way to go. We'll see.

    The upside, now driving the early for a week.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    New Guy
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    I'd like to hear it.

    Mechanics round here only want to do the small jobs it seems. I'd probably hear a quote double of that here. Newer cars have so much added electronics I'd rather stay with something older. I own a 95 van and I bought from the state of california a 95 chevy caprice came with the lt1 engine, had it since it was 5yrs old.
    Last edited by Leonard; 10-16-2019 at 01:13 PM.

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Yea, just couldn't pass up the deal. I know the mechanic and the company that builds the engine.

    At 73 years old I'm definitely old school that's why I love the 65 and the '94 is about as new as I want to get. While its got a computer, it does have fuel injection which is a lot better than carbs. Although the early runs a 2 bbl weber without hardly any trouble.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    VCVC Member LedZeppvan's Avatar
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    I am glad to hear of a quality mechanic shop in Spokane. I am moving to Soap Lake to retire soon. I am related to an historical figure in the area "Sagebrush Annie" who was my great grandmother., she was known to walk from Soap Lake to Spokane. I have not been to Spokane yet, but I plan on a visit in November. I am happy to meet a person near by!? I am not up with my van yet going to take it up last when I finish the total move from California. Let me know what's fun during the summer and spring months!
    Jacke

    1964 GMC Handi-Van Custom 350
    1971 Ford Mustang 302
    1957 Karman Ghia Project

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LedZeppvan View Post
    I am glad to hear of a quality mechanic shop in Spokane. I am moving to Soap Lake to retire soon. I am related to an historical figure in the area "Sagebrush Annie" who was my great grandmother., she was known to walk from Soap Lake to Spokane. I have not been to Spokane yet, but I plan on a visit in November. I am happy to meet a person near by!? I am not up with my van yet going to take it up last when I finish the total move from California. Let me know what's fun during the summer and spring months!
    Zep, all S&J does is build engines. I'm on the west or opposite side of the state way up in Blaine, next to the Canadian border. I envy you I much prefer central and eastern Washington, not much rain and acutual seasons, we have two, rain and more rain. We go to eastern WA in the summer for the dry heat and stay at parks such as Lincoln Rock State Park near Wenatchee, Crescent Bar on the Columbia river also near Wenatchee. Lots of sun and wide open spaces.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Enigne is in and is running good. Have no idea yet how it tows cause I have to get 500 miles on it and change the break in oil.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    VCVC Member Wookee's Avatar
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    Cool

    Hook the trailer up to it and go pull a grade.
    She is ready to rock now, as well as 500 miles later.
    If you do hurt it.Make the next stop that shop & drop it off.
    They did some thing wrong...

    ......Wookee
    Last edited by Wookee; 10-28-2019 at 04:08 PM.
    Its a "van thing". A life style you have to live to understand!!!!

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    383!! does good

    Sittin' here in our travel trailer at Pacific Beach State park on the coast of Washington watching the tide come in and waves crashing and feeling good.

    The 383 got us here in incredible style. It's a monster torque machine. Although I-5 from Blaine to Olympia doesn't have any mountain passes it does have several significant long 5% grades. Went up those in 3rd, torque converter never unlocked and it just charged up said hills with no problem. After a while, while on level or slight downhills I shifted into 4th, which I know you're not supposed to do for the sake of the transmission, but it ran easy and never unlocked. I would pull it down to third on said hills. We kept it at about 62 mph but could speed up fast if needed to pass. When we stopped for food, I pulled the trans dip-stick and found it wasn't hot or burnt. Felt the trans cooler and it wasn't hot. I'm gonna get a transmission temp gauge to make sure I'm not overheating it cause that 383 prefers to run in 4th at lower rpms (its a stroker). So if the trans is not hunting at all, I assume its not gonna overheat?

    Probably the best part, is that it got 9.5 miles per gallon, about a mile per gallon better than the old engine.

    And better yet, 49 years ago today I bought the early, 11-22-70.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    VCVC Member Wookee's Avatar
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    Cool

    Leave her in 4th gear.
    It will not hurt the transmission.
    Driving around in 3rd will,can do more damage.
    The computer will do a good job shifting into passing gear when needed..
    Glad to hear you are happy with the new engine
    Welcome to the V/8 towing world...
    Its a "van thing". A life style you have to live to understand!!!!

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Thanks Wookee. Always nice to have your input. Everything I've read says never tow in overdrive, so wasn't sure.

    This was our shakedown cruise so at first, it did seem like driving in 3rd was stressing the engine with all those rpms forced by the 3.73 gears., so after a while I upshifted to 4th and it settled in and ran smooth and much easier, a lot quieter too. It tows so much like the van with the 292, lots of torque, just chugs along, no need to shift down until going up the 6% mountain grades, no need for lots of rpms like the old engine.

    And getting almost 10 mpg towing is amazing. I was told those 383's really liked to use lots of gas. I didn't take it easy, kept my foot in it going up hills or passing cars, I wanted a true mileage check.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    Certifiable Vanatic Z-Machine (aka VanZack)'s Avatar
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    👍

    I would keep it in third on any uphills. The way it was explained to me by a transmission tech is, the speed of the engine determines the speed of the trans pump that circulates the fluid. In fourth, it doesn't circulate fast enough for adequate cooling. Once you get that trans temp gauge, you'll be able to watch it. Heat is the big killer of auto trannies.
    1969 G10 108, 307 V8, TH350, 3.08 gears
    1966 G10 Panel, 194 I6, three on the tree (I think it's an old Ma Bell van)

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z-Machine (aka VanZack) View Post
    I would keep it in third on any uphills. The way it was explained to me by a transmission tech is, the speed of the engine determines the speed of the trans pump that circulates the fluid. In fourth, it doesn't circulate fast enough for adequate cooling. Once you get that trans temp gauge, you'll be able to watch it. Heat is the big killer of auto trannies.
    I do pull it down to 3rd on "hills." Sometimes hard to tell what is a hill and what isn't. If it starts to lug at all I pull it down. Although its hard to tell if its lugging as the 383 is so torquey. Also use 3rd in town traffic. So its a matter of paying real close attention, which I always do when towing.

    I've discovered a forum called GMT 400 which is for '88 to '98 GM trucks. Most of them have been telling me the 4L60E tranny is a weak link and suggest I replace it with a 4L80E. So far the 60 is working ok even though I drove it 40,000 miles without flushing the fluid, getting it flushed this week.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    Certifiable Vanatic Leroy Jackson's Avatar
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    What kind of transmission are we talking about? 200R4, 700R4 or an electronic trans like a 4l80e?

    The 200 and 700 series with the tv cables.. definitely don't run them in overdrive under heavy loads. Wire up the converter lockup to work off a switch too. The overdrive clutch packs are tiny in these transmissions.

    The 4l80e is plenty strong to keep in overdrive. The computer will also control the gear, pressure and lock out depending on throttle position and speed. The only real reason to shift down would be to keep an engine in the meat of its torque curve.

    The 6l85e or 6l80e I would downshift to 3rd as well. They are just an electronic version of the 700r4. Pretty much the same wimpy planetary a d clutch pack.
    The Raped Ape
    1970 G-20 Krylon black
    Swing up cargo doors
    Supercharged 383
    4L80E transmission
    Detroit trutrac rear limited slip

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    Certifiable Vanatic Leroy Jackson's Avatar
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    One more item to note, chevy auto 4 speeds transmission are 1:1 in third, direct connection to the crank and they are the strongest in this gear. In over drive, the torque is being put through an additional clutch pack and depending on the model, may only be 1 or two plates thick. Under heavy loads, they can slip.
    The Raped Ape
    1970 G-20 Krylon black
    Swing up cargo doors
    Supercharged 383
    4L80E transmission
    Detroit trutrac rear limited slip

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    holy van Leroy, just noticed your 383 is supercharged, must go fast.

    As my first experience towing a travel trailer was with the early with the 292, I paid very close attention to everything going on as you have to actually drive the vehicle as there is no computer to warn you of a problem (thankfully). Constantly monitored my 9 gages and listened for any weird sounds coming from the engine and tranny.

    I do the same with the Burb. I won't run in 4th if it seems to bog, only use it when it runs easy, usually level and/or tailwind. Last trip we had a strong headwind and I had to drive in 3rd. Whenever in 4th and I see a hill coming up, I pull it down before the hill. If it ever starts to slip, I will notice it. When towing I am super alert.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    Certifiable Vanatic Leroy Jackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lvjjj View Post
    holy van Leroy, just noticed your 383 is supercharged, must go fast.

    As my first experience towing a travel trailer was with the early with the 292, I paid very close attention to everything going on as you have to actually drive the vehicle as there is no computer to warn you of a problem (thankfully). Constantly monitored my 9 gages and listened for any weird sounds coming from the engine and tranny.

    I do the same with the Burb. I won't run in 4th if it seems to bog, only use it when it runs easy, usually level and/or tailwind. Last trip we had a strong headwind and I had to drive in 3rd. Whenever in 4th and I see a hill coming up, I pull it down before the hill. If it ever starts to slip, I will notice it. When towing I am super alert.
    She runs like a raped ape 😁. 2700 stall tq converter, 3.73 posi, cam profile builds tq hard after 2500 rpm and the blower is over driven. This thing pulls hard off the line and sings from 2500 - 6000 rpm. I don't spool it up any higher as there is no need. The torque curve is stupid flat and the hp just climbs. The hardest part is not breaking traction. If I punch it, it just lays rubber.
    The Raped Ape
    1970 G-20 Krylon black
    Swing up cargo doors
    Supercharged 383
    4L80E transmission
    Detroit trutrac rear limited slip

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Breaking the tires loose may be a blessing. With my 292, it doesn't spin the tires (although I've never tried, don't want to hurt anything I can't fix) it just leaps. From a stop, if I stomp on it, it digs in and just leaps ahead without warning. If I don't have the tires straight ahead I could end up in a ditch or flip it. Even towing the trailer it leaps and bangs the hitch and trailer. I'm surprised I haven't ripped the hitch off.

    I can't imagine a blown 383 in a van because I consider the 292 too much engine when running solo. When cruising on the interstate, if I decide to punch it to change lanes to pass somebody I have to be careful not to turn the wheel too quick as it will leap ahead and I could end up swapping ends or in the ditch. Have almost done that.

    After my long rods linkage finally died, I built a pully system that is super smooth. So, since I only drive it once every 3 months or so, I tend to forget how quickly it accelerates. So the first time out I usually snap my neck back without meaning to. This is also why I use my left foot on the brake most of the time, have to be ready to slow it down. Tranny is a TH350 that was built specifically for RV towing, shifts are hard and quick and actually jerk the van and trailer when it shifts under hard acceleration.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Sort of an update on 383, computer chip

    Since the Service Engine light kept coming on when driving on the freeway, thought I should see about buying a computer chip since the current chip still thinks its controlling a 350. Apparently its running too lean based on the original chip. On GMT 400 forum I found a guy who custom makes chips based on actual computer logs taken while driving. So I had to buy an ALDL cord that connects from the OBD I connector to the computer. Log onto TunerPro RT and hit record, drive 15 minutes, save the log, send to Old EFi in Vancouver WA along with the chip. We've gone back and fourth 4 times now as he fine tunes it. For some reason the new engine has never liked to idle on start up from the beginning. He is improving on that with his chip tweaks. Still has lots of power, maybe more now. The TunerPro RT program shows 8 gauges including vehicle speed, MAP, fuel usage, spark advance, etc. Sure is interesting watching these gauges driving down the road, can only afford a quick glance cause have to stay on the road. Its a good time to be doing this as with this Corona thing we don't go anywhere except groceries, and I go to the post office to mail the chip to Vancouver. RV parks are closing so we can't really travel.

    So if anyone needs a chip made for a GMT 400 truck, let me know. Lot better than buying something from Summit of Jegs that might help.

    The goodest news is, while the Burb is out of service, I'm left with driving the van, oh darn. Starts up everytime, running real good.

    Everyone stay safe, stay healthy.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

  19. #19
    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    Chip Update

    Old EFi made me a wonderful chip. Took about 4 mailings back and forth with many engine logs sent to him. From day one when the engine was first installed, it would not idle and would surge like crazy until it warmed up, and even then it might surge at stop lights. Apparently the surging had everything to do with the timing. It now starts, idles and runs smooth. So much more comfortable to drive. Service engine light doesn't come on anymore either.

    I think Old EFi only works on OBD-I computer systems, if anyone wants his contact info, let me know.

    (During this virus thing, it was the perfect time to get it done as I didn't need to drive the Burb while he was working on the chip).
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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    VCVC Member lvjjj's Avatar
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    383 update. As I cracked my 4th manifold on a trip last month, got JBA shorty headers from Summit. Makes a big difference, pulled the east side of Stevens Pass here in Washington in 3rd while towing. Never done that before. the West side is steeper so had to shift down to 2nd for the last couple of miles. Runs about 55 at 3700 rpm. Don't think the headers are going to crack. As I was concerned about engine compartment heat, I noticed that there is no flow thru of outside air in the Burb, no way for air to get in there except thru radiator, so removed the splash shields in each wheel well which open right on the headers and removed brush/rock guard beneath radiator. Runs pretty cool now. Getting 9.6 mpg, great when towing.

    Now having some problems with sealing between header and exhaust pipe, pipe comes in at a bad angle, looks like a trip to a muffler shop.
    LARRY OF THE PACIFIC NW
    1965, 292, TH350
    purchased Nov. 22, 1970

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