An engine that’s ready for action

Where I left off in my last post, the oil pan was not installed and the accessory drive was incomplete. I’ve fixed that…and a few other things

This is the V8Roadsters aluminum oil pan. A rear sump pan is necessary for this swap, and the front of the pan must be shallow enough to clear the steering rack. The V8R pan is made specifically for this swap and meets that criteria. Additionally, the V8R pan is baffled with trap doors to prevent oil starvation–a tremendous plus for car that sees track time. This model has provisions for an oil filter to screw on, which eliminates the need for an external filter and the additional complexity that a remote filter setup adds. This pan comes with an oil pickup tube and has just enough clearance to accommodate an unmodified GTO windage tray.

I took the pan apart prior to installation and cleaned it thoroughly. I also removed the inspection stickers which resided on the inside.

This nifty product by Improved Racing is an oil thermostat that bolts directly to the oil pan. A thermostat ensures that the oil quickly reaches a suitable operating temperature, and diverts flow to the oil cooler once that threshold has been reached.


Some swappers have reported heat related woes that can be ameliorated by protecting prone components from radiant heat, which comes off of the headers and exhaust pipes. Two known problems are difficulty with starting and melted motor mounts. My headers are ceramic coated, which will help greatly, however I’ve made shields anyway in the name of reliability.

This shield protects the starter from the flange area on the header and from the exhaust pipe that runs beneath.

The passenger side motor mount is in close proximity to the headers so a shield with good coverage was made.

The top of the drivers side mount is the only part which appears to be vulnerable. Rather than making a full heat shield for this side, I cleaned the top of the mount with acetone and applied some adhesive-backed reflective thermal barrier.


The bottom of the flywheel was exposed to the elements. I made an aluminum panel which bolts on and covers the opening.


Lines to the clutch slave cylinder needed to be installed. The line on the bottom runs to the clutch master cylinder and the line on top is a remote bleeder, which allows the clutch to be bled with the drivetrain installed in the vehicle.

The top line simply screws in, while the bottom line is held in with a pin which needs to be hammered in.


I’ve shown my custom alternator bracket in this post: Still in need of completion at that point were a tensioner and an idler pulley. The tensioner consists of two rod ends, two bolts, and a couple of nuts.

This is the idler pulley mount, simple and strong.

This is the finished product, with a 50″ belt.

And now the drivetrain is ready to be dropped in!

Free CAGS delete

CAGS, otherwise known as skip shift, is a system fitted to certain GM vehicles that locks out second and third gears under a specific set of conditions, forcing a shift from first to fourth. Shifting from first to fourth while casually cruising generally uses less fuel than shifting from 1-2-3-4, so the system locks out second and third to promote better fuel economy…and to help vehicles dodge the gas guzzler tax. For my purposes, this system is dead weight. I deleted it and removed the associated wires from the engine harness. The steps below tell you how to turn the solenoid into a plug.

Step 1:
Locate the CAGS solenoid. It protrudes from the drivers side of the transmission. Mine is sitting on the table of a chop saw, an indicator of what’s to come.

Step 2:
Cut the solenoid in two. I made my cut in the center of the hexagonal section. This is a good time to learn how a solenoid works, if you’re curious.

Step 3:
Remove the copper and other loose material from the base of the solenoid. You’ll be left with a pin sticking up on the inside. I pushed that pin down, which caused a larger diameter pin to protrude from the bottom of the solenoid, and used vice grips to hold the larger pin out. When you do that, you’ll be left with a flat surface on the inside to weld on. Weld over the small pin on the inside to keep it down and to seal the gap, making what was a solenoid into a plug. The larger pin will still be exposed after you weld. Remove that with a cutoff wheel.

Step 4:
Finally, I cleaned out the inside of the solenoid with some acetone and sprayed it with self-etching primer to prevent rust. Once dry, reinstall the plug and delete the emergent error code from the PCM.

No, I haven’t died or lost interest

School, a graduation, some semblance of a social life, and a three week trip to South Africa, which was amazing, has slowed this project down a tad.

While away, I was in touch with a fabricator who will be installing a 3/4 cage in my car at the end of the month. Ryan, of Thompson Racing Fabrication, has installed roll cages in many of the rally cars in the area. I’ve seen his products prove themselves effective a couple of times and look forward to having his work in my car. The cage will get a full writeup upon completion. In the mean time, I’ll just say that Ryan and I have come up with what should be quite a good design given the constraints.

As for material progress, here’s what I’ve been up to:

In a previous post, I showed a window in the frame rail, in the engine bay. Fuel and oil lines pass through that hole and come out here, inches from the fuel tank.

This bar, passing from the dash bar to the frame rail, will experience quite a bit of load. I added a gusset to distribute that load across the frame rail.

Removing the drivetrain with the headers installed proved to be a bit of a challenge with these radiator supports in place as they protrude inward and reduce the available width. My simple solution to that was to make the radiator supports removable. The supports now slip over the post and bolt in, whereas before they were non-removable. Not depicted in this photo are the tabs that I welded to the bases of the supports for the attachment of a splitter.

My T56 transmission is out of a 2004 GTO. The GTO transmission has better syncros than the Camaro T56, however a Camaro shifter is strongly preferred for this swap due to its location. I had to replace the GTO offset lever with a Camaro offset lever in order to make the Camaro shifter work with my trans. The Camaro offset lever is the shorter of the two.

I chose an MGW F-body Camaro shifter because I needed a Camaro shifter anyway and this one has phenomenal reviews. The knob is a delryn piece that I ordered from ebay. It has a nice shape and isn’t very thermally conductive.

The hood is held up with a universal gas strut that I picked up on Amazon. One of them is enough to get the job done and while some companies charge over $100 for hood strut kits, I have about $10 into this setup.

My wiper motor relocation looked pretty haggard for a while because I didn’t have a tool that fit into this small space to clean up the welds. Fortunately, I was able to borrow an electric die grinder from a friend and that made short work of this job. With a tiny bit of body filer and some paint, this will practically look OEM.

After some CAD(cardboard aided design) work, I determined that a F-body Camaro air intake fits perfectly on top of the radiator ducting. I also picked up a K&N panel filter. The volume that this intake will draw from is a great source of cool, pressurized air.

For weight savings, the OEM dash is hacked up and this car is not going to get much of an interior. Accordingly, I needed a utilitarian housing for gauges, switches, power sources, and the radio. Yes, this car is still going to have a radio. Anyway, I used my metal break to make an aluminum structure to handle this task. The structure bolts to the transmission tunnel via nuts that I welded to the inside of the tunnel. This center console is easy to reach and is short enough for my GPS to mount to the top of it without hitting the bottom of the dash.

There’s a 12v outlet, and something that looks like a 12v outlet that is actually a pair of USB plugs. Those will be handy for keeping my phone and other gadgets charged during longer drives.

I gutted the doors and removed the OEM seatbelt towers in preparation for the cage. This lot of stuff weighed quite a bit.

As you can see in this photo of the passenger side door, there is not much left. The windows mechanisms were largely left in tact and I moved the cranks to locations that will be easy for occupants, whom are strapped in, to reach.

This is a brake line mount, positioned approximately how it was from the factory.

The other big task has been preparing the car for paint. The engine bay, interior, and wheel wells will all need to be painted. Accordingly, the engine bay has been stripped to bare metal, the inner firewall has also been stripped, and the wheel wells have mostly been stripped. The paint work, engine bay included, will most likely take place after the cage is complete.

I also fabricated mounts for the driver and passenger seats. This was something that needed to be done before the car goes in for the cage. I don’t have photos at the moment, however they are basic fixed position mounts with attachment points for the anti-sub straps welded in.