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Installing an LS engine into a second-gen Camaro Z28

Painlessly swapping a Gen-III engine into a Gen-II F-body.

Bob McClurg - August 01, 2011 09:00 AM

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Prior to actually dropping in the new LS engine, it is advisable to thoroughly clean and re-paint your engine compartment. Mike Abbott and his crew first sprayed on a coat of Metal Ready. Then they used POR15 Rust Preventer and top coated everything with POR15 Chassis Coat Black. Looks like new again!

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Abbott and assistant Eric Cowden test-fit the LS1/4L60E powertrain into the Camaro engine bay.

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Muscle Rods Direct Fit Engine/Transmission Mount Kit (part number 2F-LSX-4L60) bolts right up to the LS1-LS6 engine. At the opposite end, the pre-drilled holes in the engine mounts are lined up to the existing holes in the GEN II front crossmember using Grade 8 bolts.

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Here the GM 4L60E transmission is bolted up to the Muscle Rods transmission mount and crossmember. Since the tailshaft of the 4L60E is longer than a TH350, new mounting holes were drilled approximately six inches back from the originals.

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With the LS1 engine and 4L60E planted, Abbott and Cowden move to the inside of the car. After removing the seats, console, etc., the OE dash cluster bezel or gauge pod is unplugged from the OE connectors. The removal of the Z28 dash pad comes next as you will require unrestricted access to the inside of the firewall area.

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The first step in installing the Painless 60608 harness is to find a suitable place to mount the ECM and the fuse block. Mike mounted the ECM just above/behind the glove box area of the dash using some simple one-inch metal straps secured in place with sheetmetal screws. In order to mount the fuse block under the dash to the right of the steering column, Jeff fashioned a simple metal bracket and attached it and the fuse block to the center support of the dash. With both secure, Abbott routed the ECM connector over to the ECM.

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Next, our installer routes the engine section of the harness through the firewall into the engine bay. Since this GEN II already has a pre-existing hole in the firewall, it was re-used. When routing delicate electrical wiring through metal openings it is advisable to wrap some electrical tape around the outer perimeter of the hole to avoid damage. No existing hole in your firewall? A 15/8-inch hole saw will take care of that problem! Connectors are fed through the opening starting with the largest, the 4L60E connector first.

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This is a close-up of the main breakout section of the Painless fuel injection wiring harness. The breakout is positioned at the center of the back of the intake manifold.

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The Painless harness is laid on top of the engine with the passenger, driver, and transmission sections of the connectors segregated. Each section or connector was routed to the components which they were specifically intended for.

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Two larger sized black/white ground wires can be found protruding from the main engine harness breakout at the back of the LS1 engine. After installing the appropriate heat shrink ring terminal, they can be mounted to the opposite side of the cylinder heads using a 10mm bolt.

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Located at the back of the intake manifold is an inline sensor connector that must be plugged into the knock sensor pigtail protruding from the backside of the LS1 intake manifold.

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Next, the three-pin gray MAP sensor is plugged into the actual MAP sensor itself.

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On this particular LS1, Abbott installed the oil pressure gauge sender into an adaptor fitting (16x1½ to 1/8-inch MNPT) that is threaded into a port at the back of the engine. Then the blue/black number 922 sensor wire is attached to the sensor using a ring terminal from the kit.

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Mike plugs in the passenger-side fuel injectors following the corresponding readouts as well as the inline oil connector.

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In the passenger side of the engine harness, you will find the number 921 light green/black wire that goes to the coolant temperature gauge sensor. Painless provides you with plenty of wire. All you have to do is cut to fit, and terminate it with a heat-shrinkable ring terminal and attach it accordingly.

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Painless LS1-LS6 engine harness also features an A/C compressor power and ground wire, which is terminated at the A/C compressor clutch wire hookup.

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Abbott plugs the corresponding connectors to the driver’s side fuel injectors, inline coil, alternator, and coolant temp. TPS and IAC connectors go under the fuel feed port of the LS1 fuel rail, following the flagged call-outs on the corresponding wires.

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On the front of the driver’s side cylinder head or number one cylinder exhaust port you will find the coolant temperature sensor terminal which is hooked up accordingly.

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The Painless 60608 LS1-LS6 harness also includes the necessary connector and 6-gauge charge wire to accommodate the late-model LS1 alternators. With this harness, there are no wires to double up at the alternator and no external fuses to mount.

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The installer plugs the TPS and IAC connectors into the LS1-LS6 throttle body.

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Climbing underneath the GEN II, Abbott plugs in the LS1 crank position sensor into the CKP sensor located behind the starter mounting platform. After installing the starter, Mike cuts the number 916 and 14-gauge number 919 wires to length, and terminates them with the proper ring terminal called out in the directions. Cover them in weatherproof shrink wrap prior to hooking them up to the starter.

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Moving on to the transmission, Abbott plugs in the PRNDL switch connector. This is followed by the hooking up of the 4L60E transmission connector.

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And finally, Mike plugs in the VSS connector into the VSS port located on the tailshaft of the 4L60E four-speed-electronic-overdrive transmission. For the most part, this concludes the installation of the Painless LS1-LS6 engine fuel injection harness.

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We recommend you follow the harness installation instructions as well as have corresponding schematics for the vehicle. After breaking the harness out into its two segments (headlight section, and tail section) we routed the headlight section wires to the front of the vehicle. Within this section are two cooling fan wires, park, headlight and turn signal wires and horn.

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Abbott installs the optional AFCO high performance radiator and electric fan assembly in the factory radiator mounting location and connects the 12-gauge green number 998 blower motor power wire. The blower motor, relay and resistor will reuse the factory connector but new terminals are included in the kit. At the same time, Mike re-wires the GEN II’s headlights and parking light assemblies, once again following the instructions to the letter.

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Cowden routes the tail section of the chassis harness down the channel which is located under the F-body door sill plate. After routing the Camaro taillight wires out to the taillight buckets, he hooks them up to the OE taillight bulb connectors.

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The Painless 60608 kit also includes a built-in electric fuel pump relay in the fuse block and fuel pump power wire in the tail section. This power wire is connected to the positive (+) post on the fuel pump. In this application, a frame-mount Walbro 255 from Arizona TPI was used.

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This Camaro was also outfitted with a Covan dash and Auto Meter gauges, using one of Painless Performance Products gauge cluster harnesses.

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Painless Performance Products, LLC has just released their new fully integrated fuel injection and chassis harness designed to fit any GM car or truck from 1955 to 1986. it must be used in conjunction with GM’s LS1 to LS6 small-block V-8 engines and corresponding GM 4L60E four-speed electronic overdrive transmission.

Painless Performance Products LS Series chassis and engine wiring harness features color coded 6-gauge OE automotive wire construction with a total of 26 fuses and seven relays housed inside a single dedicated fuse block. Contained therein are the fuel injection and transmission power relays, 40-amp high and low speed cooling fan relays, a fuel pump relay, A/C controls which interface with the factory climate control system, cruise control relay, 6-gauge alternator charge wire and 100-ampere fuse, and the 100-ampere battery fuse. The 60608 kit comes with basically everything you need to perform a clean installation including factory GM terminals and connector housings, various rubber grommets and heat shrinkable weatherproof crimp on terminals.

What you need

Above and beyond the wiring kit, LS-series engine and GM 4L60E transmission, you will also need a GM park/neutral/reverse safety switch, which mounts to the side of the GM 4L60E and a 1999-2000 Camaro (V-8) powertrain control module (PCM), which Painless Performance will program for free. If you wish to have cruise control, it will also be necessary to obtain a 1999-2002 Camaro cruise control module from either a GM dealer or junkyard. You will also need a late-model rear-wheel drive GM throttle body cable. There are several different sizes, as this cable was used in both Camaros and Firebirds, as well as GM pickup trucks. Another item that you will need is a high quality battery cable kit. Painless Performance Products offers the right one (part number 40100). Other than that, everything else is built into the harness.

Certain mechanical upgrades were required while others were preferred using aftermarket items. An in-tank electronic fuel pump is required with the LS1-LS6 engines. A Robb MC Performance in-tank, high volume electronic fuel pump drops right into the Gen II Camaro fuel tank opening, and provides ½-inch feed and return lines as well as providing an OEM fuel level sending unit hookup. A frame-mounted Walbro 255lph high-volume electronic fuel pump along with a Delco fuel pressure/fuel regulator was also used, and mounted underneath the vehicle.

A Powermaster Infilock high torque starter was also selected. This compact size starter will hug the engine block as well as clear the headers. Due to frame clearance problems, the OE cast-iron LS-Series exhaust manifolds will not fit this application. A good set of tube headers and a new exhaust system is a must have. A set of 15/8-inch diameter thermal-coated, Hedman-produced mid-length headers are available at www.brhotrods.com. Also, due to the LS1-LS6 A/C compressor being mounted at the bottom of the engine on LS1-LS6 engine cars, an A/C compressor relocation bracket must be used. Kwik Performance offers a Sanden 508-based A/C kit that does the job nicely. You will also have to purchase a six-rib Gates serpentine belt. A GM LS1-LS6 and 4L60E transmission engine mount and transmission crossmember kit is also available from www.brhotrods.com. The engine mounts are a direct bolt-in, while the transmission crossmember requires drilling some new holes, as the 4L60E tailshaft mounting pad extends further back.

Our Camaro’s console shifter was modified to accept the new GM 4L60E shift pattern. This shifter detent kit is manufactured by www.shiftworks.com, and allows you to retain the factory console shifter and shift cable. A new driveshaft measuring approximately 447/8-inches is also necessary. Depending on where you live, there are a number of driveshaft companies and/or machine shops that can do this for you. Although you can use the OE Gen II Camaro/Firebird radiator, AFCO provides a direct fit, F-body aluminum radiator with electric fan and shroud. A set of Gates radiator hoses are also required. Rather than use the OE GM throttle cable, we selected a Lokar throttle cable. This cable is 36 inches long, and can be cut to fit. Lastly, we replaced the factory warning lights with a set of Auto Meter “ES-Series” black face gauges installed inside a Covan Gen II plastic dash, which is a pre-drilled direct fit to the stock Gen II Camaro dash. It should also be noted that Painless offers a universal gauge harness for special applications like this.

When performing this conversion, the first thing you need to do is find a suitable location to mount the fuse block. On some vehicles, there is sufficient room to mount the block to the left side of the steering column on the firewall. However, on Gen II Camaro/Firebirds, there isn’t any room, so it will be necessary to mount the fuse block on the right side of the steering column instead, using your own bracketry. Or, the fuse block can be mounted under the hood. This Camaro just didn’t have an easily accessible place to hide it without exposing it to excessive heat which could damage the unit.

 

Running Wired

When it comes to hooking up the harness, it is designed to be routed out through the firewall towards the center of the car’s bulkhead. With the F-body Camaro/Firebird, there is already an existing hole where the loom is fed through, complete with protective rubber firewall grommet. Here’s a tip: If for some reason you have to enlarge that hole, or when installing this system into another GM model car, carefully tape the wiring or the circumference of the hole in order to avoid chafing the wiring while it’s being fed through the opening.

This harness breaks up into several different sections (the driver’s side, coil packs, injectors, TPS, cooling temp, alternator and IAC). At the back of the engine you will have the cam position sensor, MAP sensor, oil pressure gauge and knock sensor hookups. On the passenger side of the engine, you will have your passenger side coil packs, injector hookups, as well as coolant temp gauge hookup, and A/C compressor power and ground wire. Also in the engine bay are two ground wires which hook up to opposite sides of the LS1/LS6 cylinder heads, and all callouts on this harness are easy to read and clearly labeled.

The automatic transmission part of the harness features a 13-pin gray round connector, which plugs into the transmission solenoid hookup. You’ll also have the vehicle speed sensor connector hookup, as well as the Park/Neutral safety switch connector. Toward the back of the 4L60E bellhousing, you will also find the driver and passenger-side O2 sensor hookups along with the starter wires including heavy duty 6-gauge power wire, the start signal wire, and also the crank position connector.

Inside, you will have to figure out where you want to place the re-flashed GM powertrain control module (PCM). We decided to mount it up on the passenger side of the firewall directly below the center dash support, above the glove box, using a set of custom-made mounting brackets. It should also be noted that depending on where you install it, some of the A/C dryer tubing may have to be slightly bent in order to provide adequate clearance. Coming out of the fuse block you will find all of the component hookups that are indicative to GM chassis wiring. For example, you’ll have a dash section which you will have to route up over the steering column toward your instrument cluster. You will also have the heater controls, wiper switch and headlight switch hookups. Then there’s the brake switch, the accessory/courtesy light hookups (including electric door locks and electric windows), the cigarette lighter, the radio (complete with speaker wire hookup) and the ignition switch. And as previously mentioned, a GM style cruise control hookup is also integrated into the Painless LS1-LS6 harness.

When it comes to the F-body chassis wiring harness, you will find two “breakouts.” One will go to the engine compartment (which should be done first) and the other will go the tail section of the car. Painless provides thorough installation instructions complete with illustrations and wiring schematics. Of course, having a copy of a GEN II F-body chassis wiring harness schematic certainly doesn’t hurt. Painless Performance Products LLC is also coming out with another harness exactly like the 60608 but fits the 1999-2006 mechanical throttle body GEN-III 4.8L-6.0L LM-Series small-block V-8 truck engines when backed up with a GM 4L60E. This harness is listed under part number 60617. Also fresh out of the oven is Painless’ LS2/3.7 harness that will operate a GM 4L65E electronic overdrive automatic transmission, which will also fit quite nicely between the frame rails of a Gen II Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird. And lastly, Painless Performance Products LLC offers a 2007-and-up Displacement on Demand 6.0L-6.2L GM truck engine harness that also operates GM 4L65E and 4L80E electronic overdrive transmissions. Listed under part number 60526,it also fits the L99 2010 GEN-V Camaro engine equipped with DOD and variable cam timing. Some really great choices, eh?

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