5.3L Chevy Motor Swap – Cleanup!

The first thing I did when I got the motor was stick it on the stand …. here’s what I had to begin with.   Chevy 5.3L Vortec with motor wiring harness (and 4L60e transmission!), 110k miles on it… but was running 2 weeks before I pulled it from the yard. These motors are good for 300K+ miles before they need a ring change…one of the best motors ever produced by American innovation!

Fresh from the yard...ready to strip and clean up!

Since the motor and transmission were apart when I got em… I decided to put them back together before putting it all in the Jeep because I think it would be easier to get it the transmission lined up and bolted to the motor OUT of the Jeep rather than in the Jeep… so what I did was setup a couple of jackstands and set the motor down on them, then I put the transmission on the transmission jack so I could easily slide them together and bolt everything up.   The first step after putting the motor on the jackstands was to rotate the flexplate to where I could bolt the torque converter on and then line up the torque converter for an easy transmission slide in.   SO… first things first, rip off all of the wiring, THEN pull the thing off the motor stand with the cherry picker and  get it stabilized with the jackstands  so I could then slide the transmission and motor together and bolt up the whole assembly!


OK, so I bought some Advanced Adapters Motor Mounts… they are GREAT to work with… very nice people and answered every question I had.  I got their mounts and immediately put them on the motor…couldn’t wait!   Now to actually make sure that the transmission could easily slide onto the motor with the torque converter already bolted up to the flexplate, what I did was first take the torque converter and stick it ON the transmission and lock it in so I knew it was how it would be with the motor attached…then I rotated the torque converter to where one of the bolt connections was at 6 o’clock and the other two were at 10 and 2… then I slid the converter off the transmission and bolted it to the flexplate and rotated it on the motor till it was in the same position….VOILA!!! slid the thing together with absolutely no problem…bolted it up and it was ready for cleaning and paint!


Now it was starting to look like I could clean it up a little easier!  You can see in this pic on the top of the transmission there is a bracket….that’s for the shiny new Lokar direct mount transmission shifter!! It’s sweeeeeeeet!  More to come on that later though!  Ok, so at this point… I’m one of those guys that just sat and looked at this thing for a day and tried to decide just WHAT I wanted to do from this point… originally I was just going to drop it in the jeep and call it good, but the more I looked at it and the more I researched these projects on the net….the more I was leaning toward ripping off all of the external components and putting new gaskets on and then cleaning individually and painting… so, that’s what I decided to do!

pulled off the intake to see just how dirty it was...not bad!

Ok, so I yanked off the intake manifold to see just how nasty it was… which would give me a little idea of how this motor had been treated since 2001… it was grimy but I didn’t think it was really that bad at all… so, from here it was time to pull off the water pump and then get some new gaskets… and clean it off really well, degrease it and get it ready for some motor paint.

time to start cleaning!

Now that the motor was clean, it was time to get ready for paint…so I started masking it off with painters tape to make sure I didn’t get paint where it wasn’t supposed to be!




Ok, now I think it’s ready for paint, but what COLOR to choose????   Well, I saw on a forum somewhere where a guy had painted his with a graphite wheel paint, which is resistant to heat and oils and chemicals, and I thought it looked awesome…so I first primed it with engine heat primer paint…



then coated it all with the graphite wheel paint…





I REALLY like the way it turned out!!!!  Now that it was painted and looked all pretty, it was time to start putting the external components back on.. so I bought some new gaskets for the water pump and intake manifold systems and bolted them back on… starting to look like something now 🙂


While I was researching, I figured that I wanted to change my system from drive-by-wire to drive-by-cable…   which means instead of having the gas pedal be simply hooked to a potentiometer and sending a signal to the throttle body… I was switching that to a physical/mechanical throttle system whereby the gas pedal has an actual cable going to the throttle body to open and close the throttle.  I just like the aspect of physical connection rather than the computer doing it… call me old-fashioned, it’s just what I decided to do…SO that having been said, I had to get me a new throttle body that was setup for drive-by-cable… lucky me, I happened to find a LS1 Throttle Body from a Camaro… which has a little bit wider and deeper throat… perfect!  Bolted right on…


OK, SO motor is cleaned and painted… next!

On to power steering reservoir…

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