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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a Jeep CJ5 I am planning on updating straight 6 to a SBC. I only drive this thing in the summer, on the weekends. Put probably a thousand miles a year on it. So my plan was a used Vortec. Replace the bearings, hone the cylinders, new rings, valve job and inspect valve guides on the heads, upgrade the camshaft and an Edelbrock intake and carb. No desire for a computer with the small amount of summer driving I do. It will just give me problems at some point.

So I tear into the used Vortech. Both heads cracked. Had been dumping water into three cylinders. Milky oil in the boytom of the pan that had been drained. So basically, I have no heads, a block that needs bored and I'm sure the crank needs turned. So I basically have nothing.

Should I look at a salvage, that provides a warranty for a 5.7 Vortech?
 

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Do yourself a favor, for that type of swap, don’t look towards SBCs, look at the LS platforms. Heads don’t crack, engines really don’t leak oil, they run better, better designed, and same if not cheaper to swap then a SBC.

Find a 4.8/5.3 from the parts yard (around me complete take outs are $345) and don’t worry about the mileage, they have far superior heads than any SBC and valve guides rarely, if ever, leak oil. The LS platform mounts to normal SBC transmissions, and you can run them with an carb if you want. Why anyone would not want fuel injection is beyond me, but we all have our reasons.

Sorry you got a bad vortec motor, but leave the old stuff in the past, move forward with the available technology.
 

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rebuild the engine basically stock and buy some , engine quest vortec heads. You dont want much cam off road. Personally I would use a 305. Same piston speed and smaller engine so better mileage.
You have a 350 so make due best of what you have. Are you good with rebuilding? ( notjust assembling)
Do you have access to a decent machinist thats not too expensive? A 250 hp/330 pounds torque is more than enough for off road fun. Use a few mileage tricks with the new engine
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
rebuild the engine basically stock and buy some , engine quest vortec heads. You dont want much cam off road. Personally I would use a 305. Same piston speed and smaller engine so better mileage.
You have a 350 so make due best of what you have. Are you good with rebuilding? ( notjust assembling)
Do you have access to a decent machinist thats not too expensive? A 250 hp/330 pounds torque is more than enough for off road fun. Use a few mileage tricks with the new engine
Thank you for the advise, but this Jeep will not see off road use. Strictly in town, to the lake and highway driving. I am not concerned about fuel economy. Would appreciate additional comments/ideas based on what I shared.
 

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you can build over 400 hp/torque with engine quest vortec heads and good matching components. You have to shop parts in your budget? You dont say what you want as a finished product? You dont say what you can do yourself and what needs to be done for you? We all can throw a random recipe up on the board up to 500 hp and still street able 350,,,
 

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You got an overheated Vortec a very common failure with DexCool coolant that the owner didn’t watch what was going on. That was the coolant attacked the intake to head gaskets resulting in leakage from the cooling system and perhaps worse the entry of air which quickly turns the coolant acidic.

The crack heads are common in about half of these junk yard motors. While you can bolt on new or at least crack tested rebuilts the smartest move is to go to the aftermarket. Their you will find more robust castings in a choice of iron or aluminum.

The 5.7 Vortec can be converted to a conventional HEI distributor and run with a carburetor or aftermarket EFI in either high pressure self learning Throttle Body Injection or Port Injection. This can let you get away from processors that operate the engine, a trick that is not easy to nor cheap do on the GEN III motors.

Bogie
 

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Car-Part.com
This website is a hotline, that shows the inventory of every junkyard in America.
Search by distance, and put in your ZIP code. Just search for an engine out of a 98 Suburban.
Here you will get a complete engine from a reputable yard, and it will have a warranty with it...
You will be starting over again, hopefully it doesn't cost you too much.
On a side note. I really like the front drive system on the 96-99s, and usually the used engine comes with all that on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You got an overheated Vortec a very common failure with DexCool coolant that the owner didn’t watch what was going on. That was the coolant attacked the intake to head gaskets resulting in leakage from the cooling system and perhaps worse the entry of air which quickly turns the coolant acidic.

The crack heads are common in about half of these junk yard motors. While you can bolt on new or at least crack tested rebuilts the smartest move is to go to the aftermarket. Their you will find more robust castings in a choice of iron or aluminum.

The 5.7 Vortec can be converted to a conventional HEI distributor and run with a carburetor or aftermarket EFI in either high pressure self learning Throttle Body Injection or Port Injection. This can let you get away from processors that operate the engine, a trick that is not easy to nor cheap do on the GEN III motors.

Bogie
Should I buy new heads and rebuild what I have or should I look for another salvage yard engine? I am not looking for 400 HP. My plans was to just replace bearings, hone cylinders, new rings, replace the camshaft/lifters with a more performance cam, carb and HEI and headers.
 

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Should I buy new heads and rebuild what I have or should I look for another salvage yard engine? I am not looking for 400 HP. My plans was to just replace bearings, hone cylinders, new rings, replace the camshaft/lifters with a more performance cam, carb and HEI and headers.
My personal opinion is rebuild what you have with a reasonable set of aftermarket heads. Then you have a fresh engine which should give you many years of trouble free service and piece of mind.
Buying another used engine, even with a warranty, is a crap shoot and who knows what might go wrong with it.
The initial investment up front to rebuild the one you have will pay off in piece of mind and trouble free service.
Just my opinion.
 

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I know a lot of people like the LS swap deal and yes the LS motor is a lot nicer and better design then the old stuff but I myself still stick to the old stuff as much as possible because its more simple to work with and depending on how you look at things is still cheaper.

Yes you can get an LS engine cheaper and you can run a carburetor but an old school 1st gen small block chevy will be a lot cheaper to run a carburetor on vs an LS which will still have to have an ignition box from MSD to run the all the coils and the few computer components needed to run the motor still and also when it comes to getting parts its still easier overall to get stuff for small block chevy 1st gen builds then it is for LS stuff and run it as a carb build.

I know a guy who did a chevy s10 LS swap and he had to put a lot more into it vs a s10 with a 1st gen small block swap with a carbureted application. The LS is more durable that is a for sure thing comparing everything stock wise as the engine is just a better design but you have to look at the whole picture of every part of the swap of the pros and cons for parts availability and what has to be done to get it running and what is the easier path for the person involved to get it done and what resources do they have etc.

Buying something and then getting it stuck in and then the cost of the stuff needed to get it up and running between the two are going to be different. If say you buy a LS build then that is good but what if all the coils need replaced and then the sensors need replaced? Then add on the cost of an aftermarket MSD box to run the thing etc. That cost factor would have to be looked at vs just putting in a distributor and a good set of wires and other parts to make it carb ready.

Around my area though you are lucky to even come across an old working vortec 350 let alone anything else but I live in a small town area of only about 20,000 people and there are like 4 junk yards around and none of them have hardly anything less then early 2000's at the most.

There are pros and cons and differences in price and ease of getting certain parts in different areas on comparing the two engines. The old school small block is easier as you get a vortec engine and a set of heads and throw in a distributor for the ignition system and your good to go and no sensors or other stuff needed to make it run and run well.

The older engine does have its drawbacks for design but if you do some simple things such as using good aftermarket heads and some basic decent quality stuff the old school small block can still be very reliable and work and last a long time with general maintenance. Just my experience. I have looked at the LS swap before and decided against it for the simplicity wise and parts available to make it still a carbureted build and keep it going.

I am currently in your shoes in a slightly different way and am reusing all my parts that I got on my current build to get my next one done for reasons which would be a whole story here which is not needed but I would just use what you got and get what is needed for the easiest route and get what you need for the long haul and run it for the lifetime you can get from it.

That is my route I would go. I am reusing my heads and top end and all internals minus the short block for my new build.
 

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Should I buy new heads and rebuild what I have or should I look for another salvage yard engine? I am not looking for 400 HP. My plans was to just replace bearings, hone cylinders, new rings, replace the camshaft/lifters with a more performance cam, carb and HEI and headers.
A few years ago, a buddy of mine gave me one of those Motors out of his Suburban. It had a hundred ninety-nine thousand miles on it, and a bent valve. Someone told him the block was cracked that's why it had a misfire, so he gave it to me.
Long story short, you could still see the crosshatch is in the cylinder walls even with all those miles on it. I had it honed, and put new rings and bearings in it. And ran the snot out of it!
My personal opinion is rebuild what you have with a reasonable set of aftermarket heads. Then you have a fresh engine which should give you many years of trouble free service and piece of mind.
Buying another used engine, even with a warranty, is a crap shoot and who knows what might go wrong with it.
The initial investment up front to rebuild the one you have will pay off in piece of mind and trouble free service.
Just my opinion.
Me likes this too!
 

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The problem with an overheated block is the cylinder bores may also be heat warped and there may be cracks in the block.

The idea of honing cylinder wall is really a pre-interstate highway overhaul, Engine Eddy’s $39.95 ring and valve special for car that seldom saw more than 45 to 50 miles per hour. That would be break the ridge at the top of the bore, rigid hone the bores, knural the piston skirts for fit clearance, install new cast iron rings, redo the valve seats in head and of the valves which might not be more than paste grit and spin the valves on the grit if they aren’t too bad. The rest of the bottom end is left untouched. So when I hear “hone the cylinders” this is the vision I get about the quality of the job. Even bore jobs done then used a boring machine that bolted to the head deck so the result was whatever the quality of that deck was in relation to the bore center and hopefully somewhat parallel with the crankshaft.

Another headache on the early powder forged rod engines was rod failure mostly due to big end elongation, this is something else that needs to be checked out especially since it sounds like this engine didn’t get much TLC.

So there‘s a number of things that need to be checked out before dropping hard cash on parts.

Bogie
 

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I favor working with what you have and seeing if you can find another set of heads. They don't have to be Vortec as you already said you were going aftermarket on the intake. Let's face it, there's still a ton of SBC stuff out there and a lot of it for a basic engine like you're talking about is too cheap to ignore.

I don't know about a CJ5 but I did a CJ7 a few years ago. Yanked the straight 6 and installed a 355 SBC. The block was already bored .030 when I got it. I bought a basic rebuilder set for a new set of slugs, rings, bearings, timing set and oil pump + gaskets. I cleaned up the stock pan and timing cover, found a used aluminum intake, put a HEI in it and an old Carter AVS on it. I had the heads checked out and other than a good cleaning and new oil seals left them as they were. The Jeep had the Torqueflight trans and I had to make up a new linkage to use the stock column selector as the old setup bolted to the side of the 6 cylinder. The swap required 4 things. A radiator with the correct outlets for the Chevy, an adapter plate to mate the Chevy to the Chrysler trans, a set of headers that fit the swap and the exhaust system. There's a couple of places that sell the radiator, trans adapter and headers as a kit but I found that shopping around a bit I was able to get all of those pieces for a lot less money buying them individually. The exhaust kit came from Speedway and was a 2" kit with Turbo mufflers. I installed an electric fan with a temperature sensor to turn it on and off. The wiring had to be changed around a bit as the brackets I had positioned the alternator on the opposite side from the 6 cylinder. Lastly we were keeping the power steering so I had to build some brackets to mount the stock pump to the Chevy engine. The owner wanted a bit of lope so I used a mild hydraulic cam in it. Overall if I had to estimate the HP - I would say somewhere between 185 and 200 at best but that's more than enough in a Jeep. The thing has plenty of power and is fun to drive. Now - here's the catch. As long as you keep your foot out of it, it will probably be fine but if you start hammering on it, you can kiss that third member good-bye. It's the weak link in the whole deal.
 

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Ive bought more than a few 98-2000 Suburbans and Yukons with Bad transmissions for a few hundred each.
Yank the motor, pressure wash and do new gaskets and youre done.
A cheap Jegs or Summit intake manifold / Carb and HEI and youre done.
Those motors make 255hp stock and usually get a bunch closer to 300 with a carb and headers.
I used to be able to find Vortec "395" marine cams dirt cheap and they are a noticeable increase if you find one.

The last one I pulled the heads and even with 200k on it the cylinders looked amazing. Just new gaskets and it ran great.
 

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Ive bought more than a few 98-2000 Suburbans and Yukons with Bad transmissions for a few hundred each.
Yank the motor, pressure wash and do new gaskets and youre done.
A cheap Jegs or Summit intake manifold / Carb and HEI and youre done.
Those motors make 255hp stock and usually get a bunch closer to 300 with a carb and headers.
I used to be able to find Vortec "395" marine cams dirt cheap and they are a noticeable increase if you find one.

The last one I pulled the heads and even with 200k on it the cylinders looked amazing. Just new gaskets and it ran great.
X2. Mine had 199k miles and not even a ridge at top of cylinder. Just honed, and went with it. Probably didn't even need that!
 

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I didn't have much luck with the donor truck I bought for it's vortec, turned out the front cam bearing was going. Still gonna try to put some new ones in and slap it back together, someday. Sold n gonna use plenty of the truck parts, by the time I scrap the truck I'll be even pretty much.

 

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Your best bet would be forget the engine swap altogether and build the 258. It really needs a good cam (like an Isky 256/262 Hydraulic or 262 Supercam) and a better carb. If you want power go with a Edelbrock Dual Port 4V intake with a 400-500 cfm carb (I wouldn't go bigger, but a 600 can be tuned to work). You can keep the stock aluminum 2V intake and use a Weber 38/38 (or 32/36 progressive for better economy) or a 1.08 Autolite 1.08 venturi 2100 (287 cfm, but not directly comparable with 4V cfm!). You can go one size larger or smaller with the 2100 and still be good. I'd forego a header and just use a 2" or 2.25" exhaust system with a decent turbo muffler -- run all the way out the back to reduce noise. Along with a rebuilt motor that will get you a good 50-60 hp increase and make it much more fun to drive with a lot less effort. With the updated cam and intake you could do a 4.0L head swap (if the head needs rebuilding anyway it's not much more money) and use the 4.0L factory header (you have to since the exhaust ports changed from 258 to 4.0L, but the 258 intake works). Headers for a 258 are expensive, won't cost any more to use the factory 4.0L head and header and get a bit more gain.

You could swap a complete 4.0L in, but really not worth the effort without the EFI. You can get a 4.0L that needs rebuilding and use the 258 crank with 4.0L rods and "stroker" pistons to build a 4.6L six. I've done that -- not a lot more top end, but a very noticeable increase in low end and mid range torque. You can use 258 intakes (factory aluminum 2V or aftermarket 4V) on the 4.0L head if you want to keep a carb.

Any of these options saves a lot of time and hassle of an engine swap and gives you a noticeable increase in power. For what you're using it for, a V-8 is just "bragging rights", no real gain and a lot of work. A hot six would be cool also... different!
 
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