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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guys, I have a 1999 Camaro w/ the v6 and 5 speed manual. It is my daily driver and I love the car. I recently picked up an engine from a buick about 85k miles on it. My rough plan now is to begin disassembly soon and focus on mainly heads, cams, and valvetrains. I'm not trying to put a ton of money into it, but a decent upgrade from stock. I was looking into the intense Stage 2 cam and all supporting valvetrain mods. As of now, Im hoping that, upon disassembly, the bottom end looks good enough to leave untouched and I can just focusing on getting the heads built. It won't be the fastest build, but I would appreciate any pointers and input along the way. Rn, I just need to figure out how to get the engine out of the back of my fiance's Avenger lol.
 

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Honestly, an N/A build is very little juice for the squeeze on these engines, front or rear wheel drive. Your best effort would be spent trying to get even-length exhaust from both banks, rather than the long run from the driver's side that makes them sound just as bad as FWD cars with the long offset (see ZZP's Equalizer setup they just released for FWD to hear difference). N/A builds struggle to add much power due to the poor flowing heads, even ported isn't much improvement, which is why we're big on boost to get some good performance from 3800's.

I would leave the heads and bottom end together in stock form, aside from maybe a cam/springs setup (we boost them to 400+hp like that for 100k+ miles regularly), and just replace gaskets from the lower intake & up, and oil pan/accessories during conversion (maybe front/rear seals for giggles).

No matter what way you go, good luck with the work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok, thank you. I've read a lot of the forums for the na builds, I've seen a lot of similar advice. For a cam, wouldn't I need to upgrade timing chain, keepers, and springs, regardless? And wouldn't the heads have to be taken off for springs anyways?
 

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For a cam, the heads can stay on. Unlike LS motors, ours can be pulled by just removing the intake manifold.

Aside from the cam, springs and retainers (since we use LS-style beehive/conical springs) are required. Keepers/retainers aren't a necessity to replace. Timing chain should be upgraded if you go beyond a basic 0.510-520" lift cam, but you should replace the tensioner at minimum while in there.

See it apart during this section of my 2020 build video:

An L36 can take 10+psi, if you're doing the appropriate things (intercooling, fueling, etc.) to make it run proper temps and air/fuel. I've pushed my old L36 setup to 15+ with 100+ octane under my M90 setup to get the 333whp numbers 15yrs ago (XP cam, 105 springs, headers, injectors, tuning... junkyard L36 block, stock L67 heads).

The N/A blocks, especially the Series 2's, are preferred for M90 use to keep from pushing the s/c too far beyond it's efficiency range of 8-10psi. They also work well with turbo's, but you then have ability to find the limit faster than with an L67/L32 block that's lower compression.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok, so the GT 1 cam on zzp is a 0.507 lift cam (and will work with N/A and F/I setups). For now due to affordability, I plan on staying NA. My current engine is pretty high mileage (180k). I'm far from experienced with engine builds, but excited to learn.
So maybe for now just the GT 1 cam, LS6 springs, new lifters, stock rocker arms, stock pushrod length?, new single timing chain, stock valves.
I'm not opposed to some disassembly. I'm currently a student at UTI and my instructor said I could use the parts cleaners while I'm waiting in class. But again, simpler is probably better. I really appreciate your responses and giving me the time for proper advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
And for changing springs, I'm assuming I could just use the piston at TDC to change the springs?
 

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You "could" set the piston high to avoid dropping them, but it still may be a pain to ensure they're fully raised to set the locks/keepers back in while a compressed spring angrily waits to be released by the tool (a small magnet is your friend regardless of your approach). I typically use my compression tester air hose with adapter for the plug hole, and run 10-20psi to it from the compressor.

For whichever cam you choose, you'll need the following, minimum:
  • cam of choice
  • springs/retainers (suggested rate for the cam, LS6 90# are typically good at that level, and can be found cheap from LS guys)
  • LS7-style lifters (don't pay much over $100, unless they're scarce)
  • fresh stock chain/tensioner
  • gaskets & RTV (front cover, aluminum GM lower intake... valve covers, etc. may be worth freshening)
  • crank & cam bolts (torque to yield, so fresh GM ones)
  • rocker bolts (just go "re-useable" from ZZP, or same thing at the hardware store: 5/16-18 socket head cap screw)

Stock things that can be left in place or re-installed:
  • heads/valves (leave on to save money/effort, these iron block/head engines stay sealed nicely unless you do something bad... if you feel like porting, look up the Richard Holdener videos from ~Nov2021 when he did a DIY 3800 head port for reference, but there isn't a ton of gain to write home about for the effort of grinding iron)
  • timing gears (a fresh chain/dampener will work fine on a mild cam setup)
  • rockers (no need to do much here, they work and we don't have trunion issues like LS guys lifting above 0.600")
  • pushrods (I think I upgraded them once in an old setup for giggles, but my turbo build is fine stock with 0.550+/130# springs)


I'd get used to ordering the more universal parts from places like RockAuto, forum classifieds, or sometimes eBay when you find a deal. I try to limit vendor purchases to the very specific parts they offer for the platform, unless their prices are reasonable for a convenient add-on to the order. I've had probably 30-50 boxes come from those kinds of sources during the shutdown, and about 5 from ZZP while overhauling my 3800 build and cleaning up the GXP this month (granted those 5 were big things like turbo pipes, torque converter, coilover struts, etc.).

I'm sure there's more, but just watch some videos of all the work done out there to get an idea what everything looks like. Some guys are a bit more thrashing and hand-waiving than others, but repetition of seeing things will increase your comfort level when digging in.
 

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Hey Guys, I have a 1999 Camaro w/ the v6 and 5 speed manual. It is my daily driver and I love the car. I recently picked up an engine from a buick about 85k miles on it. My rough plan now is to begin disassembly soon and focus on mainly heads, cams, and valvetrains. I'm not trying to put a ton of money into it, but a decent upgrade from stock. I was looking into the intense Stage 2 cam and all supporting valvetrain mods. As of now, Im hoping that, upon disassembly, the bottom end looks good enough to leave untouched and I can just focusing on getting the heads built. It won't be the fastest build, but I would appreciate any pointers and input along the way. Rn, I just need to figure out how to get the engine out of the back of my fiance's Avenger lol.
YouTube follow Richard Holdener he has great dyno videos on 3800 series N/A, turbo, and blower.
 

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Yep, I mentioned that 2 posts above, although the combinations he's assembling in the dyno shop don't quite reflect the same manner most people will be building their cars. It's good for head-to-head comparisons when he keeps things apples-to-apples, but that's not always the case due to the nature of his approach (avoiding many aftermarket parts, issues with junkyard parts, using his own controls, etc.). I've been following along the past few years, and made a post last year here to share his videos. There's some tweaks that'd make it relate more to what we'd be able to reference for our builds, but there's still good info for comparisons that had quality control on their execution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So today I had time to take off all the accessories and inspect the lifter valley and intakes. On the oiling side everything looked good, but with the coolant passages and waterpump, the dexcool looked all corroded and gritty. I wasn't surprised as this was the condition of the Camaros coolant before I flushed it.
Road surface Asphalt Wood Gas Pollution
There was no leaking of the gaskets which is good, so I put everything back together and ran a hose through it for a bit. What would be the best to clean up the coolant passages with the engine out?
Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Automotive tire Font Bumper
 

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Those ports and the water pump usually get the worst of it, so a little scrubbing and vac/air use will get those accessible spots. The block doesn't tend to get it that bad, but you'd probably be smart to do a coolant flush regimine when it goes back together, so the whole system gets a bit of attention, including radiator and heater core.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I know for the FWD the starter is in the opposite side. Am I able to leave that there, or is some modification required?
 
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