Go Back   Vorshlag Motorsports Forum > Vorshlag V8 Swap Talk > Engine Swap Discussions

Thread Tools
Unread 07-03-2015, 09:44 AM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is offline
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag Scion FR-S LSx Alpha Project

Intake / Throttle Body / Pedal

Early on in the build, when the motor was not yet selected, we had picked up a brand new LS3 intake manifold, sensors, TB, fuel rails and injectors from GM. These are actually still cost effective to buy new because the LS3 was still being built on a production line. We picked up one of these LS3 packages and used it in initial testing and mockup (see below).

The same "LS2" version of this "complete intake package" was no longer available new from GM, so we had to piecemeal these parts together, which was time consuming and more costly. As I showed above, we skipped the OEM fuel rail from an LS2 and went with the Holley bits (almost the same cost). But why was the LS2 intake needed? The images below explain some of the reasons.

First of all, the project switched from what I had hoped would be an easy to work with 6.2L LS3 engine to a less costly/less powerful and in this case, more difficult to swap 5.7L LS1 engine. The LS1 has the tall "cathedral" ports whereas the higher flowing LS3 heads are rectangular port. So we could no longer use the LS3 intake, and had to go with an LS1, LS6 or LS2 intake.

Of those 3 "cathedral port" intake options, the LS2 intake manifold has the shortest "throttle body neck" and uses the largest diameter throttle body, which itself was shorter than the LS1 or LS6 cable operated throttle bodies (some LS6 cars also had drive-by-wire TBs). The combined length of the LS2 intake + LS2 TB allows the throttle body fit under the FR-S hood with no trimming, unlike the LS1 or LS6 options (which we tested and didn't fit). GM has gone up, up, up in throttle body opening diameter over time and power seems to keep going up as well. So we built the car around the drive-by-wire LS2 throttle body, pedal and computer from a 2005 Corvette (again, this computer will work with the earlier 24-Tooth crank trigger and the DBW throttle). This should add some power over the LS1/6 intakes.

The electronically controlled LS2 throttle body looks very similar to the LS3 TB, but they are not interchangeable. Identification is easy as the LS2 has a silver throttle blade whereas the LS3 has a gold blade. The connectors and controls are completely different.

Once the intake manifold and TB were installed Ryan could build the cold air box for the air filter. This uses OEM attachment holes on the driver's front corner of the engine bay, and brings in air from behind the light and underneath. It holds a big K&N cone style filter in a heat shielding box that seals to the hood, to block the filter from hot underhood air aft of the radiator.

Aluminum sheet was cut and bent from cardboard templates and bent up in our sheet metal brake to make the box. A hole was cut and the 2005 Corvette MAF assembly was mounted on the outside with the K&N on the inside of the box. The upper edge of this box that meets the hood was trimmed to fit the underside profile of the OEM hood.

A rubber seal was added to the upper edge to seal the box to the hood and all of the various silicone bends were clamped. There was some aluminum tubing and bends used to change diameters from the LS2 TB to the LS2 MAF, and to make the routing fit the car. Its all wrapped up in the top right picture.

Electrical and Wiring Harness Integration

The throttle pedal we used needed to match the TB and computer, so we went with 2005 Corvette again. Instead of trying to make the OEM Scion pedal talk to the GM computer, we just replaced the assembly with the Corvette bits and modified the OEM Scion pedal to work in place of the Corvette pedal.

There are a variety of ignition coils, brackets, sub-harnesses, and wiring connectors for the main engine harness. We picked the style of coil and bracket we wanted, and had the harness built to match these components. We mounted all of that with metric button head stainless hardware, which looks better than the OEM hardware. The engine wiring harness was built to our specs with the correct computer connection, coil pack sub-harness connection, the wired pedal, a sub-power circuit, A/C controls, and fan controls. The placement of the computer, pedal and fan relays were all spec'd and it was delivered in a few weeks.

This company has made most of our LS swap harnesses for years and they rock. The ends are all clearly labeled, every connector, pin and wire is new, and the colors match the OEM GM harness layouts and pinouts.

Integrating the harness to the chassis wiring took a few days. This part is the least fun part of any swap, but we ordered the engine harness correctly (which takes some experience with wiring and LS components and a little pre-planning to do) and have technicians here that excel at automotive wiring. Ryan got this one wired up, tied into the chassis harness, and all of the plugs for the pedal, TB, coils and everything were spot on.

There are all sorts of other electrical work we had to do to make the starter and charging systems work and integrate with the OEM key, but its all fairly straightforward. Ryan bent up the black bracket and mounted it to the strut tower for the auxiliary fuse block that comes with this engine harness, and mounted the OBD2 connector under the dash.

Exhaust and Driveshaft

You need a driveshaft in place to make the after-header exhaust, but our custom ordered driveshaft took much longer than expected so we mocked up a 4" piece of PVC pipe in place to build the exhaust around temporarily.

The stainless O2 bungs were welded into the collectors and our 3" V-band clamp flanges went on the collector ends. Then a pair of 3" ID Magnaflow stainless catalysts were added and 3" 304SS mandrel bent tubing was used to merge these two pipes into one.

This FR-S already had a 2.5" inlet/dual outlet stainless Magnaflow exhaust system, and after searching we figured out this was still the best muffler and tailpipe layout for this car, so it was kept. But the 2.5" inlet tube on the muffler was cut off and a 3" inlet tube welded in place, for more flow.

The fuel tank and rear subframes both has a big indention for SINGLE exhaust tube routing, so we kept it simple and made a dual 3" into a single 3" pipe, ran it back to the 3" inlet muffler with the dual outlet tips to match the OEM rear bumper.

The entire system is 304SS now and should last for many decades. It has excellent ground clearance, a subdued sound at idle, but sounds great when you rev the V8 up, too.

The driveshaft took a while to be built, and we had to send multiple engineering drawings to make the rear driveshaft flange mate up to the Scion R180 rear axle flange, but when it arrived it looked great. Its a big 12.9 pound one-piece aluminum unit with beefy U-joints and a slip yoke at the front to match up to the Magnum XL.

Headers, Delays, and More Delays

I'm not going to get into all the "jiggery pokery" we had to go through, and additional re-work we did at Vorshlag to get the production headers to fit and have them reproduced correctly, but it was easily 100 extra hours of work beyond the 56 hours it took to fabricate and fully weld the prototype headers that are typically destroyed during when measuring for CNC bending.

Both headers were not here and correct until into April of 2015. Once they were installed, it took a little extra work to make a functional dip-stick with the GTO pan and G8 accessories, but we developed a functional and reproducible solution for that as well.

The exhaust and driveshaft development were very frustrating and we got to eat hundreds of hours of development work on this build, so we HAVE to make a kit for this swap to recoup our losses. Look for more info about production dates for all of these bits soon.

Programming, Bug Chasing, and First Fire

Click the image above for one of our videos of starting and revving the engine

There were other setbacks and delays along the way, of course. This project was a bit of a monster, but the first ones are never easy.

Sean from True Street came to our shop for a "house call" to turn off the VATS (GM key security) in the first ECM, then back again to diagnose a communications problem from the LS2 ECM to the Pedal to the TB.

After a lot of testing, probing, looking at wiring schematics, and laptop communications with the ECM... it turned out to be a bad GM ECM. Ugh, what are the chances?? Sean had to come back a third time to reprogram the new ECM when it arrived, where he and Ryan tested a bunch of systems and got it ready for the test drive.

continued below

Last edited by Fair!; 05-12-2017 at 09:20 AM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 07-03-2015, 10:00 AM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is offline
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag Scion FR-S LSx Alpha Project

continued from above

Shifter, Clutch Master, and Test Drive

The Magnum XL transmission was purchased new, and converted to GM input shaft format. It came with a shifter base but no shift handle, which is normal.

It is made to have two positions for the base shifter unit and there are aftermarket shifters made for this style shifter with all sorts of offsets and adjustments, but this transmission fit the OEM shifter opening in the FR-S perfectly. A straight shift handle would work, no offset or weirdness needed. THIS is why we ordered the T56 Magnum XL - it was the right length for this engine and chassis application. Sure, a remote shifter extension like this might work with a regular T56, but that would add complexity and cost.

We ordered a shift handle and knob that we thought would work, but it wasn't the right mounting bolt pattern at the bottom, and I was tired of waiting and delays - so I had Olof make the steel shift lever assembly above. We put this in place under the fire-proof racing style shift boot we use on almost all swaps, which goes under the leather OEM shift boot. I whittled a shift knob out of Delrin on the lathe and Brad got the lever painted and the knob polished (hehe) and bolted it to the included Magnum XL shifter, shown below.

This is hardly a "production solution" and there are likely dozens or more off-the-shelf shift handles and hundreds of knobs that can be used with this shifter base, but this got us on the road this week. This "prototype" shift handle and knob length functioned perfectly on my test drive earlier this week, as I like the shift knob close to the steering wheel. This way I can keep my hands on the wheel when driving, pop over and make the shift, and get my hand back to the wheel quickly. When Rick drives the car he might want the shifter/knob positioned lower, in which case we can shorten the shift knob, which I made long for this purpose.

On our many previous LS swaps utilizing a T56 transmission, we have used a hydraulic Throw Out Bearing / Clutch slave assembly that we make (above left) with a long remote bleeder and a quick release line so the transmission can be removed easily. That TOB/slave assembly goes onto the input shaft and has the right stroke to move the pressure plate enough to disengage a typical single plate T56 clutch, like the Spec Stage 2 we used on this project. The OEM clutch Master Cylinders (above right) on BMWs always hace enough stroke to move this TOB. This was how we tried it initially on the FR-S, but it didn't work. The clutch wouldn't disengage.

No problem, we know what MC bore size the BMW swaps use, so we ordered up an aftermarket Tilton clutch MC set-up in this same bore diameter, part of a complete kit with several reservoir options. Above is the final solution, completed yesterday.

Of course that takes some work to fit the Scion chassis, so a custom adapter plate (above left) was machined from billet aluminum, shown above left. This has two sets of holes - one pair of thru-holes that match the FR-S firewall using the OEM bolts, and another pair of threaded holes for studs that fit the Tilton bolt spacing/rotation. A custom length Clutch MC pushrod (above right) was machined, which actuates the Tilton from the OEM pedal. This rod threads onto the FR-S factory clutch pedal fork, which attaches to the OEM clutch pedal like normal.

Our hose and fitting specialist stopped by this week and made a new upper braided hose (from the quick-connect up) to attach to the Tilton MC, which comes out the front. It was a little close to the valve cover but with a banjo-style end fitting and copper washer it all fit. This combination of parts we bought or built makes for a 100% bolt-in solution and looks great. Well... other than the bore of the first Clutch MC we initially bought. I test drove the car (below) and it was only disengaging the clutch with the pedal right off the floor, which made it clumsy to drive and slow shifts.

Video of the first test drive around the block, which turned into a tire torture test!

So the next day we went up 1/8" in bore size with a new Tilton MC, mounted it in place of the first Tilton MC, re-bled the clutch system, and now it drives perfect. The clutch releases about halfway through the pedal travel and feels natural. Sometimes all of the engineering calculations just don't fit (in this case it was an unusual clutch pedal arm ratio) and you might have a bit of trial-and-error to get to the right solution. We will make the Hydraulic TOB/bleeder/hose assembly + final Clutch MC/mount/pushrod assembly into a product we can sell with this kit, of course.

The test drive was short but a LOT OF FUN! Low weight, big torque, RWD and street tires = TOTAL HOONAGE. I couldn't stop giggling and laughing on the brief test drive. And yes, the owner was cool with seeing some wheelspin, as I'm sure he's going to do the same thing. I just wanted to make sure it could handle it. Success!

What Does It Weigh?

This is the question we get asked the most, and I want to back up and show some data from a stock BRZ (nearly identical to the FR-S) that we weighed when these cars first came out.

The 2775 pound number should be remembered, but also the 56% Front / 44% Rear weight balance. As we showed in earlier posts or in that BRZ project thread, the designers and engineers put the 2.0L flat four cylinder engine way far forward in the engine bay. This pushed the drivetrain forward quite a bit, which pushed the heaviest mass on the chassis forward, which skews 56% of the car's weight over the front axle.

The engine is also incredibly wide, since it is a "boxer" or flat 4 layout, with a measured width of 31". This made fitting the "big" V8 (which is significantly narrower) into this massive engine bay fairly easy.

For our LS series swap we moved the back of the motor 11" closer to the firewall and set it as low in the chassis as the stock front subframe and oil pan allowed. This moved a significant amount of mass rearward, as did the addition of the T56 Magnum XL 6-speed transmission - which is farther back and heavier than the little 2 liter's 6-speed box.

So without further ado....

The initial car came to us at 2682 pounds (no back seat + 17x9" wheels + roll bar + race seats + front BBK) and with the LS1 + T56 it is now 2816 pounds, for a gain of 134 pounds. I'm a little surprised by that amount of gain, honestly, because my initial best-case estimate of a 50 pound gain wasn't that accurate. Some of this gain is added fuel weight; the car came to us with less than a gallon of E85 in the tank, and now has a 1/3rd of a tank of 93 octane - maybe 35 pounds more fuel than before. So the real gain from the LS1/T56 Magnum XL swap was about 100 pounds. Then look at the front to rear bias... it went from 56% Front bias on a stock FR-S to 52% Front now. That is a HUGE improvement to balance and handling.

And did you see that driving video? It SHREDS 245mm tires!

CANBUS Programming, Gauges, Electric Assist Steering: In Process

We still have some work to do before turning it over to the owner. Its a bunch of "little stuff", but I cannot predict how long it will take... "days to weeks", probably. There's NOT a good CANBUS-bridge solution to make the GM and Toyota ECMs play nice, and we had two different programmers that came by and talked a big game but totally flaked out and disappeared. I have spoken with multiple CAN experts across the country who make it sound like going to Mars would be easier. And of course there are dozens of arm-chair software programmers who think "this is so easy!", and a few who can even capture CAN data, but we have Jack Squat to show for all of these internet opinions. If there was an easy solution to this CANBUS bridge we would have found someone who could pull it out by now. Please, don't clutter up this build thread with links to doo-dads and gadgets - we're good.

We're going a different route, and we have what we feel is a good bridging solution coming next week (like everything else on this project - its late, of course). This will send data from the GM ECM and translate it for the FR-S - and it is all tunable/programmable. We still have to do the programming, and have been doing the groundwork for some time. We also have an HP Tuners programming suite purchased and en route, which we will use to help read and "tune" the outputs from the GM computer, and verify the OEM gauge readouts. This should provide a flexible and elegant solution, so bear with us if the OEM gauges and steering assist matters to you.

Once we have the tachometer and speedometer working, the electric assist steering can be made to work. Driving the car was nearly effortless without power assist, mind you, but it is noticeably heavy below 5 mph. We will also make the factory coolant temp gauge work, and the fuel gauge already works now. We might even try to make the idiot lights work, but the Traction Control system is definitely NOT getting any attention from us. If you want that, go buy a stock vehicle. This V8 swap package is going to be a tire smoking machine, and might require A Real Man (TM) to drive it. The "electronic nanny switch" will be ignored.

The engine's dyno tune will happen at True Street Motorsports (using their HP Tuners system + dyno + LS tuning knowledge) as soon as they can squeeze us into their schedule (likely next week). The A/C system still needs to be plumbed, charged, tested (its wired) and programmed, which we can test with the HP Tuners software.

What's Next?

I'm going to say this once - the BRZ/FR-S LS Swap Kit is NOT ready for production. We will NOT release this "in secret", trust me. It will be posted in this build thread, our Facebook page, blog, Youtube channel, and more - when its ready. First we HAVE TO DO SOME REAL TESTING on the Alpha components, with Rick driving and tracking this car, before we dive into kit production. Making fixtures and production batches of the various fabricated components is a big investment in time and capital, and I want to make sure this stuff is right before we reproduce more of the same.

SO PLEASE DON'T ASK US WHEN THE KIT WILL BE READY. We already get a dozen emails and calls every week about an FR-S swap kit, and cannot afford to take a bunch of calls about something that isn't in production yet. It will be done when it is done.

"How much will it cost?" is the next question, which we are already seeing. We don't know yet, but you can look at our BMW E36 LS1 product page to see solutions and costs a similar V8 swap. Most of the hard parts will cost the same, but the wiring harness solution (not shown on the E36 LS1 page) is going to be $1000-1500 or so, depending on how our bridging interface works. Again, DON'T ASK BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT SET ANY PRICES YET.

That's all for this time. Thanks again for Rick's patience but we have something driving and this is exciting. We have sold over 140 swap kits for LS V8s in BMWs and fully intend to make the FR-S a production kit, when it is tested and ready. Stay tuned here for more news - we are at the 1 yard line now, and just need to push the ball past the goal line.

Thanks for reading!
Reply With Quote
Unread 08-10-2015, 03:21 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is offline
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag Scion FR-S LSx Alpha Project

Project Updates for August 6th, 2015: We made some really good progress on the Alpha FR-S LS1 build in the past month. But, well... I've got some good news and some bad news on this update. The good news is - we're moving forward with the "Stage 0" kit production much sooner than expected. The bad news is - its because the customer had to pause the development.

Now nobody involved is mad at anybody here, the customer just had to temporarily take the car back with a few things unfinished. It wasn't what anyone wanted, and sure - I'm disappointed about this delay - but everyone has a budget and that's just putting a dent in the next steps on this build. The car was returned to the owner last weekend and he drove it home in hot, stop-and-go traffic, and reported that it ran great even with a few things unfinished. Hopefully he can bring the car back for the last finish work soon.

That's out of the way, so let's cover what we finished in July plus note the small amount of remaining development and labor needed to complete this build.

Mistake on Weight Bias Changes

So in my last post I showed the before and after pictures of a stock 2013 BRZ and this LS swapped FR-S. One thing we do around here is weigh lots of cars, and I probably have pictures of 200+ cars we've corner weighed over the years. Chassis and component weights are a big thing to me, as we know that lowering mass always improves performance. When weighing a given car I like to remove as many variables - like driver and fuel weight - to make comparing cars as easily as possible. We try to always show fuel level if its not on "E", then remove the "trunk junk" that every racer has to pull out of their cars when they take their car to an autocross or on track. This includes spare tires, the factory jack, floor mats, and removable trunk mats.

We don't just weight cars, we often corner balance cars, and that means we look at the diagonal cross weights. Then we raise or lower different corners' ride heights (if adjustable) to alter the cross weights with the driver sitting in the car. The goal is to get the cross weights to both equal 50%, so the car handles the same when turning left or right.

Massive engine/transmission setback (left) as well as driver setback (right) are helping this 69 Camaro push weight bias to the rear

Altering front to rear weight bias is tougher, and you can't just change ride heights to move weight from the front wheels to the rear. Virtually every car ever made (except some rear engined cars) have a front weight bias, with 51-60% of the total weight on the front wheels. Moving parts around to put weight on the rear is common on race car builds, and helps to get a more "equal" front to rear bias (50F/50R). Approaching that takes a lot of work, but some RWD race cars can even get to the "ideal" bias of 52-53% rear... usually with a mid or rear engine placement.

I was super excited that I thought we had moved from 56% to 52% front weight bias with the V8 swap. But it was too good to be true. I screwed up and didn't read the picture correctly. Our guys had the scale readout to show corner bias, not front to rear bias, and I should have noticed this. So the mistake is 100% mine, I own it. A sharp eyed reader on one forum caught this mistake from my last post, and the front-to-rear bias actually didn't change at all - still 56% of the total weight on the nose. But considering what the car gained (134 pounds), with all of the added weight in the middle and front of the car, to manage to keep the same front-to-rear bias was still a good thing. Most AWD and FWD cars we've weighed are closer to 60F/40R, so this V8 FR-S is still ahead of many competitive cars out there. My apologies for posting bad info - mistakes like that drive me crazy - and I have already corrected this mistake on many forums where this thread is posted or re-posted.

Cars & Coffee Dallas - July 4th, 2015

Amy and I towed the FR-S out to the Independence Day Cars & Coffee event with this American-ized Scion FR-S. Nothing says "Murca" like a domestic V8 swap, right? Since the car hadn't been dyno tuned I didn't want to risk driving it across town, so our enclosed trailer was the right way to transport it. We parked and unloaded a block away and drove up at 6 am with many hundreds of people craning their necks as this V8 powered Scion rumbled into the parking lot...

We parked with several other Vorshlag cars and the SCCA folks, but the Scion dragged in a couple of dozen fans the instant it pulled in. The little silver FR-S looks pretty unassuming from afar, but with the hood up it drew them in like moths to a flame... "Whoa... is that a V8?!"

We had several other Vorshlag customers parked with us, including the heavily Vorshlag modified "Roush Stage 3" Mustang (above left) and the C7 Z06/Z07 Corvette (above right), which has our new production C7 harness bar.

We were all there parked with the Texas Region SCCA, who had a tent up with a screen and speakers playing autocross videos. Shop manager Brad had his STX prepped BMW E36 parked there as well, and it has a full array of Vorshlag goodies on it. Even with a brief (2 minute) sprinkle of rain it ended up being a great day and I talked to hundreds of people about the FR-S swap. The owner of the car also got to take a ~10 minute test drive in the car as we left, and then met us back at the trailer for a tow back to Vorshlag. We had the dyno tune scheduled for a week later...

First Dyno Tune + Cold Air Tube Version 2.0

I took the car to True Street Motorsports on Monday July 13th and the car made 328 whp & 331 wtq. Which is probably spot on for a bone stock/rebuilt 2002 Camaro 5.7L LS1, but I had hoped for about +10 whp than that. Their head tuner Sean noted a funky air:fuel ratio issue at higher RPMs and suspected that the cold air induction tube we built for the original throttle body and adapted to the current throttle had some reversion into the MAF sensor. And from looking at the design we made, I was in agreement. So mistake number two, also on me, but we made it right.

The first tube (version 1.0) went from 3.75" at the MAF (2005 Corvette LS2 OEM MAF sensor), necked down to 3" in the aluminum bends, then opened up to 4" at the throttle body elbow (into a 2005 Corvette LS2 throttle body). So, the thought was, that as revs increased, the incoming air was getting backed up by the 3" bends and wrecking havoc upstream at the MAF.

The cold air tube "version 1.0" had a change in diameter from 4" to 3", which caused some tuning issues

This whole area gets tight, not only from the radiator hose but the very low hood line, and this first smaller tubing cold air intake system had better clearance than it probably needed. Sean put a solid dyno tune on the car with a work-around to make the air:fuel ratio not lean out up top, but he wanted to re-do the tune after we made a new intake tube - predicting a possible 10-20 whp gain.

Of course I insisted that we re-make the tube, and the customer didn't pay a dime for this reworked "version 2.0" intake tube section. We researched the parts, ordered up some 4" (ID) silicone bends and some 4" (OD) aluminum mandrel bends, then got to work. Ryan knocked out the all new tubing layout in a short time, and it fit under and around all of the neighboring parts.

As you can see the main aluminum tube had to be "ovaled" a bit near the top, to clear the unmodified inner structure of the factory aluminum hood. But its stays 4" all the way from the MAF to the TB on this version, and I'm much happier with the final layout. Having driven the car before and after, it does feel more responsive with the new 4.0" inlet tube.

Oil Catch Can + PCV System Added

Another thing we wanted to wrap up before we took the car back for a re-tune was to plumb the Positive Crankcase Ventilation system, plus add an oil catch can for road course use.

The routing we wanted to use is shown above right. This more or less uses the factory LS2 PCV system routing, and adds a fresh air / vacuum source in front of the TB. The weld bung added to the new 4" inlet tube setup (in the section above) was for a fitting to feed vacuum/air to the PCV system. The oil catch can we had picked up from Mishimoto had no internal baffling or metal mesh - which is needed to trap oil droplets from the excess crankcase pressure. It was just a catch can with a sight glass, which isn't what we needed here. So we scrubbed that (above left) and picked up another model made with the internal baffling we needed.

We ended up choosing this Detroit Speed oil catch can setup, which is made for LS1 use. The included bracket bolts to an existing hole in the LS cylinder head on the passenger side, and it was plumbed with a feed from the crankcase cover vent (under the intake) and a vacuum source from behind the TB. Nice little oil catch can kit can is made by Kyle Tucker and his company - who race in and sponsor the Optima series - so now I know what catch cans we will go to first, from now on.

continued below

Last edited by Fair!; 08-10-2015 at 03:29 PM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 08-10-2015, 03:21 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is offline
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag Scion FR-S LSx Alpha Project

continued from above

The final underhood shot we got is above right, and shows the new cold air inlet tube, catch can and all of the PCV routing.

Quick Clean-up, Inspection, and Customer Pick-up

After the new cold air tube and catch can system were in place, we had the car back at True Street. It waited there a couple days (Sean was out sick) waiting in line, but after the customer changed our plans, I went and picked it back up and brought it to our shop before they got a chance to re-tune it.

After it was here I had our crew look over the car, test drive it and try to get it as road worthy as possible in the 2 days we had before it was to be turned over. They tightened a few suspension bolts (that we hadn't touched) that had always been loose, replaced the driveshaft bolts with better hardware (below), and more importantly - pulled the motor mounts and transmission crossmember off the car to make production fixtures.

Since we don't know when the car will return, it was time to make the production fixtures. Each of the 7 components of the drivetrain mounts came off and all plate sections were measured and drawn in CAD. These can now become CNC laser cut parts. Ryan then made the production welding fixtures for all 7 pieces of the mounts, which will accept the laser cut pieces + tubing to make the various parts.

This means we will have the drivetrain mounts, driveshaft and headers in production before this car is finished. Again, not the original plan, but due to these circumstances it moves up production of these "Stage 0" pieces. These parts will help others get the LS series V8s into the cars quickly, and then they can tackle wiring and plumbing on their own.

We hope to get this car back - to develop and produce the black box interface we already have on hand. We were "ones of days" away from implementing that, but what can you do? We have programming software and a laptop just for use on this build also, but those tools can and will be used on other LS swaps we tackle in the future.

Amy wants to build an FR-S/BRZ in the next year, but if our budget can allow for it we might start another build LS1 86 built soon - to be able to finish the wiring, gauge interface and air conditioning system quickly. We also need to complete the replacement swaybar (a tubular, splined swaybar, as seen on the 69 Camaro above) as the rear of the engine and headers are blocking the rear routing of the OEM swaybar location.

Speaking of the 69 Camaro, we have made a build thread for that car (on Vorshlag and 3 other forums). This tube framed monster is coming together very quickly - being a one-off and not a "production kit" development deal, there are so many fewer compromises - plus not the 100+ hours of development work that goes into making a reproducible swap kit. You can read about the tube framed 69 Camaro project starting here.

What's Next?

This is a tough one to answer - because I don't know when this Alpha car will return. The only real unknowns left on that car were the CAN-BUS box integration, but we have the software and have done dozens of hours of research on the Scion and GM wiring systems, to know what to wire where. The air con bits are fairly straightforward, and the swaybar is easy for our crew to fabricate.

Custom/swap integrated air conditioning and gauge wiring is a pain, but we've done it before...

If we have another customer that shows up and wants this same V8 swap we can jump ahead quickly on that build as well - as there are no more months long delays on header development or other long drawn out deals. If we can swing the costs of buying our own FR-S/BRZ, I'll do it and get it into the shop soon, to quickly get it to this state with production mounts/headers/driveshaft, then move forward to the CAN-BUS interface (we have everything on hand!) and then the swaybar and A/C bits.

Like I said earlier, right now the plan is to move forward with production of the drivetrain mounts, headers and driveshafts soon. Its all good.


Last edited by Fair!; 08-10-2015 at 03:34 PM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 10-10-2016, 11:34 AM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is offline
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag Scion FR-S LSx Alpha Project

Project Update for October 1st, 2016: Yes it has been a year since my last update in this thread. A lot has gone on behind the scenes. I have started to write this update a half dozen times but each time we were either super busy on other projects or waiting on an outside vendor to finish something on some component for this swap.

While this car left our shop after my last post it did come back a couple of times for some upgrades and more development. A few "non-V8 swap" related upgrades were added and it left here "more finished" than it ever was each time. It has since racked up 8,000 miles of street use with the LS1 V8. It has been re-dyno'd and the updated cold air intake we added to the car made a bigger differences in power than we had expected.

While the silver FR-S has left, we purchased this red FR-S for Vorshlag specifically for V8 development

We were in the middle of development on a front swaybar when the car left. Yea, the Alpha car is no longer being worked on at my shop (its complicated) but we have since purchased our own 2013 FR-S (above) here at the shop to develop more details of this swap kit as well as some upgraded drivetrain parts. You can read about the red FR-S we purchase in this Vorshlag BRZ/FR-S Development thread. When the V8 swap starts on this red car we will update both that thread and this one concurrently.

It was not all smooth sailing behind the scenes here, however, as V8 swap development sometimes has hiccups, delays, unforeseen challenges, and gotchas. Let's get caught up on this first V8 swapped 86 we've done and see what's in store for our next build and the release of the kit components.


To tide the customer over until the CAN-BUS translator could be built we added some auxiliary gauges to the FR-S. These could show water temp, oil pressure and oil temp. The only gauge on the OEM cluster this replaced was water temp, which has a vague non-numbered 1/4 sweep coolant temp gauge. The oil pressure is a dummy light and there is no OEM oil temp reading of any kind.

Track Rat Miata had aux gauges that were the basis for what we added to the FR-S

Since this FR-S was destined for track use, the additional full-sweep analog gauges were desired by the customer. We always recommend real gauges or a digital dash for cars driven regularly on a road course, to show accurate readings for water temp, oil temp and oil pressure, at the very least. The OEM gauges are rarely accurate enough to show these critical readouts for a track car. The track rat Miata (picture shown above) we built during this same period had these 3 main gauges added, and when the FR-S owner saw that setup he wanted the same thing. Ditching the factory radio in the Miata above freed up some great real estate on the dash for additional gauges and switches - and the FR-S' radio was already long gone, so we figured we would do something similar.

These are the gauges added to the Alpha FR-S in the stock radio location. Red buttons are for program/recall

We also had a round digital volt gauge in stock and the FR-S owner wanted that as well. The three main Marshal electric gauges are full sweep (not 1/4 sweep) and have programmable high and low alarms, data memory for the last time the car was run (can show high-low at the press of a button), and work very well for the amount they cost.

These gauges come with sending units but you have to source the adapters and fittings to make them fit your particular setup. Nothing too difficult, and the images above show the oil temp and oil pressure sensor hook-ups. The coolant temp sensor was located in the cylinder head, as shown below. This is the passenger side, which is normally plugged. The GM (computer read) coolant temp sensor goes in the opposite corner on the driver's side head.

All told it took 7 hours to source the fittings, wire in the sensors, build the gauge panel, then wire up the 4 gauges and lights into the panel shown below. Which is nearly exactly what we quoted - as these auxiliary gauge installs always take time to mount and wire correctly and cleanly. You also also burp the coolant system, test the temps for accuracy against an IR gun, and program the high/low alarms on the 3 Marshall gauges. Materials totaled $450 for 4 gauges, the fittings, wiring, loom, hardware and adapters.

The main wires to this series of 4 gauges were all terminated in WeatherPack connectors, to make removal of this panel simple and quick. As always, the wiring was soldered and shrink wrapped at each connection. The three main Marshall gauges are LED back-lit for night use, and also have different color LED lighting to show "alarm" conditions. Admittedly that is hard to see in full sunlight, but that is still visible in most cars with a roof.

Normally we would also add a weatherproof dual USB port and a 12V cig lighter port to this gauge panel (the Miata shown above has the dual USB port added). These are marine grade units with rubber boots that cover them up when not in use. But the FR-S comes with a factory installed USB port and this customer had something else in mind for the blank spot above, so we left those two ports off.

This image above shows the Marshall gauges with the back lighting turned on, for night use

This set of gauges made everyone feel safer - the most essential data of the engine would now have proper readings, better than the factory ever showed. It would supplement the OEM gauges which were still waiting for the CAN translator. Not having a tachometer was a bit annoying, but the customer didn't want to add one at this time so we all waited on the CAN solution.

In late 2015 the availability of bolt-on tow hooks was pretty light. The owner was talking about doing more track days and what you don't want to happen there is to get stuck off track without proper recovery hooks. It is safest to have one of these on each end.

In a rush to clear the track of a stalled or stuck vehicle, often the tow truck driver will just "find something" to hook onto, and you don't want to think about the damage that could do. So we made some proper tow hooks for this FR-S, which we might someday market and sell.

The main parts we needed to create were the threaded shafts that went into factory tow hook holes in the front and rear bumper. These were hand machined and tapped on our manual lathe, as our CNC lathe was tied up with production work. Our guys made them specific to the front and rear of the 86 chassis and we made drawings off the final bits.

These shafts were then painted and these red anodized aluminum screw-in hooks were added. These hook portions are commodity parts we use on lots of cars, so we know they are rugged and the price is right.

These can be installed quickly if you leave the plastic plugs on the bumper covers off, but the customer wanted to keep the hooks in all the time so our guys spent about 25 minutes marking, aligning, and trimming the plastic plugs to fit tightly around the shafts for the tow hooks. Looks cleaner this way, and you don't have to install/remove each time you come back from a track event.

After something happened to the tune loaded on the ECM (see CAN-BUS fiasco, below) the customer took the car to another shop and had it reflashed and dyno'd, where it made 372 whp back in March of 2016. That was a big jump from before! Remember - this is the weakest LS engine made for any car ever, a bone stock 1998-02 Camaro 5.7L LS1 long block, a stock LS2 intake/throttle body, our headers, catalysts and an exhaust that led into a stock FR-S Magnaflow rear section. That updated cold air intake seemed to be the only part that was changed from before, when it made 328 whp & 331 wtq in July 2015. Not bad.


We started development on a replacement front swaybar in the middle of last year, and got pretty far along, then this got stalled while we waited for the swaybar manufacturer to deliver the prototype piece.

The picture below shows the OEM swaybar with Whiteline end links mocked up with the V8. The swaybar is hanging in mid-air, and as you can see, the long tube headers needed that slot between the frame rail and the bellhousing. The stock swaybar was hitting the headers, hitting the tie rods, and was shifted down several inches in that image. If we tried this not only would it bang up against the tie rods, it would also hang very low, and be the lowest part of the car. Just wasn't possible while using real long tube headers. And the long tube headers add a LOT of easy horsepower we didn't want to give away.

We had seen this interference when we developed the long tube headers, so we had planned to make a new swaybar to clear the headers and bellhousing. How hard can it be, right?

It was surprisingly difficult, actually. Swaybars seem like such a simple thing - just a hunk of round bar end to fit around stuff, which ties to two end links, that are then tied to the strut or control arm. As one end rises (in body roll), the endlink from that side makes the swaybar twist, which resists the movement, and reduces body roll. Easy.

We have created custom splined-end swaybars for several race cars, like this tube framed car above. When you have room for a straight shot across the car laterally like this, it is relatively easy to do. We can make the splined ends have all sorts of bends to route around stuff.

The problem on the 86 chassis was that our long tube headers were right where the funky shaped stock swaybar needed to be. There is no "straight shot" across the engine bay on this car anywhere near the spindles - the motor (forward) and headers (rearward) are in the way. So a straight splined "NASCAR Style" swaybar would never work here. Well technically it could, but it would also be the lowest part of the car, by a lot, and could get dragged and ripped off the car pretty easily. We thought there was a slim chance that we could just re-mount the stock bar lower and make it all fit.

We made several versions of new swaybar mounting brackets, which lowered the main bar by about 2 inches lower than the OEM mounting brackets allowed. The picture at left was the first mock-up, and the one at right was the 3rd set we tried, which looked like the best routing and the strongest shape.

Once the mounting bracket was finalized we could test with the OEM swaybar relocated at this lower height to see if it could work. We mounted that on new bushings, then moved the suspension through its range of motion and the steering from lock to lock, then noted a bit of binding. This meant we needed to extend the length of the ends of the swaybar to allow for proper articulation and suspension travel. That means - new swaybar. And it had a somewhat complex shape to it.

We made a couple of mock-up swaybar shapes and sent them to a swaybar vendor, where it took 10 excruciating weeks of waiting before the prototype bar above arrived. Our original mock-up bar was now missing and this new bar we got didn't fit. We tried to get the mock-up bar back to verify the delivered piece against them, but were unable to receive it. We needed a prototype bar that was symmetrical (this wasn't) and matched our mock-up (it didn't).

Around this same time the customer wanted his car back, so we never got to finish this swaybar work on the silver FR-S. Finishing this relocated and reshaped front swaybar was one of the many reasons why we bought the red FR-S shown here. We will start development on this new swaybar routing in the using our shop car very soon.

We have already got some "baseline lap times" in this bone stock FR-S at Motorsport Ranch Cresson on their 1.7 CCW track back in August. It will be fun seeing how much we can knock off that stock lap time with a V8 and some better bits underneath.

continued below

Last edited by Fair!; 10-30-2016 at 02:39 PM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 10-10-2016, 12:11 PM
Fair!'s Avatar
Fair! Fair! is offline
I blame the internet
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,093
Default Re: Vorshlag Scion FR-S LSx Alpha Project

continued from above


To make the LSx engines emissions compliant and to allow the OEM gauges, electric steering assist, HVAC and the rest of the factory Scion/Subaru systems work, there needs to be a "bridge" between the GM engine control module (ECM) and the Subaru/Toyota ECM. The goals were seemingly simple: send some data over the CAN-BUS network from the GM ECM to the FR-S' ECM to allow the stock gauges to work, the HVAC to function, the ABS system to operate, and the electric steering rack to actually have power assist. Every programmer on the interwebs seemed to say "oh, that's easy!" but so far we have worked with 3 different groups and have little to show for it.

Why is this necessary? Well for a pure race car it isn't - you can use an aftermarket ECM and then just add a digital dash or a separate set of analog gauges. But for most folks, they want emissions compliance, functional OEM gauges and air con to work. The main Subaru/Toyota ECM controls most systems on the body these days - unlike in the 1980s-1990s, where several smaller computers were dedicated to different "body" functions. The main ECM send signals to various systems all over the car via the CAN-BUS network.

Jason had reached out to several groups and individuals familiar with CAN programming two years ago looking for some help with the dual ECM / CAN integration. This was the solution needed to help "finish" this this type of swap in a street-legal, kit-able form. We have been looking for a CAN-BUS integration for our existing BMW E46 LS swap for 5+ years already, too. No, those solutions aren't 100% there yet either, and these attempts were started long before the 86 swaps began.

Initially it was two different local programmers that answered our call. They both showed up at different times, met with us, started some work, then went radio silent. A third guy here in the USA - who was working with an Australian group Jason had talked to a earlier - actually flew in to work on the Alpha car. It was a complicated deal, where he was trying to work directly with our customer, even though we had talks with him months earlier. This programmer installed a CAN translator module (shown above) but after many hours of wiring and testing it didn't work as promised. Somehow this install wiped out the custom dyno tune loaded onto the GM ECM, so the car ran poorly afterwards.

I've done just enough programming to know when a job is harder than someone thinks

I also met last month with a friend of a friend who worked in the same field I did 15 years ago - controls systems, ladder logic programming, signals and wiring. He did controls on gas compressor systems (natural gas) and I worked in gas fired turbine power plant controls, but those both use similar controls systems, programming, GUIs, etc. So we knew a lot of the same systems, programs, and products. He was also a car nut, and more up-to-date on CAN systems (from Caterpillar diesel systems he works with) than I will ever be. Finally this was somebody that I could talk to and who might be able to understand what we needed to do here?

I explained the goals of the CAN integration for the FR-S/BRZ LS swap, then he spent about 12 hours over the next weekend researching, looking at Subaru and GM CAN systems and encryption. The next week he came by and had some daunting news - this is never going to be "easy". Why? GM is known to encrypt a lot of their CAN protocols, because they don't want people doing exactly we're trying to do. Same goes for most other car manufacturers. And none of them use the same encryption. The "CAN-BUS" architecture is not universal among differing car companies, either.

As I suspected, he said this will never be an easy "programming job" where you can hook up a $200 "CAN Sniffer" to both computers' CAN network wires, "sniff" the two different sets of CAN signals, then just make a black box to convert them into the same language. He described it more like a FAX system... where you have two computers talking over a network, but they have to talk back and forth... call, receive, handshake, then talk. When you encrypt the signals at both ends, and they are not made to talk to each other, you get a bunch of "dropped calls". So while a few things might work for a short period, long term communication between two different company's ECMs is going to be "a big challenge".

As bad as I have been making it sound, and as hopeless as it had seemed - Eureka! This CAN integration box now exists, and it happened very recently. A German company called MRS Electronic, who Jason had first talked to in 2014, seem to have just come up with a marketable, working solution for LSx to 86 CAN integration as of 9/25/2016 (see above). They were the only group we spoke with originally who had "downplayed" the easiness of this integration early on, and yet they are the group who developed a working CAN integration solution for this chassis first.

They put the call out for testers recently and happened to link up with our old Alpha customer's FR-S. As of last weekend that car has a working set of OEM gauges, power steering and more, as shown in a video posted to the FRS/BRZ LS Swap Facebook group. His car has a GM "E40" series ECM, made for the LS2 engines which used a 24 tooth crank reluctor (also known as "24x"). We used that ECM because the engine chosen for his swap was an older 5.7L LS1 longblock (which has a 24x crank reluctor) with an LS2 intake manifold and drive-by-wire throttle body (which was needed to clear the hood). A more common ECM to use is the GM "E38" which is made for the later LS3 engines with a 58x reluctor. This is the ECM that MRS apparently cracked first, then they worked on the E40 (shown below) for the Alpha customer's FR-S LS1.

The Alpha build had an E40 ECM, due to the 24x LS1 long block and LS2 intake

Now that his enigma has been cracked, we here at Vorshlag can stop hunting for this solution and concentrate on making the fabricated driveline mounts, the plumbing and cooling solutions, and leave the CAN integration to others. This is a big deal and should make 86 swaps much easier for all GM LS engines, and has accelerated our in-house FR-S V8 swap build.


We actually began a small production run of CNC laser cut components to make motor mounts and transmission crossmembers last month. We will soon be able to help anyone quickly make a race car V8 swapped 86 chassis using our "Stage 0" parts.

We just got word from our powder coater that these initial pieces are ready and should be available for sale a few days after I posted this. These were made off of our production fixtures with CNC laser cut parts, which were made off the Alpha car's proven LS driveline brackets.

Since the MRS folks figured out the CAN Integration we have accelerated the timeline for the V8 swap in our shop's red FR-S. This "Beta Build" will help us develop even more solutions to make this V8 swap easier and more complete, as well as tackle the unfinished business such as our front swaybar solution.

The Beta FR-S - A New Hope! It was fun but underpowered on the MSR 1.7 mile course

There is an aggressive schedule laid out and we are acquiring parts now to make this build happen. Even when you are a shop like us, this is not an inexpensive swap, and that's one thing I wanted to write about here - this swap is not ever going to be a "cheap upgrade". There are too many known weak links we will need to address on our Beta Build (which should have 150+ more hp than the Alpha), as we will likely "break a few eggs" in testing. But adding significant, reliable horsepower is never cheap - not even a boosted FA20.

What might break? Well I was over at "a major Subaru tuning shop" last weekend and talked to one of their top guys there for an hour about FR-S/BRZ power mods and upgrades. He had little good to say about the factory ECM and aftermarket tuning options, and even fewer good things to say about the viability of the FA20 engine. He noted the abundance of low quality supercharger and turbo kits made for these cars - most of which are sold at a "very low price point" and, as always, you get what you pay for. He said there are better aftermarket turbo/supercharger kits, which cost a great deal more, but even those often need some tweaking and re-work by the installation shop.

Also, whenever you are adding boost to an engine, you aren't making it MORE reliable, you are making it markedly LESS reliable. This is why we tend to prefer LS swaps with larger displacement N.A. engines vs boosting smaller engines to increase power. Boost just adds problems...

As you might imagine, he noted that boosting a stock FA20 with the factory 12.5:1 compression ratio was a very short term power solution - they all eventually blow up. The right solution for adding boost to the FA20 is to properly rebuild the entire engine to handle this: adding lower compression forged pistons, stronger rods, and maybe throw in some head work - then they don't blow up as easily. We started talking costs on 86 cars they had built "the right way", with real reliability and power approaching 250 whp, and the total price was quickly approaching or even exceeding the costs for an LS swap.

The factory R180 Subaru differential above is more suited to 200hp than 500 hp... it is not overbuilt

But then once you get into the 400-500+ hp range, other stuff will likely need to be addressed. Another thing our tuner shop manager friend mentioned was the relatively low strength of the R180 rear differential (shown above) and half shafts, and the somewhat poor function of the factory installed Torsen LSD. Once you add higher strength axles ($1000+) and an OS Giken ($1700 + install) or another good aftermarket LSD, the prices start to climb yet the strength is still limited by the relatively small 180mm diameter ring gear of the R180.

In the past with BMW LS swaps (a car that does have some overbuilt factory parts), we've put "big power" (500-600 whp) through the medium case (188mm) and large case (210mm) factory BMW differentials, but those are both bigger and heavier than the little R180 in the 86. This extensive "abuse testing" we have done in BMW V8s included standing start events (autocross) and road course events on foot wide Hoosiers. Our Alpha E36 LS1 had 490 whp and 315mm Hoosiers on 17x11" wheels, as shown above. We beat on that car mercilessly for many years without issue on the 188mm housing, but some of our customers were able to break those. The 210mm BMW rear housing was a difficult swap back then, but it is more common now and this is one of those cases where "bigger is better".

So... maybe it makes more sense upgrading the FR-S to a Ford 8.8" IRS housing from the 2015 Mustang? (shown above) This "224mm" ring gear is inherently much stronger, has dozens of alternate gear options, and many more limited slip differential choice - all at much lower costs. It comes in both a steel case (V8 Mustangs) and an aluminum case (Ecoboost 4, shown above), but both are very strong. We will look at the work needed to adapt this 2015-up Mustang S550 8.8" rear differential to our shop car, as we are shooting for north of 500 whp on the little red FR-S. With an LS3 or later V8 that 500hp goal is actually not very hard to accomplish.

But we will see how far the R180 can go first. Our red FR-S will still be an air conditioned street driven car, which my wife wants to both race and daily drive. That is toughest possible goal to reach, but that's what most people want (street car + track car), so we're going to build it that way to see what fails and make fixes accordingly.

More soon,

Last edited by Fair!; 10-10-2016 at 03:04 PM.
Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:18 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.