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Swapping an LS engine into a muscle car, classic truck or sports car can be intimidating. Typically, the easiest part of the process is buying the LS engine. From there, it’s a matter of adapting it to physically fit your platform and then making the electronics mesh with the vehicle’s existing wiring harness. Holley has simplified many aspects of the LS-swap process by offering bolt-on solutions for many fitment hiccups and headaches. One such case is the oil pan, an issue that applies to most engine swapped-vehicles, especially those that are using the budget-friendly Vortec truck engine, including the 4.8, 5.3, 6.0 and 6.2-liter varieties. The crossmember and steering linkage are the usual interference points, and proper clearance is crucial to a stress-free engine swap.
Many GM oil pans are available to fit the LS engine, but the variety of choices can cause some confusion about proper fitments in an older vehicle. Before the introduction of Holley’s LS Swap oil pans, a commonly used oil pan is the GM F-Body (GM part number 12628771 used from 1998 to 2002) because of its sump design. Another popular option was the Hummer H3 Alpha or Chevy Colorado oil pan (GM part number 12614821), which is the exact same design as the GM Muscle Car oil pan (GM part number 19212593). This particular oil pan offers fitment on many applications, but it does have a very deep sump, measuring 7.75 inches from the oil pan rail to the lowest point on the sump. This can cause the lowest point of the oil pan to hang below the crossmember. Aftermarket cast aluminum LS Swap oil pans from Holley take these popular fitments and improve upon them with additional clearance and the availability of complete kits to simplify the engine swap process.
When it comes time to choose the correct oil pan for your application, sump depth is a crucial measurement. The GM Muscle Car pan (GM Part #19212593) measures 7.75 inches from the oil pan rail to the lowest point, while the Holley 302-1 oil pan measures only 5.71 inches, giving you more ground clearance. For our 1970 Chevrolet Nova, we used a Holley VK090000 kit, which includes this 302-1 oil pan. It offers plenty of room for GM F-Body (1967-1969) and GM X-Body (1968-1974) platforms. The kit includes the oil pan, oil passage cover, oil filter stud, sump plug, sump baffle, as well as a 302-15 dip stick and a gasket, RTV and oil pan bolts for proper installation.
Holley provides three options for LS Swap Oil Pans. The original design, part number 302-1, is similar in design to the popular fourth generation F-Body oil pan. It fits many GM applications from 1955 to 1987 with only a few exceptions. Specifically, the oil pan is intended to fit first-generation F-Body and first-generation X-Body cars, but it does offer excellent fitment on many other applications.
Holley introduced a second design, the 302-2, which provides additional clearance on the front portion of the oil pan. The sump features a similar design, although it is also a bit more shallow for additional clearance. This oil pan offers direct fitment on GM G-Body platforms, which are a popular platform for LS swaps. Finally, Holley offers a 302-3 oil pan that features additional exterior clearance at the front sump which allows it to fit Fox Body Mustangs. The 302-3 also has added internal clearance to support up to a 4.25in crankshaft stroke.
Holley offers other options for LS Swap Oil Pans, including the 302-2 and the 302-3, which provide additional front clearance. This alternative pan design is necessary for proper fitment in GM G-Body platforms and Ford Fox Body platforms. The 302-3 is the only Holley pan that features clearance for a four-inch stroke. This is an excellent comparison between the 302-1 and 302-2 oil pans. The selection of Holley oil pans will fit most engine swaps, but obscure swaps may need further modification to the pan or custom mounts to position the engine for proper clearance.
Oil capacity among the three Holley oil pan models vary from 6 to 6.2 quarts, including the filter. Speaking of filter, all Holley oil pans utilize the same oil filter adapter, which makes use of readily available oil filters: AC Delco PF48 or PF48E, Mobil M1-113, Wix 57060 and K&N HP-1017. Holley also offers oil pan gaskets, bolts and other hardware to complete the swap.
Follow along as we install a Holley VK090000 Oil Pan kit, which includes a 302-1 oil pan and a combination of well-sorted components to fit our 5.3-liter truck engine. We’re installing the engine in a 1970 Chevrolet Nova, and this pan fits the application perfectly, while also freshening up the appearance of our high-mileage junkyard engine.
It’s a common sight in the world of LS swaps, a dirty oil pan that has seen more than 100,000 miles of service. This particular example is a 5.3-liter truck engine, fresh out of the junkyard. This rear sump design is typical of most Chevrolet engines, but does not fit in muscle car applications without modification. The sump is deep (8.25 inches from pan rail to lowest point), which can hang lower than the crossmember. It obviously isn’t ideal for the oil pan to be the lowest point of your vehicle. Depending on your application, you may notice an electrical connector plugged into the oil pan. This connects to the oil level sensor. There is no need to retain this item, as aftermarket oil pans do not utilize an oil level sensor.
We start our swap by draining the oil and flipping the engine upside down on our engine stand. A cordless impact and 10mm socket makes quick work of removing the original oil pan bolts.
After all of the bolts are removed, the original pan can be wiggled loose. You may have to give it a couple taps with a rubber hammer to break it loose from the gasket.
Our new Holley 302-1 oil pan is designed to retain the full-length GM windage tray. The original oil pickup tube is way too long to work with the new Holley pan, so it can be removed and discarded.
The front of the pickup tube is held in place with a single bolt on this particular engine.
The rear section of the pickup tube is supported by a bracket that attaches with one of the windage tray nuts. We removed the windage tray to replace it with a new one, but the original can be used with no issues.
A new pickup tube is supplied in all Holley LS Swap Oil Pan kits. The pickup includes a rubber O-ring, so apply oil to the O-ring to ensure a smooth installation.
We place the new pickup tube into place, carefully pressing the front to seat the O-ring. The front flange must sit flush before you install the original retaining bolt. Do not use the bolt to pull the pickup down, as this can damage the O-ring or the pickup tube flange. The front bolt torques to 106 in-lb.
The nut that holds the pickup tube support bracket is installed. The torque spec on this nut is 18 ft-lb.
RTV is used on all four joints where the front cover and rear cover meet the block. Included in our kit is a Mr. Gasket #6665G oil pan gasket. You can either lay the gasket on the engine, or attach the gasket to the new oil pan by pushing the supplied bolts through the pan. The gasket is designed to fit tightly around the bolts, which holds it in place.
Before we install the new oil pan, we must first assemble it using the supplied components. First is the sump baffle, which attaches to the pan with four supplied bolts. A small amount of blue Loctite is applied to the threads. The bolts torque to 8 ft-lb. The oil passage cover is attached with two supplied bolts. The bolts are tightened to 106 in-lb.
Next is the oil filter adapter. It threads into the oil pan and is tightened to 40 ft-lb. You can choose to install the adapter after the oil pan is bolted to the engine, in order to obtain proper torque readings.
Finally, we can lower the new Holley oil pan into place on our 5.3-liter truck engine. Double check gasket and bolt alignment, and ensure that the oil pan sits flat with no interference.
The Holley VK090000 oil pan kit comes with Mr. Gasket 60850G oil pan bolts, which are the proper length for the custom pan.
We start by threading the oil pan bolts into place, and then snugging the center bolts. Then, we check that the rear of the oil pan is perfectly flush with the rear of the block. This alignment is crucial, because the bell housing bolts to the oil pan.
Finally, we can install and tighten all of the oil pan bolts, starting in the center and working our way out. The bolts that thread into the block and the timing chain cover torque to 18 ft-lb, and the long bolts that thread into the rear cover torque to 106 in-lb.