1999 Chevy Camaro Street Legal Cylinder Head, Camshaft & Intake Manifold Upgrades - Bookin' By The Book, Part 4
Fifty-State-Legal Head & Cam Setup Unleashes Dozens Of LS1 Ponies
From the January, 2010 issue of GM High-Tech Performance
By Chris Werner
Photography by Chris Werner, Gary Werner
When CT joined the project car fleet, it was a bone-stock 1999 Camaro SS. After receiving an improved clutch and shifter (May 2009), CARB-legal intake and exhaust components (July 2009), and a full street/road race suspension (November 2009), this SS is no longer your average F-body-but now it's time to really start upping the ante. We're not straying from our promised path to performance, either.
From the get-go, the intention has been nothing less than a 50-state-legal build in accordance with the demands of the California EPA's Air Resources Board, a governing body that has promulgated easily the strictest emissions regulation system in the United States. Our goal continues to be to show how increased LS1 horsepower can go hand-in-hand with the requirements of even the most strict emissions laws out there. This is clearly an issue that, like it or not, will only become more pertinent in the future, so we're facing it head-on.
Air Flow Research's 205cc...
Air Flow Research's 205cc LSX Mongoose Street Heads are CNC-machined castings that have been CARB-certified under E.O. #D-250-4 and yield an advertised 70-cfm increase in intake port flow over stock castings. These assembled heads can be had under PN 1510 for around $2,318 at major retailers. Our particular units feature stock-size combustion chambers to leave compression unchanged along with 2.02/1.60 solid-stem valves, and AFR gave us upgraded 8019 springs (a reasonably priced option not included in the above total) designed for more aggressive applications such as ours, given our future forced-induction plans. Whoops, did I say that out loud?
The name of the game this issue is heads and cam, and as far as emissions legality goes, this is where things get a bit sticky. GMHTP and related publications have in the past featured builds where aftermarket cylinder heads were swapped on along with a mild cam reckoned to "pass the sniffer test," which basically boils down to one which affords a decent enough idle quality to keep your typical inspection station exhaust sampling equipment happy. Some emission inspection procedures are even weaker and simply go by whether an OBD-II vehicle's MIL lamp is lit on the dash-and we all know that simple tuning tricks can keep this light turned off no matter how wild things are underhood!
As neither of these approaches is a true measure of actual emissions legality (particularly in regard to how Cali does things), we're blazing a trail not oft followed. Finding a set of CARB-certified cylinder heads was as easy as calling up Air Flow Research for a set of the company's well-proven Mongoose Street Heads, but when it came time to select a camshaft, we hit a snag: nobody, and we mean nobody, sells an aftermarket LS camshaft with a CARB E.O. It's not that aftermarket small-block cams can't meet the requirements of the system; check out the CARB website, and there are E.O.-carrying bumpsticks (albeit few) for TPI and LT1 F-bodies. It would just seem that no company has opted to go through the expense and labor-intensive process of certifying a camshaft for LS engines.
Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center...
Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center sent us a boatload of parts to make this project happen. We'll mention the ones pictured here for now and fill you in on the rest as we go along. From top to bottom: GM front cover gasket (PN 12574294, $22), GM exhaust manifold gaskets (PN 12617944, $12/ea), ARP head bolt kit (PN ARP134-3609, $142), GM crank seal (PN 12585673, $21), GM lifter trays (PN 12551162, $5/ea), GM valve cover gaskets (PN 12612045, $19/ea), GM AIR/EGR gaskets (PNs vary), GM water pump gaskets (PN 12610311, $5/ea), Rollmaster Single Row Timing Set (PN SDCS1130, $89), SDPC High-Volume Oil Pump (PN SD3964B, $149), GM LS6 camshaft (PN 12565308, $320), GM crank bolt (PN 12557840, $5), and GM MLS head gasket kit (PN 12498544, $29/pair).
Faced with this bump in the road, we seriously considered leaving the stock cam in place, but decided that although a head-only swap would certainly unlock some ponies, it would ultimately shortchange the overall build. We decided a compromise was in order that, although not technically in absolute lockstep with the letter of the law in California, was best in tune with the spirit thereof (can you tell I went to law school?). We would use a factory camshaft that was original equipment in an equivalent cubic-inch engine of similar model year, and was therefore a virtual certainty to pass CARB certification requirements should someone opt to take it through the motions of the process. The clear choice was the '02-04-spec LS6 camshaft as used in Z06 Corvettes, a bumpstick which offers sizable increases in lift and duration over the stock '99 LS1 cam.
As the situation is similar with LS intake manifolds-none carry a CARB E.O.-we applied the same reasoning in choosing the GM LS6. The "legality" analysis here is even easier, since 2001-2002 F-bodies had this intake from the factory! We promptly ordered up one of SLP's LS6 Intake Manifold Kits and were ready to get started with the swap, so follow along as we add more 50-state-legal LS1 power. And stay tuned next time for even more drastic increases-check out the aftermarket parts database at www.arb.ca.gov and try to guess what we've got in store!
SLP's LS6 Intake Manifold...
SLP's LS6 Intake Manifold Kit features the cream of the crop of factory manifolds for cathedral-port LS engines. The LS6 intake was original equipment during the final two years of fourth-gen F-body production, and because of its greatly improved design, SLP decided to put together this kit to make swapping it onto 1998-2000 engines a cinch. The kit includes the LS6 intake, gaskets, coolant pipe, blockoff caps, and a special fitting to allow the use of the factory EGR system. The kit goes for $624 under PN 30041.
The K&N intake and Edelbrock...
The K&N intake and Edelbrock exhaust bolt-ons got our LS1 putting almost 323 horses to the tires with the factory PCM tune still in place; not too shabby, but that's as far as we can go with the easy stuff. Time to delve into things a bit deeper! We begin by disconnecting the battery and draining the coolant from the radiator via the petcock at the bottom passenger side. Underneath, we remove the Y-pipe from the Edelbrock cat-back and shorty headers, and start loosening everything relating to them that we can get to from underneath before heading topside again.
The K&N intake assembly is...
The K&N intake assembly is removed, allowing the radiator to come up and out. Hint: on models with the optional power steering cooler in the upper radiator hose, don't bother disconnecting the power steering lines from it; just pull the portions of the radiator hose off either side and let it hang. You'll also need to remove the cooling fan assembly from behind the radiator. The A/C line running across the front of the engine makes this a touch tricky, but unbolting the accumulator tank (located adjacent to the battery) from its bracket will help. As the radiator is removed, more coolant will come out of it, so have another catch tray ready. Also be sure to disconnect the sensor located a bit below the radiator cap (shown near my left index finger), or you'll be yanking the wiring harness!
Underneath, I move the starter...
Underneath, I move the starter to get at a coolant drain in the block-this is a good way to help ensure less of a waterfall of coolant when the heads come off. Back up top, the throttle/cruise control cable assembly is disconnected and swung out of the way. The accessory belt is removed; we turn to the power steering pulley, which requires a special power steering pulley puller available in most auto parts stores. With this off, the power steering pump and reservoir can be unbolted from their bracket on the driver side cylinder head and swung down and out of the way. The bracket itself follows suit.
After tackling the water pump,...
After tackling the water pump, we move on to the headers, first by disconnecting the EGR and AIR stuff and removing the ignition coils (required to get at the hardware for the passenger side header). At this time, we also unplug the wiring harness from the entire upper portion of the engine and move it out of the way (this includes the MAP sensor all the way in back of the intake, which requires a careful reach). The PCV lines are removed from the valve covers as well as from the fitting at the front passenger side of the intake. The fuel lines are disconnected both at the fuel rails and at the fender to get them completely out of the way, and a plastic bag is put over the lines at the fender to prevent contamination.
Ten 8mm bolts hold the intake...
Ten 8mm bolts hold the intake manifold on; hands off the fuel rail bolts (studded tops), the rails are coming out attached to the intake. Also note that the five rearmost intake manifold bolts do not have enough clearance to be pulled up and out of their holes due to the low cowl. We use masking tape to hold them up while taking the intake out. Watch the small vacuum line that unplugs from the passenger side rear of the intake, and be sure to disconnect the brake booster hose at the brake booster to allow it to snake out behind the delicate oil pressure sending unit (top rear of engine) as the intake comes out.