Electric To Hydraulic: Adding Power Steering To Chevy’s LT376/535

Manufacturers have begun using electric steering in new engines and it became something we had to look at with our Chevrolet Performance LT376/535 swap. Project Storm Trooper, our 2005 GMC Canyon prerunner/race truck build, still uses hydraulic power steering. Adding a power steering pump was going to be a little tricky.

We have been busy with more than just the engine for Project Storm Trooper. We have finished the rear cage and are inching closer to completing the vehicle.

To help with the swap and install, we headed out to RSO Performance in San Jacinto, California. We would be completing the install and fabrication with the help of a shop that specializes in LS-swapped Toyotas.

Mounting Up The Front End Accessory Drive

For us, a new engine was amazing. But when it came time to pull off parts that hadn’t even run yet, it felt strange. We had to push past our feelings and get the front end accessory drive (FEAD) installed on the engine.

ICT Billet helped us get our power steering pump mounted to the LT376/535 with the help of its Gen V bracket kit. The kit included new mounts for a power steering pump and alternator.

We removed the factory LT1 water pump and replaced it with an L83 water pump and tensioner. While replacing the water pump, we added ICT Billet's heater core delete hose. We also had to flip the throttle body to make sure we had clearance for the water pump.

Using the kit required us to use an L83 water pump and tensioner from a 6.2-liter Silverado engine. The inlet/outlet on the factory water pump would need to be reversed in order to make sure everything fit correctly.

Gen V LT1 FEAD Parts List

ICT Billet Gen V Brackets (PN 551368)

Turn One Power Steering Pump (PN T40YP-ANX)

ATI Super Damper (PN 918645)

Powermaster 220 Amp Alternator (PN 48302)

Chevrolet Performance Coolant Plug (PN 11611351)

AC Delco L83 Water Pump (PN 12674640)

AC Delco L83 Drive Belt Tensioner (PN 12626059)

Improved Racing Oil Cooler Adapter (PN EGM-132)

Steering was its own problem. “When the Gen V LT engine was released, it had no provision for a power steering pump,” Alan Burdue of ICT Billet explained. “Still, a power steering pump is required for all older vehicles when swapping the engines. Our billet aluminum brackets allow a power steering pump to be added to the engine.”

A key part for our entire FEAD was the power steering pump. For the pump, we used one from a C5/C6 Corvette. Due to clearance issues, we needed a detached fluid reservoir. Mounting the reservoir would be something we would worry about once the engine was in the truck, as it would be mounted to the engine cage.

ICT Billet's power steering bracket came with all of the required hardware. It is best done in stages, as some parts need to be attached prior to being fitted to the engine.

“The pump we supplied was a GM type II pump that is 100-percent brand new, and built here in the USA,” Junior Roethlisberger of Turn One said. “The pump produces more pressure than a factory one to handle the high wheel loads associated with off-roading. This keeps the pump out of pressure relief longer, increasing its longevity.”

Off-roading places plenty of stress on the power steering system. To help combat heat, we would be using a Derale Performance power steering cooler, which we will cover in a future article.

Since we switched over to the L83 water pump and added a power steering pump, the factory car damper would not work. We would need to use a damper designed for the 6.2-liter found in Chevrolet’s pickup trucks.

Our solution was an ATI Performance Products Super Damper. “OEM dampers are optimally tuned to a narrow band of ‘perceived normal driving conditions’ and do not perform well outside of those limits,” Rob Sappe of ATI explained. “The ATI Super Damper can handle any engine speeds and driving conditions that get thrown at it, and still protect the engine.”

We attached the damper to the LT376/535 and then installed the drive pulley.

ATI Super Dampers provide balanced dampening of torsional crankshaft vibrations through all RPM ranges, especially during competition use. “The first things to look at when selecting a damper are the intended use of the engine, horsepower level, and RPM range,” Sappe continued. “In an off-road application, the type of ‘off-road’ must be looked at. Whether it’s high-speed desert racing, rockcrawling, or trail riding, the damper should be carefully selected. Once we understand the purpose, we look at the damper weight, material, and serpentine drive size.”

We left the drive size on the damper in the OEM spec. We chose neither over nor underdrive. ATI does offer many options, ranging from 4-33 percent overdrive to 10 percent underdrive.

An off-road truck has lights, fans, radios, and more, all drawing power from the electrical system. To make sure we would not have any issues with the charging system, we went with a 220-amp Powermaster alternator.

“The alternator produces 220 amps at the top end and 150 amps at idle,” JR Richmond of Powermaster explained. “The rotor is dual plane balanced for high rpm, up to 18,000 shaft speed. It uses a heavy-duty decoupler pulley to allow quick acceleration and deceleration of the engine. The alternator is 100 percent new and made in the USA.”

Sitting high and mighty, our Powermaster 220-amp alternator will make sure our electrical system is charged properly.

Having the right alternator on a vehicle is important. “Most off-road rigs run or should run a high amperage alternator to keep up with added electrical accessories,” Richmond continued. “This can include off-road lights, winches, extra batteries, welders, air compressors, electric fans, or fresh air fans. With these added accessories the factory alternator can quickly become taxed and fail. A high amperage alternator can do the job of maintaining the charging system properly.”

While we were working on the FEAD, we also took care of removing the factory oil cooler and replaced it with an Improved Racing oil cooler adapter. “Our C7 Corvette oil cooler adapter allows you to eliminate the factory water-to-oil cooler, which isn’t efficient enough for extreme use, and replace it with an efficient air-to-oil cooler,” Michael Ihns explained. “This will lower both water temps and oil temps with a built-in thermostat to precisely control oil temps.”

Before (left) and after (right) of the oil cooler adapter. The adapter added both form and function to the engine.

Adding the oil cooler adapter would allow us to run an external oil cooler. “The thermostat bypasses the oil cooler until engine oil reaches operating temps, allowing for quick warm-ups and eliminating pressure drops at low temperatures when oil is more viscous,” Ihns continued. “Engine oil will warm up just as quick with our thermostat as it does with the factory water-to-oil cooler.”

Chevrolet Performance’s LT376/535 looked like a piece of art before we put the FEAD on. Afterwards, it looked like it belonged in a museum. Soon we will mock up the engine in the truck. We will also discuss how we are going to wire everything up with Chevrolet Performance’s Connect and Cruise system. Be sure to stay tuned, you won’t want to miss the next part!

Article Sources

About the author

Steven Olsewski

Steven Olsewski grew up with a true passion for anything with a motor. He loves his wife and kids, and during the year can be found enjoying quality time together. They are a huge part of his life and their passion for God.
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