2005 LJR 5.3 V8 install

SO this may not be much of a “build thread” but I wanted to put together something to document this V8 project.

Most of you know the Jeep is a stock 4.0 with all flashy top end components and a supercharger that has been a total nightmare to tune properly.

The best I could get it was marginal reliability, powerful and occasionally overheated. In pursuit of plain-jane power, the motor is being cimpletely overhauled like a Golen (non-stroker) and will be sold at a later date to some lucky person who is building a Jeep.

As far as the V8 goes… I am choosing to do a class II swap meaning I will refurbish the donor engine (but not bore sleeve etc…) and it will get a proper tear down, paint and rebuild. Wear out parts like water pump, oil pump, belt accessories etc will be swapped. All adapters will more or less come from Novak as well as the cooling system swap.

End result is a clean, adapted V8 to my stock rubicon 6 speed and rubicon x-fer case. I chose the pricey upgrade to re route the A/C on an adapter from Novak. The family demanded it…

So far, Ricky has extracted the 4.0 and is probably 1-2 weeks away from having all major components for this.


After much debate, I decided against the Mopar DNA of the Hemi 5.7 and opted for a 5.3 GM V8. Most of this is due to weight and the fact there are about 1 million viable tuners for GM compared to anything else. The Novak support for the 5.3 (LSX) is superb and this would limit any major customization or space problems. I sourced a 2002 Avalanche GM engine with about 150K on the clock. This was chosen in the west and it came from a one-owner trade. This makes it a throttle-by-cable, LM7 iron block, aluminum head, truck intake, truck cam. Specs say 295 HP and 305 lb-ft TQ at the crank. While this is about 75% of what the S/C 4.0 was capable of, the displacement and relative fuel efficiency will make this HP easy to manage and about 100X more reliable compared to the fancy set up. If I really want to unlock another 40-80 HP I would need a cam and a tune which is one hell of a lot more simple than any of this S/C tuning nonsense I’ve been through to date. Question is do I need it? Well, I now can drive it and see what I really need or miss I suppose.

Easy EFI Solutions is taking this engine and performing all the rehab. Chris White is the lead guy there and I can tell you this was pound-for-pound the best deal going. Included in the rehab is the new components, fresh paint, intake manifold, TB and a wiring harness with all the EGR deletes and fan controls to make it a plug and play to the Novak gage adapters and ignition. They are very well priced for ECU and wiring and have a range of options for all build needs. I really like my experience so far.


Novak. Not cheapest I know, but they have a whole swap package and Ricky has a good relationship with them. Service and support is awesome and the quality is there. I guess I am chalking it up to insurance against reworks.


Again Novak… in this case I am doing the block hugger headers for space and to clear the A/C accessories which will also to block mounted for space. I think it will be a clean look when it is done. These will collect on the passenger side and connect to my existing 3" side out single exhaust. The long arm lift and LJ frame make the routing a bit tricky, but that work is already done.


Novak DIY is part of the package the filter will be on the passenger corner behind the headlight.

I’ll post some photos of the engine which as of 8/9/19 was crated for shipment. Fingers crossed that this will result in everything I hope it will be!

Rebuild and harness

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Long block assembly and paint

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Final crating

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New home… for the engine

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Good luck with build JJ!


Cylinders look crazy clean for 150k. P.S. Block is cast iron but heads are alumynum. Same motor that is going in my buggy.

Thanks Eric, thanks for the correction, I will edit. They had a L33 which is the all aluminum version from a camaro I think. From all I have read, LM7 with Aluminum head and iron block is the work horse truck engine of the LSX series. I also learned that the intake and cam are a big part of the low end torque. The single plane intakes do make some extra HP, but it’s all high rpm tuning stuff.

I know you are down the line on your build, but check out easy EFI solutions if you need any electrics for sure, they are a great resource. Too bad they are about as far from RI as you can get in the lower 48…

I was impressed with the condition of the donor and then very pleased with how they cleaned it all up and refreshed it. It’s sort a of goldilocks rebuild… not a full re-man, not just new plugs and a WP, but mindful replacement of all wearables with a engine stand break in, just right.

Giddy Up JJ!!!

I can"t believe how clean the outside of the engine is either, Wish mine was that clean when I yanked it.

Some progress shots, photo credit: Barrette Fab…

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…the pairing. Officially the Jeep has a V8 in it. …Still doesn’t run, but I have gotten used to that these last few months. Seems like success is close

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looks awesome! yr makin me jealous! I have a 5.3 with ax15 too. What gears are you running? I have 4:88s and when I went from the 2.5 to 5.3 first gear turned into a granny gear and hitting a little high rpm at 55mph. so I went to 35"tires to help the ratio. If your running 4:10 or less I think it would be better. I didn’t want to regear again. Also I know you had overheating problems. I did too when I went to the 5.3. Get a good radiator and fan. Looks like it’s going to turn out great. Rickys probably learned a few “What NOT to do’s” by fixing my mistakes!LOL!

Oh also, I used a lot of Novak stuff to including the hydraulic clutch. Mine is REALLY HARD to push! Might wanna check the feel of the clutch/pressure plate before it’s dropped in for good.

I have a NSG370 6 speed. I was running ok when the supercharger was in good health and the air temp was low. 70 on the highway in 5th or 6th depending on incline, wind direction etc.

Its running 4.88 on 37’s so in theory, it is stock again, but with massive need for low end torque. I imagine it will drive similarly to the S/C application, but with a lot of weight reduced and 1% of the complicated problems.

9/24 update

Ricky has teased a small video of the Jeep driving under power on the road for a system check. It does not have the exhaust burned in, so it sounds like a 1980’s monster truck, but critical driveline functions are all there.

There are 100 details left including dash/gages, vent/AC, and a ton of restoration of disrupted mopar-Chevy links, but the fact this Jeep is powered by the V8 is a major milestone.

Didn’t quite make Pig Roast, but it won’t be long now!


5.3 is in. Front driveshaft is out for adjustment while the motor is broken in and enjoyed a bit.

Exhaust work was well done and the sound is equal to the power.

6th gear is useful now. About 2800rpm in 6th gives me 70mph.

This jeep is now totally the right build. There are a few odds and ends to tune up in a few weeks, but the V8 portion is amazing!

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Looking good, up next Tons!

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