Which Air Intake Is Best?
I'm hoping you can help me with a question. I recently purchased an F-150 Super Crew with a 5.4L engine. Which air intake system is best for this engine? There are so many out there, how do I know which is best? Today's technology is rapidly advancing, and I was hoping your knowledge on this subject would lead me to purchase the best product in this field that would yield the best performance results. Cost isn't an issue. I imagine you may not be able to say one is better than the other so as not to upset your advertisers. Please give me your most honest answer as I am way confused.
Michael Bolton, Long Island, New York

Let's go back to basics before we get to specifics. Since the engine is basically a large air pump, the principal for performance is more air in and more air out. Usually, the addition of an air intake system works best after you've unclogged things downstream with the addition of a good after-cat exhaust system. Our experience with the 5.4L engine tells us they are sensitive to both intake and exhaust tuning, so the "bigger is better" theory doesn't apply here. You're right: We would rather not express any opinions about which product is best since we don't have any scientific data to back it up. If you're looking for some underhood bling-bling, as well as improved breathing, both AEM and Mac Products offer polished intake setups for the F-150. Otherwise, companies such as K&N, Airaid, GCA, and Volant, just to name a few, make quality products that will improve your truck's performance.

Greetings From Iraq
First off, I think you have a good magazine with lots of useful information. I have a '97 Silverado Z-71 with 58,000 miles on it and the older Vortec 5.7L V-8. This is my first Chevy, and I want to know what you think about the truck in general and of any trouble spots I should be aware of. I would appreciate any helpful tips or information. I am a soldier of the 101st Airborne Division currently deployed in Iraq.
Spc David Hall, Iraq

Thanks for taking the time to drop us a line. I'm sure you have a pretty full plate over there. Your Z-71 is a great truck. The 5.7L motor is known for reliable service and good power. This first-generation Vortec engine uses an unusual-style fuel-injection system, which has been a subject of at least one recall. Basically, instead of using individual fuel injectors for each cylinder, this setup uses one big fuel injector in the center and individual fuel lines to each cylinder, with poppett valves at the end of each line. These poppett valves have a tendency to gunk up over time, affecting the fuel delivery. Also, the EGR recirculation setup has a tendency to leave carbon deposits on the intake, further complicating the fuel-delivery problem. The fix is regular cleaning of the intake system. On the plus side, the engine has a superior cylinder head design, and that's where the power increase comes from compared to previous engines.

Cop Car Engine Swap
I own a '90 Chevy Sportside 1/2-ton pickup with a 4/6 dropped suspension and the stock 5.7L TBI engine coupled to a TH700R4 tranny. I also own a '94 Chevy Caprice former cop car, which has the LT1 engine and the 4L60E tranny. I have subscribed to your magazine for several years, but can't recall if you folks ever covered the installation of an LT1 and the 4L60E in a '90 truck. Can you tell me what problems I might encounter with this swap? Thanks for your help.
Michael Kelly, Lewiston, Idaho

On paper, the swap is a good one. We've seen plenty of LT1 and TPI Camaro engines in the earlier-model trucks. The key to the whole swap is to grab the wiring harness and computer out of the donor car to make it all work. The 4L60E is basically an electronic version of the transmission you have now, so there's little gained here. The LT1, however, offers better power and torque than your throttle-body engine. You'll also have some details to work out, including the installation of electric cooling fans, since the LT1 has no water pump-driven mechanical fan and possibly a custom radiator to get the inlet and outlets on the proper side. You'll also have to deal with any smog issues in your state. If you grab all the smog gear and the original computer from the cop car, chances are you can get the swap through an emissions inspection.

More Swap Talk
I'm an LCPL in the United States Marine Corps currently deployed in the Mediterranean. I love your magazine and thought you might be able to help me decide what to do with all this money I'll have saved up when I return home. I have an '01 GMC Sierra and tracked the progress of an identical truck that you guys hooked up a while back: Project Hot Truck. I want to swap out the stock 4.8L for a bigger 6.0L powerplant. How easily could this be done, and what would be the best way to go about it? Also, what kind of cash would I be looking at? I've been doing some research, but am confused as to what route to take. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Keith Morton, via e-mail

The engine swap you mention can easily be accomplished by simply finding a donor motor in a crashed late-model truck and transplanting it into your pickup. The architecture of both the 4.8L and 6.0L are nearly identical, so it's an easy physical swap; everything should bolt right up. If you're serious about the swap, however, your best bet is to grab the whole motor, intake, throttle body, airbox, exhaust manifolds, and so on, to make the swap. The rest is a plug-and-play operation with the exception of having the computer reflashed at the dealer with the 6.0L calibrations. Since it's more power you're after, we suggest you simply bolt on a supercharger and some aftermarket exhaust upgrades. This will be a lot less work, will be cheaper in the long run, and will yield a bit more power than a stock 6.0L makes. It's also a smog-legal modification in most states. Check with any of our supercharger advertisers about kits for your truck.

Screen Or No Screen
A great deal of controversy surrounds "de-screening" a GM truck mass airflow meter. One camp says to not de-screen your MAF, the other group says go for it. It's really hard to tell what the right thing to do is, as both parties seem to have good points and opinions. I can't discern what is fact and what is fiction. Can you shed some light on this issue? In addition, a recent issue compares a True Flow intake to the OEM setup. After several hundred miles, you reported an mpg increase of 1 mpg and an increase of around 12 hp and 12 lb-ft of torque over stock. Was this done with the MAF in OEM configuration, or was the MAF de-screened? I'm assuming the MAF was left in OEM form. Thanks.
Sam Cafarelli, Boston

We've also heard two schools of thought on this MAF screen issue. The first school of thought is that the screen at the front of the mass airflow meter straightens the airflow out before it goes across the wire sensor for a more accurate reading. However, Chevrolet figured out that it can make a couple of extra ponies by removing the screen, which it did in the '02 and '03 ZO6 Corvettes. Also, aftermarket performance mass airflow meters, such as those offered by Granatelli Motorsports, come without the screen, so there is some validity in taking them out. As for the True Flow intake test, we ran the truck stock and then added the True Flow setup. The MAF stayed stock, with the screen in place. The numbers are real and the system works as advertised. The foam element also does a better job of trapping dirt than the stock paper element.

LS-1 Stroker Motor
I have an '00 Chevy Silverado with a 5.3L engine with 65,000 miles on it. I've added a Borla exhaust and Basani headers. I've read many articles on stroking the older 5.7L engine. Can the newer 5.3L engine be stroked? What parts would you use? And what would the results - i.e. final cubes, horsepower, and torque - be?
Gary Mitchell, via e-mail

There have been a lot of articles written about stroked versions of the Camaro and Corvette LS-1 5.7L engines. As far as stroking the powerplants in the new GM trucks, we know Lunati has a stroker rotating assembly for the 6.0L engines. The stock 4-inch barrels get punched 0.030 over, and a stroker crank takes the stock stroke from 3.62 to 4. This takes the stock 364 cubes to 408 inches. The company also has a 4.125 stroked crank that no one has tried to put into a stock 6.0L; it would push the engine up to 421ci. Of course, the stock head ports wouldn't support that volume, so a lot more work would need to be done to get that scenario to work.

As far as the 5.3L is concerned, not much testing has been done yet, but we've been informed that the two blocks are similar and may use the same block dimensions. That means the cranks will probably fit, but you will still be restricted in bore size. We believe that the 4-inch stroker crank would be a good addition to the 5.3L for added torque, but with the small bore, it won't allow for much more airflow, so consequently, there probably won't be a major increase in horsepower.

We have no raw data, which of course makes this all speculation, but it's been a frequently asked question, and the staff is itching to get its grubby little paws on the answers. So keep your eyes peeled to the future pages of Sport Truck for the true answers to the 5.3L questions.

Your other option, of course, is to up the power of your 5.3L with aftermarket bolt-ons. We've seen decent increases in both power and torque through the addition of an after-cat exhaust system, headers, air intake, and power programmer. And best of all, these bolt-ons will still allow the truck to pass an emissions test, where as with an increase in cubic inches from a stroker kit, it might be iffy at the sniffer.

Smooth Move
I have a '98 S-10 that I enter into shows as much as I can. I've painted the interior, but I would like to have the texture removed. I can't seem to find and easy way to do it. Do you have any suggestions on how to get the texture out?
Michaela Copeland, Clarksville, Tennessee

If you want to smooth out the texture of the plastic pieces of your interior, we know of two ways to do it, but neither of them are super easy. Option one is to sand the plastic smooth with 320-grit sand paper, spray on some adhesion promoter, and then primer your parts. This will leave you a smooth surface with minimal layers of paint media so it has less chance to shrink. Option two is to use a high-build primer and sand between coats until the primer is smooth, and then spray your paint. If you decide to go with the primer option, be aware you need to give the primer a few days to shrink to prevent small sanding scratches from showing up later. If you already have paint on your parts, you might be able to just color-sand the paint until the texture is gone. If you break through the paint, then give it another coat. Happy sanding.