Towing Power - Blower? Turbo? Engine Swap?

Discussion in 'Engine & Performance' started by Aopsahl7, Jan 1, 2017.

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  1. Aopsahl7

    Aopsahl7 "Requesting a Fly By"

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    Happy New Year!

    I moved to CO last year and have been spending a lot of time in the mountains. I came to the realization that sleeping in a camper is a way better option than sleeping in a tent, so I bought a 2016 Winnebago Minnie.

    Problem: The truck is underpowered and heating up on mountain passes when pulling the camper. Keep in mind these are steep and long passes at elevations of 10,000ft+. The truck has no overheating issues or power issues pulling the camper on flat land, but I am struggling to hold 25+ mph up steep passes at high elevations and the coolant/tranny are pushing above 240 degrees at which point I pull over and let her breath. Note: I am not bogging the engine down and I am manually dropping into 2nd gear to keep RPM's up.

    Disclaimer: I am NOT interested in purchasing a different or new truck. I am well aware that a DMax would solve this problem. I also have reasonable expectations. I do not expect to be able to modify my truck to sustainably pull a loaded camper at elevation holding 75mph up a grade...

    Specs:
    • Loaded Camper Weight: ~6,500lbs
    • Ambient Air Temps: Below 90
    • Truck
      • 2003 Silverado 5.3
      • Stock Tow package (Tranny cooler)
      • Superlift 5-6" Lift
      • 35" Tires
      • 3" Body Lift
      • 4.56 Re-Gear
      • CAI, Magnaflow Cat Back, Blackbear Tune
      • 140,000mi on the clock
    Options for Discussion:
    1. Magnacharger
    2. Turbo Charger - http://www.andysautosport.com/turbo_kits/chevrolet_silverado.html
    3. Engine swap to a built 6.0
    With any of the above options I realize there is risk to the 5.3 as well as the 4L60E. For the tranny I plan on upgrading the servo's to help it survive the extra power and if it bites the dust will need to move to a 4L80E.

    What do you guys recommend?
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
  2. Graystone

    Graystone Mmm Sandwich

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    So do you have all that lift on stock tires? Doesn't matter the size lift you have tires size makes the difference. I would put a larger trans cooler if all you are running is the stock one. Also address your heating up issue before adding any more power. By heating up are you talking tranny temps or engine? Taller gears would be better as well.
     
  3. Aopsahl7

    Aopsahl7 "Requesting a Fly By"

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    35's.

    Heating up both coolant and tranny. Engine coolant seems to run up first and tranny follows. On the milder passes temps get up to about 220 and then cool down nicely. On the long steep passes temps got up to about 240 and I pulled over to cool off. After getting down to about 200 on both I kept going and she did fine at about 25mph.

    Note: I am staying in 1st or 2nd depending on speed and grade keeping RPM's up and avoiding bogging the engine down. Never giving more than 50-60% throttle.
     
  4. Graystone

    Graystone Mmm Sandwich

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    4.88s would be better and getting the larger radiator and efans. A blower or turbo is just going to create more heat. Bigger trans cooler for sure. Heat is always going to be an issue in the situation you are in. Also is your tune a performance tune? If that is the case it may be causing your heat issues
     
  5. Aopsahl7

    Aopsahl7 "Requesting a Fly By"

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    4.56's went in a year ago. I will be bummed to swap them to 4.88's and I am not sure the gains would be anywhere near noticable compared to an extra 100-150 hp & lbs tq.

    Upgrade tranny cooler is a no brainer I should have thought about. I will order a Tru-Cool 40K now.

    Efans - Jumping on it...

    Tune - I emailed Justin from Blackbear about the tune and he said it shouldn't be an issue or cause any of the heating issues. Its a 91/93 Tune.
     
  6. Graystone

    Graystone Mmm Sandwich

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    Mechanical advantage is going to help a lot. Keep in mind you are going to be dropping close to 10k to get this where you want if you go the blower/turbo route and that is not going to help much if you are going to be running 50-60% throttle. Both are making the power higher in rpms. Then you are going to be putting a trans in as well. Drop a 6.0 in and you are gaining at most 50hp with a straight swap. Fyi. More power you put at it the less reliable it's going to be long term. Do you want performance or reliability?
     
  7. Aopsahl7

    Aopsahl7 "Requesting a Fly By"

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    Would rather have reliability.

    So your vote is...

    Efans, 4.88's, Tru Cool 40K, Swap in a 6.0 and let her fly? I like this better than FI.
     
  8. Graystone

    Graystone Mmm Sandwich

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    I would put the larger radiator that came in the later model trucks as well. Honestly the gears would be the last thing I would do. The cost to go up 1 size is a lot and the gains would be minimal. But if you still need more it's an option. Put a good cam for tq when doing the swap and some long Tubes to bump a little more power out of the 6.0 and it would be a good match. If you are still running a stock trans keep an eye on it. Doesn't sound like you beat on your truck so it could be fine.
     
  9. Aopsahl7

    Aopsahl7 "Requesting a Fly By"

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    Much appreciated. I will start hunting for a 6.0 and do a lot of reading...
     
  10. Atomic

    Atomic GMFS Member

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    Well whatever you do, the 34" radiator is an upgrade from your stock one. The clutch fan actually works better in towing situations than electric fans, so if your only concern is towing you might want to keep the clutch fan. I am not sure if the 2500hd clutch fan is any larger than the 1500 one. I would also install a 40k trans cooler. I typically recommend only using that and bypassing the radiator and removing the stock one, but if you plan on driving in sub zero temperatures you might consider keeping the radiator in the loop.

    As far as power goes, I dont recommend a turbo especially since you are struggling with heat right now and turbos are generally higher maintenance anyway. A tvs or whipple supercharger is always a good choice for towing. If you change elevations your boost will move around, but as long as the tuning is good you will be fine. Good tuning is critical with something like that, as is not to get greedy with boost as doing a 10 second race is much different than pulling for 10 minutes straight. If you have hptuners I actually do remote tuning if you are interested in that.

    Going to a 6.0 will be a bump in power, but I think that will leave you wanting a lot more without sacrificing driveability. The diesel as you said is the real fix, but how much are you wanting to spend on this and what decline in driving manners are you willing to trade? Going to 5.13 gears wouldnt be out of the question if you were wanting to stay with a NA 6.0.
     
  11. Phildirt

    Phildirt n. fil-dert.

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    Trans cooler, long tubes, cam. Compare difference. Then move to phase 2. I wouldn't plan on an engine swap off the bat. Going slow with a load uphill isn't going to kill your tranny if you don't beat on it and unless you are doing it often I wouldn't overkill to compensate. And although you said we aren't allowed to suggest it a 2500HD wouldn't be a bad upgrade down the road.

    @11MPG might be able to give you some suggestions. He said he pulled a camper, 8 people, and gear with his 01 Burb with the 5.3 and passed people doing 70 uphill with long tubes, cammed, and some trans work. He was running 4.88s on 33s though. And I think he went through like 4 cams until he figured out the best combo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
  12. High School Goat

    High School Goat New Member

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    Gearing and cooling will be your friend if you want to keep the big tires. The gen 3 engines like rpm to make their power compared to the old TBI engines. Bigger radiator, trans and oil coolers and I'd go for the big gears.
     
  13. Aopsahl7

    Aopsahl7 "Requesting a Fly By"

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    Seems like everyone agrees on the cooling upgrades as well as gearing. The issue is that the cooling upgrades will most likely take care of the heating issue, but I really do not see LT headers and steeper gears giving me the results that I am looking for. Like I said, I do not expect to be able to fly up mountains, but I would like to be able to maintain speed 40-50mph plus up some steep inclines.

    I am hesitant to jump into 4.88's or 5.13's because I am not always towing with this truck and I would prefer to not shoot my MPG completely in the foot when not towing.

    SCENARIO 1 - I swap to a 6.0 LQ9, upgrade trans, cooling etc, but not gears. Give or take 50+ incremental hp/tq. The nice thing here is that I will have a new motor with lots of room to expand. However, it would be a major bummer to go through all the work of the swap and be disappointed with the results and be back to square one of debating on FI.

    SCENARIO 2 - I keep my 5.3, upgrade trans, cooling. I add a whipple or magnacharger on top. I am pretty confident that the extra 100+hp/tq will deliver the results I am looking for. That is over a 25-30% increase in power. The bummer here is if the 5.3 blows then I will have invested in the blower and will need to replace with another 5.3 and I might be sitting there wishing I could put in a 6.0...

    Am I missing anything?
     
  14. Phildirt

    Phildirt n. fil-dert.

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    Personally I think you're overplannning a little. I don't think a 100+ hp upgrade is needed to pull that weight up the grades you're talking about with your 5.3. Getting it cooled down should be priority one, after that running a little slower than you'd like is inconvenient but not harmful. And don't underrate gears. Personally I think 4.10s are too tall for 35s and would have gone to 4.88s if I was spending your money lol.
     
  15. Aopsahl7

    Aopsahl7 "Requesting a Fly By"

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    I have 4.56's in it now. Looking back I wish I would have gone to 4.88's, but that ship sailed last year before I thought I would be towing anything.

    SCENARIO 3 ha - Upgrade cooling, upgrade cam, add LT headers and see where I am at from there. If that does not deliver the results I am trying to get to then I can explore 6.0 or FI.
     
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  16. 11MPG

    11MPG GMFS Member

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    I'm gonna say something contraversial but eh, here goes. Comp 219/232 duration 109 LSA Thumpr Cam and a set of LS6 springs.........staring at it on a dyno graph is really bizzar. All of that duration and peak torque is still around the factory 4,000 rpm mark, however it's through the roof and looks like a big table. Downside is it makes the 5.3 really thirsty. Runs fine with a stock converter. Also idles like a big Harley.

    Also what Atomic said. 34 inch rad and keep the clutch fan, don't do e-fans for towing.
     
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  17. High School Goat

    High School Goat New Member

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    Think of gears as added torque. Mechanical advantage is what you want and it will keep the stock engine reliability.
     
  18. Graystone

    Graystone Mmm Sandwich

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    I hope you don't think that you are going to lose that much switching to 4.88. You drive a truck with 35s if anything it will be better on has with steeper gears. Plus the 6.0 is not going to get better milage. You can have power or you can have economy. You pick.
     
  19. onetwothree

    onetwothree GMFS Member

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    Or take off the body lift and drop down to 33s
     
  20. 11MPG

    11MPG GMFS Member

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    Gearing is going to get you only so far. I think you need a little more mid-range power if you're pulling that heavy at that altitude
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017

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