Project V8 RX-7: Part 6 - Installing the E-Rod LS3

by Jeff Naeyaert

In our last installment of Project V8 RX-7 we took a look at the T-56 Magnum transmission from Tremec we’ll be using for our swap, now it’s time to bolt it up to our E-ROD LS3!  Close attention to the cover of our last article could have caught a sneak peek of the one remaining component we need before we marry the Magnum to the Quicktime bellhousing—the throwout bearing.

Often times the throwout bearing is an afterthought for enthusiasts and to be honest we only looked into it after learning our T56 would not come equipped with one, due to the wide variety of  applications the Magnum can work with.  Although a stock GM throwout bearing will no doubt work fine we decided to try McLeod's 1400 series throwout bearing with integral slave cylinder.


McLeod T-56 Magnum Throwout Bearing
The McLeod kit comes supplied with a collar, bearing, spacers and gaskets.

We chose this TO bearing because it simplifies stuff in the bellhousing area by eliminating the need for a throwout arm.  This sort of throwout bearing keeps the bearing in contact with the clutch diaphragm springs at all times so the bearing itself is always turning.  It is also self-adjusting.  Surprisingly this makes for a longer lasting TO bearing because spinning all the time is easier on the bearing than being accelerated suddenly to high rpm all the time from a dead stop for shifts. The bearing also eliminates the need to fabricate clutch linkages and throwout arms for swaps.

McLeod T-56 Magnum Throwout Bearing
Adjustable spacers allow the McLeod throwout bearing to be set up for ideal fitment.

The McLeod bearing is machined from billet aluminum and hard anodized for long life.  The bearing comes equipped with quality braided steel lines and swivel fittings, which ease maintenance and installation. A really handy feature is the 11" external bleed line, which makes clutch bleeding a snap even with the slave residing inside the bellhousing.

 measuring throwout bearing "A" dimension
The distance from the pressure plate fingers to bellhousing mating surface is measured...


...the ideal distance between fully retracted piston face surface and clutch fingers is about 1/8" to allow the throwout bearing to self-adjust as the clutch wears.
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Monday, November 07, 2011 2:54 AM
I think everything you need to know about this project can be conveyed in one image. That image is the second one down on the third page of this article. The intrepid RX-7 chassis up on the lift with the angry smallblock lurking below.

The LS3 E-ROD, T56 Magnum and bellhousing are not large or bulky components in and of themselves. However, when you bolt all of them together to form the business end of a drive train you are left with quite a formidable piece of hardware. It isn't too heavy or anything (pretty light all considered, huzzah all-alloy motor), but still, there's just... so much of it. And the car into which said drive train is to be bolted, well, there's just so LITTLE of it. These facts are really well communicated by that picture of the RX-7 and the e-rod.

I personally would just endorse the shit out of this entire project. It's premise, it's execution, the whole lot. Project V8 RX-7 is just the latest in a long line of car builders carrying the torch in the name of speed. It is based on the exact same premise that spawned such amazing creations as the 427 Cobra. Totally the same idea: little foreign car, big domestic power plant, awesome result. This car is just the latest in a proud American tradition of taking your favorite sporty car and installing a hugely proportionate, hulking engine with a needless amount of power. That's very important adjective at the end there. Needless. There's just no NEED for 500+ hp/ft-lbs in a 2500 pound passenger car. That's a patently ridiculous thing to have or want right from the get-go. A wonderfully, fabulously ridiculous thing.

Cars like these are tools, unproductive tools, because they are built specifically for the purposes of having fun. So if you can achieve that while spending, say $20K-$50K less on the project overall then where is the bad in that? A project like this is already an extremely advanced, well-developed version of shooting-the-breeze. So every dollar spent past towards the minimum necessary to have your specific brand of fun is good for what exactly? A good dose of pragmatism can do a whole lot to make the hobby of going fast more attainable and enjoyable. I'm confident that this car will be be excellent proof of that.

Can't wait to see it run. May many hot-laps pass 'neath the wheels of this mighty bastard child of the automotive gods.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Monday, November 07, 2011 6:02 AM
Jeff, you're giving me very bad ideas about how to use the empty garage bay next to my Mustang...
Monday, November 07, 2011 6:16 AM
Love it, maybe a little tighter fit than I'd like in something I work on but that's forgivable since the engine is brand new and not bound to need work for tens of thousands of miles.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Monday, November 07, 2011 8:34 AM
...until the forced-induction bug bites.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Monday, November 07, 2011 9:32 AM
Jeff - Your research paid off with dividends! Excellent fit and finish with the most minor of modifications. Mcleod really does have nice stuff and excellent staff, at least from my experience with them. Are you going to go the AEM route for the electronics, I thought the E-rod included its own ECU?
Monday, November 07, 2011 10:26 AM
If I weren't already so deep onto the S2k, I'd get a FD and drop the E-Rod into it. I've always liked the FD... and realistically, there's no way I can make the S2k match it. The FD weighs about the same and can fit wider tires. There's no way I can match the power and remain smog legal on the S2k. Even matching the power, I can't match the torque. And less grip. Well, at least I can put the top down, so there!
Monday, November 07, 2011 12:52 PM
From someone who has never laid a hand on an RX-7 or an LS3, why are there so many interference problems with the hood, transmission, A/C bracket, firewall, etc? Wouldn't a proper subframe kit address all of these? It seems like all of these clearance problems could easily be solved by moving the engine just a tiny bit forward and down. So why does the subframe not allow for that? Not trying to bash this project in any way, I'm just curious.
Monday, November 07, 2011 1:14 PM
I don't think the subframe can mount the engine much lower without seriously compromising ground clearance. Minor grinding on the hood, firewall and A/C (even having A/C is a major bonus, IMO) is to be expected when you consider this drivetrain and car were never even conceived of being married when originally designed.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Monday, November 07, 2011 1:22 PM
Wow, DrunkenMessiah, i should have u write my next article! thanks for the comment!

SixCylinders, its actually pretty easy to work on unless you have an earlier model LS with the steel freeze plugs on the rear side of the head that need changing... Youre pulling the head to get at them!

Der Bruce, yeah we are using the computer that came with the E-Rod. Only way to be technically legal.

8695 beaters, everything is about tradeoffs... trim a little off the hood and gain an extra inch of ground clearance, push the engine back a little farther and you gain a better shifter position. The bracket trimming i could have avoided if i used the vette FEAD kit, but i liked this one.
Monday, November 07, 2011 2:46 PM
Jeff, this build is so clean and bada$$. It almost makes me want to find a S-15 and do a LS3 swap. I said almost......
Monday, November 07, 2011 4:18 PM
Thanks. In the pictures it looks like shifting things 1/4" in certain directions would make it fit better, but like I said, I've never worked on an RX-7 or an LS engine. It probably looks roomier than it is in the pics.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Monday, November 07, 2011 5:04 PM
This is still absurd to me, but I have to say I'm kind of curious how this car will end up running since I know Jeff and the gang will be doing it correctly.
Monday, November 07, 2011 5:38 PM
Got a rotary you can donate, Eric? ;)

What about a Winters differential? Plenty of options and flexibility, but does anyone make compatible half shafts? I wish I could recommend a Camaro or CTS-V differential, but neither has a sterling reputation.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 11:52 AM
A Winters has 3 ways to do things, open, detriot locker and spool. All pretty much suck.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 3:36 PM
Ouch. That seems like a pretty huge oversight on their part. useful road racing differentials don't start at anything below a clutch-type, so why doesn't Winters' lineup include something more advanced than spools and D-lockers?
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 3:56 PM
I think OS Giken might have a Winters application in the pipeline...
Wednesday, November 09, 2011 2:26 PM
good stuff boss. look forward to this one hitting the track.
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Wednesday, November 09, 2011 3:54 PM
This project is going to be sikky when finished!
Sunday, November 13, 2011 12:02 PM
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Sunday, November 13, 2011 2:18 PM
Saturday, December 24, 2011 12:56 PM
Doesn't grinding that lip off the bellhousing void the SFI rating of that quicktime bell?
Monday, December 26, 2011 6:52 AM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 3:02 PM
If you don't have an air hammera real man hammer works fine too. A good sharp crack with the flat end of a mid-weight ball-peen works just fine. Just aim carefully and dont mangle anything... like your other hand.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:25 PM
Hi! I see that you had to use the steering rack spacers from Samberg. So when using these spacers, would you not have had to make those cuts in the A/C to fit the powersteering lines?
Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:32 PM
nvm disregard that...i see you had to make the cuts because of the spacer. its just out of order. thanks!
j foulk
j foulklink
Tuesday, July 05, 2016 1:34 AM
I would like to buy one of these k members where do I find one
Friday, February 02, 2018 12:55 PM
From my understanding the McLeod 1300 series is a bolt on style throwout bearing versus the 1400 series, which you have pictured, is the slip on/adjustable style throwout bearing.

Perhaps McLeod changed their model numbers since you published this article.
For another reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21tBaYepYU8
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Friday, February 02, 2018 1:27 PM
hmmm, you may be right... i'll update it either way! thanks for pointing that out!
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