Project V8 RX-7: Part 4 - Dressing the E-Rod

by Jeff Naeyaert

So we’ve got our E-Rod kit, unpacked everything and laid it all out, but curiously missing are all the spinny things that go on the front of the engine—more specifically, the alternator, power steering pump, a/c compressor and the other pulleys and tensioners necessary to keep everything playing together nicely.   

What you see is what you get on the front of your E-Rod LS3.

No, GM Performance Parts didn’t forget to send them, they’re actually not included in the kit—not because they’re stingy but because you have a couple options for your front end accessories drive or FEAD kit as labeled by GMPP.  Both the Cadillac CTS and Corvette came with LS3’s and GMPP makes the FEAD kits available for the configurations found in each of them to suit your application. 



We thought that the CTS FEAD kit was a better fit in our FD than the Corvette kit.  Here are the dimensions so you can measure up what works best for your project!

For our project we went with the CTS FEAD kit, which as you can see from the illustrations above, has an overall thinner width and slightly taller height dimension than the Corvette kit.  However, if we relocate the power steering reservoir as we plan to do you can have both a more narrow and shorter accessory drive arrangement—best of both worlds!



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Friday, June 03, 2011 4:52 AM
Great reading Jeff, thanks for posting.
Is anyone you know considering the 3.5L V6 Ecoboost from Ford?
Friday, June 03, 2011 4:56 AM
@Jeff: What are your thoughts on an Accusump's effectiveness? Since they only slow down oil pressure drops, as opposed to maintaining operating pressure, they've always struck me as a band-aid rather than a true solution. I've heard well-reasoned opinions for and against them, but I haven't used them enough to argue one way or the other.

I'm definitely a dry-sump disciple, but it's hard to ignore the bang-for-buck potential in the Improved Racing baffle and Accusumps. Next time a low-buck build comes my way, I'll be taking a serious look at these parts. Great writeup!
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Friday, June 03, 2011 5:12 AM
Hmmm, I didn't even think about oil starvation before. I wonder if I should get a different oil pan for my toy, too.
Friday, June 03, 2011 6:37 AM
Ockham, you're correct in your thinking. The Accusump setups are a band-aid, but they're a pretty effective band-aid. They don't have all of the advantages of a dry sump setup, but they protect pretty well against the common problems of pump and pickup cavitation which are both usually short duration. If you need a dry sump system, you need a dry sump system. But if you're doing a budget setup for occasional race duty, an Accusump and a nice oil control tray may be the perfect solution. The nice thing is that the Accusump doesn't require anything different than the stock engine setup, and doesn't add any potential reliability issues from additional pumps, belts, etc.

I love dry sump systems, but they're often overkill for cars that don't exclusively live on a racetrack. The Z06 dry sump gets rid of the Accusump downsides and the extra work during Accusump oil changes, but at the expense of .....extra expense.
Friday, June 03, 2011 7:09 AM
@Fabrik8: Yeah, the cost of a dry sump is pretty hard to ignore. I engineered and manufactured my own system for a motorcycle engine a while back, which wasn't too expensive, but any rigorously-developed off-the-shelf system will start no lower than $3000. Even the Corvette Z06/ZR1/Gran Sport system only uses a single scavenge stage, and never fully evacuates the oil pan. Not a true dry sump, but it's cost-effective and very functional. One step up from baffles and an Accusump.
Friday, June 03, 2011 7:45 AM
The 'Vette dry sump does exactly what it needs to though, it doesn't need the ultra shallow pan depth that would normally be used for a race application, and still uses the most important part which is the external oil reservoir. A single scavenge stage works fine because you're still inherently protected from the pickup problems that plague a normal oil sump. Additional pump stages add complexity and cost and add very little benefit on a non-race vehicle. I wish every performance oriented OEM engine came with a single stage dry sump system, that would be so incredible..
Friday, June 03, 2011 8:07 AM
I've heard of quite a few Vettes grenading engines in long sweepers. Any measures taken to keep oil fed to the engine is a good thing!
Friday, June 03, 2011 8:12 AM
I'm really not keen on either of these drive setups, they both look to have some serious flaws from ideal, the CTS' looks to be packaged nicer but if the power steering pump started leaking the alternator would be in for it, but I would assume MotoIQ would not allow this to happen in the first place. I'd also figure that the alternator would go before the power steering pump anyways and it would be easier to get to on top. The pictures are obviously not to scale, at first glance I was liking the Corvette's AC placement but a second glance shows that it's actually half an inch further away.

Good stuff though, amazing clutch to say the least.
Friday, June 03, 2011 9:25 AM
Everytime I see this project it gets me thinking... I've always loved the sexy shape and chassis design of the RX-7 but not necessarily the Rotary motor.

This is definitely a car I want to check out in person when I make it down to California one day.
Friday, June 03, 2011 11:05 AM
@Fabrik8: I'm definitely not knocking the Vette's system. You're right, it's very good. Most of the people against it are just pedants, because there's no getting away from the fact that it works very well and has excellent durability, regardless of whether it's a "real" dry sump. Pity that dry sumps cost so much. There's nothing cooler than looking into a race car's engine bay and seeing an engine that's no higher than your knees.
Friday, June 03, 2011 11:20 AM
you guys are silly you called it a street car and put a twin disc clutch in it (i hope you only did that because it was sponsored) I can't think of a single reason the stock clutch or a slight pp upgrade wouldn't do everything necessary without the added expense (both upfront and at replacement time)

Won't you need a different throwout bearing arrangement with the taller stack height now aswell?

Im all for overkill but you guys are lying to yourselves. (im all for that too BTW)

the 383 in the elcamino out back has a stock whatever OTS replacement pp and clutch and makes over 400lb/ft all day no issues.
Friday, June 03, 2011 11:30 AM
As a car enthusiast, I would say this: going the extra mile to swap the not-so-reliable 13B, I would ditch the A/C, and power steering altogether. Fewer belts, more reliability, and free up few extra horses.
Sure, who wants to muscle a 2800 lbs car out of a parking spot? or drive in a 100 degree weather? Those are minor flaws :)
I think the most important thing though is, removing unnecessary weight on the nose of the car, and bring he weight down to 400ish lbs.
How much does a complete 13B weigh anyway? I keep hearing people saying that is not that light. Anybody?
Friday, June 03, 2011 11:57 AM
I think I remember the standard LS-family engines are rouhgly 20-30 pounds more than the 13B, which is well worth it in the context of power and reliability. Not really sure about the E-Rod because of the extra stuff strapped onto it.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Friday, June 03, 2011 12:27 PM
Marillionado: I don't think the ecoboost comes in a CARB legal package like the E-Rod does.

Vince: Khiem nailed the LS probable in general. It was found to have issues with long, sustained high G-force sweeping type turns. Improved Racing's baffle/oil control helps a LOT of this. I don't know if the Coyote motor suffers the same issue, but I'm sure somebody at Ford does!

Jeff: I don't know if you had checked out Hinson Supercars stuff, but I ran into their website and it had TONS of stuff, seeing as LS swaps are their specialty. It sure would be nice to have a CARB legal shorty header for the LS!?

JDMized: but power steering and AC make things so much more comfortable! And I can't imagine this thing being short on power at all!
Friday, June 03, 2011 12:58 PM
@Fabrik8: thanks for the #'s. Well, 20-30 lbs isn't nothing, and like I said, a A/C with all the lines and what not, would knock down 30 lbs easily.

@Der Bruce: sure those things add comfort. If I wanted comfort I would get a Benz instead, not a RX7. :)
If you buy an RX7, you're a car nut in my book. If you sawp an LS3 into a RX7, you just confirmed you are a car nut. With that said, roll down the window in the summer, and grow some guns for those parking maneuver.

I know that freeing up 2-3, heck even 5 hp on the LS3 is literally nothing. I was talking more about reliability and he fact that you wouldn't have to change extra belts and what not.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Friday, June 03, 2011 4:18 PM
Jeff: when's this thing going to be track ready? I need to get my buddy to break out his FD that I built 8 years ago (and still runs strong today) and we should do a proper comparo where both cars that have the same suspension, wheel, tires, alignment, with the only differences being the drivetrain to settle the score once and for all. This would be a cool ass story. SCC tried it, but it wasn't that good of a story if you ask me.

I have to admit though that the more I read about your swap, I am beginning to see why the common enthusiast would do this swap. It almost looks kind of fun to do although I'd still drop in a single turbo VQ myself. I'm not saying I like the thought of an LS in and FD though...
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Friday, June 03, 2011 5:32 PM
@Ockham: I'll probably add an accusump at some point along the way depending on how much I end up taking this thing to the track. 20psi of oil pressure is better than 0 psi of oil pressure… Ross Petty's LS drift car grenaded at Atlanta from oil starvation. His new engine has an Accusump.. Dai's LS has never had oil starvation issues and all it uses is an Accusump (not sure if it even has a baffle). If those cars are fine at over 1.5g's, I think I'll be fine too.

@SixCylinders: the power steering pump reservoir will most likely be mounted remotely on the fender well. Accessing the alternator underneath really isn't that bad.

@Skullworks: You are correct, the ACT is probably overkill, but it's a lot more fun than just using stock stuff. No doubt there are cheaper options.. When this car was LS1 powered I used an aluminum Fidanza LS2 flywheel, an LS7 clutch and pressure plate and that was more than sufficient to hold the power and easy to drive on the street.

@JDMized: I drove this car without power steering when it was LS powered and while it wasn't that bad I'm putting the power steering back on. I went through great lengths to make the AC work correctly too and I'm definitely putting that back on as well--I don't want ball sweat to ruin my alcantera seats! Trust me, you don't feel the AC drag down the engine at all on these big V8's. As for changing belts, you only save not having to use an AC belt.. You still have to get a serpentine, it's just a little shorter if you have no power steering. I forget which I used for mine but I do remember digging around the back of a Kragen trying to find the right length...

@Der Bruce: Technically you could stick an ecoboost engine as long as it was older than the donor car and you installed ALL the emissions things from the ecoboost into the new vehicle. Then you'd have to take it to a CARB referee and have them check it all off as kosher--I had to go through that whole process getting my LS1 RX-7 CARB legal… As for the Hinson Supercars kit, I'm very familiar with it--I used it for my first swap but we're going a different route with this build.

@Eric: that WOULD be a good story! Let's discuss offline!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, June 03, 2011 7:54 PM
Jeff got the clutch because I told him to as we got plans for this engine eventualy.
Eric Hsu
Eric Hsulink
Saturday, June 04, 2011 6:16 AM
Let's do that story. We'll discuss over lunch when you guys get back from FD. The only thing is that you'll have to ask for 2x whatever suspension, tires, brakes, and wheels you plan on getting. But I think the web traffic would be outrageous and well worth it to the manufacturers. We'd get all the LS and rotary guys all over the story. Then we'd get some of the domestic and JDM lover crowd traffic too.
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Saturday, June 04, 2011 11:55 AM
I read a great arguement the otherday that the 13B and LS have the same usable powerband, but the B's doesn't kick in until 2-3k RPM later. A great way to check this MIGHT be to do a 0-60 test and then 40-100 test. Either way, such a comparo would be extremely buzzworthy. I just want at least one of these to have the Mazdaspeed or RE-Amemiya front end because they are sooooo sexy!

Jeff: Did you have to run the stock exhaust manifolds and fab up a bracket to have a stock intake box to get CARB approval?

Eric: The rotary may be pretty amazing tech, but they certanly don't look as good as a VQ or LS in my opinion.
Saturday, June 04, 2011 1:04 PM
That engine is awesome light and compact for its massive displacement
Saturday, June 04, 2011 3:43 PM
Not sure if its mentioned somewhere but what final drive is going to be used?
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Saturday, June 04, 2011 5:26 PM
@Der Bruce: Yes, I never ran anything but the stock exhaust manifolds AND cats.. I had to get 2 right hand side side secondaries and do a little hacking to get the cats to fit but got 'em in there. I actually think the E-ROD's 4 cats will package better than the old LS1's 2 just cuz of the size of them... lookup LS1 cats to see what i mean. For the CARB ref i removed to the hood and drove to the station with the giant stock airbox hanging out and resting on the front bumper.. a hood isn't required to pass smog and the guy didn't say a peep about it :)

@econobox: no, it hasn't been mentioned... stay tuned!
Monday, June 06, 2011 1:11 PM
The photography in this update is plain awesome, especially the cover photo.
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Monday, June 06, 2011 11:05 PM
Oh snap, Part 4! Project car wars is back on! Guess it's time for me to get cranking on Miatabusa part 8!
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