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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am installing a BTR LS3 N/A Stage 2 Cam and supporting mods. Cam is 227/238, .620"/.605", 113.5+2.5. I have CAI, 2" headers, 3" exhaust. I am struggling with what to do with the heads. On the cheap I can clean them up, new springs, lap the valves, and no machine work. I got an estimate from Livernois for various head work. Katech was also right in line with pricing. Thing is I don't know how much HP increase for the price and if it is going to make it worth it.

Livernois offered the following:
Clean heads $100
CNC port $500
Debur castings $100
Valve job $350
Blend seats $150
Deck heads $150
Tax $80

I would think decking the heads to bump compression would be worthwhile. Right? CNC port job. Is it worth it? Same with valve job. Is it worth it? Or should I do everything? If I am going to spend $1,400 for 10-20 hp I don't think its worth it! I would rather put that money towards saving up for LSA. I am just not sure how far to go with the heads if I am only going to get minimal gains. I keep reading how the LS3 stock heads flow so well.

No HP or 1/4 mile goal. Just building a fast family hauler on a budget. In about 5 years I want to pull motor, go through lower end, and install LSA.
 

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I am installing a BTR LS3 N/A Stage 2 Cam and supporting mods. Cam is 227/238, .620"/.605", 113.5+2.5. I have CAI, 2" headers, 3" exhaust. I am struggling with what to do with the heads. On the cheap I can clean them up, new springs, lap the valves, and no machine work. I got an estimate from Livernois for various head work. Katech was also right in line with pricing. Thing is I don't know how much HP increase for the price and if it is going to make it worth it.

Livernois offered the following:
Clean heads $100
CNC port $500
Debur castings $100
Valve job $350
Blend seats $150
Deck heads $150
Tax $80

I would think decking the heads to bump compression would be worthwhile. Right? CNC port job. Is it worth it? Same with valve job. Is it worth it? Or should I do everything? If I am going to spend $1,400 for 10-20 hp I don't think its worth it! I would rather put that money towards saving up for LSA. I am just not sure how far to go with the heads if I am only going to get minimal gains. I keep reading how the LS3 stock heads flow so well.

No HP or 1/4 mile goal. Just building a fast family hauler on a budget. In about 5 years I want to pull motor, go through lower end, and install LSA.
When I had my heads cleaned up and done my builder recommended to just mill the heads because the ls3 flow well from factory and porting it will make little no difference. I saw similar posts on here saying the same before I got my cam installed too.
 

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Call American Heritage Performance AHP talk to you Kolhe he knows a lot and specializes in LS heads (310) 326-2399


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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks. The reason why I reached out to Livernois and Katech is that they are local. Saves me a lot of money on shipping heads back and forth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
When I had my heads cleaned up and done my builder recommended to just mill the heads because the ls3 flow well from factory and porting it will make little no difference. I saw similar posts on here saying the same before I got my cam installed too.
Do you regret not getting any porting work done? How big is your cam?
 

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Thanks. The reason why I reached out to Livernois and Katech is that they are local. Saves me a lot of money on shipping heads back and forth.
I understand give them a call if you need any help questions I have been using them for years


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Ok cool. That is the same cam I bought. Did you run a stall too? Heads and stall are the last two things I need to decide on.
No stall right now but you can get it tuned to behave well with little push/surging if you keep the stock converter. and If I do upgrade it would just be to stop the push all together but from a cost standpoint its not worth it for me.
 

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I am installing a BTR LS3 N/A Stage 2 Cam and supporting mods. Cam is 227/238, .620"/.605", 113.5+2.5. I have CAI, 2" headers, 3" exhaust. I am struggling with what to do with the heads. On the cheap I can clean them up, new springs, lap the valves, and no machine work. I got an estimate from Livernois for various head work. Katech was also right in line with pricing. Thing is I don't know how much HP increase for the price and if it is going to make it worth it.

Livernois offered the following:
Clean heads $100
CNC port $500
Debur castings $100
Valve job $350
Blend seats $150
Deck heads $150
Tax $80

I would think decking the heads to bump compression would be worthwhile. Right? CNC port job. Is it worth it? Same with valve job. Is it worth it? Or should I do everything? If I am going to spend $1,400 for 10-20 hp I don't think its worth it! I would rather put that money towards saving up for LSA. I am just not sure how far to go with the heads if I am only going to get minimal gains. I keep reading how the LS3 stock heads flow so well.

No HP or 1/4 mile goal. Just building a fast family hauler on a budget. In about 5 years I want to pull motor, go through lower end, and install LSA.
I will be going through a build process soon, so I was looking at heads. There was a sweet GTO at the builders shop with Mast heads... so clean! CNC heads look cool, but after reading about how good the stock LS3 heads are, I grudgingly admitted I could spend the extra 4G's on something better. I know you are not getting new heads but the point would be the cost per hp gain probably is not worth it, especially in your situation. Once you get to a certain build level the costs start going way up. Maybe just a cleanup would suffice. You are not trying to squeeze every bit of hp out of the engine at this time. In 5 years if going SC you are going to need to upgrade some things on the heads anyway, spend the money then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So true. I try to think of my engine as an air pump. What restrictions from the opening of the air filter to the end of the tailpipe restrict or slow down the flow of air. I think, because I don’t know, with LS3 heads and a mild cam, the cam is still the limiting factor. I don’t think the heads cause a restriction. IDK. Hard part is I talk to engine builders who go FI or large cam and then head work provides reasonable gains vs. dollars spent. Of course they encourage it as well do to more income.

Right now I just have new springs, retainers, and trunion kit to throw on. I am leaning towards cleaning heads and milling them. Maybe a cnc port. Not sure. I haven’t heard much feedback on a valve job and casting clean up. I mean I can clean castings marks up. That’s no big deal. I just did a DIY rod mod on the intake and smoothed out the fuel injector humps. Also cleaned and tested my injectors. One was out of spec and I replaced it.

Thanks for everyone’s feedback so far! It gives me things to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That video was very helpful. Thanks! From my research so far the heads are not the limiting factor for my build. Porting and valve job may get me around 10 hp or so. Not cost effective. I also learned max flow isn't everything without also considering velocity and a million other factors I am not knowledgeable on.

The second thing I completely forgot about is CR for when I go LSA in a few years. I shouldn't mill the heads as the high CR will be counter to boost. Maybe just a clean up pass of 0.005.

Unless anybody has any other suggestions I am leaning towards clean, mill to flatten deck, lap valves in, and hold off on port/valve work until I pull the motor to go LSA.
 

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Hi BrettStoner.
I have a 2014 with a Pat G stage 2 cam. All I did was valve springs, did not remove the heads at all.
I have 120000 miles on it and have never once thought "Gee, I should have had the heads worked on". If I were to do it today, maybe due to the miles, (mostly just to replace the head gaskets) but the heads breathe very well - you will not see much difference - not to be worth the time and effort in removing them and replacing them.

If your mileage is lower, just do the cam and springs and a good tune and let er rip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So after pulling my heads off and disassembly I noticed my exhaust valves were pretty beat up. There was more pitting then I could lap. So I ended up having to send my heads off for a valve job anyways. Go figure! Otherwise they looked ok. Some carbon buildup on the exhaust side. No broken springs. No lost needle bearings in the rockers. No oil deposit buildup. Still have nice cross hatch pattern in the cylinders on the block. Motor has 192k. I just put a CHE trunnion kit on the rocker arms while I wait on the heads. Got the cam out yesterday. One lobe had a wear mark which was the cause of my lifter tick sound. Surprisingly cam bearings look amazing. Hardly any wear. That surprised me. I expected them to be pretty beat up. Tensioner also looked good. No broken pieces. I am going to the LS2 style tensioner along with new chain and oil pump.
 

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consider Improved Racing Hold Down on that oil tube / o-ring area...... EGM 500 they are $25.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good point. I did order the hold down kit for the oil pickup tube from BTR originally.
 

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That’s no big deal. I just did a DIY rod mod on the intake and smoothed out the fuel injector humps.
Can you elaborate on this? Is this some casting or boss in the roof of the intake manifold?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Can you elaborate on this? Is this some casting or boss in the roof of the intake manifold?
In the intake manifold runners the fuel injector bosses protrude into the airstream. I just smoothed them out with a dremel. Didn't go crazy, otherwise you go into the boss. Does it make a difference. Maybe. Probably not. Who knows. I noticed on professionally ported intake manifolds they were smoothed out so I copied their work. I am not sure I would do it again if it was worth the time/effort. I don't have equipment to measure any airflow gains.
 
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