GM LE2 engine conversion

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Chris Matheny

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This will be the thread where I will share progress of converting a GM 1.4L Cruze LE2 engine. So far I have disassembled a spare engine to look over everything and decide if I like it. I weighed everything individually and have decided to use it. The entire engine with turbo, ecm alternator and starter weighed in at 210 lbs. I ditched the factory alternator and saved 6 lbs there. Ditched the factory ecm and turbo. The engine without wiring, ecm starter and alternator weighed 185lbs. I have a radiator 4.5lbs and intercooler 4lbs and new 50amp alternator 6lbs but have a few other areas to shave weight also. I am locking out the variable camshaft phasers for reliably and simplicity. I have machined the hole for the direct injectors for secondary spark plugs and am using gm LS coils on them. Also starting fabrication on a carbon valve cover to get rid of all the steel baffles in the heavy 10.5lbs factory valve cover and should cut 2" off the top engine profile doing this. These engines use a nice forged crank and rods and Mahle pistons. I have machined a PSRU for it and don't plan to turn the engine over 4000rpm and 140-150hp max. This will be aimed more at higher altitude 10,000+ cross country cruising as it will make 100+ hp to 18,000ft. I plan to have this running on a test rig in the spring. I am using fully redundant ecm, spark plugs, crank and cam sensors, O2 sensors, and twin fuel rails and injectors. Any input along the way is welcome. Shooting hard for a 250 lbs or under fwf installed weight.
 

Chris Matheny

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Here's the head, machined for dual plugs, the forged crank and rods. These engines are dirt cheap $320 for the 13k mile engine with the turbo and core paid. Most of their issues in the car are related to the emissions system and direct injection setup that I won't be using either.
 

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stanislavz

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Thumbs up.

In Europe, where was a big interest in making 1.4 tfsi from VW group air worthy. Albeit too-heavy (100++kg with psru) but they make ~ 160 hp on prop.
 

Chris Matheny

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I looked at them, they start about 8# heavier than the engine I chose. They are also at least 3x as much to buy low mileage engines. The engine I plan on using has 2600 miles on it. After buying it, selling off the turbo, vacuum pump, injectors and high pressure fuel pump I have $250 invested in it. A lot of Cruze cars get bought for new drivers and end up wrecked before their first oil change so these engines are cheap and plentiful as of now.
 

Vigilant1

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Chris,
Yes, there are a lot of Cruzes out there, you should have no problems finding engines for awhile. Production of the model has ended, so low mileage ones won't be available much longer, but that won't affect you. FWIW, I rented a Cruze for a long trip and I was surprised to find that I liked it. Fantastic real-world at gas mileage at real highway speeds.
So, to get 100+ HP at 10k+ ft from 1.4 liters at 4000 RPM, what's your induction plan? Apologies if you've discussed it elsewhere.
 

Chris Matheny

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They are turbocharged from the factory (153hp stock and 200hp tuned) but the turbo is very small at a 34mm inducer and they are oriented backwards for my usage. I do not need the boost at 1500RPM as they can make in a car so I am using a larger Garrett turbocharger on my test engine that should stay within its compressor map and be able to supply enough atmosphere to make 120hp all the way to 18,000ft but I am being conservative in calculating 100hp as engine cooling and intercooling will also come into play with the less dense air. The plane I will be using it on will never need that kind of power but should serve as a proof of concept test bed. Anyone have a low and slow type of plane that wants to do testing? My airframe will not be done for quite some time.
 

stanislavz

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I think 99% that 1.4 gm is same as opel 1.4 in eu. So still many in new cars..
 

Chris Matheny

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Yes it's used in the Opel line and maybe Vauxhall models also. They also have another Opel engine I'm interested in for the next incarnation.
 

ScaleBirdsScott

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I could see converting my mini P-36 to a mini P-40 once the airframe is proven on the radial (should be flying around April.) For a P-40 it needs a good narrow inline engine of 80-120hp with a mid to high prop axis. Have some engines in mind but havn't pulled any triggers yet.
 

Chris Matheny

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I could see converting my mini P-36 to a mini P-40 once the airframe is proven on the radial (should be flying around April.) For a P-40 it needs a good narrow inline engine of 80-120hp with a mid to high prop axis. Have some engines in mind but havn't pulled any triggers yet.
This engine will not end up as narrow as you are probably hoping. The dual overhead cams and side mount turbo, intercooler and radiator make it about the same in height and width unfortunately. Should be around the same dimensions packaged as a, O-235 was my intended goals.
 

Chris Matheny

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Started working on the sheet metal intake manifold tonight. Hopefully I'll have some machining done to post this weekend. Got the throttle body I believe I'm going to use in the mail today that will allow a push pull cable and dual throttle position sensors. This forum has pushed me a little more to keep this project rolling and I appreciate that.
 

Victor Bravo

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Anyone have a low and slow type of plane that wants to do testing? My airframe will not be done for quite some time.
If I had such an airplane I would definitely be interested. But the "extra" airplane I have is going to be used for a test bed on a 58HP engine that's a lot lighter.

What you should do is contact the people on the Zenith Aircraft internet forum, and find someone with a CH-750 who is interested in auto conversions. That would be a perfect airframe for testing what you are doing.
 

Toobuilder

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Curious about the dual TPS. In my EFI system there's only one, and it's optional. Is your CPU architecture reliant on the TPS signal?
 

Chris Matheny

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So which model do you speak about then ?
They have a 1.6L all aluminum diesel I would love to play with its around 250lbs and makes 160HP in the bi-turbo european version. Would be a great little engine for a Long EZ for cross country. So many ideas and so little time.
 

Chris Matheny

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Curious about the dual TPS. In my EFI system there's only one, and it's optional. Is your CPU architecture reliant on the TPS signal?
Not reliant but definitely makes tip in enrichment smoother than operating in alpha N setup relying on a map sensor to react the same at all altitudes and pressures. Just more of a choice for tuning a turbo engine.
 
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