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Old 06-04-2005, 04:44 PM   #1
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454 to 502 upgrade

The 454 in my 78 Argosy went T.U. in the rhubarb and my mechanic thinks it is time for a crate 502. Has anyone out there done this conversion and what do you think of it pros and cons. I am quoted $4-5000.00 for a rebuild. and around $8000.00 for a new crate 502. Please any info would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. John

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Old 06-04-2005, 06:49 PM   #2
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There is no replacement for displacement, go for the 502. The 8.1 Vortec's in the current Class A's are great engines, and they are 496 cubic inches. My older brother has a 502 crate motor in a '69 El Camino , WOW, what a ride!

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Old 06-05-2005, 09:22 AM   #3
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502 q's

I finally learned how to use the search function on the forums (I am sure much to the relief of Steven, Dennis, Alan et al). It helped me in answering questions that had been raised already... and answered.

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Old 06-05-2005, 09:55 AM   #4
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Old 06-05-2005, 10:26 AM   #5
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TU in the rhubarb to 502 with onions!!!

John, here is a place to learn everything you ever wanted to know about the 502 BB.

Go to They are located less than 200 miles from you in Milton-Freewater, Ore., and are a big player in the world of GM getty-up-go.
(M-F, Ore. is located just a few miles south of Walla Walla,Wa.)

If you are looking for a 502, the engine you want is part number 88890534 on the Sallee site. It uses a carb. and produces 338 hp. and 512 ft./lb. torque for $5195.00 (now thats onions). It dose require a new intake manifold and other stuff, but is a bolt in.

I think they also have a rebuild machine shop that can make good touque in your old 454 if it is not totally FUBAR.

Call them on 800 number listed on the web site. They are very helpful and please keep us up to date on this thread. I know we will want to be kept informed.

Hope this helps-Bob
PS. If it wasn't camping season, I would offer you my 454 that is in my 88 Airstream 290 and I would go the 502 with onions!!!!
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Old 06-05-2005, 11:02 AM   #6
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Thanks for the answers thus far. I think I will go with the 502 and was quoted around 7200.00 out the door. Warranty for 12 mos. 12k miles. All the shops I talked with have said better to crate than rebuild due to fact install labor is quite high and you don't want to do it again next year. Not to mention the down time. I did fail to mention the 454 currently occupying my doghouse is a reman with less than 20k on it. So we will make lemonade. Thanks again and if anyone has additional comments I would like to hear them all. John
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Old 06-05-2005, 01:14 PM   #7
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sorry to hear that the reman only gave 20K before giving up the ghost. I am envious of the 502 install though, it will sure be sweet when done. Thankfully my "replaced by the PO" 454 still has only 50k on it, and is purring very well, on a steady diet of fresh oil and supplements.
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Old 06-06-2005, 08:52 AM   #8
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Please keep us all posted on your 502 retrofit. We're all facing powerplant replacement at some point. My chassis has 188,000 on the chassis now and there is not telling which engine it's on (a rumored rebuild when purchased from the dealership) - but since you can certainly plan on the chassis/coach lasting as long as the trailers do; engine Removal & Replacement is just part of the ownership process.

I for one would love to hear about the actual process and see any/all pictures you can get related to the R&R. When the time comes for us, my plan is to attempt the R&R myself so information is key.
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Old 06-06-2005, 09:59 AM   #9
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I don't own a MH, but I am a fair car junkie.....and I agree, no substitution for raw, since you are already yanking the old one out, and the fuel econ is already to the point where they revoked your Greenpeace membership, I say go for a 502!
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Old 06-11-2005, 10:48 PM   #10
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Fiddled around with this choice for a couple months before choosing to have the 454 rebuilt on our 92 300LE. Be careful with your dollar estimates until you have made a full list. Either motor must have headers, 3" exhaust, good wires, etc. Will your carb and manifold and fuel pump feed the 502? Tranny ready for the extra poop? Radiator rebuild, belts, waterpump, maybe time for a new distributor? Tax? Add it all up and the $5500 for the motor plus labor and parts is going over $7500 in a single bound. Probably closer to $9K. I don't care what they tell you up front. Check the warranties. Some of the 502 warranties don't work on an RV chassis. And make sure you're looking at the tow motor and not the hotrod motor. Although the lower ends are identical, the heads and cams are way different.

At the end of the day, the tradeoff for me was a few more pounds of torque with premium fuel in the 502 vs. regular gas on a rebuild. I had my race shop do their best with the 66K '92 454: full rebuild, heads flowed, good RV cam and new everything else for bombproofing. Already had the headers. Don't know about the 512 foot pounds on the 502, but the 454 now pulls a 9000# racecar trailer over the Grapevine. We had to drop the tank (in-tank fuel injection pump) and put in the 502 high-volume pump and then a regulator, as the fuel demands of the improved 454 was so much greater.

Good luck.
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Old 06-12-2005, 04:55 AM   #11
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What modifications did you make to be able to safely pull a 9,000 lb. trailer. I believe the rating by Airstream is 2,000 lbs. maximum. Appreciate details of the modifications since all of us have the same limitations.
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Old 06-12-2005, 02:26 PM   #12
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wtrdawg talk to us. We are very interested in your engine project. What is the current status?

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Old 06-13-2005, 10:52 AM   #13
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Update on the conversion is, motor will be here on the 21st and according to my mechanic I will have a 12 month / 12k warranty. As far as the other stuff covered in previous thread, Chevy dealer stated that most of my motor acces will bolt on. I will need a new dist. and am going to add new water pump, and oil and tranny cooler. The model I am getting is the HT 502. 338hp and 512 ft/lb of torque. All my other stuff like radiator and carb were all redone in 2002 so they should not be an issue. That is all for now I will let you know. It should be done by the 25th. Thanks. John
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Old 06-13-2005, 11:10 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by wtrdawg
Update on the conversion is, motor will be here on the 21st...It should be done by the 25th.


Just wondering - do you know the history of the blown engine - how many miles, Time Since Over Haul?

Also, if you could, I am extremely interested in your "out the door" cost - engine, labor, shipping, and misc "parts".

As Steven Webster said above, "information" is valuable to us all.



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