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As Dadd completed a task at one station and moved on to the next, another builder moved into the previous station. It was a methodical process that could be instantly halted if a component or assembly issue arose.

Every PBC builder signs off on the engines he creates, and paperwork permanently records who assembled it. After all the quality checks are made, each engine is moved to a cold test area, for myriad inspections, including checking oil pressure and other critical systems. At another station, the engine is run briefly on compressed natural gas for balancing. After these procedures are completed and a final visual inspection is made, the engine is shipped to the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Kentucky.

We were interested to find out the degree to which the engines are hand-built. It’s true that many of the components are delivered as bolt-on assemblies, such as the cylinder heads, so the builder doesn’t install the valves and valve springs. But other aspects are absolutely what you think of when it comes to building an engine by hand, including placing the bearings on the rods and carefully inserting the camshaft. And each rod/piston assembly is installed by hand.

Compared to the literally thousands of engines that are produced in a day at a conventional engine-assembly plant, the PBC produces only about 125—per week. It has capacity for many more, should other engines be added to the facility or, for some reason, the ZR1 becomes a volume seller.

The facility where the LS7 and LS9 engines originate is unique not only within GM, but the industry. It is rare to mix hand-built craftsmanship with computer-driven technology, and that it works so well here is a testament to the engineers and builders who make it happen. Seems to us those banners and searchlights would be entirely warranted.

Also from Issue 61

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