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Old 05-29-2012, 09:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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94 454/4l80e build......needs more power

guys we have a 94 k 3500 crewcab dually. We absolutely need to get more power out of the 454/4l80e with 4.10s combo. It has 150k miles on it, paid off and great shape.

We we loaded to around 18k this weekend and it pulled us down to a dead stop in high range on some back roads with steeeeeep grades. Had to put it in low range to go over the top.

No we are not doing a cummins/or d max swap. This truck doesn't get run enough to warrant that kind of $$.

So what can we do to get more power from this package?
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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deeper gears would help the most

someone else will chime in with real advice.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Cant run much deeper than 4.10 on a truck running a 30" tire.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
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You really need a better gear ratios. Hence the fact you have to put it in low to keep it moving up a hill

But have you done the basic's like headers, exhaust, and chip tuning??? Might start there.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It's bone stock except a MSD multi spark, which doesnt seem to make a difference. what would be a good build for this.

Which of the following What brands etc?

header?
tuner?
intake?
trans upgrade? it gear hunts a lot

etc?



I will say this it seems to run pretty hot. It has the manifolds blue. Just seems like a dog, even compared to our 92 suburban with 350/4l60e/ 3.73s
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:31 AM   #6 (permalink)
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gears....and find a whipple
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Its running hot because of the engine load as seen in the manifold heat. The gears will help the most.

Is this a 2wd or 4x4. If its a 2wd gear change is a no brainier.

There were lots of chip burners at one time google performance tune for your truck. This would help the trans out as well from hunting gears.
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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well its 4x4. so idk about a gear change. plus i do not want it any more gear bound than it is on the highway.
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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well its 4x4. so idk about a gear change. plus i do not want it any more gear bound than it is on the highway.
That makes it harder.

I would redue the exhaust first to free it up. 3'' duals or dual 3'' into a 4'' or larger would help and see if that helps cut down on the engine heat.

Also you could do a cam swap.
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Old 05-29-2012, 04:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Get a different truck. 18k with a tbi 454 are you crazy? Your truck might be worth enough to turn around and buy a Ford diesel. A custom tune and headers isnt going to do shit with 18k worth of trailer. TBIchips.com burns the best chips but you have bigger problems than adding 30 or 40 horse power with bolt on stuff. By the time you spend thousands on heads, cam, intake and a whipple you will wish you did the 12 valve swap.
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Old 05-29-2012, 05:06 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Sounds to me like it might be running lean. I would consider having a competent person check things out. a tune or anything else is bs if the basics aren't set right.
steep hills in PA? you'd crap if you saw Sonora pass.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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You need to have the engine checked out like already said. I wouldn't expect big power out of it but it should be able to pull that trailer up any steep grade until the tires spin.
How is the trans?
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:25 PM   #13 (permalink)
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You need to have the engine checked out like already said. I wouldn't expect big power out of it but it should be able to pull that trailer up any steep grade until the tires spin.
How is the trans?
This ^^

I'm having trouble imagining the truck just stopping because it was too heavy, if the motor and trans are in good condition, that big block should be reved out in 1st gear pulling the trailer up even of its just 10 mph.... If it stopped and you had to put it in 4lo something tells me the trans is slipping and the gear reduction of 4lo helped keep it from slipping. Regardless, 18k is too much to comfortably tow with that truck.
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:07 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I agree with the others about something not being right, but more info is needed,

How steep was the grade, as in percentage wise? Does the truck have a tach? It would be helpful to know what RPM the engine was turning when it was stalled against the converter.

Just a SWAG, but it almost sounds to me like the truck is not starting out in, or dropping down to, 1st gear. Were you in manual 1st gear, or drive range? Id you were in "D", drop down to manual "1" and see if it pulls any better. Does the trans shift into overdrive? The reason I ask these questions is that if the "A" shift solenoid and it's associated spool valve aren't working for any reason, you will lose 1st and 4th, effectively turning your 4L80E into a powerglide OTOH, the 4L80E is a pretty smart setup, and it should light up the MIL if the pressure switches don't read the proper hydraulic circuits engaging and the speed sensors don't read the proper speeds for a given commanded gear...
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:58 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The hill pulled it down to about 5 mph and the just pulled the truck to a stop, no high revving liked the trans was slipping, etc. and 18k is gross with truck and trailer which i do not think is outrageous for this truck, i feel that is a reasonable load. We have had some issues with the trans not shifting out of 2nd at times?


I know the tbi blows, is there an efi system out there that can go on this motor and still talk to the trans w/o needing a stand alone.
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Old 05-30-2012, 04:00 PM   #16 (permalink)
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tbi technology does not nor will not ever produce big power, 18k is a lot of weight, my old powerstroke could tell when I had that kind of weight behind her.

Your truck should not just stop tho.... Sounds to me like the tranny was overheated and began slipping on you. Regardless your not ever gonna feel good about pulling 18k with a tbi. If you want a good pulling truck, find a 90's powerstroke or 12valve truck and sell the chevy. I am sorry die hard chevy guys, I love my bowtie but there was no good solution for pulling until the dmax..... I know its sad it took chevrolet years to figure out there was a demand for a good diesel in there line up.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:57 PM   #17 (permalink)
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The hill pulled it down to about 5 mph and the just pulled the truck to a stop, no high revving liked the trans was slipping, etc. and 18k is gross with truck and trailer which i do not think is outrageous for this truck, i feel that is a reasonable load. We have had some issues with the trans not shifting out of 2nd at times?


I know the tbi blows, is there an efi system out there that can go on this motor and still talk to the trans w/o needing a stand alone.
You never said HOW STEEP said hill was. 1st gear in a 4L80E is only 2.48, same as a TH400. A really steep hill (I'm talking 20% here) with that much weight could stall the converter. TBi 454 gave 385lb-ft torque at 1600RPM when it was new. You're probably only getting 300 these days...
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:39 PM   #18 (permalink)
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trans stuck in 2nd, converter going south... both of those will induce this problem, along with the already anemic 454.

remember, it might be a 454, but any engine is an air pump. the easier it is to get air in and out, the more power you will make, though most of the time you will raise your rpm range to do it.

to make power down low, you need a hydraulic roller cam, something that big blocks didnt have till after 95. not a big one.. just a hydraulic roller. put a set of 1.8 rockers on it to help it breathe, go 3 1/2 to 4 inch single exhaust, and find a bigger throttle body to get it out of the "wheeze zone". yes, you can do it... no, it wont be easy.

my dually has 4.56 gears, a 454 and a th400, 235/85/16s. Fully loaded with (a conservative guestimate) 12k of sandbags, I had no problem with power even though i had a flat tappet cam. I could, however, tell that the load was there. Running an 800 cfm double pumper, edelbrock performer 2-0, and single 4" exhaust. I have had 5k worth of horse manure on it and gone up some steep assed grades, never had a problem... of course, I know to shift manually to a lower gear. the truck weighs over 8k empty with a 12 foot flat bed.
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Old 05-31-2012, 06:59 AM   #19 (permalink)
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i pull 12K with my TBI 454 about every month or so, its slow but I have no problems moving the load.. big difference is my truck has a 5 speed manual. the OP said 18k is gross weight, not just trailer... I think either the trans is in limp mode, or the convertor is done..breathing mods will help.. i removed my cat and the truck pulls so much better, mine was severely clogged.
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:47 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Is there a way to test the converter? secondly What would be the best modes to build the 4l80e for towing, or swap to a nv4500?
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:24 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I really think you need to be looking at a different truck. To modify what you have to meet what it sounds like your goals are is going to cost you more than replacing it with a similar diesel/ manual trans truck.

Edelbrock makes a multiport setup, that will set you back 2-2500. Cam/headers/chip roughly around 7-900 depending on what you go with.
And that is still not going to make you happy. Plus at that point your 80E is going to start hating you.

I was/am in the same boat as you with my 87 crew cab. Built a stump puller 454 for it, still not happy. Bought this 1992 Dodge to hold me over till i get the 60/70/12V/5600 in my chevy. I hate the dodge body and ride, but cant beat the engine and trans. I really only pull heavy 5-6 times a year and I still think the Cummins swap is worth it.

Buy a manual trans 1st gen Dodge with a rotary pump 12V, turn the shit outta the fuel screw and throw some gauges on it for insurance. I got one I'll sell you
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:42 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Is there a way to test the converter? secondly What would be the best modes to build the 4l80e for towing, or swap to a nv4500?
Assuming the engine is healthy, you can do a stall test to check the converter. Checking the converter clutch requires a method of commanding the converter clutch to lock up and then checking slip speed with a scanner. Not sure how to do this on such an old system - its easy on newer stuff with a real PCM
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:05 PM   #23 (permalink)
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tbi technology does not nor will not ever produce big power, 18k is a lot of weight, my old powerstroke could tell when I had that kind of weight behind her.

Your truck should not just stop tho.... Sounds to me like the tranny was overheated and began slipping on you. Regardless your not ever gonna feel good about pulling 18k with a tbi. If you want a good pulling truck, find a 90's powerstroke or 12valve truck and sell the chevy. I am sorry die hard chevy guys, I love my bowtie but there was no good solution for pulling until the dmax..... I know its sad it took chevrolet years to figure out there was a demand for a good diesel in there line up.

Hey now the 496ci 8100 motor was a fucking beast. And the best damn workhorse gasser GM ever produces, hell I might say the best damn workhorse gasser produced period!

That being said 18k gross isnt horrible to expect that truck to move. I mean thats only a 10k trailer. Figure a single open car with a large car or truck on it and your damn near there.


OP I would say you should follow advice here and check out the trans. That being said with 150k on the clock and the truck being used to pull during its life its time to look at a rebuild maybe. Like grumpy said roller cam, typical breathing mods, and stroking it out to a 496 would never hurt.

I mean its gonna get shit gas mileage hurting to pull with your foot buried in it so you might as well get shit gas mileage pulling decently.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:16 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Hey now the 496ci 8100 motor was a fucking beast. And the best damn workhorse gasser GM ever produces, hell I might say the best damn workhorse gasser produced period!

That being said 18k gross isnt horrible to expect that truck to move. I mean thats only a 10k trailer. Figure a single open car with a large car or truck on it and your damn near there.


OP I would say you should follow advice here and check out the trans. That being said with 150k on the clock and the truck being used to pull during its life its time to look at a rebuild maybe. Like grumpy said roller cam, typical breathing mods, and stroking it out to a 496 would never hurt.

I mean its gonna get shit gas mileage hurting to pull with your foot buried in it so you might as well get shit gas mileage pulling decently.
+1. Get the trans checked out by a good trans shop. My modded 6.5/4L80E wouldn't stall with that sort of load.

Lol at the people suggesting selling the truck for pulling a 10k pound trailer. His truck should do it just fine.
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:37 PM   #25 (permalink)
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+1. Get the trans checked out by a good trans shop. My modded 6.5/4L80E wouldn't stall with that sort of load.

Lol at the people suggesting selling the truck for pulling a 10k pound trailer. His truck should do it just fine.
OK, after this post, i'm backpedaling! I didnt see where the OP stated this was total weight till i reread the thread. I thought he was pulling 18K on the trailer and expecting it to not downshift out of third or something equally DA.

I have pulled 10K with a 93 6.5/80E that I had on some nasty hills and not had it get close to stalling to a halt. And we all know what turds the 6.2/6.5 are. Sounds like trans slippage to me as well.
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