MONDAY morning found us at Pic A Part, a massive wrecking yard where I surveyed a wasteland of old American cars. It wasn’t the automotive graveyard of your imagination, filled with Mustangs and Camaros; rather it was a veritable tribute to some of the most boring cars every made: mini-vans, grocery-getters, trucks and sedans from the 90s and 00s. Here you pay a dollar to enter, remove whatever part it is you need, and they charge you as you leave.
An LS motor was not hard to find, but an alternator to suit the particular LS used in a VX Commodore was. Apparently it was different to those used on any variety of the motor in the US. Mark came away emptyhanded, but Chris had an idea. He had a buddy who worked on LS conversions for Jeeps nearby, so the team soon found themselves at Motech, where they met electrical wiz Mitch and business owner Robbie. They were as intrigued by the idea of an Ls-swapped Valiant as we were by the idea of Ls-swapped Jeeps. These terrors are capable of spinning massive 40-inch tyres on bitumen; god knows what they do on the dirt.
After a quick search, an alternator from the Cadillac LS variation proved to be the closest match. Fabrication would be required on the mounts to make it an exact fit, but it was possible. In the meantime, Arby entertained himself with several joyrides in the Motech fleet.
The team returned to Chris’s garage for fitment, but were left heartbroken when it was found there was still no charge going to the battery. A day had been spent sourcing the alternator and customising the fit – all of which appeared to have been for nought.
Mitch was recruited to take a look and see if he could diagnose the problem. The appropriate 12 volts was found coming from the battery, but mysteriously there were no volts from the alternator; even a busted alternator should still complete the circuit and deliver voltage. Mitch’s suspicions turned to the cabling and eventually focussed on the battery on/off switch mounted on the rear bumper. There a wiring issue was found; once the switch was bypassed, the alternator was charging once more.
An ecstatic Arby took POR440 on the joyride it deserved, but was immediately reminded of the original problem he was in Las Vegas to fix – the overheating. The Valiant would not make it more than 10 minutes without boiling, and removing the air conditioning condenser had not improved the airflow enough to make a discernible difference. But that day in Motech, he had seen a solution. The Ls-powered Jeeps there used massive single fans from late-model Corvettes for their cooling, and if there was anyone’s opinion to trust on LS cooling it was these guys from Las Vegas, who deal with mid-40°c temperatures and higher for much of the year.
Success! Arby shows off the Cadillac-sourced item the Motech boys came up with Ls-into-jeep gurus Motech search for a suitable US replacement for POR440’S dud alternator