The “LS12″ – Inside Scoop On the V12 LS Engine
A couple of guys from the northwest have made a lot of waves in the LS world lately with a unique engine build they’ve been putting together in their own garage. Believe it or not, these mad scientists have been taking aluminum LS engines and skillfully slicing them into sections, and then welding them back together to create fully functional V-12 Frankenstein LS engines.
Now like many of you, “Photoshop” was the first thing that ran through our minds when we first saw the pictures of the LS12, but as we did a little digging we quickly realized that this engine is the real deal and having the incredible skill required to pull off a project like this isn’t actually outside the realm of possibility. We had to know more, so we contacted one of the builders; a gentleman named Ray, from Seattle, Washington.
“The inspiration for these started with the desire to make a large aircraft V12,” says Ray. [Editor's Note: As you might already know, many WWII fighter planes like the legendary P51 Mustang were powered by 1,000 plus horsepower V-12s, so it was a natural fit for aviation.] “I was working on an aircraft project, and I wanted a challenge and something new, so we started experimenting on Buick 215 blocks. We made a few of those, and then graduated to the LS platform.”Ray and his buddies took the time to figure out the best place to section the blocks, heads, cam, and crankshaft – but that’s the easy part. It’s getting everything put back together that takes the real skill. “Most difficult thing has been building the crankshafts,” says Ray. “Camshafts are relatively easy, and the heads are a little tricky. But definitely the crankshafts soak up the most time. With the two previous installs we built a crank by hand with lathes and crank grinders from a solid piece of steel. Now we are bolting two pieces of a stock LS1 crank together like a flywheel.”
One of the most difficult parts of the build is ensuring that everything is clocked just right, especially with the cam and crank. Ray tells us, “We utilize several indicators and degree wheels to make sure the cams and cranks are clocked correctly – but I won’t go too deep into that though; trade secret and all.”
As with anything this far out of the ordinary, there will be plenty of skeptics around to point out the potential flaws. In the case of the LS12 many folks are finding it hard to believe that stressed parts like cams and cranks will actually hold up under a load. When we asked him about this, he laughed and said, “We have around 50 years of combined welding experience and some of the best equipment you can purchase. We do have a pretty good idea of what we’re doing.”
As it turns out, Ray and his buddies have already made two complete and running LS12s; one for a P51 replica and one for a Chevy Suburban. They currently have enough parts put together to make about five complete LS12 long blocks. The one they are currently working on will be getting a 1471 Littlefield blower with a custom intake manifold, and might find its way into a long-nosed 240Z. A FAST EFI system tuned by Brian Macy at Horsepower Connection will handle the engine management of the 12-cylinder.
Ray tells us there’s still some work to do, but be expecting videos of the running LS12 in the near future. Keep it tuned here for more updates on this incredible LS project!