Career Center Auto Tech students show off Chevy S10 Engine Swap Project
Jackson, Mich. – Replacing old parts with better ones is nothing new for those who work on cars for a living. But the seniors in Mr. Beaubien’s Automotive Technology program at the Jackson Area Career Center took it to a whole new level with their class project this year - by swapping out the engine of a 1993 Chevy S10 Blazer with a bigger motor to get more power out of it.
“It sort of was the perfect storm; we already had this vehicle and the first year students got some practice tearing the old motor out and we had another engine out of another truck just laying around,” said Automotive Technology instructor Mr. Beaubien. “It’s pretty common for people to modify and put larger motors in these little trucks. It’s been a great learning experience for the students.”
To get the “kick” they were looking for, the students took a V8 engine from an old 1991 Chevy pickup truck - replacing the Blazer’s 4.3L V6 engine - giving the Blazer a much bigger kick than it's ever seen before. “A lot of the class is intrigued by the classic muscle scene and a lot of what that was, was putting stronger motors into vehicles that they didn’t really belong in,” said Dominick Niceswander, Automotive Technology student and senior at Grass Lake High School. “We wanted to get a taste of that in a semi-controlled manner before we go out and do it ourselves with personal projects.”
Students didn’t stop there. They also pulled out the transmission and painted it a bright orange to stand out and make it a bit more flashy - a nod to Chevy, which painted their engines and transmissions orange back in the 60s. “That’s what was so fun about this project - taking a vehicle that looks quite unassuming on the outside and creating this absolute powerhouse under the hood, making it into something that we can show off at a local car show or drag strip,” said Niceswander.
The students had to get creative about putting things back under the hood - as the space was pretty tight with a bigger motor taking up more room. Students had to move things around and come up with work-arounds for certain parts. For example, the fan was moved up near the front end and was now electric, not belt-driven, and custom headers had to be made to wrap around the steering shaft. The students also had to get creative with where to place the exhaust. Phelps Towing came out and picked up the Blazer and towed it to Tamrox Automotive, where a custom dual exhaust system was welded underneath the vehicle exiting out the side just before the rear wheels - giving the souped-up Blazer another unique touch.
Students say the wiring proved to be the hardest because the Blazer’s original engine was much newer and ran on more advanced technology than what was put in, so a lot of the wiring had to be changed to adapt to that fact. The biggest challenge was taking the wiring harness from the S10 Blazer and blending it with the wiring harness from the 91 Chevy truck. “It was questionable at times if it was going to drive or not,” said Mr. Beaubien. “But after all the fixes, tight fits, and other finishing touches, it runs and it drives. It will really get up and go too, because it’s a small vehicle with a big motor. They did it - I’m really proud of these students.”
Students say this project made them feel more confident in their skill set - like being able to take apart a car, remove all the guts and put it back together. This project was done in collaboration with other students from various programs including Visual Communications, who made graphics for the custom license plate and tailgate cover; Manufacturing Technologies, who made the custom milled lettered radiator cover; Automotive Collision Repair, who clear coated the engine parts; and Welding, who supplied and custom aluminum for the license plate, tailgate cover and radiator cover.
Automotive Technology Seniors
Class of 2023
Josh Billingsley – Jackson High
Mason Colestock – Northwest
Craig Foote – Hanover
Brendan Neitzke – Columbia
Sean Phillips – Columbia
Dylan Poxson – Western
Jadion Range – Jackson High
Ryan Whipple – Columbia
Nick Dew – Northwest
Kaleb Draper – Pittsford
Madison Dyer – DaVinci
Michael Jacobs – Michigan Center
David Mcaninch – Western
Dominick Niceswander – Grass Lake
Cody Rought – Grass Lake
Harry Robb – DaVinci
Kyle Ruoff – Springport
Brett Terry - Lumen Christi
Aiden Thorne – Napoleon
Sam Wahr – Northwest
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