Today at 12 noon EST, GM held a live chat featuring Performance Build Center’s manager Carl Pickman, engine builder John Ross and John Fitzpatrick, Corvette’s Marketing Manager. While the conversation was centered on the new Corvette Engine Build Experience, the staff also answered several technical questions about the LS engines and the PBC. Check out the transcript.
12:02 Phil Colley: Hey guys! We’re here and ready for questions. Let me first have everyone from GM introduce themselves … go ahead!
12:02 Carl Pickelman: Hello everyone. This is Carl Pickelman, Manager of PBC.
12:02 John Ross: Hi , I’m John Ross, engine builder at the Performance Build Center for 3 years
12:03 John Vette Marketing Mgr: Hi… I’m John Fitzpatrick – Marketing Manager for Corvette
12:07 John Vette Marketing Mgr: Lorenzo asked about Z06 and standard Corvette engine change..
Our answer: No, the horsepower ratings are unchanged for 2011 MY for all Corvette engines.
12:08 John Ross: (Steve) How long does it take to build an LS3, LS7 or LS9 engine?
About four hours
12:09 John Vette Marketing Mgr: 12:04 [Devin] Which Corvettes will this build experience apply to?
Answer: The LS7 for the Z06 and the LS9 for the ZR1 are the two eligible engines for this experience.
12:10 John Ross: [Carl K] Do we dyno test the engine at the end of the build? Not a dyno test but the engine is “cold tested” and then a fueled (natural gas) test for balancing.
12:12 John Ross: [CorvetteBlogger] What do the professional engine builders at the PBC think about the Corvette Engine Build Experience? We’re definitely all excited and enthusiastic.
12:12 Carl Pickelman: Here is a question… Hib Halverson…I’m a correspondant for “Corvette Enthusist” Magazine. I visited the PCB back in 06 when I was doing a piece on LS7 for “Corvette Quarterly”. In four years, how has work at the PBC changed? What have you guys learned during that time while assembling LS7s, the XLR-V engine and the LS9? The PBC is all about continuous improvement. We’ve made many changes and improvements to the process but I’d typically think of these as small incremental improvements. No major changes have been made.
12:13 John Vette Marketing Mgr: [Carl K] How many hours would I spend building my engine? Answer: Plan on spending 6 to 8 hours at the PBC. Building of engines start at 7AM sharp.
12:17 John Ross: [Barry K.] How are the builders at the PBC selected to build the engines? Is there anything in particular about their background or qualifications? We are all Skilled Trades and most of us have worked as experimental engine builders in engineering. This means we have experience methodically building individual experimental engines to exact standards.
12:18 John Vette Marketing Mgr: [Roy M] PBC option is rather pricey. What do I get for this? Answer: The PBC experience is the ultimate in personalization of your new Corvette Z06 or ZR1. The PBC experience includes hotel accomodation; ground transportation and meals. You will also have photos of your build and memories not many others will be able to claim. You are responsible for travel to and from the Detroit area.
12:19 Carl Pickelman: Question… [Steve] Other than a live person assembling teh engines, is there any difference say from a production built LS3 and a hand built LS3 as far as bearing clearances, blueprinting, etc? There are a few differences between the LS3 and the LS3-Dry Sump…mainly a forged crank with a longer nose and of course the dry sump system that includes a dual oil pump. There are a few other small differences in order to commonize our production process.
12:20 John Vette Marketing Mgr: [Steve] Has anyone signed up for the customer build option yet? Answer: Yes, a customer has signed up for the CEBE and we have had a lot of follow-up interest coming into the dealers since the announcement. At this time we are not at liberty to discuss more about the first participant due to customer confidentiality that we want to respect. Until the CEBE customer formally agrees to allow us to reveal his or her name (which may or may not happen) we will keep their identity confidential.
12:22 John Vette Marketing Mgr: [jon] Do you get to sign your engine? Answer: You get to place a plaque with your name on the enigne along side your PBC engine build partner.
12:24 John Ross: [Steve] How many engine builders do you have working at once? Curious how they keep up with production demands, espceially now that you have added the LS3 to the mix. We have 16 engine builders currently. The facility is capable of producing up to 15,000 per year. You’re right the LS3 for the Grand Sport is a popular choice right now. All three of our assembly lines are capable of building LS3, LS7 and LS9 engines.
12:24 John Vette Marketing Mgr: [Lorenzo] First I heard of this “build experience”. Are you saying that a customer can actually assist in the building of THEIR engine, or an “unassigned” angine? Answer: Lorenzo, if you sign up for the “build experience”, the engine you build will be the engine in your Z06 or ZR1 model. It is not an unassigned engine — it is your engine (and still backed by the best powertrain warranty in the industry).
12:26 John Vette Marketing Mgr: [Carl K] Is the CBE just one day? Are there details online anywhere about the experience? Some sort of schedule, activities, where you stay? Answer: Carl K… It is a one day activity. You arrive at the PBC around 6:30 AM and you start work on your engine by 7PM. More details are available on the Corvette Facebook page.
12:28 Carl Pickelman: [Comment From Roy M ] What percentage of build does the buyer actually do? OK, the customer will be able to actually build 100% of their engine.
12:29 John Ross: [Devin] Do any of you have an opinion on the upcoming Gen V vs the Gen IV? We know its going to be great. We have the best engineering team in the business working on it.
12:31 John Vette Marketing Mgr: [Devin] How long after the engine build experience should you expect to receive your car? Devin: Approximately 2 to 3 weeks after your “build experience” your vehicle should be delivered to your dealer. Remember, you can also elect to participate in the museum delivery through the National Corvette Museum. For more information on that program, feel free to visit the National Corvette Museum website.
12:32 John Ross: [Gary Rosimini] What are some of the differences between the ls9 in the amazing ZR1 and the LS9 that is in the CTS-V. There a quite a few but some highlights are that the LS9 uses a 2.3L rotor set whereas the LSA for the V uses a little smaller 1.9L. The LS9 also uses forged pistons. The LSA intercooler is a single brick design whereas the LS9 uses a dual brick.
12:32 [Comment From Chris ] Do you offer tours? Carl PBC Manager: We offer tours of the facility…You can send an email, we’ll send you a registration form and we’ll do the best to accomidate. Please send to Carl.firstname.lastname@example.org.
12:34 [Comment From Chris ] Would you be able to build your own “crate” motor, or is this just for when purchasing a new vette? John Ross: Not at this time
12:34 [Comment From Guest ] Do you garuantee that my hand built signature engine will get installed in my personal corvette vehicle purchase? Carl PBC Manager: Yes, we’ve designed our logistics and system to be assured that your engine will end up in your car.
12:35 [Comment From Barrett Benson (Red Vette) ] How long between the building of the engine at PBC and when it is installed in the Z06 or ZR1 at the factory? Carl PBC Manager: About 2 weeks between build of the engine and build of the vehicle in Bowling Green.
12:36 [Comment From Bob S. ] In your opinion, do you think this will “add” to the value of your car 10-20 yeras down the road? John Ross: Absolutely. Especially emotional value.
12:37 [Comment From jon ] Instead of the vehicle being delivered to the dealership, can you do the museum delivery and drive it home yourself? John Vette Marketing Mgr: Yes you can!! Our conceigre will help coordinate the activity with the National Corvette Museum.
12:38 [Comment From Charley ] This is a great idea. Is there a plan in the future that would allow us to continue the build process by walking the assembly line to finish building our car? John Vette Marketing Mgr: There is already a program available through National Corvette Museum called Corvette Buyer’s Tour. If production schedule permits, you can be on site at Bowling Green the day your vehicle comes off line. The museum also offers a photo album/story of your car being produced. Our conceigre can help coordinate these activities.
12:40 [Comment From Hib Halverson ] Does the PBC currently produce any engines other than the Gen 4s for Corvette? Are there any near-term plans to bring new products into PBC? Is so, what engine(s). Carl PBC Manager: We currenlty build the LS3Dry Sump, LS7 and LS9 only. We have no immediate plans to build anything else here in Wixom. Due to the flexible nature of hand build engines, we could build just about anything and we are continuously looking for opportunities.
12:42 [Comment From Devin ] Any talk about possibly doing this program with the Camaro? John Vette Marketing Mgr: We would like to see how this works with the Corvette before we make any future plans.
12:43 [Comment From jay ] Why is there 2 different cubic in motors between Z06 and the ZR1…Is the block the same and bore and or stroke different or is it a completely different engine all together….. John Ross: The ZR1 is a forced induction motor. The Z06 is not. Completely different bore and stroke LS7 is 104.8 x 101.6 BxS and LS9 is 103.25 x 92 mm BxS
12:44 [Comment From Barrett Benson (Red Vette ] WOW, what an incredible offer from GM. Three trips involved, one to build engine, one to walk thru the assembly plant with the corvette, and two weeks later to pick up the corvette at the museum. About 6 weeks in total. Are the dealers aware of all of the details for this complete package or do you have to arrange each separately? John Vette Marketing Mgr: Dealers are aware of the program. Our conceigre for the engine build program can coordinate all experiences for one stop shopping.
12:46 [Comment From CorvetteBlogger ] Are all PBC engine builders participating in the engine build experience or just a select few? Carl PBC Manager: All engine builders are excited about this program. Our builders are very customer focused and enjoy interaction with them. This program is voluntary but I anticipate all the builders will participate.
12:49 [Comment From Steve ] I hear grumblings about why only the manual trans LS3 Corvette gets the hand built engine and not the LS3 with the A6. Care to comment on why? John Vette Marketing Mgr: All Corvette models are designed and produced to provide exceptional performance. The Grand Sport with manual transmission models were created in part for those looking to race on a closed course (with proper training), and found the LS3 with the dry sump really fit the specs.
12:52 [Comment From Steve ] Based on what you said earlier, the rumors on the forums that the hand built LS3 produces more power are false then correct? Carl PBC Manager: That is correct. In theory, Wixom PBC does nothing to add more horsepower to the dry sump version of the LS3. All engines are SAE certified to be 436HP.
12:54 [Comment From Roy M ] I did buyers tour and R8C on my 2009 Z06. TERRIFIC. Now I need to do all three for 2011 John Vette Marketing Mgr: Roy… Yes you do!! We look forward to seeing you soon…
12:55 John Vette Marketing Mgr: Everyone… I need to run, but my other teammates will stay on for a little longer… Thanks for the great questions!!!
12:55 [Comment From Hib Halverson ] Why does the LS3 dry sump use a forged crankshaft? Carl PBC Manager: The forged crank is more durable. But the main reason is the longer nose that is needed for the larger oil pump. The LS7 and LS9 were already designed with the longer nose, forged cranks, so we went to the same supplier commonality.
12:58 [Comment From Steve ] Does the LS3 have forged pistons or just the crank? Carl PBC Manager: The LS3 dry sump has the same pistons as the normal LS3.
1:00 Carl PBC Manager: OK everyone…we have about 10 more minutes then we’ll be wrapping this up.
1:01 [Comment From Richard ] What are the daily build volumes of the LS3 Dry sump? John Ross: We’re building around 10-15 LS3s any given day.
1:03 [Comment From big tommy ] I think this is an awesome program. I’ve been in love with the corvette ever since my dad bought one back in ’87. I now have the pleasure to work for the company who produces the crankshaft for the LS9, LS3, LS7, and LSA. Are you planning on having tours for non-buyers? Maybe a supplier build? John Ross: No plans for supplier builds. For tour information see chat info above at 12:33
1:05 [Comment From jon ] Can you bring guest? Carl PBC Manager: The Corvette Engine Build Experience allows for guests.
1:07 [Comment From Steve ] Not a question but wanted to say that we Corvette owners really appreciate having hand built engines avaialble to us. Thank you for offering this great service. John Ross: That’s a great way to wrap-up this chat. All of the builders here appreciate the customers and their enthusiasm for what we do. We have a lot of pride in what we build. Thanks for the time.
1:11 John Ross: Thanks again for joining the chat. For more info go to http://www.facebook.com/corvette
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