Weighed my options, didn't want to waste the whole wheeling season tearing the motor down and rebuilding the whole motor, so after lots of reading and lots of youtube-ing, I decided to go with the redneck rebuild, replace the crank and send it. Figured that would only have me down a few weeks, let me finish the wheeling season, then rebuild / replace the motor in the summer. So I set on that path. Picked up a new crank from O'reilly (yes, really), as well as a new oil pump, timing set, and a few other small things. Used a ton of assembly lube, and packed it all back together.
Also while I had it all apart, I decided to waste some extra time by installing a few more accessories to hopefully help prevent this from happening again in the future. First up was a new oil cooler:
And a fancy fitting on the oil pan to accomodate the new hoses:
While I was at it, I decided to just get it over with and upgrade the assist instead of going full hydro. I figured that was the easiest and cheapest way to get me back on the trail, and figured this was as good a time as any to do it. After searching the internet for literal months, I finally settled on the PSC TC pump:
And the remote reservoir:
The pump, if any of you have an LS with car accessories, had the inlet on the opposite side as the factory pump. So the inlet would have been pointing straight up into the air, making gravity filling a bit of a challenge. I found this Holley bracket that rotates it 90 degrees and points the inlet towards the driver tire. Routed the hose and it has an ever so slight downward curve to it from the reservoir. PSC told me that it would work so long as the top of the reservoir is above the pump inlet. In my case it's about 8" - 10" above the pump inlet, so I decided to go for it.
Even went the extra mile and put some new (to me) tires on it! Scored these for only $300. Repainted the wheels and bead locks, nice and shiny.