For me, fabrication is a way to express my art. I try to fabricate parts that look beautiful and perform for no one but myself. This ofter takes longer to accomplish, but I always feel like I did a solid job when I’m done. It’s a balance, and building a set of custom headers is a prime example. Once I had the motor in the car, I knew off the shelf headers were not an option. I’ve never built a set of headers before, but I’ve built a handful of turbo kits and exhausts over the years. I wanted to fabricate a set of quality stainless headers, so I called Race Mufflers and ordered their LSX header fabrication kit. The kit comes with (12) 304 stainless “J” bends, (2) 4-into-1 collectors, (2) O2 bungs, purge caps, and (2) laser cut head flanges. All which are made in the good ol’ USA.
I found out real quick that building a set of headers was tricky. Building a set of headers without the help of some kind of header mock-up tools would have been even harder. I started to look into kits that would allow you to build out a set of headers with plastic parts that you snap together. Those kits retail for about $500. I just couldn’t justify buying a kit that I’d probably only use a couple of times in my life. Luckily I have access to a 3D printer. I hopped on Thingiverse.com (a STL file sharing site). I searched for header builder kit and to my luck someone already had a STL file with the same size tube and CLR (Center Line Radius). I downloaded the free file and hit the “print” button.
Once I 3D printed my snap together pie cuts I got started. I used paper towel tubes for the straight parts. It was challenging to get a nice flowing feel yet clearing the steering shaft, frame, starter, and engine.
I now had my mock-up headers together and I needed to remove the units and replicate them. It was also good to see that the headers were not difficult to remove. By now you might have noticed that they are side/fender exit.
Next, I removed each runner and traced each bend to the stainless tube. This saved me so much time and material with zero guess-work.
I had all of my cuts made, I labeled each cut/runner, reassembled the headers, and tack welded them together.
I’m relatively new to TIG welding and I haven’t had a stainless project this challengeing to work on yet. I didn’t want to waste all of this fabrication with sub par welding. I wanted some really nice looking welds. Luckily my good buddy Chris “Yogie” Spencer was chomping at the bit to weld them up for me. Chris is an excellent welder/fabricator and he’s taught me a lot in the short time I’ve been TIG welding. Chris made sure to purge weld the runners.
So there you have it. A set of custom headers. Eventually I will have some sort of exhaust behind the fenders. I hope this inspires you to get out and try something new on your project. I’m getting close to catching you guys up on the build in real-time. I’ve been neglecting some sheet metal work and I finally get around to it on the next post.