Ramblings: Links to discussions farther down on this page.
Comments we'll never read in a magazine (but have heard many times):
I've looked at several sets of headers for my car (truck, van, race car, puller, street rod, etc.) and didn't like anything I saw. I figured that I couldn't do it any worse than what I saw so I've decided to make my own headers.
I've looked at several sets of headers for my car (truck, van, race car, puller, street rod, etc.) and didn't like anything I saw. Instead of being able to pick the best header out of a group, I felt more like I was trying to pick the least worst of what I could find. I can't believe that I've worked this hard and have spent so much money on this car (truck, van, race car, puller, street rod, etc.) that at the very end of this long process, I cannot buy a good header. A header that is worthy of all the money and time that I have spent elsewhere. I'm thinking about building my own headers as I can't see how I can possibly build anything worse than what I've already seen.
Comment over the phone from a person buying a header kit:
"When I was a university student in Texas completing my work to obtain a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I wrote a paper involving modifications of a test engine to gain power. As a student I had limited funds as well as limited time, but I was able to cause the test engine (a four cylinder) to gain 28 horsepower. On the intake side, I got 10 horsepower but, on the exhaust side, I got 18! Almost twice the gain achieved by exhaust side changes compared to intake side changes. I never forgot that. Over the years, many questioned my concerns about the exhaust side of the motor being done correctly and saw my concerns as being weird or a waste of time. It's too bad they never saw what I saw as a student.".
Words and phrases without meanings:
FULL LENGTH: A header is described as being "full length". Full length as compared to what? Does that mean that other headers should be called half length or three quarters length (or 5/8ths or 2/3rds)? Full length is not a number. What does "full length" actually mean? (If we judge the phrase by the header pictures published in magazine ads, about the only thing we can identify consistently is that a "full length" header will probably have a collector parallel to the ground.) Why can't we get numbers that relate to the tube length of the header so that we actually know how long the header is? (OR, even better, how about the lengths of EVERY header tube so we not only know how long the header is but also the amount of tube length error as well?) The engine only responds to numbers (as applied to design measurements) - it doesn't respond to vague design descriptions like "full length" - particularly when that "length" can change from vehicle to vehicle. Is this phrase the type of non-description that goes back to a time when cams were often called "full race" or "three quarter race"? Three quarters of what? Full of what (pun intended)? Magazines, manufacturers and resellers: How about giving guys a break and use meaningful terms that actually describe products accurately. (OR, are you intentionally misrepresenting products to simply sell more of them and you could care less as to how well your potential customers' vehicles actually perform?!)
HEAVY DUTY: What does that mean? For that matter, what is "standard duty"? Awhile back we had a local fellow bring in a set of headers for a Big Block Chev truck that simply wouldn't seal gaskets against the head. The flanges were so thin (we used a micrometer to measure their thickness and found them to be only .200-210" thick) that they couldn't compress the gaskets completely around the exhaust ports. We had to weld header flanges on to the existing header flanges to make them thick enough to compress the gaskets and eliminate leaks. Several days later we saw an ad for the brand of headers we had repaired and the manufacturer said their header flanges were "HEAVY DUTY". Heavy duty relative to what? Again, the phrase "heavy duty" is not a number and certainly doesn't clue us in as to how the flange is designed or how thick it might be. The phrase "heavy duty" as used here is too typical of marketing copy we often see: "Buzz words" that really sound good but actually mean nothing. Hmmm!
"Many top running NHRA Pro Stock cars and trucks, Super Stocks, and Comp cars use this setup". What does this mean? Sounds good (if you are trying to sell this "setup") but it is also saying that there many OTHER top running NHRA Pro Stock cars and trucks, Super Stocks, and Comp cars that are NOT using this setup. ????? Why are comments like these made (other than for marketing reasons) as they actually mean nothing and can only mislead and/or confuse those who read them. OR - how about this? Why couldn't Hanes® - in one of their underwear ads - also make a statement of this nature: Many top drivers running NHRA Pro Stock cars and trucks, Super Stocks, and Comp cars use this setup (and then have an arrow point to the underwear on a model). This would be just as truthful (and useful) as the above quote and would make about as much sense (and as much horsepower?). ?????
Looking over a full page header ad the other day, the copy in the ad talked about the use of CNC bending equipment, proprietary header jigging, use of finest tooling anywhere, best quality, etc. There was one header in the ad - a header whose design was too short, obviously not equal length, had a short/restrictive collector taper, etc. - a header design that one would NOT use if there was any intention of getting a good performance gain.
However, the "best" part of the header picture was seeing that the header flange had been welded on UPSIDE DOWN!!! While the header could still be bolted on to the cylinder head, because it was upside down, the flange would make it impossible to access the spark plugs plus the exhaust ports would be misaligned considerably as well (blocking/reducing exhaust flow). Beautiful! The company extols the virtues of their products and shows us a picture of one of their headers (to prove the point?) that is all screwed up.
For what it's worth: The header had to be assembled by someone who didn't know the cylinder head design enough to realize that he was welding the header flange on upside down. Next - where was Quality Control to catch such a mistake? (Funny thing - Quality Control was not mentioned in their ad.) Why wasn't this caught? Since these headers are mass-produced in volume (hundreds of headers made in a production run), how many other headers were made with the header flange welded on upside down? Also - the header was coated. How come someone in that department didn't see the header as being assembled incorrectly and point that out to somebody else? After that, someone had to select this header so that a picture of it could be taken for the ad. Obviously, the person who selected the header - as well as the photographer - didn't catch the flange error. Once the picture was taken, then it had to be given to the person who composed the ad. After that, the finished ad had to be approved. Two more people looked at the header and saw nothing wrong with it. Hmmm! A whole group of people - some of whom should be quite familiar with headers - didn't see this obvious error. At the same time, we wonder how many people reading that ad would even recognized this company's blunder. To us, the assembly error was so obvious that it almost jumped off the page when we looked at it! The ad copy was creative but obviously misleading as the picture really told the truth about what was going on.
By the way, just ONE tiny piece of metal welded in the proper place in their "proprietary header jigs" would have prevented the header flange from being welded on upside down. So much for their header jigging as it actually allowed the header to be assembled incorrectly.
For what it's worth a second time: TEN MONTHS after the above comments were added here, the ad was still being run - with no changes. Great!!!
Comments offered when ordering a HEADER DESIGN InfoPak by phone:
I have been a believer in what you preach for many years due to my own research. After becoming thoroughly disgusted with the fitment, plug accessibility, and overall absence of any quality of workmanship in the last three pairs of headers I've bought (different applications) over the the counter, it's time to make good on my claim that "I CAN BUILD BETTER HEADERS THAN THESE!!!". I am a semi-retired fitter/fabricator and a lifelong gearhead sick of the marketeers giving us a choice between SHITTY and SHITTIER products across the board. R.S. Zirconia, NC
Comments offered by someone ordering a HEADER DESIGN InfoPak by mail:
... In the past 45 yrs (I've) experienced many bad header designs on my cars - bad fit, clearances, leaks, burned wires and starters. Even a set for my son's car, the header & starter had to occupy the same space, "no way". I wish I had known about you years ago. Thanks for sharing good information and I look forward to doing business with you. L. O'D. Burbank, CA.
A coating warranty (?):
... (brand name header company) limits the warranty on Metallic Ceramic Coatings to be free from defects in material and workmanship for a period of 90 days from date of purchase. This limited coating warranty does not apply to any products which have been subjected to adverse conditions, such as high heat encountered during engine break-in or if used during any racing activity.
I don't know about you but I've bought many products that have sat in the original box well beyond 90 days which means that this company's coating warranty is basically worthless to many of their customers plus the fact that they won't warranty the coating when used in any form of racing or during engine break-in seems to me that they don't have much confidence in their coatings. I guess I wouldn't buy their coating (or their headers?)!
Comment from a previous header buyer (ordering another set of headers):
"I need new headers after 33 years...". 33 years of racing before the headers finally wore out?! Wow!!! His comment was found in the Header Questionnaire he was filling out as he was ordering the replacement headers.
(J.S., Anoka, MN - 69 440 Six Pack Road Runner):
Email - Finished Header Flanges we made for a "nail head" Buick V8:
"This is j.v. from The Netherlands, your package arrived here today and I want to say that the flanges are absolutely the best ....! on the market (because I bought a set on e-bay but they did not fit very well) but yours not only look great but fit like the factory ones.......(if they existed). Thanks a lot, best regards ... j.v.
Very good magazine article on engine cooling BUT . . . :
Read a very good article on engine cooling in a magazine a few days ago. Talked about radiator designs and materials, water pumps, fans, thermostats, coolants, etc. Filed article away for future reference because, overall, it was really quite good BUT ... . Nowhere in this article was there any mention of headers and their possible effects on engine cooling.
First, headers affect Air/Fuel mixtures. Depending on the accuracy of the carburetor relative to metering fuel in correct proportion to the air flowing through it, adding headers will often cause the carburetor to meter less fuel relative to the amount of air flowing through the carburetor's venturis and this change will cause the Air/Fuel mixtures to go lean (or become leaner). This means that the carb has to be richened up (original metering jets have to be replaced with larger ones) to get the Air/Fuel mixtures back to what they were before. Note that this more likely occurs (or the magnitude of change is greater) when headers that are LARGER than needed are installed. Unless corrected, these leaner Air/Fuel mixtures not only result in lower power output, but also increase the tendency of the engine to pre-ignite or detonate under load. If not corrected, the leaner Air/Fuel mixtures also cause the exhaust temperatures to go up as well which further stresses the engine's coolant system. This "header induced problem" was not mentioned in the article.
Second, the proximity of the headers to the engine block can also cause engine temperatures to increase considerably. "Blockhugger" style headers - where the header is actually designed to lie as close to the engine block to conserve space in the engine compartment - are particularly problematic because they radiate so much heat directly into the engine block. We've talked to customers - who bought exhaust parts from us to hook up these particular headers on their cars - AFTER they had been driving the cars for awhile and heard them say their engine temperatures increased as much as 25 degrees! One fellow, who was particularly angry about the 25 degree temperature increase in his engine, was in our shop buying more exhaust parts because he was throwing the headers away and putting the original exhaust manifolds back on his street rod. Even worse, and adding insult to injury, he told us that, with the "blockhugger" headers on the engine, it "DIED" (his words) above 4500 rpm as the headers seemed to be particularly restrictive! He told us that he couldn't believe how terrible this had turned out - his engine was running much hotter than before and the performance actually got worse. (Interestingly, when he came into the shop to get exhaust parts the first time, I warned him that "blockhugger" headers have some nasty issues and that he should be aware of them. Looking at his facial expressions, I knew that he didn't like what I was saying but I told him that he needed to be made aware of these potential problems so that he didn't think that, if things did go "haywire", it was NOT due to "an act of GOD" but, that what he was doing might be considered a bad idea in the first place, and that he might be spending time and money to prove it.)
HEADER DESIGN COMMENTS:
Ramblings (misc. comments)