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My custom made headers and exhaust system

Headers x-pipe V-Band Borla

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#1 74_5.0L_Z


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:35 PM

One of the few things that I ever paid someone else to do on my car was the exhaust system. Eleven years ago, I bolted on my Dynomax block huggers and drove to the local muffler shop to have an exhaust system built. It was made of crush bent 14 gage aluminized steel and had a pair of Flowmaster mufflers at the back. I was never happy with it. It sounded alright, but the poorly made headers and even more poorly made exhaust were not something I was proud of. So last year I decided to do something about it: I removed the old exhaust and cut it into pieces so that I could not possibly reinstall it, then I built myself a set of custom long tube, stainless steel headers. The process was a serious pain in the rear, but it is now finished.


To start the process, I carefully measured the front of my chassis and the engine to determine where all of the important features are in relation to the engine. I established a coordinate system with 0,0,0 at the back of the block, the x axis aligned with the centerline of the crank, the y axis to the driver side, and z up. In the process of taking measurements, I determined the critical dimensions necessary to route the primary tubes from the exhaust ports to the collectors without contacting the steering shaft, block, frame, driveshaft tunnel, and other things that get in the way. The critical dimensions include the position and orientation of each of the exhaust ports relative to the crank centerline. The dimensions were used to generate a SolidWorks model of the headers. Here are some images of the SolidWorks models of the chassis and headers.




The routing of the tubes was calculated using a computer program that I wrote which takes the following parameters as input and gives the following values as output:


L1 Length of first straight section of tube exiting port
S Desired length of Header tube
Xp X Position of port relative to centerline of crank
Yp Y Position of port relative to centerline of crank
Zp Z Position of port relative to centerline of crank

Orientation of port

Xc X Position of collector entry relative to centerline of crank
Yc Y Position of collector entry relative to centerline of crank
Zc Z Position of collector entry relative to centerline of crank

Orientation of collector entry
Bend radius of mandrel bends used to make header.


Lengths of straight sections and degree and orientation of bent section required to route the header.

The calculated header dimensions were put into the SolidWorks model. Many iterations were tried until I had models with which I was satisfied.

Once satisfied, I made a fixture to build the headers using a junk engine on an engine stand. The fixture allowed me to rigidly place the flanges and collectors into their prescribed positions and to assemble the pieces into position for welding. The images below show the passenger side header pieces assembled and ready to weld. The hose clamps were used to hold things together for tack welding.




The headers are now complete and installed, but here are some more pictures of the assembly on the garage floor prior to installation.







I now have an exhaust that is all mine and of which I am not ashamed.

Edited by 74_5.0L_Z, 30 August 2013 - 09:30 AM.

#2 Domzs


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:47 PM

Awesome job ! :2thumbs: . I know the feeling . It took me the whole day just to do headers back on my 78 . It's a labor of love . Congrats .

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78 LS1 w/ auto , 83 LS1 w/ T56 , 91 NA . :rockon:

280z sign.


Dom .


#3 JMortensen


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 06:07 PM

Very nice Dan. 

Jon Mortensen, owner/operator www.petdoorstore.com

#4 ryant67


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 06:59 PM

Take a bow, looks like you did an incredible job!

#5 cockerstar



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Posted 29 August 2013 - 08:35 PM

So when do they go on sale?

Ryan | '71 240z | L24, flat tops, e31, 4-screw su's, 6-2-1 header, Greddy organic clutch, close ratio 5-speed | r200 CLSD waiting to be installed

Just a tip for serious head, check out Braap, an admin, he won't let you down ;)

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#6 jt1


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Posted 30 August 2013 - 01:47 AM

Dan, that is beautiful work.  Exhaust art.


Did you do the collectors?



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#7 roger280zx



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Posted 30 August 2013 - 03:20 AM

Super nice exhaust!  If you did those with ls flanges you could sell the hell out of them.  What length/size primaries?  Again super nice job!




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Posted 30 August 2013 - 05:13 AM

Sweet. You, uh, up for modeling some turbo manifolds in SolidWorks?

It is not recommended to confirm proper installation by driving into walls or other barriers as this could cause personal injury or damage to the vehicle.

#9 74_5.0L_Z


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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:47 AM

My student license for SolidWorks expired, so I no longer have access at home. I do however use Creo Pro/Engineer at work.

I would need some very specific information to make a usable model for someone else. I might be persuaded.

The headers have 1.75 inch diameter primary tubes with an average length of 26 inches from flange to where they enter the slip-on merge collectors. The shortest tube is 23.75 inches and the longest is 27 inches. I was initially going to try for a longer primary tube length (29 - 32 inches), but packaging drove me to the shorter length.

I purchased the merge collectors on eBay about five years ago (I've been planning this project for a long time).

Edited by 74_5.0L_Z, 30 August 2013 - 08:50 AM.

#10 74_5.0L_Z


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Posted 21 September 2013 - 01:08 PM

I got the exhaust installed and took the car to the TrickPro Motorsports for some tuning on their SuperFlow dyno.  I installed my Ford 327 (5.0L stroker) in 2009 and have been controlling it using a stock A9P EEC-IV computer for several years now.  It has run but until now it hasn't been running well.  The stock computer was programmed to control a 302 ci engine with 9.2:1  compression and 19 lb/hr injectors.  It's not unexpected that it was having trouble controlling a 327 with 10.3:1 compression and 30 lb/hr injectors.


Prior to tuning I was able to get some pictures of the installed exhaust while the car was on the lift.

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Before we started tuning, I wanted to get some baseline runs with the headers installed.  The only thing on this car that has changed since the engine was installed in 2009 are the headers and exhaust.  So I figured it would be nice to do a comparison.  In February 2009 when we broke this engine in on the same dyno, it made 348 rwhp and 365 rwtq.  Now in September 2013 after changing the headers and exhaust, the car made a maximum of 385 rwhp and 402 rwtq.  I'm really happy with the amount of power that I found with these headers and exhaust system.  I am making an additional 37 rwhp and 38 ft-lbs of torque.  What was really interesting is that with the old exhaust, the car ran really rich at WOT (~11.5:1 AFR).  After changing only the exhaust, the car was running really lean (~16.5:1 AFR at WOT).  I'll post videos and dyno charts later in the week.


Here are a couple of picture of the car on the dyno:


Attached File  OnTheDyno.JPG   104.17KB   1 downloads

Attached File  BryceDyno.JPG   84.51KB   1 downloads


The second picture shows Bryce at TrickPro monitoring O2s and figuring out how to tune the car.  When I took the car in it was idling like crap and had idle  air fuel mixture of 19.5:1 and  16.5:1 wide open throttle that wandered all over that map.  When we left the car was purring like a kitten with stable 15.7:1 idle O2 reading and a solid 12.7:1 wide open throttle air fuel mixture.  He programmed a Diablo Sport chip to control the fuel and timing of the computer.  While we were at it we also upped the rev limit to 7000 rpms.  The thing runs so much better.  I had been putting off tuning until I could make my headers and exhaust, but now I wish that I had tuned it long ago.

Edited by 74_5.0L_Z, 21 September 2013 - 01:59 PM.

#11 1 tuff z

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 03:15 PM

Exhaust is gorgeous, excellent work, attention to detail and craftsmanship!

"A lot of people go through life doing things badly.  Racing's important to men who do it well.  When you're racing, it... it's life.  Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting."  1971 film "Le Mans"  driver Michael Delaney, played by Steve McQueen

#12 Nelsonian


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Posted 21 September 2013 - 04:31 PM

That is so very well done! Can't wait to hear the necessary sound clip video, hint, hint.

Nelsonian, San Diego, CA.

#13 Domzs


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Posted 22 September 2013 - 07:25 AM

Exh system looks awesome ! :hail:


78 LS1 w/ auto , 83 LS1 w/ T56 , 91 NA . :rockon:

280z sign.


Dom .


#14 clarkspeed



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Posted 22 September 2013 - 08:24 AM

Fine work and good payback.

S30 Motorsports: Restoring, building, and racing vintage cars.  Current projects: 71 240Z CP Bob Leitzinger tribute vintage race car, 70 240Z partial tube frame IMSA GTU vintage race car, 60 Mini Cooper vintage race car.  "If you are under control you're going too slow" - Parnelli Jones

#15 Leon


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Posted 22 September 2013 - 09:50 AM

Kudos on the fantastic design and fabrication work!

#16 74_5.0L_Z


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Posted 22 September 2013 - 04:18 PM

Here are a couple of videos from the dyno session.  I apologize for the quality.  I am obviously not a cameraman.


Attached File  Dyno1_2.MOV   2.52MB   102 downloads


Attached File  Dyno2.MOV   1.77MB   58 downloads


Attached File  Dyno3.MOV.wmv   10.09MB   71 downloads


Edited by 74_5.0L_Z, 22 September 2013 - 04:29 PM.

#17 texis30O



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Posted 22 September 2013 - 04:33 PM

Sounds nice. Well done. 

1970 240 Z #806, CarbonSignal Moonbeam, SevenK Wheels, Varex XForce, LS2 6.0  with a 1.9 Maggie, t56, Fritz 8.8 swap, Coilovers, Cage, Wilwood.....IG: datlszguy

1971 240z as it left the dealership

1972 240z head work, cam, triple Weber 40s, set up for autocross

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#18 74_5.0L_Z


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Posted 07 October 2013 - 09:44 AM

A friend who went with me to do the dyno tuning took some cool pictures of the car and the exhaust with his Go Pro.


The first two are good views of the underside of the car and show the layout of the mufflers and fuel cell.


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The other two are just cool shots of the car and the shop.

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Edited by 74_5.0L_Z, 07 October 2013 - 09:50 AM.

#19 RebekahsZ


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Posted 07 October 2013 - 01:31 PM

For once I will be brief:  WOW!

1972 240z, purchased in 1991 for $900. Bone stock LS2/T56/DBW from 2006 GTO, swap completed in 2011. 400rwhp/435 rwtq. 2400# minus driver. JCI swap, Mantic ER2 clutch kit, JTR headers, single exhaust, Borla muffler, MGW shifter, M2 Differentials shortened Z31 CV axles, Z31 CLSD R200, Chequered Flag Racing billet stubs and companion flanges. MSD 2-step, Hurst roll control, both operated from switches on clutch pedal. 9" Hoosier drag slicks on Weld Draglites, 245/45/16 Hoosier A6/R6 on 16X8+10 Rota RBR. 225/250 sectioned coilovers, Koni 8610-1437RACE shocks, DP and EMI camber plates, MM shortened rear control arms, TTT front control arms, poly and aluminum bushings. Top speeds: Ohio Mile 174mph, C/GMS class record holder, best 1/8 mile 6.96 at 100mph, best 1/4-mile 11.0 at 126mph, best 60' 1.43, best 1/2-mile 148mph at GA 1/2-mile. Home Track-Jake's Dragway, Moulton, AL. SCCA autocross club - TVR, Huntsville, AL. Lets race!

#20 Onion


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Posted 10 October 2013 - 05:49 AM

That looks purely amazing, great job on the headers. 

1973 Datsun 240Z

L24 w/ 5 speed transmission

22k miles

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Headers, x-pipe, V-Band, Borla

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