Monday, February 25, 2008

Getting Ahead(er)

When we were trying to find someone to mount our new tires, we ran across a fellow who advertised as a “Performance Specialist“. He had done a good job on my tires.

They didn’t leak. Hugh had had his mounted somewhere else and his did. I tried him first.

This guy did exhaust systems and tires. He had told me he could build custom headers. When I took the car to him however, he started to back peddle. This was a whole new ball game and he didn’t want any part of it. He was one of those guys who are great as long as you can take it off the shelf and bolt it on. If you have to invent and fabricate as you go???

He did however; refer me to a someone in Reserve. Remember Reserve? (I was beginning to think we should call this car the Reserve Special. Remember when I had the air scoops fabricated? That shop was in Reserve also)

Not a mile and a half from Brandon’s shop was a converted gas station where Butch Herring works his wonders. I drove over and talked with Butch for a while. Both he and his wife turned out to be real nice people. He also owned the great looking customized 1950 Ford out side that he was slowly working on.

A good set of headers can help increase power by three or four horses. Doesn’t sound like much when you say it that way. When you realize that this is a seven to nine percent increase for us, it becomes significant. On the other hand a poor set of headers can take you the other way.

It is important that the bends in a header system be mandrel bent so that they maintain the same diameter all they way around.. With a normal tube bender, like the ones you usually see in a muffler shop, the pipe gets necked down smaller where the bend occurs. This causes additional back pressure in the system and robs horse power. We don’t have that much to lose.

I had pretty much figured out where I wanted the system to go and what configuration it should take. I even had pictures of systems similar to the one I wanted. Butch and I discussed it and decided we would tackle it that following weekend when he had some slack time coming.

In the mean time I ordered a series of mandrel bent pipes in the shapes I thought we would need and had them delivered to Butches shop. We also got a fresh set of flanges from the same place. (J.C. Whitney rides again) I must have done alright because there were no parts left over when we got through.

I don’t think we had the car off the trailer five minutes before people driving along River Road (which is where Butches shop is) started pulling off and coming in to see just what in blazes we were doing. Several got their goodies by sitting in the car, but most just wanted to look and ask questions. Ever the marketer, I did my best to answer them and make it sound as interesting and fun as possible.
It took us most of the day but in the end Butch had welded together all those pieces of bent tubing and it was looking like and exhaust system. It was different than the original but that was just fine with me. It would now allow me room to add a zero roll rear suspension if I decided to go that way. With the old system it would not have been possible.
Adding up the cost of the mandrel bent tubes, shipping and Butches labor I probably spent about what a set of Roxanne’s headers would have cost but at least I knew they fit.


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