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Custom Exhaust Headers - Build Our Own Headers

We Learn Best By Doing. Watch As We Attempt To

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There are certain things in the car building world that are considered black arts- jobs that seem to require mystical powers to accomplish. Making headers is one of those jobs. This month, we stepped into the void and attempted to make a set of headers in-house. In last December's issue, we chronicled our experiences at Lincoln Electric's welding school, where we got a solid foundation in the basics of TIG welding. We certainly put our skills to the test with this job, too. No one will ever call what we made a masterpiece, but we learned a whole lot during the process. The next set of headers we make might actually end up on a car.

The Premise
This may seem overly "green" of us, but we decided to do some recycling this month. Though you will never catch us in Birkenstocks and hemp tunics, we do find many occasions to adapt or re-use old parts. Not so much to save the planet as to save our wallets. With that in mind, we attempted to build a set of custom exhaust headers from two pairs of old ones we had lying around. The goal was to make them work in a front-mounted turbo application. We started with a pair of 1 51/48-inch shorty headers, mounted them to the block, and decided on the best place to drop the turbocharger.

Mock-Up
Routing all the plumbing for a turbocharger can get really complicated, so in an effort to keep things simple, we decided to hang the turbo in front of the engine, just behind the radiator. This allows room for an air inlet duct and plumbing from the turbo to an intercooler. We flipped the headers upside down so all the tubes faced forward. Then we stared at if for a while trying to think of what to do next. To better visualize how everything should be routed, we cut the collector off using our 14-inch chop saw. Then, we rigged up a bracket out of scrap steel bar to support the turbocharger. We secured the bar with clamps, suspended the turbo with zip ties (use strong ones), and bolted the collector to the bracket.

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