It can be hard to quantify the difference in price between, say, a $100 pair of headers and a $900 pair of headers until you see them up close. Things come sharply into focus, however, when you have the opportunity to see how the products are made. Once you witness all the steps involved, the machines employed, and the craftsman doing the labor, you start to wonder how, even at that higher price, the more expensive part could possibly be profitable for the company. Located just 17 miles south of where I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, Stainless Works has been making high-quality exhaust parts for nearly 20 years. Owner Ron Fuller was kind enough to give me a tour of his 50,000-square-foot facility during a recent visit. Headers begin life as a pile of 304 stainless steel tubing. Stainless Works has a dedicated area for installation of its products as well as fit-up for future products. The company will bring in a car and tack up pieces of straight tubing in the overall shape it thinks will work best. Though there is always a compromise between the ideal shape and what actually fits the car, Fuller told us the team tries to minimize the bends. "A 13-degree bend flows the same as a section of straight pipe as far as the exhaust pulse is concerned." Headers begin life as a pile of 304 stainless steel tubing. Stainless Works has a dedicate Bends are scanned and plotted in a CAM program that is plugged into Stainless' multitude of CNC machines. This is the working end of the CNC mandrel bender. The tubing slips over a stack of discs that fit together like the specialized scales that form a rattlesnake's tail. They will flex enough to bend the tube, but don't allow it to flex or kink. Bends are scanned and plotted in a CAM program that is plugged into Stainless' multitude o Employee Chuck Meinyk checks all the bends using the company's coordinate measuring machine. The CMM plots each section in three dimensions and verifies that the machine formed the correct shape. Employee Chuck Meinyk checks all the bends using the company's coordinate measuring machin Larger-diameter tubing is flared in this machine to form the leading edge of the collector. Elsewhere in the shop, a merge spike is welded in the gap where all four primary tubes join together, and the whole assembly is TIG welded to the collector by hand. Larger-diameter tubing is flared in this machine to form the leading edge of the collector Like the tubing, Stainless Works' flanges are made from 304 stainless. They measure 3/8-inch thick and are also welded by hand to the primary tubes. Like the tubing, Stainless Works' flanges are made from 304 stainless. They measure 3/8-in In the warehouse section of its shop, Stainless Works keeps the fixtures to every part number it makes. The company has more than 3,000 part numbers that cover most domestic muscle cars and many truck and import applications. Stainless can also make nearly anything you can think of. Fuller recently finished the exhaust for a P-51 Mustang airplane and is working on a system for a 28-cylinder radial engine out of a Super Corsair. In the warehouse section of its shop, Stainless Works keeps the fixtures to every part num SOURCES Stainless Works 9899 E. Washington St. Chargrin Falls OH 44023 800-878-6935 www.stainlessworks.net By John McGann Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!