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Old 04-10-2013, 04:40 PM   #1
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Talking Choosing The Right Long Tube Headers




Selecting long tube headers can be an intimidating task and does require some technical knowledge, but it isn’t the voodoo some make it out to be. In this post I will try to arm you with as much information as I can to help you decide on the best option for you and your ride. If you have any questions after reading it feel free to send me a PM or give us a call at the phone number in my signature.


Which Manufacturer Should I Go With?

The good news here is that this is hard to get wrong. Ask around on the forums and you will hear some of the same brand names over and over again. Stick with brands like Stainless Works, Stainless Power, Pfadt, ARH, and Kooks and you will be fine. From a performance stand point all of these brands are pretty close, no one has a secret sauce that makes one of them produce substantially better results than any of the others. In terms of quality, again, most of them are pretty close in this area as well. If you are looking at other brands though here are some of things to pay close attention to.

Pay attention to what they are made from. Stainless steel (particularly 304) is what you will want to look for. 304 stainless steel will not rust or discolor from exposure to the atmosphere like the cheaper 400 series stainless steel. Unlike aluminized steel, it will not rust from the inside out due to the corrosive fluids produced during combustion. 304 can discolor slightly from getting extremely hot or if you spill engine oil on them but another attribute is that it isn’t permanent.

Pay attention to how they are made. CNC mandrel bending is the best manufacturing method for producing exhaust systems and headers that flow and fit well. When this process is used in conjunction with the 304 stainless steel it allows for the use of a thinner wall tubing that will weigh less than other headers. Those weight savings will be lost, however, if you opt for ceramic coating. With 300 series stainless steel the coating isn’t needed for corrosion resistance purposes (ceramic coating is often pushed because the manufacture is using inferior material) and I have never seen some of the claimed reductions in under hood temperature scientifically demonstrated in hard numbers. It looks great and they cool off quickly, that is about the sum of it.


What Primary Diameter Should I Go With?

This is the area that seems to cause the most confusion but it is fairly straight forward. Header manufacturers usually offer two or three options when is comes to primary diameters for a specific vehicle. For example, for the Camaro SS most manufacturers are offering 1 3/4 inch, 1 7/8 inch, and 2 inch primaries. Below are some pretty typical numbers for what you can expect from traditional 4-into-1 long tube headers on an otherwise stock SS:


Stock: 370 RWHP 375 RWTQ
1 3/4 headers with high flow cats: 400 RWHP 405 RWTQ
1 7/8 headers with high flow cats: 410 RWHP 410 RWTQ
2 headers with high flow cats: 415 RWHP 410 RWTQ


As you can see, simply switching from the restrictive stock manifolds to 1 3/4 long tube headers is worth approximately 30 RWHP and 30 RWTQ on a bone stock Camaro SS. The larger the primary diameter gets the more air the headers will flow and the further up the RPM range the power band is moved. The more powerful the engine is the more beneficial it is to go with a larger diameter, especially when you introduce forced induction. This means that generally the more power you make or the more race oriented your application is the bigger primary diameter you need, the closer to stock or the more street oriented the smaller primary diameter you need.


Tri-Y Headers

Pfadt recently announced that they are releasing Tri-Y headers for the 5th Gen Camaro and since then we have been inundated with questions about this type of design. Traditional 4-into-1 long tube headers merge all four primary tubes into a single collector similar to the one pictured below.




Tri-Y headers utilize a different approach. These headers feature three Y-pipes that merge the runners in pairs. Because of this they are sometimes also referred to as 4-into-2-into-1 headers. The Pfadt Tri-Ys are very elegant and because of that the differences are difficult to see in photos so below is a very rudimentary set of Tri-Y headers and a set of traditional 4-into-1 style long tube headers below that for a direct comparison. You can see that there are three separate events rather than one as is the case with a traditional 4-into-1 long tube headers.





Now that you know what Tri-Y header are, the question is what is the difference from a performance perspective. The commonly accepted theory is that 4-into-1 long tube headers offer stronger peak horsepower gains, while the Tri-Y headers produce stronger low and mid-range torque gains (ideal for street performance).


High Flow Cats or Cat Delete (Off Road Pipe)

With modern high flow cats there is essentially no performance advantage to a cat delete. They flow 99.9% as well as straight pipe. On a dyno you might see 1-3 rwhp in the mid RPM range. Going with a cat delete does cost less but the biggest draw back for many street driven cars is the smell of running without cats. Others are the potential legal issues and the inability to pass emissions testing and inspections. For track cars none of these are a concern so save the money and apply it elsewhere but if your car is used primarily on the street high flow cats are probably your best bet.
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Old 04-10-2013, 05:44 PM   #2
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Wow thanx a lot you helped me with things I have been dwelling with. You are right u know which one I should go with now.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:40 PM   #3
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Great write-up, as always.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:27 PM   #4
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Good job. Maybe this will cut down on the "what header should I buy...is best...sucks..." Threads for a week.
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Old 04-11-2013, 05:48 AM   #5
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Good job. Maybe this will cut down on the "what header should I buy...is best...sucks..." Threads for a week.
I give it a week lol

Nice write up.
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Old 04-11-2013, 08:41 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 45thCAMARO 2SS/RS View Post
Wow thanx a lot you helped me with things I have been dwelling with. You are right u know which one I should go with now.
Awesome! I am glad it was helpful.

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Originally Posted by mikeyg36 View Post
Great write-up, as always.
Thanks.

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Good job. Maybe this will cut down on the "what header should I buy...is best...sucks..." Threads for a week.
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I give it a week lol

Nice write up.
Nothing will end them but at least there is now a thread you guys can link them to for answers.
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Old 04-11-2013, 09:07 AM   #7
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We will make sure to bump it everyday to eliminate those threads lol
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Old 04-11-2013, 09:07 AM   #8
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We will make sure to bump it everyday to eliminate those threads lol
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Old 04-11-2013, 09:26 AM   #9
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Another thing to look for is the addition or lack of a Velocity/Merge spike




Kooks:


TSP 2"



Another topic to include about the primary sizes is how they compare to 'Stepped' headers (vs traditional).
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Old 04-11-2013, 09:28 AM   #10
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Nice write up chase.
You put everything into perspective!
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:01 AM   #11
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Another thing to look for is the addition or lack of a Velocity/Merge spike

Another topic to include about the primary sizes is how they compare to 'Stepped' headers (vs traditional).
Absolutely. Stainless Works, Stainless Power, Kooks, and ARH all utilize a merge spike. Many of the "budget" headers produced overseas do not and it does have an impact on performance. I will have to add a section on that at some point.

I have a separate write up I am working on for stepped headers. It is one of those topics that has a lot of variables and is hard to write about without either going too long or doing the opposite and over simplifying.

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Nice write up chase.
You put everything into perspective!
Thanks.
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:28 AM   #12
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Absolutely. Stainless Works, Stainless Power, Kooks, and ARH all utilize a merge spike. Many of the "budget" headers produced overseas do not and it does have an impact on performance. I will have to add a section on that at some point.

I have a separate write up I am working on for stepped headers. It is one of those topics that has a lot of variables and is hard to write about without either going too long or doing the opposite and over simplifying.

x2 on the stepped topic, I'll be subscribed!
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:31 AM   #13
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Another note, off road pipes/cat delete weight less
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Old 04-11-2013, 11:09 AM   #14
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nice chase , this should help alot of ppl.
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:47 PM   #15
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nice chase , this should help alot of ppl.
It surely helped me! Thx Chase.
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Old 04-11-2013, 01:38 PM   #16
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Thanks for the post Chase. I'm assuming your hp/tq numbers were on the same dyno you did the stock baseline run on, and all of your header numbers included a tune?

Thanks,
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:58 PM   #17
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nice chase , this should help alot of ppl.
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It surely helped me! Thx Chase.
That is what I am here for.

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Thanks for the post Chase. I'm assuming your hp/tq numbers were on the same dyno you did the stock baseline run on, and all of your header numbers included a tune?

Thanks,
Those numbers are not from any one car or any one set of pulls, but are what we have come to expect after seeing the results of many cars. That is about what you can expect if you bolt a quality set of LT headers on a bone stock car before tuning.
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Old 04-15-2013, 10:09 PM   #18
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"I have a separate write up I am working on for stepped headers. It is one of those topics that has a lot of variables and is hard to write about without either going too long or doing the opposite and over simplifying."

Not much has been written regarding the stepped headers so this should be an interesting read. One thing I did see posted from a shop was that the stepped headers always seemed to perform in the upper end of the dyno horsepower range depending on what mods the car had.
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Old 04-16-2013, 07:24 AM   #19
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Very nice write up. I always get questions about the 1 3/4, 1 7/8, 2 inch tubes.

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Old 04-16-2013, 09:48 AM   #20
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This may be a stupid question, but hey, that's what forums are for. With an NPP exhaust system, are there any modifications that would need to be done to it in applying 1 7/8" headers?
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Old 04-16-2013, 10:38 AM   #21
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Absolutely. Stainless Works, Stainless Power, Kooks, and ARH all utilize a merge spike. Many of the "budget" headers produced overseas do not and it does have an impact on performance. I will have to add a section on that at some point.

I have a separate write up I am working on for stepped headers. It is one of those topics that has a lot of variables and is hard to write about without either going too long or doing the opposite and over simplifying.



Thanks.
Great information and I cannot wait to see the stepped information. I went with the JBA 1 7/8" Stainless & Ceramic Coated Long Tubes and they also have a "MERGE SPIKE". I paid $800.00 for the headers and mids shipped and it was the best deal on the market at the time. I have used JBA in the past with NO issues and the Camaro headers have been great.
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Old 04-16-2013, 04:22 PM   #22
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Very nice write up. I always get questions about the 1 3/4, 1 7/8, 2 inch tubes.

I love Amanda
Thanks!

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This may be a stupid question, but hey, that's what forums are for. With an NPP exhaust system, are there any modifications that would need to be done to it in applying 1 7/8" headers?
No. You just need to make sure that you buy the right headers. Look for "factory connect" or "short system" headers. That is the lingo most of the manufacturers use to reference their headers that will bolt up to the factory exhaust or standard aftermarket cat backs. An, of course, if you have any doubts or questions feel free to hit me up or give us a call.
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Old 04-16-2013, 05:57 PM   #23
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What do you think about SLP headers????
SLP headers do not meet the standards outlined in my post.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:45 PM   #24
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ARH are great! Picked mine up from Chase with Apex in December and I finally have them installed.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:54 PM   #25
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Chase,
Do you have a header and cat recommendation for my 2013 ZL1 vert?
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