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Old 12-18-2013, 11:10 AM   #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 isnít 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 isnít 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 isnít 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 discern 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 12-19-2013, 10:50 AM   #2
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That is very interesting and informative. Thanks!
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Old 12-19-2013, 11:42 AM   #3
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Great post. I'm in the market for headers and this is helpful.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:37 AM   #4
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That is very interesting and informative. Thanks!
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Great post. I'm in the market for headers and this is helpful.
Glad to hear that. Hit me up or give us a call if you have any questions. That is what I am here for.
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Old 12-28-2013, 10:31 AM   #5
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Nice write up Chase. This will really help someone in the market.
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Old 12-29-2013, 01:26 AM   #6
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Thank you! Great post
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:45 AM   #7
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I am in the market for a set and wow Thanks Chase very informative! I just have some questions, which I'm sure they are in the forum somewhere and I don't have hrs to read over threads that bicker back and forth with no real definitive info. Do you have to have a tune when using long tubes or will it implode if driven without one?(JK) I want to avoid tuning to protect my warranty,but want rid of the rusted manifolds that are on it now. They were rusted when I picked up my 2014 1LE with 12 miles on it! Will it hurt performance immensely? I would like to clean up the engine compartment that's all, not looking for more performance right now. I know people have had a CEL and some claim not. Thanks
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:07 AM   #8
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with long tubes you have to have a tune or you WILL get a CEL due to not having the rear set of O2 sensors. If you are just wanting to clean up the engine bay and absolutely do no want a tune then shorties are what you need.
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Old 12-29-2013, 03:16 PM   #9
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Nice write up Chase. This will really help someone in the market.
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Thank you! Great post


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate2013 View Post
I am in the market for a set and wow Thanks Chase very informative! I just have some questions, which I'm sure they are in the forum somewhere and I don't have hrs to read over threads that bicker back and forth with no real definitive info. Do you have to have a tune when using long tubes or will it implode if driven without one?(JK) I want to avoid tuning to protect my warranty,but want rid of the rusted manifolds that are on it now. They were rusted when I picked up my 2014 1LE with 12 miles on it! Will it hurt performance immensely? I would like to clean up the engine compartment that's all, not looking for more performance right now. I know people have had a CEL and some claim not. Thanks
You do not have to get a tune, however, you will be leaving performance on the table and you will get a check engine light. Meaning that if some legitimate reason for the CEL to come on were to occur you would not know it. I can see how that could used as justification to not cover the repair under warranty thus negating the point of not tuning in the first place. If you want to protect your warranty the best bet is to wait on headers until you are ready to tune and take responsibility if something were to occur. Another option would be shorty headers and high flow cats. They do not require tuning but the performance gains will not be as strong as long tubes.
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Old 12-29-2013, 03:25 PM   #10
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Thanks Chase that's the info I was looking for. Guess I see shortys in my future.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:04 PM   #11
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Thanks Chase that's the info I was looking for. Guess I see shortys in my future.
No problem. If you have any other questions just let me know.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:31 PM   #12
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Chase, i appreciate the time and effort that you and some of the other sponsors take to explain the technical aspect of various parts.
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:55 PM   #13
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Good info. I knew about the advantages of 304 stainless steel but not about Tri-Y. Now I see why Pfadt pushes this design.
I would never consider headers (or any exhaust component) made of 409.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:12 AM   #14
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Chase, i appreciate the time and effort that you and some of the other sponsors take to explain the technical aspect of various parts.
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Good info. I knew about the advantages of 304 stainless steel but not about Tri-Y. Now I see why Pfadt pushes this design.
I would never consider headers (or any exhaust component) made of 409.
Thanks! We feel that as a vendor you have a certain responsibility to contribute to the community.
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:55 AM   #15
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Thanks for the information. Well done.
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Old 01-06-2014, 02:50 PM   #16
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See I don't use any restriction I just run open cylinder heads no silly headers slowing my flow lol. But seriously good info.
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Old 01-15-2014, 11:25 AM   #17
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Thanks for the information. Well done.
You are very welcome. Thank you.

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See I don't use any restriction I just run open cylinder heads no silly headers slowing my flow lol. But seriously good info.
You are all that is MAN!!! Thanks.
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:57 PM   #18
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Hey Chase great info. Am running 17/8 stainless work LT. Thanking about going 2" with the thermal coating. Do you have any pic with the thermal coating LT header?
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:30 PM   #19
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Hey Chase great info. Am running 17/8 stainless work LT. Thanking about going 2" with the thermal coating. Do you have any pic with the thermal coating LT header?
There are a lot of different option when it comes to thermal coating. The finish most people typically visualize when you talk about ceramic coating looks similar to chrome.




But you can get almost any finish you can imagine.






And if you really want to spend some money you can get crazy...



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Old 01-16-2014, 09:22 AM   #20
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:22 AM   #21
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Chase, I currently have stock manifolds, Solo hi-flow cats and a GMPP Track Pack axle-back; sounds great and the hi-flows gave me a small hp boost.
My warranty will expire in March so I'm considering headers sometime after that but I seem to recall hearing on here that I won't be able to utilize my Solo's with LT's. Is that true and if so why? Would shorties tied to the Solo's be worth doing?
Irrespective of all that, as far as the three primary sizes go, can all three hook up to the stock pipes from the back of the cats?
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:30 AM   #22
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Chase, I currently have stock manifolds, Solo hi-flow cats and a GMPP Track Pack axle-back; sounds great and the hi-flows gave me a small hp boost.
My warranty will expire in March so I'm considering headers sometime after that but I seem to recall hearing on here that I won't be able to utilize my Solo's with LT's. Is that true and if so why? Would shorties tied to the Solo's be worth doing?
Irrespective of all that, as far as the three primary sizes go, can all three hook up to the stock pipes from the back of the cats?
You will not be able to use Solo high flow cats with long tube headers. Solo high flow cats are really a full mid pipe replacement from the stock manifolds to the cat back. Long tube headers eliminate that entire section. You can bolt the Solo high flow cats up to shorties. You will not see the same kind of power as you would with long tubes but you will see another small gain.

When selecting long tube headers with the intention of bolting them to a stock configuration cat back you have to make sure to buy a set of headers labeled "factory connect" or "short system". These headers are designed to utilize the stock cat back geometry. If you have any questions when looking at the options do not hesitate to hit me up or give us a call.
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:36 AM   #23
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You will not be able to use Solo high flow cats with long tube headers. Solo high flow cats are really a full mid pipe replacement from the stock manifolds to the cat back. Long tube headers eliminate that entire section. You can bolt the Solo high flow cats up to shorties. You will not see the same kind of power as you would with long tubes but you will see another small gain.
Thanks for the reply but I'm still a bit confused (it doesn't take much). I seem to recall hearing on here that you still have to have some type of hi-flow cats with headers, right or wrong?
Just ballpark, what additional hp could I expect to see if I just decided to keep the Solo's and go with shorties?
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:49 AM   #24
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Thanks for the reply but I'm still a bit confused (it doesn't take much). I seem to recall hearing on here that you still have to have some type of hi-flow cats with headers, right or wrong?
Just ballpark, what additional hp could I expect to see if I just decided to keep the Solo's and go with shorties?
Check out the picture below. The top one is the stock parts. Your Solo high flow cats replace that entire section after the manifold. Long tube headers replace all of it. Yes, you will have to bolt up a cat or cat delete behind the long tube headers to make the connection but what you need is what is behind the long tubes in the picture. The Solo cats (actually a lot more than just the cats) are the wrong configuration to be able to do it.

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Old 01-16-2014, 11:00 AM   #25
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Check out the picture below. The top one is the stock parts. Your Solo high flow cats replace that entire section after the manifold. Long tube headers replace all of it. Yes, you will have to bolt up a cat or cat delete behind the long tube headers to make the connection but what you need is what is behind the long tubes in the picture. The Solo cats (actually a lot more than just the cats) are the wrong configuration to be able to do it.

For whatever reason the pic is not opening but I pretty much understand the concept now.
Back to my 2nd question from my previous post then: since I picked up 10-15 hp with the Solo's, if I added shorties how much additional hp could I expect to gain, ballpark? Trying to decide if it's worth doing for the $$. Thanks.
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