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Stainless Steel Exhaust Reviews? 93-97

1996 Formula Stainless Exhaust

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#1 Ovis Canis

Ovis Canis

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  • Gender:Male
  • First Name:Chuck
  • City:Albuquerque
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  • Year: 1996
  • Make: Pontiac
  • Model: Formula
  • Engine: LT1
  • Transmission: A4

Posted 23 February 2019 - 12:49 PM

I'm considering a stainless header/y pipe config for one of my 96 Formulas, with heat wrap.

Wondering if anyone has had any experience with this type of setup.

#2 Injuneer


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  • Year: 1994
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  • Model: Firebird Formula
  • Engine: 381ci LT1 stroker
  • Transmission: TH400 + GV O/D

Posted 24 February 2019 - 10:01 AM

Heat wrap, in general, is not good for headers.  Yes, it reduces under hood temperatures.  Yes it keeps heat in the primaries, improving scavenging.  But is also causes the tube metal temperature to approach the exhaust gas temperatures, which means the mild steel or SS is operating at temperatures in excess of 1,000-degF.  That causes stress cracking, and cracked welds from extreme thermal cycling.  Mild steel headers will start to rust, not from "trapped moisture" (as many people believe) but because at 1,000+ degrees the iron in the steel is starting to combine with oxygen in the air.  SS headers obviously have reduced issues with that form of rust, but it still happens.


A better solution is coating the headers with a ceramic-metallic compound.  When correctly applied to the inside of the primaries, the thermal barrier reflects heat back into the exhaust gasses, and lowers the tube metal temperatures, limiting damage and corrosion.  Achieves the same reduced under hood temperatures and increased scavenging, but doesn't damage the metal as much.  The coating is typically applied to the outside of the headers as well, but that is largely cosmetic.


If you still experience issues with plug wires, fuel lines, or brake lines due to under hood heat, you wrap the wires and lines, not the headers.


I am running a set of AS&M HPC coated mild steel mid-lengths that I bought used in 1999.  20 years later, they are still in one piece, and even the external coating is mostly intact.  These see some highly elevated exhaust gas temps with the 300-shot of nitrous,


Dedicated race vehicles often use heat wrap for their headers, but at that point they are considered expendable parts, cheap to buy, cheap to wrap, cheap to replace after one or two seasons, and generally more accessible to replace.


Swain provides some of the best coatings in the industry, concentrating primarily on the thermal barrier performance, and not so much on cosmetic issues.


381ci all-forged stroker (Callies Stealth, Oliver billet rods, BME 2618-T61 nitrous pistons) - 10.8:1 - CNC LT4 heads/intake - Comp Cams solid roller - MoTeC M48 Pro engine management - 8 LS1 coils - 58mm TB - 74#/HR injectors - 300-shot dry nitrous - TH400 - Gear Vendors 0.78:1 O/D - Strange 12-bolt - 4.11 Pro-Street gears - AS&M headers - true duals - Corbeau seat - AutoMeter gauges - roll bar - Spohn suspension - QA1 shocks - a few other odds 'n ends. 800HP / 800lb-ft at the flywheel, on a 300-shot. 11.5 @ 117 MPH straight motor


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