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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I was growing up (I was 21 in 1960), I spent a lot of time at the local drag strips. I was always looking to see what the racers were coming up with, what they were using, what worked for them, and what I might be able to use for my car (a '62 Chevy 409). And in particular, their headers and exhaust systems. In the pits, when they were working on their cars, I was always peeking under the hoods to check out their headers. If you wanted to check out the headers on Chevy's, Ford's or Pontiac's, you had to look under their hoods. In those days, these cars had full frames and the headers were typically mostly between the engine and the frame. The Dodge's and Plymouth's used a uni-body design, in which the body and the frame were a one piece unit, as are most cars today. At the drag strips, because of a lack of room in the engine compartment on the Super Stock Mopars, most of headers went out through the side panels, so they were easy to see.
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Like everything else in life, some people liked blondes and some liked red heads. Some liked long header primaries and some liked shorter primaries. If you asked me back then which worked better, I would have honestly told you I don't know, they all ran pretty much the same. If you ask me that today, I would say the same thing.

In the Super Stock classes everyone was running "open headers". Some racers told me that the longer primaries gave them a little more oomph in the mid range, and some told me that the shorter primaries gave them more power at the top end. But when it came to the "overall" performance advantage, nobody could tell me which design was better. I can't tell you either. On the chassis dyno, comparisons RCI has done, both designs are almost the same. Of course, in both cases we were running a full exhaust system, including mufflers. The majority of our customers have full exhaust systems, since most of the Mustang headers we supply are thought of as going on "street/strip" cars. We have found over the years that the length of the primaries on a vehicle with a full exhaust system is almost meaningless when it comes to making power. You can go Long Tube Headers or you can go Mid Length Headers. Either design is MUCH better than Shorty Headers. You pay your money and you make your choice...
 

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Agreed, thanks for sharing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think I need to clarify something. I'm not trying to talk anyone out of ordering Long Tube Headers. RCI sells four or five times as many Long Tube Headers as we do with the Mid Length Headers. The Long Tubes are just more popular. When it comes to people that have a "street/strip" Mustang, many feel that if they don't get the Long Tubes, they will be missing a lot of HP. It's not true, but that's what many folks think. I suspect this is because for the last 30 or 40 years, most performance headers used the Long Tube design, and so people felt that's the only way to go. Maybe it's human nature. We kind of get stuck in our ways, "change" is not always that easy to deal with. I should know, when I was in High School, my '40 Ford Coupe was the fastest car in the school parking lot. It was powered by a hopped up Ford Flathead engine with 3-carbs and aluminum Edelbrock heads. In 1955, Chevrolet introduced the Small Block Chevy V8. I didn't think too much about it until I happened to street race one. That was the first time I lost a street race, but not the last. It got to the point when I had to admit that Chevy came up with a "Flathead beater", and you didn't need to hop them up, you just needed to go down to the Chevy dealer and buy one. Changing anything (especially brands) is not always easy to swallow...
 

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I think headers in general come with some disadvantages, they make plug changes more challenging (at least on my 1965 Mustang), they increase under hood heat- so I went with long tubes because if I was going to deal with all the downsides I wanted every last horsepower.

I probably should have gone with ceramic coating. Maybe I will wrap them and at least alleviate some of my complaints about headers.

If someone actually made a decent high flowing cast manifold for these engines, like they do for the LS, I'd probably try it. Realizing you're really a street car guy, and not a race car guy, can be a hard pill to swallow; and I, along with many others, figured it out the hard way.
 

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I'm a fan of the RCI mid-length headers. Less heat and more space having the pipes bundled together into a collector before the bell housing.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I think headers in general come with some disadvantages, they make plug changes more challenging (at least on my 1965 Mustang), they increase under hood heat- so I went with long tubes because if I was going to deal with all the downsides I wanted every last horsepower.

I probably should have gone with ceramic coating. Maybe I will wrap them and at least alleviate some of my complaints about headers.

If someone actually made a decent high flowing cast manifold for these engines, like they do for the LS, I'd probably try it. Realizing you're really a street car guy, and not a race car guy, can be a hard pill to swallow; and I, along with many others, figured it out the hard way.
Some very good points. Like many things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages, which is probably why the word "compromise" was invented.

First let's discuss spark plug access, and I'm speaking only about RCI headers. As everyone knows, spark plug angles differ from one brand of cylinder heads to another brand of cylinder heads. This is one of the issues with mass produced headers, they are usually designed to be "one size fits all". RCI headers are designed to be "cylinder head specific". In building the initial header for each combination, we first put a spark plug socket on each spark plug, and build the header around the socket. The initial header (which is never sold) is used to build the fixture, from which every other header for that specific combination is then fabricated.

Header heat. I'm not sure there is any difference in how hot tubular headers get versus cast iron headers. I'm also not sure how much heat difference there is when headers are coated with Ceramic Coating. In my opinion, even though Ceramic Coating gives the headers a beautiful look, it's more cosmetic than anything else. Finally, wrapping your headers with heat wrap is a great way to destroy your headers, it does keep the heat inside the tubes, but the heat will eventually burn through the headers. I was at a trade show many years ago and I met a guy that worked for Dale Earnhardt Inc., building headers for DEI's NASCAR cars. They used heat wrap on all their headers (it was worth about 2 or 3 horsepower more, and every HP counted). He told me that they had to throw away the headers after every 500 mile race, they were burned through in spots. I don't think that RCI would be in business if our customers needed new headers every 500 miles. People need to remember that "heat is horsepower". The more horsepower your engine makes, the more heat it generates. Everything we do to hop up (or increase power) is a function of creating a bigger explosion in the combustion chamber. The bigger the explosion, the more heat the engine generates...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In the above post, I mentioned the term "one size fits all" when referring to production headers, and it reminded me of something. Many, many years ago I worked for a major main frame computer company (for 12 years), as a salesman. In those days, a 3-piece suit was mandatory. I had two or three suits in my closet. They were nice "off the rack" suits. And then I discovered that I had a choice, I could buy "off the rack suits'' or for a little more money, I could buy custom suits fitted specifically to me. Let me tell you, there is a difference. The custom suits look better on you and you feel better when you are wearing them, and they lasted longer, too...
 

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In the above post, I mentioned the term "one size fits all" when referring to production headers, and it reminded me of something. Many, many years ago I worked for a major main frame computer company (for 12 years), as a salesman. In those days, a 3-piece suit was mandatory. I had two or three suits in my closet. They were nice "off the rack" suits. And then I discovered that I had a choice, I could buy "off the rack suits'' or for a little more money, I could buy custom suits fitted specifically to me. Let me tell you, there is a difference. The custom suits look better on you and you feel better when you are wearing them, and they lasted longer, too...
Kinda like camshafts. ;)
 

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Every time I see these headers I think I wish I knew about these a year ago when I bought my long tubes (which still sit in the box).
I forgot to mention that I can remove and replace the headers very easily. Just remove the v-clamp down below, remove the easy to get to 3" spacing header bolts, then, in my case since I have a wider 351 based engine and tall valve covers, I have to remove the valve cover (or at least remove the t-bolts so I can tilt it while on the studs.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Kinda like camshafts. ;)
As usual, Ed is correct. Production camshaft companies will typically offer several different grinds for a 5.0L or 351W Mustang, but they are not privy to the customers combination, or how he uses his car, or what he expects to gain from a camshaft swap. The camshaft company does not know the customers displacement, or what cylinder heads the customer has, or the valve springs the customer has. In short, the camshaft companies are offering generic components for the generic customer and his generic Mustang. You pay for what you get and you get what you pay for, and surprisingly enough, the difference in cost between a generic (production) product and one designed specifically for your combination and needs is usually not very much...
 

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GK - got another fun project being sent to you. SN95 with a set of High Ports and needing some 1-7/8" mid-lengths. Wide bolt pattern... Gotta keep you on yer toes!
 

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. They used heat wrap on all their headers (it was worth about 2 or 3 horsepower more, and every HP counted). He told me that they had to throw away the headers after every 500 mile race, they were burned through in spots. I don't think that RCI would be in business if our customers needed new headers every 500 miles.
Well, if you are drag racing, wrapping the headers gets you about 2,000 passes in order to get 500 miles on the headers compared to just one NASCAR race. I am pretty sure the engine would never make it 500 miles. Lol
 

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I'm a fan of the RCI mid-length headers. Less heat and more space having the pipes bundled together into a collector before the bell housing.

View attachment 1072630
I really want to buy some of these RCI mid-length headers, but I want them attached to an x pipe with high flow catalytic converters to hopefully quiet it down. Not sure how much power I'd lose adding catalytic converters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, if you are drag racing, wrapping the headers gets you about 2,000 passes in order to get 500 miles on the headers compared to just one NASCAR race. I am pretty sure the engine would never make it 500 miles. Lol
Yes, if it's a non-street running drag car, feel free to wrap the headers, no problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I really want to buy some of these RCI mid-length headers, but I want them attached to an x pipe with high flow catalytic converters to hopefully quiet it down. Not sure how much power I'd lose adding catalytic converters.
Any reasonably competent muffler shop should be capable of attaching an X or H-Pipe to the RCI Mid Length Headers. As far as the cats, they won't cost you very much HP loss...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Everybody has a different way to attach an exhaust system to a header collector, and with one exception, they all work well. The exception (in my opinion) is the ball & socket set-up. Despite the fact that it creates an easy hook-up, it will cost you some horsepower. My own preference is the old fashioned 3-bolt flange set up. They are usually under $10 bucks and I'm pretty sure that every muffler shop carries them. If not, they are cheap if you order them from Summit or Jegs. I usually go with stainless steel bolts and nuts on these, since they won't rust and make it difficult to remove the nuts. I'm usually not in favor of the V-Band set ups, not because they don't work, but because the V-Band outer ring on a 3" pipe is about 5" in diameter, and can cause fitment issues on Long Tubes by hitting the floorboards, or hanging down too far, etc. The 3-ring deal is old school, but it has worked for the last 70 years for me.
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Our 1 3/4" and 1 7/8" headers use a 3" diameter collector, so unless you are using an exhaust system that is smaller than 3", you won't need a reducer. However, if you order either a 2" or 2 1/8" primary header, they use a 3 1/2" collector, and to hook them up to a 3" exhaust system will require a reducer.
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These are "slip-over" reducers. They will slip over the outside 3 1/2" diameter collector and have a 3" opening. You can use a 3 1/2" muffler clamp on them if you don't want to weld them to the collectors. Both Summit and Jegs offer several different 3 1/2" to 3" reducer brands to choose from, as well as 3" to 2 1/2" if you are using a smaller diameter exhaust system.

If you don't want to use the 3-bolt flange set-up but you need to connect your 3" H or X pipe to a 3" collector, Summit and Jegs offer a 3" to 3" slip-on pipe (shown below). Weld it on to your H or X pipe and slip it over the collectors.
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