Street News

Pipes!

Auto Exh_Lead

advertisement for Steeroids

If there is one thing, one aspect of a car that exemplifies Mustang ownership, it has to be the sound. No matter where you go, the supermarket, a car show, or just cruising down the road, when a Mustang passes by, you know what it is before you even see it. Sometimes you can hear a ripe Mustang from a mile away, that distinct throaty rumble that can only come from a Mustang. The 4.6L Mustangs have a good sound, but the 5.0s and 289s have a completely different tone that just screams “I am Mustang, you love me.” This is not by accident, and it certainly does not come factory. The factory exhaust has always been a little on the wimpy side, showing way too much restraint and much too quiet. No, the Mustang’s vocal coach is the aftermarket.

There are always different degrees of Mustang sound, from the subtle low rumble to the full-on drag race scream, but for the typical street Mustang, it is somewhere in the middle. The key to getting this sound comes from two things- pipe diameter and muffler style. There are three main types of performance muffler- chambered, turbo, and perforated mufflers. Restrictive mufflers, the kind the factory uses, basically bottlenecks the exhaust into smaller chambers. This increases backpressure to the engine, and muffles the sound. They quiet the exhaust at the expense of performance and tone.

Chambered– Chambered mufflers, such as Flowmasters, use internal walls and baffles to direct and redirect soundwaves. This creates cancellation of the wave, which reduces the sound. The volume and sound of the exhaust note can be tuned by the placement and size of these baffles. Chambered mufflers last forever (as long as they don’t rust out) because there is no fiberglass packing inside to burn up.

Perforated– the classic tube mufflers like Cherry Bombs, are perforated mufflers. These are also called “glasspacks”. These can be straight-thru design (tube mufflers) or use look like typical mufflers, in which the perforate tube snakes inside the can. The area around the perforated tube is packed with fiberglass or steel mesh to absorb the sound. Very little reflection and cancellation occurs in these mufflers, which makes them much louder, but also more annoying. They tend to “drone” or hum inside the car, and are less throaty than they are raspy. That is not always a bad thing, Cherry Bomb mufflers are cool. Eventually, the fiberglass burns up, and you are left with a really loud car.

Turbo– The “turbo” muffler is really a combination of the two. These mufflers use a perforated tube that may snake inside the can or be divided into several perf tubes that flow into chambered baffles. Typically, the entire muffler can is filled with absorbtion material (fiberglass or steel mesh). Where the name came from is anyone’s guess, but not all turbo mufflers are high-performance. Buying a no-name turbo muffler is a crap-shoot, so stick with the names you know, unless you can hear them for yourself. Unlike the connotation, you do not want to use a turbo muffler for a car with an actual turbo, this creates too much restriction for flow, which impedes the work of the turbo. For a turbo car, you want an unrestricted exhaust for maximum performance.

When it comes to mufflers, restriction is the key. You want the least restriction possible, while attenuating the sound. Too much backpressure kills the engine’s ability to flow, not enough backpressure is a bad thing too. That brings us to tubing. The diameter of your exhaust tubing is much more important than you may realize. A small diameter pipe, under 2”, creates a bottleneck, like trying to breathe through a straw. On the other hand, a large pipe, like 4” pipe, is too big (for moderate power cars, 500HP or less), not enough backpressure. Backpressure is your friend, the right amount of BP will actually help your engine bring more air and fuel into the combustion chamber. This is called scavenging, and it is a direct result of the pulse of the exhaust. As each pulse of gas exits the pipe, it creates a low-pressure area behind it. These low-pressure pulses create a vacuum inside the exhaust, sucking more air and fuel into the combustion chamber. A pipe that is too large minimizes the high-pressure pulse, which prevents the low-pressure pulse from forming. There are many factors at work here, but the diameter of the exhaust is directly related. For most street cars (250-400 horsepower engines) running dual exhaust pipes (one for each side) a diameter of 2.25 to 2.5-inches is sufficient to promote scavenging and yield a great tone, a larger pipe yields a lower tone (in most cases).

You could take your car to the local muffler shop and have a custom system installed, which would cost a pretty penny, or you could take on the project yourself, save some cash, and get the exhaust you want, not just whatever that shop sells. Installing your own exhaust system is not that difficult when you purchase a pre-bent kit like the one we picked up from Summit Racing. This does come with a caveat though, because not all kits are created equally. Some kits are custom fit, which means they are pre-bent, but not cut to length, you have to measure and cut the pipes yourself. This means a lot of fitting and trimming, under the car. You would not want to cut before actually putting the pipes under the car.

Other kits are pre-bent and pre-cut, like the one we used. That does not mean it will be perfect, but the kit we used fit quite well. Another consideration is how the pipes mate to each other. Most pre-bent kits come with clamps, to compress and lock the pipes together. These are simple and functional, but they don’t look very good. You can always clamp them together and weld them up later. Once you clamp the pipe, it won’t come apart, so keep that in mind.

We went the process of installing a new dual exhaust system on a 1965 Mustang coupe project car. This was originally a 6-cylinder, and the new 302 under the hood needed some pipes. We coupled the Summit Racing exhaust system to a set of new Hooker Super Comp headers. Headers typically make an exhaust install easier because there is no downpipe for the stock manifolds, the headers are already under the car, where the exhaust pipes begin. If you are running stock manifolds, shorty or mid-length headers, you will need to have an exhaust shop bend a downpipe for you. We managed to install this system in about two days, without a lift, so you should be able to make it happen in a single weekend.

01.Before we could install the new system, the old pipes had to be removed. The 6-cylinder had been coupled to a 1.5-inch exhaust with a single glasspack muffler. The downpipe had rusted out long before we got the car, it was incredibly loud. The main pipe was retained by two bolts welded to the subframe. We just removed the nuts and it was loose.

01. Before we could install the new system, the old pipes had to be removed. The 6-cylinder had been coupled to a 1.5-inch exhaust with a single glasspack muffler. The downpipe had rusted out long before we got the car, it was incredibly loud. The main pipe was retained by two bolts welded to the subframe. We just removed the nuts and it was loose.

02.The hard part is getting the axle section out. The pipes have been welded together, so you can’t just snake it out. By the way, the Mustang was being supported by a set of Race Ramp wheel cribs. Unlike jack stands, these support the entire car on the wheels, which allows you much more room under the car.

02. The hard part is getting the axle section out. The pipes have been welded together, so you can’t just snake it out. By the way, the Mustang was being supported by a set of Race Ramp wheel cribs. Unlike jack stands, these support the entire car on the wheels, which allows you much more room under the car.

03.Using a sawzall, we cut the axle pipe just above the first bend. This makes it much easier to remove the pipe.

03. Using a sawzall, we cut the axle pipe just above the first bend. This makes it much easier to remove the pipe.

04.While you may get a good installation at the local muffler shop, what you won’t get is mandrel-bent pipes like this. The tubing benders that most local shops use pinch the inside radius of the pipe, causing restrictions. Mandrel benders support the inside radius, so that the outside edge stretches. This keep the inner diameter the same, no restriction.

04. While you may get a good installation at the local muffler shop, what you won’t get is mandrel-bent pipes like this. The tubing benders that most local shops use pinch the inside radius of the pipe, causing restrictions. Mandrel benders support the inside radius, so that the outside edge stretches. This keep the inner diameter the same, no restriction.

05.Most kits use clamps to hold the system together. You don’t want to tighten the clamps beyond hand tight before the full system is installed. When the clamp tightens, the pipe distorts and the crushes the two sections together, creating a lock-tight fit. If tightened correctly, it won’t come apart.

05. Most kits use clamps to hold the system together. You don’t want to tighten the clamps beyond hand tight before the full system is installed. When the clamp tightens, the pipe distorts and the crushes the two sections together, creating a lock-tight fit. If tightened correctly, it won’t come apart.

06.We pre-assembled the pipes on the shop floor before getting under the car. This allows you to become familiar with the kit and how it all fits together. Some kits have many different sections, which can get confusing under the car.

06. We pre-assembled the pipes on the shop floor before getting under the car. This allows you to become familiar with the kit and how it all fits together. Some kits have many different sections, which can get confusing under the car.

07.The first pipe is flared on the end and uses a traditional 3-bolt collar to attach to the headers.

07. The first pipe is flared on the end and uses a traditional 3-bolt collar to attach to the headers.

08.We bolted the first pipe to the header, sans gasket, and tightened the bolts by hand. No wrenches yet.

08. We bolted the first pipe to the header, sans gasket, and tightened the bolts by hand. No wrenches yet.

09.Next the second pipe was brought under the car. We had some options here. We made a note of where the pipes would fit if we trimmed it down. You would not want to cut on this line as then the pipes would be too short. Instead, you would cut where the second pipe’s flanges stops. We decided not to cut the pipes, and instead angle the first pipe up slightly, which gets most of the exhaust up under the body, so only the headers hang low.

09. Next the second pipe was brought under the car. We had some options here. We made a note of where the pipes would fit if we trimmed it down. You would not want to cut on this line as then the pipes would be too short. Instead, you would cut where the second pipe’s flanges stops. We decided not to cut the pipes, and instead angle the first pipe up slightly, which gets most of the exhaust up under the body, so only the headers hang low.

10.We pre-assembled the two pipes together outside of the car. It can be tricky getting the pipes to slide together, and this is easier.

10. We pre-assembled the two pipes together outside of the car. It can be tricky getting the pipes to slide together, and this is easier.

11.We bolted the assembly back to the header and snugged the clamp, finger tight only. Note how the exhaust clears the floor of the car and the driveshaft.

11. We bolted the assembly back to the header and snugged the clamp, finger tight only. Note how the exhaust clears the floor of the car and the driveshaft.

12.We used a piece of wire to support the main pipe under the car because it can put a lot of stress on the header. With the muffler in place (inside pipe is the inlet, the outlet is opposite for this kit), the pipe would be sagging over a foot otherwise.

12. We used a piece of wire to support the main pipe under the car because it can put a lot of stress on the header. With the muffler in place (inside pipe is the inlet, the outlet is opposite for this kit), the pipe would be sagging over a foot otherwise.

13.The clamp was tightened by hand to the muffler. You need to be able to adjust each section as the next one goes on to get the best fit.

13. The clamp was tightened by hand to the muffler. You need to be able to adjust each section as the next one goes on to get the best fit.

14.The supplied strap mount was placed on the top of the muffler to the floor of the mustang. The muffler needs to be in the exact correct place before you move on.

14. The supplied strap mount was placed on the top of the muffler to the floor of the mustang. The muffler needs to be in the exact correct place before you move on.

15.We drilled the floor with a 3\8” drill bit to match the large screw-bolts included in the kit.

15. We drilled the floor with a 3\8” drill bit to match the large screw-bolts included in the kit.

16.Then we installed the strap and clamped it to the muffler. Don’t forget the fender washer on the rubber section.

16. Then we installed the strap and clamped it to the muffler. Don’t forget the fender washer on the rubber section.

17.We snaked the tailpipe\axle section over the axle. Make sure the bend goes to the inside of the shocks.

17. We snaked the tailpipe\axle section over the axle. Make sure the bend goes to the inside of the shocks.

18.Then the last section was pressed into the muffler.

18. Then the last section was pressed into the muffler.

19.For the tailpipe, the kit came with a pair of L brackets. You can mount this to the subframe using a bolt or lag-screw (supplied). We had to do this for the driver side, but the passenger side was different.

19. For the tailpipe, the kit came with a pair of L brackets. You can mount this to the subframe using a bolt or lag-screw (supplied). We had to do this for the driver side, but the passenger side was different.

20.We used the original mount for the passenger side. It was just the right height.

20. We used the original mount for the passenger side. It was just the right height.

21.The strap has to make a 90-degree twist, but that is not a problem for this type of mount. We clamped it down with the last clamp.

21. The strap has to make a 90-degree twist, but that is not a problem for this type of mount. We clamped it down with the last clamp.

22.We still have some body work to do, but the new pipes are just the right length and they look great. A 2 1\2” exhaust on out warmed-up 302 should give us that classic Mustang growl. The Summit Racing kit was a perfect fit.

22. We still have some body work to do, but the new pipes are just the right length and they look great. A 2 1\2” exhaust on out warmed-up 302 should give us that classic Mustang growl. The Summit Racing kit was a perfect fit.

23.With everything in position, we went back and tightened all the clamps and installed the gaskets for the headers. The Driver side is the same as the passenger side. You could weld these instead.

23. With everything in position, we went back and tightened all the clamps and installed the gaskets for the headers. The Driver side is the same as the passenger side. You could weld these instead.

Sources:

Summit Racing

http://www.summitracing.com/

About Jefferson Bryant (201 Articles)
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*