Turbo header material. Mild Steel or Stainless? - Ford Mustang Forums : Corral.net Mustang Forum
 
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post #1 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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Turbo header material. Mild Steel or Stainless?

I had it narrowed down to 304L or 321 for my turbo header material. Everything I've read stated that stainless is a good choice for a turbo header because of it's ability to survive in excessively high temps. Downside is very high thermal expansion.

I called Pro Turbo Kits to buy some materials, and ask there opinion/experience on the matter. They suggested ceramic coated 14 gauge mild steel for a street turbo system. They said that stainless steel has a problem with cracking on street cars because of the high rate of expansion, and the amount of heat cycles a street car sees. They also said I could expect appox 5-7 years out of a set of coated mild steel headers. Sounds good to me!

Anyone else out there with opinions/experiences about this?

BTW, the application is a 96 LT1 Camaro with a 357 and Innovative GT80BB and a goal of 750-800rwhp.


96SS- Single turbo. 645rwhp 700rwtq and still tuning....
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post #2 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 02:20 AM
 
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Everything you ever wanted to know about exhaust materials:

http://www.burnsstainless.com/TechAr...harticles.html

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post #3 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 11:38 AM
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I've been running mild steel for a year without a problem. If I had the $$$ to do it over again i'd get everything ceramic coated. It won't rust, looks killer, and will hold up better that stainless in a daily driver car.



Jeremy

Two turbos and a carb...
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post #4 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 11:50 AM
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I'd agree. The only way I'd do stainless for a real street car is using 321. It's thermal expansion properties are much closer to mild steel than 304. The coated mild steel will hold up for years and is MUCH cheaper also.

Shane Hill
90lx with a 304ci 4v, Turbo400, and 105mm turbo
Thanks to TranzKing, MMR, BS3, Don Bailey, Team Z, and Wolfe Racecraft
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post #5 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 12:59 PM
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I am curious why is a lot of factory performance cars come with stainless steel headers then? Like all the T-types for instances, seems if it would hold up to 5 years as coated mild, they would have taken the cheaper route. Is it possible the mild coated is not a great option for a true daily driven car? You know one that sees many road conditions, lots of heat cycles and so on. I know every early turbo kit we ever did that was mild, cracked regardless of coating, but then again we drove are cars year round, so go figure.

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post #6 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 01:23 PM
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T-type/GN headers are 409 stainless. I've had to weld cracks in the drivers manifold of every one i've owned.

Looks like ceramic coated heavy gauge mild steel is the way to go for a street car.
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by danimal 95
T-type/GN headers are 409 stainless. I've had to weld cracks in the drivers manifold of every one i've owned.
Is the 409 a lot cheaper than mild steel? If it is more it still does not explain why manufacturers do not follow the lead of the after market industry, since manufactures are known to try to save money in every little place they can. I just used the T-type as one example, not meaning to base all things on them alone.

Shane why is the kit you are making right now for your buddy using stainless?

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post #8 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 02:09 PM
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409 has the thermal properties and strength of mild steel while still being corrosion resistand. The manufacturers started using 409 because of the emissions laws requiring them to warranty the exhaust systems for 50k miles.

We used stainless because they're not daily driven cars, but pretty much race only. I don't have to worry about all the heat cycling they'd have if they were daily driven.

Shane Hill
90lx with a 304ci 4v, Turbo400, and 105mm turbo
Thanks to TranzKing, MMR, BS3, Don Bailey, Team Z, and Wolfe Racecraft
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 02:14 PM
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If they are not daily driven cars, then why not use mild steel and save the cost?

I still do not understand, are you saying they used 409 stainless because it would in fact last 50k miles over mild steel not lasting that? 50k miles for some people is not much, heck that is a little over a year of driving for me.

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post #10 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 02:19 PM
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OEMs couldn't guarantee that they could last for 50,000 miles without going to some sort of stainless variant. The government required them to guarantee that.

The better grades of stainless do a better job of retaining heat inside the tubing, which is why we did stainless. A true race car can benefit from that much more than your average street car. We could have saved money and done coated MS, but the owner WANTED stainless.


Shane Hill
90lx with a 304ci 4v, Turbo400, and 105mm turbo
Thanks to TranzKing, MMR, BS3, Don Bailey, Team Z, and Wolfe Racecraft
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post #11 of 23 Old 03-07-2003, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by NoSlix
OEMs couldn't guarantee that they could last for 50,000 miles without going to some sort of stainless variant. The government required them to guarantee that.
Well that is interesting a OEM can not guarantee a header will last 50k miles without them doing some form of stainless on it, but a aftermarket company can say a form other than stainless will last 5-7 years, I guess people do not drive many miles because I would think 5-7 years equals a LOT more than 50k miles. Heck in the 5 years I drove my Mustang I put like 125k miles on it and I had other cars I drove at times, almost never drove the thing in the summers as well, plus was in college and did not have near the need to drive back then, oh and it had its moments of down time like when Texas Turbo destroyed one motor and fun things like that.

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post #12 of 23 Old 03-08-2003, 05:24 AM
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How about seamless steam pipe can be bought with bends etc??

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post #13 of 23 Old 03-11-2003, 09:02 AM
 
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So far, I think Incon is the only one who did their homework and did it right- cast iron is the best material for turbo headers.
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post #14 of 23 Old 03-11-2003, 03:17 PM
 
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Then why don't you see any formula or GT cars using cast headers? All are stainless tubing.
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post #15 of 23 Old 03-11-2003, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 32Vpwr
Then why don't you see any formula or GT cars using cast headers? All are stainless tubing.
Because those are race cars and do not have to last or go through the things a street going vehicle would encounter. Kind of like asking why not run a PT106 on a bone stock 302 since the big racers run them.

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post #16 of 23 Old 03-12-2003, 03:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by 2turboz
So far, I think Incon is the only one who did their homework and did it right- cast iron is the best material for turbo headers.
Yeah and that explains why they are out of business now anyways look at TTI they have been around for years making kits and they use stainless steel and I have never heard one bad complaint about them
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post #17 of 23 Old 03-12-2003, 03:43 PM
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Yeah and that explains why they are out of business now anyways look at TTI they have been around for years making kits and they use stainless steel and I have never heard one bad complaint about them
Never had complaints about their customer service. I bet with the amount of years they have been around there are some REALLY old kits with a LOT of miles on them and they have needed some welding here and there. It is interesting that a lot of places sell mild and it is a option for the coating, wonder how long non coated mild in a street car lasts.

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post #18 of 23 Old 03-12-2003, 03:50 PM
 
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Yeah I wonder that too and also why all the new companies have went to mild steel and caoting. Wonder if it is because it is cheaper to make the kit or because it is actually better. Some steel genius needs to answer this question for us Snipe
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post #19 of 23 Old 03-12-2003, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Blow_Me93
Yeah I wonder that too and also why all the new companies have went to mild steel and caoting. Wonder if it is because it is cheaper to make the kit or because it is actually better. Some steel genius needs to answer this question for us Snipe
Without the coating it is definately cheaper, the material is cheaper and the fabricating of the materials is cheaper. Just look at the price of some stainless shorties new and some mild steel ones new, that will give you a idea of price differences. I dare say it is still cheaper without the coating, but even if it is not the customer might see say a $2600 price tag on a mild steel turbo kit, all the customer looks at is really the price and how much power the kits can make. The customer may not look at first and realize that the price may not include somethings you need but this allows the salesperson to sell the customer on upgrades. You slowly upgrade that kit into say a $3400 end price.

So far all I am seeing is factories used forms of stainless because it was all they could promise would last that 50k miles and I would guess 50k or 5 years like most OEMs then you have small aftermarket companies saying mild will be just fine for as one example said 5-7 years if coated. Big thing here is, if the small company is wrong what can you really do vs if the OEM made a promise like that and it did not last and failed on many vehicles, for some reason I see people trying to attack(sue) said OEM for faulty engineering of a product. I'd trust a OEM's engineers judgement over any small company that I doubt most even have engineers on staff.

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post #20 of 23 Old 03-12-2003, 06:18 PM
 
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Aaron is correct- it is all about cost. No doubt, Inall had problems, but noone can fault his no-holds-barred engineering expertise. He did it correctly- best turbos, best manifolds, best (most efficient) design, best clamps and hoses, complete fuel system to support the designed output. He did not have the cash and product volume needed to survive, just like 95% of all small startup companies.

One thing will almost always be true- the best solutions are generally the most costly, and particularly so with small quantity parts. To produce Incons system and make a reasonable profit, the kit would cost at least $5500 today. Most Mustang folks will not pay those high prices for the best stuff available when the next tier down works quite well- but the supercar, suv, and ricer crowds will. Ya gotta go where the money is or find a market niche that noone else can enter economically.
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post #21 of 23 Old 03-29-2003, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 2turboz
So far, I think Incon is the only one who did their homework and did it right- cast iron is the best material for turbo headers.
I would think that they would loose a lot of flow characteristics with the rough cast sand molded cast-iron. I'm a sculptor and I have cast with Bronze, Aluminum, and Iron using Sand molds, Standard Investments (plaster and Grog/sand) and Ceramic Shell.

Unfortunately sand mold don't hold detail at all! Instead of a smooth surface, it becomes very very bumpy because the metal casts the texture of the sandy mold. but it is very cheap and easy to make.... If the industry used Caramic shell casting that would be another thing... They could cast a iron manifold with runners as smooth as a tubular steel header.

Iron - cheap and strong, but no one gives a damn to cast it in the right way

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post #22 of 23 Old 03-29-2003, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I got a bunch of 16 gauge 1 5/8 mild steel U-bends from MAC, and I'm going to start header construction tomorrow.

I plan to have the headers coated when completed. Does anyone coat the inside of a turbo header, or just the outside?

I'm still a bit worried that they will hold up. (crossing fingers)

96SS- Single turbo. 645rwhp 700rwtq and still tuning....
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post #23 of 23 Old 03-30-2003, 05:58 PM
 
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I wouldn't coat the inside of an exhaust manifold- you dont want pieces of hard ceramic breaking off and going through your turbine. The tolerances are tight and hard objects can break turbine blades at worst, erode and/or unbalance them at best.

As to the Incon cast iron manifolds- they do have a rough finish inside. Incon suggests/provides extrude honing in high hp applications to improve flow rates. They did use a special high temperature alloy that is more expesive to machine than more common cast iron. IMHO, the minimal losses in flow are more than compensated for by the improved efficiencies provided by less heat radiation and close turbo placement(closer to the heat source). Cast iron does not fatigue and crack as easily as steel tubing.
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