Let's talk headers

Discussion in 'Mustang Chit Chat' started by kstall, Apr 19, 2021.

  1. kstall

    kstall Member

    Afternoon guys, I thought I'd throw out a topic for advice and ideas on headers. After talking with my son on the TB/manifold thread I posted earlier, I think we have decided to keep the stock tb/manny for now. He does want to L/T's for sure though. I think he has decided on these here:

    So for those of you who have done this yourself, as that's how we are leaning now, how bad of a job was it? What are the must have tools we would need to have on hand? Is there anything you learned along the way that made things easier? Also is it possible to do a full exhaust and not have to weld anything? Say for instance, can we get a cat-back system to replace the existing mufflers if we don't have cats? Or would that require an axle back? The systems he wants can be ordered without cats and he doesn't have them now. My thinking is if we are going to tackle another project then do it all, front to back, and replace the existing stuff.

    I know these may be silly questions for you seasoned vets but we enjoyed the cam install and another father/son project sounds good to us, so I'm sure I will be asking a ton of questions lol. Thanks in advance
  2. RED09GT

    RED09GT Equal Opportunity Offender S197 Team Member

    No welding required for most of the systems out there if you are going from a stock exhaust system. Stock, you have your manifolds, the mid pipe, and the cat-back section. A longtube setup from American Racing will have the headers and then you pick your mid pipe (catted or the now tough to get off-road version), and the mid pipe will bolt up to the stock or aftermarket exhaust you have behind the mid pipe.

    I have not done long tubes on an S197 but I have done them on an SN95 2v car. It wasn't easy but unbolting the motor mounts and raising the engine about 4" made it manageable.
    StevezStang likes this.
  3. stkjock

    stkjock ---- Madmin ---- Staff Member Administrator Super Moderator S197 Team Member

    I've not done it, but 14 years of being on this forum.... a lift is the most important tool.
    Monkeyporn, wdrlaw and MrBhp like this.
  4. kstall

    kstall Member

    Yeah I figured that would come in to play. Too bad I don't have a buddy with one
  5. MrAwesome987

    MrAwesome987 forum member

    I did mine myself. A lift makes things much easier... I had to pull the passenger side motor mount and bracket to get that side in. Really its not that bad.
  6. eighty6gt

    eighty6gt forum member

    Are you running the stock H pipe right now? If you are, I recommend a cat back (MBRP stainless steel,) and a DOB supercharger kit rather than messing with the exhaust.
  7. Laga

    Laga Member

    I installed Kooks LT’s on my 05 about 3years ago, on jack stands.
    Start with a 4x8 sheet of 1/2” styrofoam to lay on. You will be on back awhile. I supported engine with floor jack on corner of oil pan. I used a block of wood and pile of rags to protect pan. Be sure to have a selection of different size extensions and universal joints for your ratchets. I remember the passenger side motor mount and starter being a real MF. A set of flex end ratcheting box end wrenches help also. On the drivers side, disconnect steering shaft from rack ( after marking both ends so it goes back in the right place) and remove drivers side bolt from steering rack so it can swing forward out of way.
    You might have to remove oil dipstick. Remember to install before the new headers go in , Or it’s a real pain in the ass. Ask me how I know.
    I also remember that 1or 2 of the manifold studs did not want to come out of block despite how much penetrating oil was sprayed on. I wound up cutting off a bit to make it work. Left enough for new bolts. Should be easy with 2 guys. Good luck.
    crjackson2134 and MrBhp like this.
  8. MrBhp

    MrBhp Member

    I ended up leaving a stud on each side to support the things when trying to get them back in. On the drivers side I left the stud that holds the dip stick tube in place. Same corresponding stud on passenger side. I had to get my car off the ground a couple feet to be able to get mine in. And you may or may not need to ding one of the tubes to clear the bolt on the steering shaft.
  9. kstall

    kstall Member

    That's the second time I've read about having flex end wrenches so those will be on the shopping list for sure. And we will need some good jack stands. Are the harbor freight ones any count?
  10. MrBhp

    MrBhp Member

    Harbor freight jack stands. I've had many. I've also returned many due to their volunteer recall. I still use the ones that didn't get recalled. Unless you lay out some serious cash for USA made pieces, you will be getting pretty much the same thing regardless where you get them.
    I always leave the jack under the car for a backup.
  11. Pentalab

    Pentalab forum member

    If you install LT's, I would replace the oem eng mounts with real ones, like the steeda unit. The steeda eng mounts allow for a stock eng height, or a 1/4" - 1/2" - 3/4" eng drop. I used the 1/4" drop option, so my Roush CAI has more clearance to the steeda STB above it. The steeda mount comes with 4 x red, and 2 x black mounts. The black ones are slightly stiffer durometer. For max stiffness, one red and one black are used on each side... leaving 2 x spare red ones. ( The version for the GT-500's came with 4 x black mounts, no reds).

    You can only lower the eng so much, till primary #8 hits the steering shaft. The car is trying to lift on the Driver's side..and go down on the pass side. 1/4" is ample in my case, and lower's the CG a bit.

    Oem eng mounts were the 'hydra' mounts, which are gel filled, and imo, allow for too much side to side eng movement.
    crjackson2134 likes this.
  12. ghunt81

    ghunt81 New parts on old junk! S197 Team Member

    I did headers initially several years ago and have had them out and back in twice more after that (once for gaskets, once to swap to 304SS units). It's not a bad job, just time consuming and removing the stock stuff is by far the worst part of it. I didn't break any studs but had several that were very stubborn. I used Stage 8 locking bolts on mine on the reinstall. Also get good header gaskets like Percy's or the Ford Motorsport ones so you don't have to worry about them leaking. You also may have difficulty removing the dipstick tube...on my first install I ended up having to use vise grips to pull it out because the o-ring at the bottom was hard as a rock, and I mangled the tube so I had to order a new one. Make sure to put some anti-sieze or something on the o-ring on the new one when you reinstall. But, once the starter, steering shaft and dipstick tube are out and the engine is raised you're good to go on the install.

    I made a wood block to fit on my jack and lift the engine by the crank pulley because I dented my oil pan a little on the initial install by raising it that way. Also gives you more room to work.

    One tip, instead of unbolting the steering rack, you can unbolt the steering shaft at both ends and collapse it a bit where it comes through the firewall to pull out the steering shaft.

    I kept my stock mounts and shimmed them up 1/4", haven't had any problems with them at all. The JBA's I installed also let you access the top starter mount from the top in the engine bay which makes it slightly easier to get at but that one is still a real pain in the ass because it's so close to the block.

    BTW, another tool that helps with the ratcheting wrenches is the socket adapters for them. It's great it spots like the aforementioned top starter bolt that has very little clearance around it.
    EBABlacknChrome likes this.
  13. rocky61201

    rocky61201 forum member


    BMR aftermarket adjustable motor mounts or an equivalent is probably a must have. I would get them now and have them ready to go in because you will probably need them to make everything work and clear the steering shaft. It's better to have them now, then wait another week or two for them to arrive after you've torn everything apart. And speaking of shipping times right now on ANYTHING.... Not so good.

    EDIT. If your car has more than 150k miles on it your stock motor mounts are probably done for anyway. Plus your 2006 is already 15 years old. Just like mine, lol. And if its a manual transmission you will feel the difference in good motor mounts.
  14. RED09GT

    RED09GT Equal Opportunity Offender S197 Team Member

    Best place to lift the engine is the pan rail at the front. I use a 10" long piece of 4x4 post that has been trimmed to clear the crank pulley as a 2x4 isn't stable enough. If you lift on the pan rail, the weight is being supported by the engine block, rather than the oil pan or the crank.
  15. Silver'nStripes

    Silver'nStripes Member

    When I installed my headers a few of the studs were well pretty stuck in the heads. To avoid breaking them off we used a small propane torch to heat them up a little bit, they came right out.
  16. kstall

    kstall Member

    Ok what are these socket adapters you are referring to? Got a link for them?
  17. Onelildude

    Onelildude forum member

    I did my LTs on my back with simple hand tools (rachet, sockets, wrenches, etc.) and it took a while, but as those above have said, a lift would have made the job easier. I went with JBA and their catted h-pipe and my car is still pretty loud. Take your time and make sure you use oem gaskets, so you don't have to redo the job.
  18. 07 Boss

    07 Boss Senior Member

    I've done installed heders twice on this car and it was a night and day difference doing it with a tubular K-member and the stock one. You can maneuver the headers around and actually reach the starter bolts. I found leaving couple of the factory studs in will help with the install and then once you get bolts started you can remove them and replace with bolts. Some people insist on locking header bolts but I haven't found the need.

    Sidenote: Corrosion was not a big concern of mine since I live in the high desert. But this allowed me to purchase some Pacesetter LT's and midpipe combo that cost just over $500 or about half of other exhaust systems. The issue with these is they are made out of mild steel and will rust pretty bad given certain environmental conditions. With that said I have had them on the car for 12 or so years now without any issues. I did have a crack in my midpipe where I dragged it across a speed bump or something but otherwise they have been awesome. Their primaries were an 1/8" larger than most of the headers I looked at which shouldn't be too big of a difference unless you are going FI or nitrous, then I would definitely recommend the larger primaries. I have both a catted midpipe and an O/R midpipe that I used to switch out for smog but I have a new way to pass now.
  19. ghunt81

    ghunt81 New parts on old junk! S197 Team Member

    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  20. Juice

    Juice forum member

    Hardest part IMO is finding the right access to tighten bolts. I ended up having to order a 1/4" extension set with swivel to tighten one bolt. lol.
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