Exhausting Effort

Mark Stielow's Malitude Gets the Stainless Works Treatment

Mark Stielow Mar 15, 2005 0 Comment(s)

Every month we keep saying that the Malibu with attitude that we call "Malitude" is that much closer to completion. Honest... it is! What, do you want us to drive the car without an exhaust system? This is interesting part of the buildup, as getting it right will provide some of the most trouble-free driving we could experience. If you're going to cut corners, don't do it here (unless you have a booming stereo system to get over the ticking header leaks and clanking mufflers).

The exhaust system for your project car needs to be functional, robust, durable, rattle free and most importantly, not a power robber. For my projects, I prefer to use 304 stainless steel tubing and mufflers so that the system stays together and look great for years. I chose to use Stainless Works to build the system for the Malitude, since I've used the products in the past and have had great luck with the systems once they're up and running.

Because my car is significantly modified (given that you don't see twin-turbo small-blocks all that often), I actually delivered my Chevelle to their shop to have my system built. They offer a complete stainless steel system for many hot rods including '64 Chevelles, but this one was just too different. Just think, though; now you can build one just like mine and buy a bolt-on exhaust.

Pursuing a project like this seems difficult, but it was as simple as calling to set up an appointment and towing it down to Chagrin Falls, Ohio to meet with their Ron Fuller and Al Noe. When I returned, it was finished, fitting perfectly and sounding great.

My wife and I are looking forward to getting this project on the road. You should see one more story with interior and details before we stomp my first automatic-transmission car in and around my neighborhood (and definitely on a road course).

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To get the exhaust done on the Malitude I enlisted the help of Stainless Works, in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. I did build the system from the flanges to the headers and let them do the rest.

On most exhaust systems, the first thing that needs to be located is the muffler. Most passenger vehicles--whether they are performance machines or just daily drivers--end up with the muffler fitting best in the rear seat/kick up area. With the help of a few jack stands, we located the Stainless Works chambered mufflers just like the others.

Stainless Works uses a unique process to build the exhaust systems. They mock up the exhaust pipe with tubing for the straight sections. For the bends, they use flexible ducting, which work great to accurately represent the turns.

After they have built up the "mock-up" system, it's digitized with a state-of-the-art, 6-axis coordinate measuring system. The touch probe is use to pick up three points on every tube to establish the pipe diameter, then that process is repeated farther down the pipe to determine its direction and location. With all the straight sections digitized, the computer generates the 3D model of the tubing routing.

Once the computer learned the Malitude, they fed that data into a CNC tubing bender and created the sections of the exhaust stem out a single piece of tubing--the same would go for your car or the other systems in their line. This produces a smooth, weld-free stainless pipe that just needs to be trimmed to the correct length and welded into place.

Here is a shot of the exhaust from the down pipes to the mufflers. With Stainless Works processes, they can produce a very clean system that packages very close to the floor pans because they can "mock-up" up a system comprised of many complex bends that can be simply repeated.

Then, the digitized data is used to produce the exhaust pipe with the same shape as the 'mock-up" system.

To aid in the installation and removal of the system, I used a few V-band clamps to make the system easyto take apart. I purchased these clamps from Jegs and had Stainless Works incorporate them into the system.

The hardest part of the system was getting the 3-inch pipes up over the axle. Stainless Works already had a 3-inch system for the '64 Chevelle, but my car is minitubbed, two inches on each side is now unavailable and room up over the axle is limited.

We started with their standard 3-inch system and had to slightly modify it to get it up and over the axle while clearing the suspension components.

Stainless Works also builds some heavy-duty stainless steel exhaust hangers. Once these are welded on the tube and properly secured to the car, they won't break like most of the aftermarket hangers I've tried.

Here is an exploded view of the Stainless Works muffler chambers, which do a great job of reducing the drone without robbing power. I've tested these on the engine dyno in the past and only lost 5hp, all while reducing noise by 4 dB

If you don't live near Ohio or wish to tackle a stainless steel exhaust system yourself, Stainless Works sells a do-it-yourself system. The kit consists of four 5-foot straight lengths of tubing, four U-bends, four 90-degree bends, and four 45-degrees bends. These kits are available in 2 inch, 2.5 inch, and 3 inch diameters (all 304 stainless steel).

With Sainless Works new CNC laser they make all of their header flanges in-house out of 304 stainless steel.

They stock most engine exhaust header flanges.

Custom jobs aren't beyond these guys, either. Check out these shift handles they offer with your car's name in it. Well, this may not be the name of your car, but you get where I'm heading with this.

With the addition of the tail pipes the system is complete and one step closer to getting on the road. This look is just what I wanted with this car, tucked away enough that the pipes aren't too exposed, but also revealed from different angles to show others that this is no resto-mod.

The final example is nothing short of perfection. Thanks to Stainless Works for showing us how the true professionals in this business turn out the right stuff.

As soon as I get the Malitude running, this device from Innovate will be a large help in getting the engine dialed in. This is a stand-alone wide-band oxygen sensor, much like your modern EFI vehicle uses. Even though we tune the engine on the dyno, we will need to do the final tuning on the road, so this sensor will help to accurately read and data log the O2 to dial in the EFI system. This system also can be configured as a wide-band feedback sensor for the Electromotive EFI system on Malitude.

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