Building custom headers with solder
This is actually a very easy process once you get the confidence to attempt it. A set of well made and properly routed headers will accentuate any custom. The realism is the key. The solder comes in a vast array of sizes, so getting the exact look is fairly easy and definitely well worth the effort.
The materials used in this How-To are as follows
– .062″ (~1/16″) Rosin Core solder
– 3/32 Aluminum tubing
The aluminum tubing is made by K&S Engineering (www.ksmetals.com) and available at various hobby stores. I got mine at HobbyLobby. The solder came from RadioShack. They have quite a selection. You can also try R/C shops or electrical shops for tubing or solder.
We will be using a Mid Mill for this project. It’s exposed exhaust and uncovered engine make it perfect for the tutorial.
Once the car is disassembled, cut off the original exhaust headers and smooth out the side of the chassis. Be careful not to gouge anything as this area will be visible behind the new headers when finished.
- Repainting the sides of the chassis will add a finished look -
Cut four equal lengths of solder and make them a bit longer then needed. Mine were cut right about 2″ long.
You can roll the solder an any flat surface to straighten it. Rolling it back and forth under your fingers or palm will do the trick.
Once they are all straight and uniform, secure then in the middle to assure everything stays in place. I used a finer solder to attach them.
The header tubes will have to be spaced accordingly and this is where the solder really makes it easy. You can bend pretty much any shape you want. Everything from some simple zoomies to the classic Pantera and GT40 “bundle of snakes” is easily achievable. Realism will definitely get you some extra points in the custom contests here. Fords and Dodges usually have equally spaced headers while Chevys typically have the two center pipes closer together.
You can use some 3/32″ aluminum tubing to get the bends you want by sliding the tubing over the solder up to the center of the bend. This will also ensure the the solder stays straight while making the bend.
Using the same 3/32″ tubing, you can cut a set of exhaust tips. This will clean up the look of the header and add a little more realism as the solder is not hollow.
Once you’re happy with the routing and look of your headers, assemble the entire car and recheck everything.
Disassemble the car again, attach the headers to the base with super glue or JB quick and then reassemble the car again for the final time.
After getting everything aligned and rechecked, cut the headers to the right length and attach the exhaust tips. make sure to align them from the back side so that you’ll be able to file down the ends to ensure they are all straight and even. If you’re following along, you should look about like this before the final filing of the tips.
Other helpful tips:
Paint the inside of the tips black for a finished look.
I hope you enjoyed these tips and I’ll be looking forward to seeing your work.