The Silver Streak

JBA Shorty 1 5/8" Header Installation:

Installed JBA 1 5/8" shorty headers. People say that this is a three hour job. Either they're truly gifted or full of it. This took about two days and a lot of frustration. Installation should vary a bit from shorty header to shorty header but they can't be too much different. I went through a lot of research on headers before I made my purchase. I was going to use an equal length header until I discovered how hard installation would be. Equal length headers also make spark plugs almost impossible to change and spark plug wires a task to route. After talking to just about everyone I found the real world performance difference is almost nil in a short header. Places that sold both types recommended the unequal length shorty. Saleen only sells the equal length and they pushed it hard. If you want the challenge, Saleen's ceramic coated equal length 1 5/8" header for $249 is a great deal. The guys at Steeda also strongly recommended unequal length headers so I went for it. I choose the JBA because of their solid design and reputation. You'll want to get a header with a single flange and JBA's is a beast. Their headers are strong and thick without taking up too much space. They're 50 state legal and have the CARB exemption number right on the tubes! I could have gone with SVO and saved a bit but I figured if I'm going to do it, I might as well go all the way. These nickel plated headers were $239 from JBA here in San Diego. It was $129 more for a ceramic coating. I wanted ceramic but didn't feel the small benefits were worth the extreme cost. I used the 1 5/8" pipes to accommodate future intake and head upgrades. The 1 1/2" headers are better if you don't plan on a supercharger or new heads and are probably easier to install. The JBA Firecone headers came with gaskets and all mounting hardware. I purchased Permatex sensor safe high temp RTV and anti-seize and away we went. First order of business is to jack up the car and place some reasonably tall jackstands on the frame rails or suspension mounting points. Leave the jack in place for safety. We started with the driver's side because it looked easy. First unbolt the stock headers from the collectors. You'll need to do this under the car with some major socket extensions. We needed a universal joint on the passenger side to clear the oxygen sensor which is directly inline with one of the bolts. Be careful not to damage the oxygen sensor wires or housing. Once the headers are free from the h-pipe it's time to start up top. On the '95 GT you'll need to remove the strut tower brace to gain access for your hands and tools. This is only a few bolts and takes just five minutes. Next disconnect all the spark plug wires and move them out of the way. You'll need sockets and combination wrenches to remove all the header bolts. Remove all the bolts and studs on the factory headers. You'll also need to remove the engine lift bracket and dipstick tube. Go slow and work the dipstick tube out of the block with a gentle rocking motion. Once all the bolts are free work the header back and forth until it unseals from the collector. Now you need to twist and turn and grunt and groan to get the header up past the master cylinder. Work at it for a minute, it comes out. Carefully clean off the old gasket materiel and brush off any debris by the exhaust ports. Now it's time for the passenger side. As you'll notice, there's a lot in the way. We started by removing the intake tract from the throttle body forward. This is just a few clamps and one vacuum hose, plus the mass air box. Once this is gone you'll see that there is still plenty in the way of the header. We removed all the lines that were in the way. You need to remove a few hose clamps and unbolt a small filter canister from the back of the alternator. There are also a few vacuum hoses to unplug as well. Once this is all unhooked you can pull the whole thing up and forward dumping all the hoses by the radiator with the front of the main hoses still attached. Now the header will be in plain view. We also unsnapped the two rubber fuel lines from their clamp on the fender and moved them out of the way. You need to unbolt the EGR tube on both ends. This should be tight and requires a bit of work. Now unbolt the header. The rear most bolt has a bracket attached for the aft end of one of the lines you already disconnected. Once all the bolts are out it's easy to remove the header. Now, take a break, the fun is only just begun! Don't forget to carefully clean the head of grime and old gasket materiel. Now it's time to start once again on the driver's side header. Pull aside all the bolts you'll need plus lock washers. Take the gasket and apply a thin coat of sensor safe RTV on each side. You'll need to smear a lot on with your fingers so don't be bashful about the mess. You'll also want to prep all the bolts with anti-seize for future removal. Now, the fun part: It's impossible to install the new header without moving the master cylinder around. This wasn't as bad as it sounded. First unbolt the master cylinder from the power brake booster. Next unbolt the bracket holding the brake lines to the fender. This is done from the wheel well. You now have to remove the two brake lines that go to the front of the car from their plastic clamps on the fender. Take your time and it's no problem. They have to be spread to let the line come free. You need to remove the top and middle line, leaving the bottom in the clip. This will gave enough slack to carefully move the master cylinder out of the way. Be very careful not to bend or kink any of your brake lines. The header should now drop easily into place. Get your header gasket and carefully place it on the header flange. Line it up as much as you can and press it into place. Now push the header against the head and try to insert a bolt. If the bolt gets caught on the gasket you'll need to use a small screwdriver to make sure the hole is clear. Once you can get one bolt in the rest will be easy. Make sure the bolts go in by hand without excessive binding. Be very careful not to cross-thread any bolts. Start putting all the bolts in by hand before you use a wrench. You'll find that the forward most bolt is almost impossible to put in. Get it as tight as possible by hand because it'll be a task to tighten it later with the wrench. Once you've got all the bolts besides the one which holds the dipstick tube threaded you can go ahead and tighten them down. Get them all tight but don't over torque. The front bolt is in a horrible place and unreachable by conventional means. We cut out half of a socket and then used extensions from below to tighten the bolt. This also takes a person on top with a brave finger to hold the socket in place. You can only get the bolt so tight with this method. An alternative method is to remove the belt and unbolt the driver's side accessories. This didn't look like fun so we tried the Frankenstein socket method. I think a combination wrench with the opening ninety degrees from the handle might work as well. Once everything is tight you can coat the end of the dipstick tube with a little RTV and reinstall it in the block. Now put the final header bolt through the dipstick tube bracket and tighten it down. Now prep the passenger side gasket and bolts. Bolt the EGR tube on the new header until it's almost locked in place. This may require some major effort if the header fitting isn't exactly the right thread as was the case with the JBA. Once the EGR tube is in place on the header you'll need to loosen the EGR bolts on the throttle body. This will allow some play if the EGR tube doesn't line up exactly with the new header. You can now drop the header into place. Bolt up the top of the EGR tube but don't tighten it down yet. Repeat the gasket and first bolt procedure from the driver's side header leaving off the rear most bolt. Once you've got all but the back bolt in you can tighten them down with a wrench. Now tighten the EGR to throttle body bolts. Next you should tighten bolt ends of the EGR tube. You'll probably have to work hard to get the lower end tight. The JBA headers included a long bolt and spacer for the rear so the hose bracket could be reattached. The spacer with my header was too short (of course). I went to Home Depot and bought a small copper pipe which we cut to the right size. Hand tighten this bolt and make sure the bracket isn't wedged against the header. Once it's in place you can tighten the last header bolt with a wrench. Even with all the hoses out of the way it's a tight fit so take your time. Now it's time to bolt up the headers to the collectors. Insert the bolts from the top. Someone should hold the bolt and collector flange so it's easier to thread the nut and washer from the bottom. One of the passenger side bolts was unreachable with my hands so I had to attach the washer to the socket with a dab of RTV so I could get it in place. Tighten the collector bolts as much as you can using a deep socket. You may have to have someone hold a wrench on the bolts from the top if they slip. Now it's time to check all the bolts and start putting the car back together. Reinstall the master cylinder and all the brake line brackets and clips. Reinstall the passenger side hoses, clamps and brackets. Don't forget to put the rubber fuel lines back in their clip on the fender. The final pre-test step is to reinstall the intake tract from the throttle body to the air filter. Double check all the vacuum and electrical fittings to make sure you didn't miss anything. You can now lower the car and remove all your tools from the engine compartment. Have someone watch the headers as you start the engine. Listen for any leaks at the headers, EGR tube and collectors. The headers will start to stink and smoke as the coatings and gaskets heat up. The smell will be around for several days so keep your vents closed. Once you're sure there are no leaks you can reinstall the strut tower brace. We used some plastic tubing to listen for leaks at the collectors. Carbon monoxide is a bad thing so be through. Before you drive off at WOT check that your brakes are still working properly! Was it worth it? Yes. The engine now pulls clean up past 5500 RPM with no loss of power. I may have lost some low end torque but I didn't notice a difference. You'll need to retighten the header bolts often for a while. Take the time and check each one. They loosen at an amazing rate. I'm going to check into better bolts as well. I noticed someone had bolts with an allen opening for those hard to reach places. All in all this was upgrade was worth the trouble. The extra performance now is great and I'll need the free flowing exhaust for the intake, heads and supercharger.


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