Besides a few common tools, patience is the most important tool necessary to install a set of headers. Sanderson Headers are built by hand in the USA with the finest materials. When properly installed, Sanderson Headers will provide years of trouble-free performance.

  1. Be sure your engine is properly tuned. Timing and fuel/air mixture must be accurate to avoid heat-related gasket problems or damage to the header coating (if you have coated headers). See additional instructions below if your engine is new or rebuilt and never fired.
  2. Disconnect the ground lead from the battery.
  3. If you raise the vehicle to gain better access, support it on suitable heavy jackstands. Anything else is dangerous.
  4. The cylinder heads must be perfectly clean. Remove all traces of carbon, old gasket material, and other debris, starting with a scraper and single-edge razor blade. Finish with a wire brush and a final polish with Scotch-Brite® or a similar abrasive pad. lastly, wipe all mounting surfaces with acetone (WARNING ~ Flammable!)
  5. Install two studs, one in each end of the cylinder head to align the flange.
  6. Apply a thin "smear" of Permatex® #82180 Ultra Black® Silicone (or compatible) around each exhaust port and every raised area on the header flange. The thickness of the silicone should be less than this thickness of a common Penny (0.060-0.072"). Allow the silicone to set overnight. or until completely dry.
    • TIP: People often ask, "What is 15-20 ft/lbs if I cannot get a torque wrench and socket on the bolts?" Well, you could experiment with other like-sized bolts in another area, first tightening the bolt with a torque wrench to the proper spec, then using the box-end wrench on the same bolt to train your muscle memory as to what force is needed to move it any tighter. But, an easier way is to use the moniker "pink knuckle" or "pink fingertip" tight. You are working in a very tight space, so your fingertips are on the wrench. When you see your fingertips turning from normal color to pink and then to almost red as you apply force to the wrench, you are probably where you need to be.
  7. Use the same process (slightly thicker silicone application) or install a quality collector gasket at the header collector. Always use Grade 5 or better bolts. Grade 5 bolts with locking nuts are available for those interested.
  8. Permatex® Ultra Black® cures fully in 24 hours at room temperature.

Special Instructions for New or Rebuilt Engines

Chrome, stainless, and ceramic coated headers can be permanently damaged by installing them on improperly tuned motors! Exhaust gas temperatures in fresh engines can easily exceed the limits of these materials, causing damage to the finish. For first time start-up, follow these recommended steps:

  1. Install an old pair of headers or your stock exhaust manifolds without gaskets. Start the motor and adjust the timing, carburetor settings, and valves. Check for any vacuum leaks. Run the engine for 10-20 minutes to burn out all traces of assembly lube.
  2. Check for soot at the end of the tailpipe, caused by a too-rich fuel mixture. Correct this before you bolt on your new headers.
  3. Let the motor cool completely, unbolt the old exhaust manifolds and follow the procedure above to install your new Sanderson Headers.

A Few More Professional Tips

Whenever you change an engine component; camshaft, distributor, carburetor, etc., follow the procedure as if you were firing the motor for the first time. It's more work, but it saves you the risk of ruining your headers.

What is a BEAD of silicone?

The term "bead" used on older versions of the Sanderson Header installation instructions is somewhat confusing, in part because we naturally interpret this as a cylindrical, concentric, almost tube-like image in our minds. Like an O-ring. For this reason, we have started using the term "smear" of silicone around each port. Therefore, we recommend covering the raised area around each port with a thin smear of silicone. The applied silicone will be approximately less than the thickness of a common Penny (coin) or 0.060"-0.072" thick. Additionally, apply silicone to all other raised locations on the flange. Let the silicone dry fully and then install the Sanderson Headers. The images below offer an example of how the silicone application could look.

** Please note that the silicone was intentionally not applied to the full width of the raised flange area around each port for visual perspective in these images. Your installation should cover the entirety of the raised flange surface around each port.