Rover V8 headers made from stainless aren’t easy to make DIY. I started them nearly a year ago, but they’re finally finished.
My first attempt used bits of hoover tube. They were a really pain in the rear to weld. One tube to another was not a problem. The tubes to the collectors was tricky but no matter how hard I tried, welding low grade 1.2mm thick tube to 12mm thick header plates is hard! Especially when you haven’t picked up a gas torch in 25 years.
The solution was to buy a length of 38mm x 2.5mm thick 304 stainless tube and bend it up on a borrowed pipe bender. As my welding skills slowly improved I could weld faster, meaning I could also move from a No3 to a No5 nozzle. The first header was still a little tricky, taking best part of a day. It gave me a thumping headache, but it was a vast improvement. A couple weeks later, the second, took just 2 hours and was almost easy. I used a No1 tip for tube to tube and a No5 for tube to header.
The trick was to get the header plate molten, whilst leaving the tubing on the bench nice and cool. It was a little tricky, keeping the torch on the header plate with one hand, bringing the tube into play with the other and holding the welding rod in my teeth but it seemed to do the trick. With a No5 tip the header plate was just molten, but the flame would only have to glance at the tube for the two to melt together. I had to weld fast.
The total bill for both Rover V8 headers came in at around £130. If I’d bought thicker 304 stainless tube in the first place and borrowed the bender early on, I could have made them for closer to £85.
Oh well…… getting back into gas welding was good, plus I still have plenty of tube left over for other projects. When you consider a custom made set would have set me back around £500, they’re still cheap.
Annoyingly, I was a little shocked to see the header plates bent during welding. If I’d have stood, swinging a sledge hammer for 30 mins, I couldn’t have bent them this much. A bit of skinny tube heat shrinking, had applied enough force to make them useless without correction.
The second header plate was barely bent, but the first had almost 5mm of end to end bend. I had to heat the header plate red hot, bolt on a 4ft long metal bar and wrench with all my body weight to correct them. I had to repeat this process many times before the bow disappeared. A light skim on the mill and all was good.
I tried mounting the headers in a large vice whilst welding, but it was too much of a heat sink and with the speed you have to weld, having them static was tricky.
DIY Rover V8 headers – Top tips
- Minimum of 2.5mm thick 304 stainless tube
- Use Tig not Oxy/Acetylene to prevent distortion
- Weld fast, so mount them on some kind of turntable
- Make some kind of ultra solid jig that doesn’t sink the heat