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Building Exhaust Pipes with Tyler Malinky

 

What follows is a late-night account of how Tyler Malinky at Lowbrow Customs built the custom exhaust on his '59 panhead. Tyler started with a set of Paughco side-by-side header pipes, some bends out of a Biltwell exhaust kit, and some pieces of ripple pipe with bell ends from his friends Grant and Harpoon at FMA.

The captions and photos are Tyler's first-person account of the project. Enjoy.

 

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Step 1: Figure out exactly how you want your exhaust pipes to look. For me this involved staring at the bike for far too long, then I just decided to start doing it and figured it would turn out how I wanted it in the end. The front pipe (lower) was pretty straightforward, and I was into the fab work and didn't take photos of that, however the process is exactly the same as what follows.

 

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Step 2: Cut your stock exhaust where you intend to make your first weld. You can carefully grind or sand away the chrome near where you want to weld, or if you are TIG welding it go ahead and weld right through the chrome, it won't affect the weld, though you might want to test it out on a scrap of the cut off chromed pipe first. Take your tubing bends and mark out where you need to cut to get the desired angle. If you have a vertical bandsaw that makes the job easy, however an angle grinder with a cut off disc does a fine job as well. You can start holding pieces up, figuring out lengths and angles as you go. 

 

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Step 3: The tightness of each tube juncture will affect the final look of your pipes and their ease of welding and finishing. If you get a really nice fit and are TIG welding, you can fusion weld them together with no fill rod. Be sure to make all pieces of pipe square so they butt together nicely. A file does the job, as does a belt sander. I picked up this 48” belt sander multi-tool from Van Sant Enterprises and its variety of belts make squaring up tube ends pre-welding easy.

 

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Checking the fit of my newly cut and prepped tubing and ripple pipe.

 

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Step 4: I TIG welded my pipe sections together one at a time, using mild steel filler and making sure to get good penetration but not using too much filler, which just creates more work to clean up the seams. You can MIG weld of course, but doing so will give a bit more work with the fatter weld beads.

 

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Step 5: After welding I ground down the weld bead flush with the exhaust pipe surface. Take your time doing this as you just want to grind down the weld, not the pipe on either side. I took the pipe back over to my multi-tool belt sander and used a 220 grit belt to carefully bring the weld flush to the pipe surface. You can also file the weld down or use a pneumatic die grinder with some small sanding discs for this job.

 

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Step 6: Having finished the first section, I held it in place and tack welded it to the chrome header, which was snugged up in place on the exhaust port. This is always easier when you have a second pair of hands. After looking at it from every angle several times I went ahead and finish welded and ground it down. You may find that on some bends that the pipe may be slightly out of round. If this is the case you may have to lightly sand the pipe down to feather it out so the multiple pieces join seamlessly.

 

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Step 6: One of the final steps was to weld up some hidden mounts to keep the exhaust from breaking or wearing out the exhaust spigots. A threaded bung on the rear pipe with a tab welded to the frame gives a nice hidden mount you can't see from the side. On the front pipe I used a 1/8” steel tab and welded it to the back of the pipe, first giving some gentle bends as needed to the tab to keep it from supporting the pipe but not pulling or putting pressure on it, which will lead to a broken mount down the road.

 

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The finished exhaust. Next step is to get it polished and chromed! Much nicer than an off the shelf set of headers and mufflers, if you make it yourself you don't worry about there being another one out there just like it.

Thanks to Tyler Malinky from Lowbrow Customs for submitting this Metal Shop feature. If you are interested in seeing your home project featured on the home page, Tyler's store here is a good example of how much photography and words are required to help us generate the finished piece. Send your photos and words to Harold@ChopCult.com and we'll let you know if we can turn your project into a home page feature.


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Comment with Chopcult (21)

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 11:57 am
 

Nice read and nice work! Dig the Metal Shop peices.

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 12:12 pm
 

That rocks! I would love to see a moderate paint scheme on the tanks and a clear coat on the frame! The different metal finishes, chrome and brushed would look great. Beautiful work. Sorry just my 2 cents and what would be my dream bike!!!

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 04:15 pm
 

That ripple pipe is cool in moderation like that. Very nice look.

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 04:37 pm
 

The right tools make the jobs go faster and stress free, need to get my hands on a belt sander and TIG, Great write up

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 05:21 pm
 

Inspirational..I wants one with a cross-over tube in it--on a diagonal and about 1" to 3' long .

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 06:31 pm
 

i love metal shop! more of these articles please! tyler and the lowbrow family are good people and his pan is shaping up to be one seriously classy lady.

anyone know where to get ripple pipe these days?

anyone have any research on ripple pipe's effects on exhaust wave pulses and scavenging or reversion?

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 07:13 pm
 

This is the type of articles that people do want to read about. Even though we all think we know everything, it is nice to learn from someone who does this on a daily basis. Learned me sumpin reel gud 2day. Keep up the good work.

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 08:15 pm
 

Commented on 4-22-2011 At 08:50 pm
 

Looks good. Keep posting this type of article. A little confidence building goes a long way.

Commented on 4-23-2011 At 12:24 am
 

+1 > ripple pipe

Commented on 4-23-2011 At 03:19 am
 

ahhhh. lil feller'
what's worng?
that ryobi grinder hurting your ears?
just kiddin doood, bikes looking pretty killer. those ripple pipes would have looked real nice stacked at a 45 too.
seriously though...that head gears for shooting 45's ...haha
keep it up and keep us up to date, thumbs up!!

Commented on 4-23-2011 At 12:41 pm
 

great feature...Tyler and lowbrow are always around to help and supply our needs it seems Thanks! very sick bike and love the pipes!

Commented on 4-23-2011 At 01:05 pm
 

Nice work Tyler, simple yet elegant. Can I say that about pipes?

Commented on 4-23-2011 At 09:11 pm
 

Great write up, hopefully I can get my hands on some of these rippled pipes!

Commented on 4-24-2011 At 12:15 am
 

Very nice, thank you.

Commented on 4-24-2011 At 01:43 am
 

I really enjoyed this write up. As I am in the process of building my first Iron head and second Harley in 40 years it is very cool to see what others are doing and to keep up with whats going down out there. Very nice job.
The MoLeMaN

Commented on 4-24-2011 At 04:48 pm
 

NIce work!
I like the bike.

Commented on 4-24-2011 At 11:08 pm
 

awesome write up and of course love the pan!

Commented on 4-24-2011 At 11:55 pm
 

if only we could get our ripple pipe going full steam ahead with lots available! We have a few pieces right now, pm me if you are interested...

PS, that pep boys stuff can't hold a candle to the real deal.....plus our comes in 1 3/4" ready to roll...............hang in there!

Commented on 4-25-2011 At 05:16 am
 

very nice....and the bike is killer

Commented on 9-7-2011 At 01:44 am
 

SICK you nailed it, right on!

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