Basic Installation Procedure


Besides a few common tools, what is really required is the patience to do it right. Sanderson Headers are built by hand in the USA with the finest materials. Properly installed, our products will give you 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 damaged to the header coating (if you have coated headers). If your engine is new or rebuilt and never fired, see additional instructions below.
  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 just plain 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 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. Place a bead of Permatex® #82180 Ultra Black® Silicone (or compatible) at least 1/8" thick, maximum 1/4". Allow the silicone to set overnight. or until completely dry.

    Permatex Ultra Black

    1. 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 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 then to almost red as you apply force to the wrench, you're probably where you need to be.
  7. Use the same process at the collector. Always use Grade 5 or better bolts. Do not use stainless steel bolts (stainless steel bolts, when repeatedly heated by the engine and then cooled become soft. This could cause the bolts to become loose.) We offer Grade 8 bolts with locking nuts 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 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, then 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.