Finally, the last thing on my engine rebuild before putting it back into Stude – at times it seemed like I’d never get here! With Studie’s Small Block Chevy (SBC) looking so good, I could hardly just bolt my exhaust headers on. Sure, I painted them years back when I got to join in the process of making them, but with as hot as exhaust gets and as many miles as I’ve put on Stude you can’t expect that paint to last forever. While ceramic coating headers would be one step-up option, money and time dictated that I just clean and paint my headers at home. Follow along for how to paint headers, install them, and the other final tasks before my SBC is ready to drop into Stude!


Of all the things I cleaned during this engine rebuild, the headers were one of the trickiest parts. The heat just bakes grease on to the metal – so plenty of degreaser, wire brushes, then wire wool, and finally sandpaper were used to get my SBC’s headers clean enough and ready to paint (the clean version is seen above.)

Don’t just use high-temp engine paint on exhaust parts, it’s not high-temp enough! I picked up a can of primer and another of black¬†VHT Flameproof coating at my local auto store. While Ethan and I both thought white would really pop, it sounds a little too high-maintenance for me and I chose to go with black instead. There’s nothing special about applying the paint, although it can be tricky to get into all the bends, nooks, and crannies in headers. What I didn’t realize until I pulled up VHT’s website for writing this article, is you need to go through a curing process in order for the paint to attain it’s properties (supposedly this info is on the can, but I’m more of a direction “scanner” then an in-depth reader!) VHT directs to run at idle 10 minutes, cool for 20, run again at idle for 20 minutes, cool for 20, then run under normal conditions for 30 minutes. I’ll be breaking in my engine, so hopefully that won’t screw up the cure too much.


Once the headers were dry and I’d purchased new bolts from my local hardware store, I put the headers on while the engine was still out of the car. The header gaskets that came in my engine gasket kit are in three pieces per side – this is different from my old one-piece gaskets and made the header installation very easy. Some people have strong feelings about what material header gaskets should be made out of, copper and so forth, but I just used the ones that came in my engine gasket kit.

When putting headers on an engine it can be difficult to get everything aligned – often you get one or two bolts on and the others won’t line up. Having the engine standing alone rather than in a car makes this easier, but it still takes some finesse to do. I threaded in one side just a turn or two, then the opposite side, then put in all the bolts in between. Once they were all in place, I tightened them only a little at a time to keep the header from getting cockeyed in relation to the engine. With a healthy dose of patience, this job should be a breeze!


The style of gasket I used can just drop in while there’s still a space between the header and engine. Make sure you face it with the front of the gasket in the correct direction, as it is supposed to matter on these. Header gaskets which are all in one piece must be put on before getting bolts in – as headers can be a little heavy and precarious to hold, having a second set of hands may help in that case.


With the headers in, I needed to get the waterpump on. This called for cutting waterpump gaskets from scratch -as the button on my cam makes that cover a little taller, causing a very tight fit between it and my short water pump. Unable to find spacers, we just decided doubling up on the gasket would do the trick. So I cut out two for each side, these were glued together with hi-tack gasket sealant, which should be used anyhow on all parts connecting to the water jacket.


With the waterpump and headers on now, Ethan’s doing a few fixes on the transmission and I’ve got to install my new Lokar floor-mounted cable shifter, then this engine will be headed back into Stude!

2 Responses

  1. Arielle West

    The paint is about the only stuff I’ve ever used which states that you need to cure it with extreme heat. But I was thinking that headers would be an ideal way to cure it because they get super hot. And I’m thinking with mine eventually is that a 3.8 L TwinTurbo seems to be a lot more fun than what’s currently in there. It also wouldn’t be a very big modification because I can use the Studebaker engine which can be pushed up to like 12 to 1 compression. Hopefully that would push it from 140hp to somewhere around 400 something.

    • Kristin Cline

      A turbo for your Stude?! That would be fun…only thing I’d be worried about is the extra wear that the extra performance would put on engine parts that may not be that easy to replace.


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