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Thread: TA exhaust headers for 455 transplant to 65 Special?

  1. #1
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    TA exhaust headers for 455 transplant to 65 Special?

    Dear Team Buick members,

    I'm continuing to try to figure out how to stuff my recently acquired Buick 430 in my 1965 Buick Special wagon. The puzzlement for today is how to get the exhaust out.

    Option-1 is to use the cast iron exhaust manifolds that came with the engine. I have evidence that this can be made to work thanks to Ted Nagel.

    However, I just got off the phone with TA-Performance since they offer exhaust headers that they claim can work specially with their custom TA 1820C Frame Pad and Motor Mount kit. Tim at TA-Performance proposes two options:

    Option-2: Use the TA 2012CH headers and tell the car to "inhale hard" as it will be a tight squeeze. Tim mentioned (as did Ted) getting around the steering column is a challenge.

    Option-3: Spend tons of dough, get the TA-Performance Stage-2 aluminum heads, then go with the TA 2014CHC exhaust headers. Going aluminum heads would be an outrageous expense just to get exhaust headers, but there are other considerations pushing me toward aluminum heads. According to Tim at TA-Performance, this would make getting headers into the car much less of a struggle.

    So my question is for the Team Buick brotherhood: has anyone successfully managed to use TA Performance exhaust headers either using option 2 or 3? If so, what was your experience with it? Was the experience a curse a minute or ultimately was either scheme really workable?

    Thanks in advance to the Team Buick gurus!

    Cheers, Edouard
    Caretaker of a 1965 Buick Special "billy goat"!

  2. #2
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    I would suggest the manifolds...

    I worked with a '67 GS400 and tried the TA headers which were supposed to require minor mods. They turned out to be, change the steering assembly. I decided to disassemble the headers and reassemble them so that they sat tighter to the engine. Then a couple of dimples for better clearance and that side was good! Then I found the passenger side required notching the frame. They are sitting on a shelf. Apparently if I had been working with a non GS400 and had used the T/A frame pads, the passenger side would not have been a problem.

    Hope someone has a nicer story


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  3. #3
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    Thanks - advice is indeed consistent.

    Hi Bob (and Team Buick brotherhood),

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I would suggest the manifolds...
    Tim at TA Performance tried to put a brave face on it, but basically he said the same. It certainly doesn't look very promising to try the TA headers without the stage-2 heads. I'm curious to find out if that other route is any better, but I fear . . . the $$$ involved in that option has made that approach essentially just as daunting to virtually everyone.

    Oh well, I at least checked out my options!

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Cheers, Edouard
    Caretaker of a 1965 Buick Special "billy goat"!

  4. #4
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    Stay with the stock cast iron exhaust manifolds. In the long run for a guy that doesn't do his own work they will be the best option. They are not high tech but they are as close as you can get to dead reliable and maintenance free for very long periods of time. You can well spend the money you would have spent on headers in other areas.

  5. #5
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    Edouard, how much power do you want from your 430? I had assumed it was to be a stock performance engine. With a stock rebuild your 430 would not need headers as that would not release enough power to warrant the expense and difficulty of initial installation and ongoing maintenance of headers. Even with all the $$ and goodies in my 455 I'm still using the cast iron manifolds and going 13.5 in the qtr mile. That feels fast. And it is a little temperamental.
    Cheers,
    Ted Nagel
    (6)65 Wildcats; 65 Riviera; 65 Special Wagon; 65 GS; 65 Skylark; 67 Wildcat; 67 California GS; (2)68 GS400; 69 GS 350; 70 GS Stage 1; Wanted: time to fix 'em

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    Talking Ah, if it was that simple!

    Hi Ted,

    You don't understand . . . . you see the fellows at Orinda Motors asked if it were possible to put in exhaust headers into the car. It's a homework assignment!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Nagel View Post
    Edouard, how much power do you want from your 430?
    The problem pushing me to consider aluminum heads has nothing to do with the exhaust headers. It an unfortunate problem with the 430 itself. The casting number of the cylinder heads is 1382985. That indicates they are the big port heads. According to Paul Muller who was very kind enough to do some checking on this, having the intake valve seats hardened on this particular casting is very difficult. TA Performance won't do it. The only folks who will try are Gessler. Now given that these things are after all cast-iron, the cost of shipping them across the country, having the work done, and then getting them back is close to $2000. All this when these heads are vulnerable to cracking and some of the machining will be very tricky indeed. Is it worth spending $2000 when there is a real risk you might end up with a cracked piece of scrap iron when it comes back to California? For $500-600 more, I can have the TA Performance aluminum heads. I haven't make up my mind completely, but $2600 for a sure thing seems much more reasonable than risking $2000 and potentially having nothing.

    Now of course that doesn't argue exhaust headers or manifold by itself. However, if I were to go with the aluminum cylinder heads, perhaps it would be worth the extra $500 to have a clean setup - especially if the existing exhaust manifolds are looking a little weary. Also, these changes are going to significantly reduce the weight of the engine. Given that the car wasn't designed for such a heavy engine - I'm certainly all for that.

    What I wasn't aware of was the down-sides of exhaust headers (mainly because I didn't have a chance to look.) Someone on V8 Buick mentioned it makes the car more noisy. Is it really bad? BigRivy mentions maintenance - what special care and feeding do exhaust headers require?

    Thanks to all and as you can see . . . this engine swap is S-s-s-s-simple!

    Cheers, Edouard
    Caretaker of a 1965 Buick Special "billy goat"!

  7. #7
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    Is sounds like you are falling victim to the all too common problem of too many opinions. Why do you want to harden the intake seats???? I've never heard of anybody doing that. Did you mean replace the exhaust seats to combat the seat erosion that can come from the use of unleaded gas in some engines? I would be of the opinion that if TA won't do something for you, you don't need it! Especially on a mostly stock street engine. I've owned several Buick big blocks of various years and have put several hundred thousand miles on them, mostly stock but a couple with significant performance enhancements and I've never encountered a situation where unleaded gas caused any valve seat recession. And I have my own machine shop and can put in seats for the price of parts. If you have issues with your heads being from '67 and you think that that year has some sort of weakness, which would be news to me, then swap on a later model set of 455 heads and change the lifters and pushrods to the later oiling style. Aluminum heads have there own issues. Stage 2 heads are race parts. You don't sound like you are building a race engine. They have the potential to make a lot more horsepower. AT HIGH ENGINE SPEEDS! They have larger ports and valves to move much more air at high rpm. But there is a trade off. You can easily lose low speed performance and drive ability. Without combining it with higher compression you can lose quit a bit of throttle response and you will need all the accelerator pump shot from the carb as you can get to cover up the low port velocity in the heads. This is assuming that you are going to stay with a tame streetable camshaft. How much time do you spend driving with the engine turning above 4500 rpm, where the big heads will start to work? Are you going to change gears in the rearend to keep the rpm up in the power band?
    Aluminum heads need better cooling system maintenance to keep corrosion of the aluminum under control. Aluminum heads are much harder on head gaskets. Look at how many modern 4 cylinder cars with aluminum heads get head gaskets replaced during their lifetimes. Many! Any engine malfunction such as overheating that will crack a cast iron head will screw an aluminum head just as bad in most cases. For long term reliability cast iron is the winner hands down. Also as a note here, you cannot bolt stock exhaust manifolds to Stage 2 heads as they have different shaped exhaust ports. You would have to buy their headers. Also some of this argument goes away if you were to use the Stage 1 type replacement head or the Edelbrock head as they are designed to be used with a more stock style engine with stock components.
    Yes, headers can be a pain in the ***. I've run them on some of my own vehicles. I don't care who made them or what kind of monkey motion you go through with fancy fasteners, they come loose eventually and blow the gaskets and start leaking. You will need to tighten them two or three times right off the bat as the gaskets heat cycle a few times and take a set. Then they will usually stay tight for awhile, but they still should be checked on occasion. You will think you have it licked and then, out of the blue one will start leaking so you crank them down again and since your tired of the damn things coming loose you really crank them down and bend the flanges and from then on the gaskets will never hold unless you remove the headers and have them straightened out and surfaced. Only to start the process all over again. Also unless you get the Jet Hot coatings put on them they will rust out in a few years. You may get a little longer if you live in a dry area but in the Midwest where I am from I'd say 5 years max on a regularly driven vehicle. Cast iron can often last your lifetime. How they look should be the last thing you are worried about if longtime reliability is your goal. And I believe it was your frustration with longtime reliability of the drivetrain in your car is what lead you to this website.
    And yes, these parts will lighten your engine but not near as much as they are going to lighten your wallet! A set of big block springs in the front are about 10 time cheaper then aluminum heads and headers, and about 10 times more trouble free. This swap should be fairly simple, your making it way more complicated than it needs to be. You haven't defined your goal and stuck to it. Do you want a temperamental high maintenance performance car or do you want reliable family transportation that should give many years of service with only basic maintenance? It's very hard to get the best of both when your messing with 45+ year old technology. Even harder with a modest budget and limited mechanical ability.

  8. #8
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    TA installs exhaust seats as part of thier standard head rebuild. They are hesitant to install intake seats because in many cases they run into the water jacket.
    For this project the combustion chambers need to be cleaned up to minimize pre-detonation. TA does not do any type of port or polish on iron heads. Since TA gets $1400 to rebuild iron heads, add shipping both directions and pay someone else to do the chamber work, the cost is approaching $2000.

    For $500 more you can get the Stage One head with stock valve sizes, both intake and exhaust seats and smooth aluminum chambers that will allow a higher compression ratio without detonation. Using the TA water pump and a good radiator should keep cooling well regulated.
    Since this is a fuel economy project the extra weight loss won’t hurt.
    I think this is what Edouard meant to say.

    TA was looking at the possibility of using the Stage 2 casting in order to raise the header to help with the clearence issues but maintain the stock valve size and Stage One porting to stay within the goals of the project.

    I agree that headers are a pain and to match this engine would need to be an expensive long tube custom stainless set.
    Last edited by pmuller9; 02-03-2011 at 10:06 AM.

  9. #9
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    Not just transportation - but a "special friend."

    Dear BigRivy and Paul,

    Just a quick reply before I head off to take care of other things. . . .

    Sure, if my goal was to simply get some life back in this car - there would be much cheaper ways to do it. Supposedly, I could just stuff the used 430 into the car and see what happens. The yard claimed it was still running then they removed it.

    However, this car isn't just transportation or an interesting project to me. I grew up with this car and to put it bluntly: this car has been more faithful to me than any woman (can you hear me brother? ) This car has literally gotten me out of jams that I couldn't have easily extricated myself out of otherwise. So I'm going to try to do something really special with the car. No it doesn't make sense - some things don't! If you don't believe me - read the daily news!

    So I'll be stubborn and at least seriously consider the aluminum cylinder heads. I haven't ruled out the exhaust headers either. At the very least, I would want to do something to make the exhaust manifolds look really nice. Even if this rebuild isn't at all intended to make the car into a racer - I do want the engine compartment to look as if I did!

    Thanks to everyone in the "Buick brotherhood!"

    Cheers, Edouard
    Caretaker of a 1965 Buick Special "billy goat"!

  10. #10
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    Edouard,

    It is true that the TA heads will outperform and outshine your current heads, but arriving at their true potential will be expensive, requires many complimentary parts, will render your car difficult to drive on the street, will vastly decrease fuel mileage and will require at least 93 octane fuel. Another issue is that the 430 bore will shroud stage one valves. This means you are stuck with more restrictive non-stage one valves in an otherwise high flowing head.

    I think your current heads could provide a streetable 450-500 hp at or near their full potential with far less cost and associated issues. I would check with AMP (http://www.automachperf.com/Buickperformance.html) about the cost of a basic port and rebuild for your 430 heads. I also agree that hardened seats would be a waste of money and time in the 430 heads. I know the old Kenne Bell 1 7/8" headers fit well in my 67 (same basic frame as 65). It would be worth a try to make the TA headers work. They will get dinged up sooner or later anyway. Just be sure to coat them after they have been fitted. Gessler also ports stock exhaust manifolds and can get them to flow very nicely. That is an option that will fit for sure.

    Let us know how you want to go about this and we can try to help with the rest of the combination (carb, cam, fuel system, intake, trans, stall, rear gear, suspension and exhaust).
    Last edited by Dr. Frankenbuick; 02-04-2011 at 05:59 PM.
    Steve B.



    67 GS 525 Buick Stage IV
    66 GS Convertible
    65 GS HT
    63 Riv
    02 Subaru WRX Turbo
    03 Ford Cobra Convertible (Factory Supercharged)

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