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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Thought this might help others in the future who find themselves in the same boat I was in last year.


I was in the market for a set of headers for my '95 Impala. After doing a bit of research here on the forums, it didn't take long to figure out that the headers made by Clear Image Automotive were right up there at the top of the list as the best option available for these cars. From what I gathered, aside from their steep price tag, there didn't appear to be anything negative posted about them, so I figured they'd be a pretty safe bet.


What I look for in a set of headers:

There are a few key features I look for whenever I'm buying a set of headers. First and foremost, they have to be 304 stainless steel. This is a must. I learned a long time ago that mild steel (ceramic coated or not) - WILL eventually rust out. Even if the car is stored winters.

Since a good set of headers aren't cheap, they're an investment I only want to make once during my ownership of the car. I'd really rather not replacing headers every 3-4 years or having to deal with rust repairs. Stainless is definitely more expensive, but at least it'll never rust out and that's something people should consider (especially up here in Canada) - in my opinion.

Secondly, (and there are two aspects of this requirement) is in regards to fitment. I was looking for a set of headers that offered a complete "plug and play" installation - no need for modification to the existing exhaust system to get everything hooked up. The second part of this requirement has to do with clearance in the engine bay.

I've run various sets of headers over the years on different car's and every now and then, run into situations where the headers required other components in the engine bay to either be moved around/relocated or modified for proper header clearance. I realize sometimes this is unavoidable, but if possible, I'd prefer headers that just drop right in without issues to surrounding components.


Those were the two(three?) MAIN requirements...


Some may be wondering why "Performance Improvement" wasn't on that list and the answer is pretty simple. From my experience, any set of QUALITY headers are going to free up some power and provide you with nice bump in performance, especially when compared to the restrictive, factory manifolds.

For the time being, I don't have any plans on building an "all-out" race car, or building a ridiculously powerful street car (I already have another toy that fits that bill) - so I have no real interest in anything too crazy.

Thankfully, the headers made by Clear Image - which everyone on here seems to rave about - seemed to meet those needs.


What I ordered:

I ended up ordering their "2nd Gen" Tr-Y header system.

For the record, in order for these headers to truly "bolt-in" - they MUST be ordered with their (optional) "extended hook up pipes". Otherwise, the headers by themselves will fall just short of reaching you existing exhaust system. These "extensions" - are offered in either export style (straight pipe) or ones which include high flow cats, for those that need to remain emissions compliant. As you'd expect, the high-flow cat option adds to the price.

Since we're still required to pass emissions here in Toronto, Canada, - I opted for the cats. The headers and extensions were ordered in 304 stainless steel and without air fittings (these cars don't need AIR hook-ups to pass the actual "emissions" part of testing but they are required for the visual - so keep that in mind).


Below are some pictures I took of the headers they shipped out to me. They're not the cheapest set of headers out there, but the quality on these is second to none and performance wise, I'd say they're pretty high up there too.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Some pictures of the accessories I added during the install:
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Weight differences and some side by side comparisons pictures of the factory manifolds and the new Clear Image Headers:
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Installation notes:

Installation was pretty straight forward as far as header installs go. If you've done one before, there shouldn't be any surprises. The engine bay on these cars are larger than most. If anything, a header install on a B-Body should be downright easy compared to the tight engine bays found on most cars made from the late nineties on up.

The drivers side header dropped right in, no sweat. Passenger side dropped in just as easily once the starter was removed. Be warned though, I 'd recommend you keep a close eye on the A/C line as you may have to bend it away so it doesn't contact the header.

You'll have to get your hands down in there and "feel" if the A/C line is touching because you wont be able to actually see anything from directly above. If there's any contact (as was the case with my install) just bend the A/C line downwards/away with your fingers. Nothing major.

The EGR connection on the passenger side is a bit of a pain to remove and re-install - so just bite the bullet and pull the starter out. You'll have much better access and really, the starter is just 2 bolts and 2 wires. It's a 10 minute job. I spent 30-40 minutes farting around trying to reach the EGR bolt with the starter in place because I'm a stubborn mule. Eventually came to my senses and just pulled the starter which I should have done from the beginning. You should just do the same.


If you decide to change out your plug wires when doing the header install (which I recommend you do) be VERY careful pulling the wire boots off the optispark. The rubber boots on the plug wires have a tendency of gluing themselves on real tight over time. Be careful pulling them off. I wasn't and accidentally cracked off a piece of the optispark that the plug attaches to.

A very costly mistake, as you can imagine. Sometimes, it sucks to be me...



Final thoughts/Constructive criticism:

As you may have already guessed, I was very impressed by these headers and have no regrets with my purchase. However, as good as they are, they're not completely without fault. If I were to recommend any areas that could be improved upon in future redesigns, it would be the following.


- The #5 and #7 primaries (drivers side) come awfully close to their respective plug wires. So much so, that I felt it best to not only install a set of high-temperature "socks" that slide over the plug wires, but also to install aluminum heat shields around the plug boots as well (same style of boot cover that come from the factory on some of the plugs - only now they're on all 8 plug boots).

As you can imagine, the added girth of the aluminum boot shields with the socks pulled up and over top of the boots themselves, number 5/7 plugs are just millimeters away from the header pipes. But there's no other option unless you want to replace those two wires every couple of months.

It's been a year now and so far, I'm happy to report NO damage to the plug wires or boots. So the combination of aluminium plug shields and high-temp socks seems to have done the trick. For future re-designs though, I see no reason why Clear Image couldn't just design the 5/7 primaries to extend outwards another inch before they turn down - which would allow for more more clearance for the plug boots and less chance of anything burning up.


The second area that could use improvement (or at least it could have in my experience) has to do with the O2 bung on the passenger side. Mine was welded nearly vertical, straight up, and I had a hell of a time getting my O2 sensor to screw in because it was hitting the factory heat shield just below the floor pan.

I had to have someone pull down on the header collector to bend it out of the way just enough for me to start the thread on the O2 sensor. Once threaded in all the way, the wires coming out of the back of the sensor were pinched right up against the heat shield. Over time, this probably would have lead to wire damage and signal failure.

One of the guys in the unit next door saw this and he went back to his shop and came back with a nifty little adapter that screws into the 02 bung on the collector. On the other end, you screw in your O2 sensor into it.

The nifty part is that there's a "swivel" on the connection so you can angle the O2 sensor any which way for better clearance. Worked like a charm. Having said that, if the passenger O2 had been welded at a better angle to begin with, O2 clearance would not be an issue.


Other recommendations:


Since you're at it, you may as well take the time to install new plugs and wires as well as O2 sensors. Trust me, they're easier to do with the manifolds out. I went with NGK plugs and MagnaCore wires. No real reason. Just thought I'd try something different. So far, so good.

These headers come with 3/8" head flange bolts. They'll work but the head is a little too large to get a wrench around because the mounting holes are really close to some of the primary pipes. I went with smaller 5/16" - 12 point stainless fasteners from ARP. The smaller head makes getting a wrench around them much easier.

Switch to aluminum header gaskets and your chances of getting a flange leak will be greatly reduced. (I've never had a problem with leaks using aluminum)


Finally, and maybe most important, Heat Wrap is your friend.

Don't be afraid to use it on any/all wires that come close to the exhaust. I had my car up in the air this past week, swapping out the torque converter. I discovered that the plastic tubing around my 02 sensor wires (which I had carefully zip-tied as far away from the header collectors as possible last year) had all melted.

Thankfully, the O2 wires themselves were intact, but they probably wouldn't have withstood the heat too much longer. I was lucky I saw this before it was too late. I went out and bought some heat-shield wrap (the kind that's split down the middle for easy install over wires/tubing and closed shut with a velcro backing) and wrapped both passenger and driver side O2 sensor wires as well as any other wire I saw while I was down there.

Cheap insurance that will prevent any wiring damage due to heat in the future.



Headers Installed:
 

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Nice writeup. One add - always have headers checked for flatness, no matter who made them. Or even your stock manifolds if they're off. Stock manifolds warp pretty badly over time and I think that's why so many of these bolts break. While I was having the stock manifolds checked and planed, I brought a set of these headers, and sure enough, one of them needed a little bit of planing to be perfectly flat. Doing this saves the need to use expensive gaskets and eliminates the main cause of bolt breakage.
 

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Nice write-up! I thought I'd reply with some other helpful information regarding the subject, and use of Clear Image Automotive's headers.

I too got those headers and installed the full system as you did, but I ordered the plated headers. I found a few of the REALLY big helpers were:

1. Mac Tools LONG ratcheting head wrench; 5/16". This was for use on the ARP header bolts. I chose to get the 5/16 hex head as opposed to a 12-point because of this tool. It being extra long gave me more torque on the bolts with greater ease. This made installing all the bolts, but one I believe, a breeze.

2. Snap-On 5/8 Open end spark plug socket. There was no way to gain access to the passenger's side #6, and maybe driver's #5.

3. 1" 3/8-16 long studs. I used these on each far end of the cylinder head and it made hanging the header gaskets, and headers so much easier when doing this job by myself.



The last one is my discovery of these new(er) style Accell wires with a ceramic boot.


.

I did my install almost identical to yours with the exception of the high-heat "socks". I ALSO installed the 90' aluminum spark plug boot protectors.

And I'm writing this follow-up to your thread to get this point across. After only approximately 5,000 miles I had the #5 Taylor Spiro-Pro wire go bad. On my way to work on morning I noticed the car had a slight miss. I went a few miles and went back to the house, and found that the ONE wire was not firing.

It was #5 wire, and I had a heck of a time getting the Aluminum boot protector off, and then the wire off with the header installed. I used one of the old wires from my '98 Tahoe as a temporary, which is still in use for the next few weeks (I couldn't find my OLD Taylor spiro-pro wires at the time this wire went bad).

As you show and wrote there is very little to no clearance for the spark plug wires, and I decided to give these ceramic booted wires a shot for an additional $50. I've had the Taylors without headers, and with, and they're a quality item, it's just that this design led to premature failure of that wire after only 5,000 miles.

This isn't a job I want to repeat often, so I chose to go with some of the best products I can.
 

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Hi, thanks for that post ! very useful tips. I think i have one more emissions test before i am exempt and then will look into headers.

Do you have a pic of this, or part number ?

nifty little adapter that screws into the 02 bung on the collector. On the other end, you screw in your O2 sensor into it.

The nifty part is that there's a "swivel" on the connection so you can angle the O2 sensor any which way for better clearance. Worked like a charm.


-ALF out....
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Hi, thanks for that post ! very useful tips. I think i have one more emissions test before i am exempt and then will look into headers.

Do you have a pic of this, or part number ?

Sorry for the late reply.


Found out today the brand and part number I was given for the spacer. It can be ordered here:

https://www.ctsturbo.com/product/cts-cel-eliminator-o2-sensor-spacer/


Install the spacer into the O2 bung and thread it down but stop just short of tightening it all the way. Angle the end in the direction you want then hold it in place while you tighten the nut the last bit of the way. That holds it in the direction you want the O2 facing.



Just took a quick picture with my phone. Sorry for the quality. Just stuck my arm under the car and took a quick shot. Same as the one in the above link.

Cant really see the 02 as I have it wrapped up with heat shield material, but it just screws into the end of the adapter.


Hope that helps.


- P.s > Never mind all the emissions warnings on the product description. This will not affect your emissions. I've already passed with it installed. No difference in the numbers...
 

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People love to use these to dumb down Secondary O2s to reduce cat efficiency codes with lame or "performance" cats.
Also to protect O2s in big heat systems

I really question their use on the front O2s.
For an O2 to work and report properly, it needs to be in the exhaust stream
Kind of tying one of it arms behind its back and then asking it to monitor -trim fueling
 

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People love to use these to dumb down Secondary O2s to reduce cat efficiency codes with lame or "performance" cats.
Also to protect O2s in big heat systems

I really question their use on the front O2s.
For an O2 to work and report properly, it needs to be in the exhaust stream
Kind of tying one of it arms behind its back and then asking it to monitor -trim fueling
Same thing I was thinking. The sensor is supposed inside the exhaust flow in order to read properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Nothing to be concerned about in regards to the O2 sensor sensor readings. I checked the sensor reading right after the install (and many since) with my trusty old MT2500 scanner and it has shown absolutely no ill effects in regards to the O2 sensor having spacer added.

No lazy O2 reading on the passenger side. Both O2's fluctuate numbers at virtually identical speeds and numbers are well within spec as far variation between one and other. The car runs Perfectly.

This is coming from first hand experience. If anyone runs into a similar situation with O2 sensor clearance, this adapter/spacer is the solution.
 

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95wagon is right- sensor needs to be in exhaust stream.
If you had turbo or SC, engine would go lean since pcm is not getting
data fast enough.
It'll probably work NA, but not optimal.
Those 02 extensions are designed for post-cat 02s.

Nab
 

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Nice write-up did you feel instant throttle response with the Tri-Y Headers I’m leaning towards a set of those?
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Throttle response, no.

If your goal is to affect/change throttle response, your 3 options would be a larger throttle body, solid motor mounts, or a light-weight rotating assembly. If you had a manual transmission, a lighter flywheel would improve throttle response as well.


From my experience, exhaust system upgrades do nothing for throttle response.

What you CAN expect from these headers, is a nice bump in power from 2500 rpm on up and you don't necessarily have to be accelerating at wide open throttle to feel the differences either. 1/2 throttle or more at highway speeds (for example, when overtaking the car next to you, or while accelerating in order to merge into traffic) and the extra torque will be readily apparent.

A wide open throttle run will obviously be the best way to feel the improvement.

If this will be your first time installing headers, don't expect to be "blown-away" by the performance improvement. Gains from headers on a stock(ish) engine, tend to be pretty moderate.(Noticeable but nothing earth shattering). If you're expecting a night and day difference, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

The gains may not be massive on a stock car, but in general, headers an important upgrade just the same. They allow even a stock engine, to perform to its peak potential. They're even more important once you start modifying the engine...

Expect about 12-15rwhp from these headers on a stock engine. More if your engine is already modified.

Hope that helps.
 

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.......Expect about 12-15rwhp from these headers on a stock engine. More if your engine is already modified.

Hope that helps.
We had a member from way back in the day.....his name was George Debski and his Forum name was "SSMOKEM".....owner of the "Cherry Bomb", a 1995 DCM if memory serves me correctly.

Anyway, on his near stock (bolt-ons only) Impala, he did before/after dynos from Stock Manifolds to SLP shorty headers.....and then from the SLP to the Gen-1 Tri-Y's.

All told, his bump from manifolds to the Tri-Y's was a bit over 30HP to the wheels.

Unfortunately, all his posts seem to be lost with the big crash of 2008 (or so) and his links to the Cherry Bomb are now dead.


As a note....the Gen-1 vs Gen-2 Tri-Y's only real difference (according to Clear Image) is cosmetic. No real +/- in performance between the two.

KW
 
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