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Old 05-27-2014, 08:25 PM   #1
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Upgrading to Headers - fuel economy increase?

After doing the manifolds for the 2nd time in 60k miles, I'm upgrading my '89 Ford 460 carbureted to a Gibson performance exhaust system with headers and new pipes front to back. I also removed the smog pump/emissions system. Has anyone else done this or something similar and if so, what can I expect from a fuel economy gain. I'm only getting 4.5mpg right now and I need everything I can get.
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:04 PM   #2
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We put Hedman headers on our 87 Southwind with a 454, flow through mufflers, and dual exhaust with 2.5 inch pipe. I do not know how much of an increase in mileage we will get as our 1600 mile one way trip to Montana will not begin until June 4th. After that 3200+ miles I will have a definitive answer to how much it helped. We also only get 5MPG now so I am hoping it will improve significantly. BTW we had the entire fuel system rebuilt from the tank to the carburetor and had it rebuilt also. When we get back I will be posting pictures of the mh along with some details of our trip and will have actual mpg statics to share.
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Old 05-28-2014, 07:37 AM   #3
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On my 88 454, I got about 10% maybe a little more mileage by installing an MSD ignition module and MSD Blaster coil, hotter spark = more complete combustion and more power. The free flowing exhaust will help also. Keeping your speed below 65 mph will help also. Don't forget the air cleaner, K&N air filter or similar free flowing design will also help.
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Old 05-28-2014, 07:49 AM   #4
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Caution! Several independent tests have shown K&N to be far worse than stock paper filters. Not only will an impproperly serviced filter oil your intake system they actually allow more dirt into the combustion system incresing wear.
As for headers? I seriously doubt that unless you did a lot of internal motor work tou will see any actual gains. Remember your motor is noting more than a large air pump. Unless tou add more air in you cannot get more air out.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:27 AM   #5
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450Donn,
I have run the K&N products for years with absolutely zero problems. While you do say an improperly serviced system, that is true of the stock system also. They do make dry cleanable filters also(not K&N) which I mentioned.
As far as adding the headers, the older motorhomes did not have overdrive and the motors turn 3000 to 3500 rpm at cruising speed, so opening up the exhaust makes a significant difference.
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franka548 View Post
On my 88 454, I got about 10% maybe a little more mileage by installing an MSD ignition module and MSD Blaster coil, hotter spark = more complete combustion and more power. The free flowing exhaust will help also. Keeping your speed below 65 mph will help also. Don't forget the air cleaner, K&N air filter or similar free flowing design will also help.
Frank
10% increase at now 5 MPG is .25 Mpg. Grand total after improvements get you to 5.25MPG

Just saying
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Old 05-28-2014, 08:51 AM   #7
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10% increase at now 5 MPG is .25 Mpg. Grand total after improvements get you to 5.25MPG

Just saying

10% would be 5.5MPG.
About $60 savings per 1000 miles.
No quick ROI, for sure.


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Old 05-28-2014, 09:01 AM   #8
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I added ceramic coated headers to my 95 HR Vacationer with a 460 before my trip out to Mt Rushmore. While I'm very happy I made this modification to the rig, I cannot say for sure what my mileage increase was... However, I told myself I gained about 1 mpg more than previously experienced.

I will say, the factors of topography and wind will play a significant role in MPG. That being said, I really enjoyed the extra power and responsiveness I gained from the upgrade.

I don't know what type/model RV you have, but if possible, you may want to consider ceramic coating the headers or, at least, buying some header heat wrap prior to installing them. The one thing I noticed was the reduction in heat around the dog house. That was nice, especially for my gas pedal foot.

Good luck... and another suggestion... DO NOT go cheap on the mufflers you use... I bought regular ones the first time and blew them up on the first trip (rather embarrassing driving to my campsite at 10:00pm)... I purchased the better full weld "racing style" ones the second time... You'll be pushing A LOT of pressure down the line with the headers and, in my case with the ceramic coat, A LOT heat..
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Old 05-28-2014, 03:25 PM   #9
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Headers will give you a nice power boost and with the engine working easier it CAN improve the MPG some. The bigger contributors IMHO to mileage on an older coach is the carburetor and type of transmission.
If the carb has vacuum or fuel leaks they will affect mileage. It is difficult to have a carburetor be as efficient as fuel injection so you have a disadvantage right there.
If your chassis has the older, 3-speed, non-overdrive transmission, then you will never achieve much better MPG, the engine is simply spinning too fast at highway speeds to be economical.
You'll love the newfound power with headers but best of luck with the MPG.
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Old 05-29-2014, 06:51 PM   #10
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I put Thorleys on my 454, did not notice any difference in MPG and a little better power. What really made the difference was getting my distributor rebuilt and recurved and having my Qjet carb rebuilt. Went from about 6mpg to better than 8mpg. and a lot more power.
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Old 05-30-2014, 11:02 PM   #11
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I put Thorleys on my 454, did not notice any difference in MPG and a little better power. What really made the difference was getting my distributor rebuilt and recurved and having my Qjet carb rebuilt. Went from about 6mpg to better than 8mpg. and a lot more power.
recurved distributor? what does this do and how much does something like that run? where do you go for something like that?
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Old 05-30-2014, 11:04 PM   #12
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unfortunately a second company was quick to tell me that they could get me the headers only to fail… now I'm looking into custom building them because ALL of the headers for the 460 carbureted seem to have been discontinued… EFI still plenty available but the heads are different on the carb version and it seems that it's just too old to support anymore. Frustrating!
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Old 05-31-2014, 09:08 AM   #13
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unfortunately a second company was quick to tell me that they could get me the headers only to fail… now I'm looking into custom building them because ALL of the headers for the 460 carbureted seem to have been discontinued… EFI still plenty available but the heads are different on the carb version and it seems that it's just too old to support anymore. Frustrating!

The distributor recurve changes the weights and springs on the centrifugal advance to advance the ignition timing earlier than stock. It works very well for little money but, it can also cause problems if done incorrectly.

Try looking for a set of headers here: ford+460+headers - JEGS High Performance
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Old 05-31-2014, 11:51 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bouchbri25 View Post
unfortunately a second company was quick to tell me that they could get me the headers only to fail… now I'm looking into custom building them because ALL of the headers for the 460 carbureted seem to have been discontinued… EFI still plenty available but the heads are different on the carb version and it seems that it's just too old to support anymore. Frustrating!

did you try Discount Exhaust Systems - Exhaust System Parts at Wholesale Prices ? They have parts for my '88 351...
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