Exhaust Manifold, cracks and breaks.

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    In restoring my 1930 Pierce, my mechanic was given orders to send the manifold in for recoating in porcelin. He carefully ground and polished the rough surface. Carefully placing the manifold on the work bench he turned out the light and as he closed the door he heard “crack, crack”. Going back to the bench he found that the manifold had split and broken in two spots, one break on each side of the center heat chamber! He did not realise that he was cutting through a thin surface layer, upsetting/unbalancing the surface tension and causing the disaster.

    I had the manifold welded and is in use today. The metal in those old castings was inferior to the metals of today, I believe rewelding a break only delays the inevitable failure.

    Dave Murray has a mold for the 1929, 1930, and 1931 manifolds. However their has not been a lot of interest in paying $2000.00 for one, and there has been little interest shown in his making another run of 10 units. Sooner or later one of the 100 or so cars in this group is going to have a need, and will end up in an expensive welding job that will eventually fail again.

    Those of you who find yourself at risk should order a new and better manifold from Dave. Regards, Bill


    I guess I’ll put in my two cents worth. This won’t apply to people who have owned their car for less than five years. Over the last 30 years many people including myself, Irv Blonder, Dave Murray, John Cislak, Bob Sands, and a handful of others have made reproduction runs of parts that we or other people have needed. Usually the ad is placed in club publications, for several issues, pre selling the items in order to get an idea for demand and start a list of members who want the item. Then usually if there is enough demand the production run is made, and most times a few spares are also made over the actual number of items ordered. As most people who have made a fair amount of items will tell you, some people who are on the “order” list for one reason or another will back out when the time comes to pay for the item when it is ready to ship. On expensive items this leaves a very bad taste in the mouth of the person who made the run of parts, and it happens way more often than one would think. Just ask the guys who make lots of parts. This seriously affects the future run of parts being made and often, people just stop making extras due to the hassle of it all. Let me reassure you the guys making parts are not getting rich on this stuff. ( Just do the math on ten new exhaust manifolds, 10 X 2000.00 is 20,000.00 before crating, shipping, ect. Would YOU STEP UP IN THIS ECONOMY AND MAKE THIS RUN YOURSELF? I BET NOT! ) The second issue is that many members just assume that any part they need will be readily or easily available when they need it. ( Even gaskets are getting very hard to find.) Well, here’s an update. These cars are mostly 80 years old or better with very little demand for new or total restorations. The parts both new (reproduction) and used are just simply DRYING UP. They will only get harder to find and the reproduction parts market is just about gone with the exception of two or three guys who are still doing it. My best guess is that most of them will soon no longer find it financially worth their time, investment, or risk. I know most of them very well, and I can assure you they are very careful on how much money they invest and how long they will inventory the item before they all sell. While many parts can be made on a one on one basis, the cost per part becomes huge, in both time, labor, and research in manufacturing techniques. O.K. Now the point of all of this. Any Pierce Arrow owner who has a 1929 to 1932 eight that doesn’t have one of the new replacement exhaust manifolds made by the several different people who have manufactured them over the last 25 years, are to use a polite term….. “using very poor judgment,” … as all of the originals WILL FAIL sooner or later. Then instead of having a drivable car you have a three ton paper weight. Over the years I have stepped up to the plate and purchased two spare gear sets, two new spare exhaust manifolds, spare reproduction cylinder heads, and a large assortment of other items. I have done it for two reasons. Number one is I like to have a spare part that has a high failure rate in the original items. Most of the items are not easily made and the cost of making just one would be very cost prohibitive. Number two is it helps out the guy making the part, as well as helping out our club and hobby by increasing the items being made, and the larger quantity usually makes the price per unit drop. #3 If and when I sell my car I usually price in the extra spare new and used parts to go with it. Your money is always safe in a good supply of parts. It’s hard to put your money up front like this, but it helps preserve our cars, the hobby, and it also protects your investment dollars you have in the car.

    Just think, if every time a new reproduction part was being made that every one who owned a car that it fits would step up to help out, the cost of the parts for our cars would be very reasonable. So now a shore note to all members. Step up and help out the club, the hobby, and your car by making that purchase to keep the cars moving forward! Thanks, Ed Minnie


    Well stated. I have neither the time or talent to make reproduction parts. However, I appreciate those persons who take the time, effort and investment to do this. I son’t think they should take orders for parts without a substantial up-front down payment, which would be non-refundable. that might help the situation.


    Well said, Ed. I can recall Irvin Blonder helping me (as he did many others) many times when I was restoring a couple of mid-30’s cars. I specifically remember the hood pieces for a 1935, he reproduced them in brass, chrome plated, and they were priced to me cheaper than I could have had the old ones just plated. I was also lucky enough to purchase a manifold for my ’31, back when they were in the $500 range, before I needed it. To your point, the time I needed it came, and I was fortunate to have it in the pile of parts. Things are much more expensive these days, and of course some of the parts are being made by people making a living in the hobby, so more expensive still.

    I recently needed some muffler ends reproduced for a 1910 Hupmobile. Got a quote from one shop, $300 each end. Found a great little foundry in Boston, Mystic, and they did them for about $40 each, I’d recommend them for brass and bronze casting if anyone needs that. As Ed says, both the parts and the willingness to make replacement parts are disappearing. best to all, David C.


    Hey I like this conversation, I do not spend much time here but that is because we are out in the shop making parts or working on an old Pierce. Exhaust manifolds will always be a ploblem and an expensive one. We paid to have molds made for the 1930-1932 eights. Thank god we found an old retired Italian mold maker that was willing to help with our project or the mold would never have been made. It took several months to make the mold. We made it thicker where it was week and went to three differand foundries before we found one that could make a proper casting. Phase one complete. Now to set up all the tooling to do the machining, this is huge and complex problem. We demanded perfection and threw away three manifolds before we were satisfied with the finished product. Now get them to the US from Brazil. It’s very similar to smuggling with all the restrictions the Brazilian government puts on exports. Well I could go on forever but it would be nice to know that some people realize what goes into these projects big and small. We are making another run soon if there is enough interest.

    Thanks for bearing with me Dave Murray


    I have had several parts(rubber shock arm seals, spare tire clamps) made when I put together my 30 victora coupe. That process is a real pain. I understand and appreciate the effort and expense put into each of these projects.

    Thanks Guys


    I would like to add that it is not the price of the parts that has gone up; it is the value of your money that has gone down. I’m just getting started on my 1933 1239 after 15 years in storage. At first blush I was shocked at the prices I’m paying for parts because my mind was in a time warp. My wife reminded me that the last time I was working on old cars a gallon of gas was 50 cents, now it takes 6 of them to buy a gallon of gas. This is, of course, courtesy of the deficit spending the US congress is so good at.


    I own a 1930 with a cracked exhaust manifold.Ive already spent 20K in chrome work. Do I weld or pay the price? I think i know the answer. Thank you Dick Williams new member Conneaut Lake Pa 16316


    Welcome to the PA Society Dick. You do know the answer….fixing cracks can be temporary, new manifolds are made of much better material than the original. I guess you get what you pay for.

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