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Driveline, Engine & DME Tuning
Talk about driveline improvements, NA tuning and DME tuning your E46 BMW here. This includes diffs, intakes, exhausts, chips, software and OBD tuning.

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:40 PM   #1
alexxander.foster
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Is Ceramic Coating Worth It?

Hello!

I've got a set of ebay headers that I want to throw on my e46. Currently I have free access to powder coating equipment and would like to take the time to put a decent finish on them. However, I'm at a cross roads for what kind of finish to apply. The price for high temp powder coating material is about $25. So far the best price I could find for ceramic powder coating material is about $120. These prices are based on pretty much only enough powder coating material to do a single set of headers -no left overs.

Since these are ebay headers its really difficult to justify a ceramic coating that costs nearly as much as the headers themselves. Its also foolish to try to do this myself since that's pretty close to what it would cost for a company to coat them for me.

I already have a pretty solid understanding of the technical and theoretical benefits of ceramic coating. I'm mainly wondering if anybody has any input on the subject. If so is it worth it for a daily driver application? How about leads on some cheaper sources for powder coating ceramic material? I'm also not opposed to the VHT spray can route.

Thanks!
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:53 PM   #2
Iceman00
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I have a set that I paid $300+/- for (Topspeed brand, with jethot coating) and coming from previously wrapping headers, I'd pay the extra for the ceramic coating.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:38 PM   #3
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fair enough. just curious, did you have any issues with wrapping?

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Originally Posted by Iceman00 View Post
I have a set that I paid $300+/- for (Topspeed brand, with jethot coating) and coming from previously wrapping headers, I'd pay the extra for the ceramic coating.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:42 PM   #4
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I've seen wrapped headers catch on fire due to minor oil leaks that soaked the wrap. Not good.

I wouldn't put wrap on anything other than a brand new car...older cars with oil leaks? Not a chance.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:01 PM   #5
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Interesting... I've never heard of that, but I'm not surprised in the least. Good call.

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I've seen wrapped headers catch on fire due to minor oil leaks that soaked the wrap. Not good.

I wouldn't put wrap on anything other than a brand new car...older cars with oil leaks? Not a chance.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:02 PM   #6
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I wouldn't coat ebay headers. Known to warp...
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:04 AM   #7
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RE: Ceramic Coating your Headers

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexxander.foster View Post
Hello!

I've got a set of ebay headers that I want to throw on my e46. Currently I have free access to powder coating equipment and would like to take the time to put a decent finish on them. However, I'm at a cross roads for what kind of finish to apply. The price for high temp powder coating material is about $25. So far the best price I could find for ceramic powder coating material is about $120. These prices are based on pretty much only enough powder coating material to do a single set of headers -no left overs.

Since these are ebay headers its really difficult to justify a ceramic coating that costs nearly as much as the headers themselves. Its also foolish to try to do this myself since that's pretty close to what it would cost for a company to coat them for me.

I already have a pretty solid understanding of the technical and theoretical benefits of ceramic coating. I'm mainly wondering if anybody has any input on the subject. If so is it worth it for a daily driver application? How about leads on some cheaper sources for powder coating ceramic material? I'm also not opposed to the VHT spray can route.

Thanks!
Alexxander:

First things first, there is no such thing as “Ceramic Powder Coating”. There are standard powders, high temp powders and ceramic coatings. Powders are obviously powder and ceramics are all wet sprays. The only correlation between ceramic coating and high temp powder coating is that they are made for high temp applications. That’s where it ends. Ceramic coatings are functional coatings / thermal barriers which are designed to keep hot or cold either inside or outside of something, much like a thermos. There are various types of ceramic coatings ranging in functional temperatures of 1300F-2000F+. High temp powder on the other hand is basically a powdered BBQ paint meant for limited temp industrial applications. They are capable from 800F-1200F-ish. Although some people have used them on certain exhaust applications, I wouldn't recommend it for a basic auto application, let alone anything performance oriented.

As for justification of coating an “ebay” header vs what, a race header? Not sure why you need to spend more on a header to feel better about protecting it. I’m not following that logic. If they fit and work, I would imagine you’d want to protect them and gain the thermal benefits of the coating. If you do it properly there’s no need to touch it again. As far as justifying the benefits, again it comes down to your budget and what you want. How does someone justify a set of 5k to 8k racing wheels on a street car? Sure they’re lighter and reduce un-sprung weight but are you ever going to see reduced lap times running back and forth to 7-11 for the latest Twilight Collector cups? I predict, not. They just look cool. If your wallet can handle it there is no downside to coating the header. If you’re on a VHT budget that may work for a while as well if you are able to prep and cure it correctly….
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:32 AM   #8
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^ Perfectly stated.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:25 AM   #9
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Thanks for the input. Its very helpful and informative.

Regarding the "ceramic powder coating" that sounds like a jump to conclusions on my part. While sifting through some powder coat supply retailer catalogs I found a small section listing ceramic coating. I presumed since it was in a catalog for powder coating supplies it was in dry powder form, which spawned that theory. Good info to know though.

As for justifying the expense, that's about right: ebay headers vs expensive race headers from a "reputable" brand. I know these parts are passive performance components and don't need to be held to extraordinary manufacturing tolerances, but I do worry about the quality and craftsmanship of the headers. Money does not necessarily equal quality, but its a good rubric when in doubt. Like mentioned above, warpage and other failures related to poor quality are a concern. I would be really upset if BOTH the headers and the finish were trash because the headers failed or became damaged through normal usage. But you make a good point.

Looking back over the original post, I think I could have worded that much differently. I asked a completely different question than what I really wanted to know. Sorry about the poor word choice on my part. Let me try it again:

I'm concerned about the reliability of these headers because they are very cheap in comparison to other versions on the market. I know that a person gets what they pay for and I'm not really concerned about that. But the last thing I want to do is invest any more money into them than is wise. So, that being said, is it wise to ceramic coat ebay headers? Is the build quality good enough for moderate to severe daily driving usage? Or should I wait and ceramic coat a "better quality" set in anticipation of these ebay headers becoming warped or suffering weld failure?

I know my original post was way off this point, not sure what was running through my mind at the time. Sorry about the confusion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CCPcoatings.com View Post
Alexxander:

First things first, there is no such thing as “Ceramic Powder Coating”. There are standard powders, high temp powders and ceramic coatings. Powders are obviously powder and ceramics are all wet sprays. The only correlation between ceramic coating and high temp powder coating is that they are made for high temp applications. That’s where it ends. Ceramic coatings are functional coatings / thermal barriers which are designed to keep hot or cold either inside or outside of something, much like a thermos. There are various types of ceramic coatings ranging in functional temperatures of 1300F-2000F+. High temp powder on the other hand is basically a powdered BBQ paint meant for limited temp industrial applications. They are capable from 800F-1200F-ish. Although some people have used them on certain exhaust applications, I wouldn't recommend it for a basic auto application, let alone anything performance oriented.

As for justification of coating an “ebay” header vs what, a race header? Not sure why you need to spend more on a header to feel better about protecting it. I’m not following that logic. If they fit and work, I would imagine you’d want to protect them and gain the thermal benefits of the coating. If you do it properly there’s no need to touch it again. As far as justifying the benefits, again it comes down to your budget and what you want. How does someone justify a set of 5k to 8k racing wheels on a street car? Sure they’re lighter and reduce un-sprung weight but are you ever going to see reduced lap times running back and forth to 7-11 for the latest Twilight Collector cups? I predict, not. They just look cool. If your wallet can handle it there is no downside to coating the header. If you’re on a VHT budget that may work for a while as well if you are able to prep and cure it correctly….
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Old 12-13-2012, 08:20 AM   #10
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when I had Ebay headers on my 328ci, I used VHT's ceramic coating spray paint. Prepped with lightly sanding then cleaning thoroughly, then applied several coats of the product. Baked them in an oven of a house I was moving out of up to the highest temperature that oven would allow and they just barely fit in the oven. Installed after that, and the coating lasted for the length of ownership of the car for me, about 1 1/2 years.

The only fear I'd have is coating the insides and then it flaking off and clogging up catalytic converts if you add them downstream.

the point of this post, if you buy the 100 dollar ebay headers and want to coat them the VHT spray paint worked well for me and added 8 dollars to my cost.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexxander.foster View Post
Thanks for the input. Its very helpful and informative.

Regarding the "ceramic powder coating" that sounds like a jump to conclusions on my part. While sifting through some powder coat supply retailer catalogs I found a small section listing ceramic coating. I presumed since it was in a catalog for powder coating supplies it was in dry powder form, which spawned that theory. Good info to know though.

As for justifying the expense, that's about right: ebay headers vs expensive race headers from a "reputable" brand. I know these parts are passive performance components and don't need to be held to extraordinary manufacturing tolerances, but I do worry about the quality and craftsmanship of the headers. Money does not necessarily equal quality, but its a good rubric when in doubt. Like mentioned above, warpage and other failures related to poor quality are a concern. I would be really upset if BOTH the headers and the finish were trash because the headers failed or became damaged through normal usage. But you make a good point.

Looking back over the original post, I think I could have worded that much differently. I asked a completely different question than what I really wanted to know. Sorry about the poor word choice on my part. Let me try it again:

I'm concerned about the reliability of these headers because they are very cheap in comparison to other versions on the market. I know that a person gets what they pay for and I'm not really concerned about that. But the last thing I want to do is invest any more money into them than is wise. So, that being said, is it wise to ceramic coat ebay headers? Is the build quality good enough for moderate to severe daily driving usage? Or should I wait and ceramic coat a "better quality" set in anticipation of these ebay headers becoming warped or suffering weld failure?

I know my original post was way off this point, not sure what was running through my mind at the time. Sorry about the confusion.
Are these mild steel or SS headers? The warpage some have mentioned, is this on the head flange or is this tube / collector related?
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:08 PM   #12
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They're suppose to be stainless, but they're highly magnetic, which makes me suspicious. As for the warpage, I'm not exactly sure. I'll do some digging and report back later today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CCPcoatings.com View Post
Are these mild steel or SS headers? The warpage some have mentioned, is this on the head flange or is this tube / collector related?
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:40 PM   #13
alexxander.foster
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Here's a forum post discussing some problems with the ebay headers. Looks like there are some general complaints and unsubstantiated claims made here. Its been a while since I looked at these posts. Apparently there are different qualities of ebay headers. But there are problems with BOTH weld failures causing leaks as well as flanges warping -but its still unclear which flange is causing the leaks. Not sure if this is useful.

Again, thanks for the advice on the topic.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?p=14746364
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:15 AM   #14
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some stainless steels are magnetic and to varying degrees so it is not a fool proof test
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:10 PM   #15
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I'd never do another set of headers without a ceramic coat, SS or not. they will run cooler and stay nice a lot longer.

header wrap works but it doesn't last at all. I'd never use it on a street car again. You'll also curse yourself everytime you work near the exhaust and flakes of fiberglass fall on your face or you cut your hands on the stainless steel clamps.
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:57 AM   #16
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some stainless steels are magnetic and to varying degrees so it is not a fool proof test
Correct. Most of the 400 SS's are magnetic. Your 300's are not.
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