01 Oct Hell On (Two) Wheels 13 – Pipe-Fitting
Let’s start off the week with an ending — the Vulcan’s exhaust is all done!
It’s been quite some time since we’ve looked at the exhaust of the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Classic, the protagonist of our Hell On (Two) Wheels miniseries. When we last left the stainless steel piping, it had been run from the motor itself to the Y-pipe merge. After that, we moved on to other jobs that stood in the way of finishing the exhaust. Once a majority of the exterior work on the rear of the bike had been completed (which it now has), we’re able to finish off the exhaust as well. In order to bring the sound to a level that the owner wishes it to be, which is loud but not excessively so, we chose to stick with the dual-muffler setup that the OEM Vulcan had, as well. Mufflers will keep the volume down, while our new piping should give it a much more aggressive tone. Best of both worlds, right?
Either way, it’s time to construct the piping that runs from the merge to the two mufflers. The merge necked down to a single pipe’s width, and that one pipe runs all the way to the bottommost muffler. So now we’re in the process of making the second runner that will come off the main pipe and hook to the other muffler. In order to make that merge, we took the main pipe and bored ourselves out a hole of the correct size. By drilling out the center piece, then grinding the edge of the new hole, we’re able to get the exact shape and size we want without running the risk of a sawblade accidentally screwing everything up.
With the hole cut in the main pipe, we set about cutting the secondary pipe to fit over the aforementioned opening. We also made sure to weld all the connections on both pipes prior to welding the two pipes themselves together, so we don’t have a giant exhaust pipe that we have to reposition every ten seconds of welding. As always, we snapped a quick picture to let you know that, big or small, we’ll weld it and we’ll make it look great.
Once both pipes were prepared, we tacked them together and set about test-fitting the pipes, both on and off the vehicle in an effort to make sure everything lines up correctly and without issue. We also had to keep the piping as far away from the owners’ feet as possible, helping to reduce any sort of ambient heat that might cook some human feet for dinner.
With the test-fitting complete, we did the final welds for the two exhaust pipes, and fit it to the bike to once again confirm proper fitment. At that point, we decided to add a stabilizer fin between the two pipes, as well, for a little extra reinforcement. We also started fitting the chrome shrouds to fit our custom piping; as the positioning of several elements have changed, we had to trim the bottommost chrome piece to fit. We’re now working on the top one, as well.
And with that, we finished the exhaust — almost! There’s one step left, one of the most important steps in keeping the heat from the exhaust where it belongs, which is in the exhaust pipe itself and not radiating out to burn whatever appendages happen to be nearby. This is the last shot of our piping in its raw, naked form — a form we typically like to preserve, but one that definitely doesn’t match the aesthetic of the bike.
After a few short days, it returned with a nice black thermal coating. This will keep the heat where it’s supposed to be, and will also help bring the exhaust along for a ride on the “black and chrome” aesthetic trolley. We’re not usually fans of decorative coverings, as we find that our welding should really be shown off, but for this specific purpose, we’ll gladly oblige and change things up. Same goes for Swain Tech coating, as well; if it keeps heat down in the engine bay, we’ll gladly cover the welds up. On this specific piece, we think it came out great.
With the fresh exhaust in our hands, we hooked it up to the bike to ensure that the coating process didn’t damage the shape of the exhaust (it didn’t), and also to make sure it looked good with the rest of the bike thus far (it does). And with that, the exhaust is done! Fin.
Now that the exhaust is complete and out of the way for the remainder of HOTW, it’s time to finish up our fender work in the next episode. We’ll bring this back in a few days’ time, at which point we’ll cover how to do the exact opposite of what we did to the rear fender. Until then, have a great week and we’ll have even more FMU content for you tomorrow!