Breaking in cams with Ceramic coated headers [Archive] - Chevelle Tech

: Breaking in cams with Ceramic coated headers

Nov 11th, 05, 1:50 PM
I have heard that you shouldn't do this but I was wondering if anyone has and if it has done any damage to the ceramic coating? I would hate to have to buy another set of headers to just break a cam and motor in.

Nov 11th, 05, 2:06 PM
I've read warnings by header makers to not use such headers for cam break in. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me since I would think that the ceramic coating would allow the headers to withstand much higher temperatures. The warning suggested using old headers or exhaust manifolds for break in, but what am I supposed to do when I am building a car from scratch and don't have either readily available and I'll be darned if I'm going to buy a cheap set of headers just for the break in!

Nov 11th, 05, 2:16 PM
I thought you just couldn't breakin the cam when it's the first time the headers have been run, because you could damage the coating?!

Nov 11th, 05, 2:22 PM
Well, I will be able to let you know probably after this weekend what happens. I have been building a fairly nice 355 for a friends 87 olds 442 and am hoping to fire it up this weekend and break in the cam. I put dynomax coated headers on the car and the only way the headers are going on or off is with the motor hanging above it. Their is no way possible to get the headers back off this one now, without pulling the motor and thats not happening.

Wish me luck on this one ;)


Nov 11th, 05, 2:59 PM
I have used Hedman Elite headers on 2 cars - Hedman states the same thing. I have pretreated each set of header prior to install - hang them up by the collectors and run a propane torch (MAP gas if you have it is hotter) in each tube until nice and hot, just make sure to keep the torch moving to distribute the heat. Then let cool and install. Also, when firing up the new motor, unless you have the mixture well off or the motor is overheating, it shouldn't make a huge difference. If it does get too hot, just shut it down, let it cool and resume your break-in time when cooled. ie - 20 minute cam break in time doesn't mean that you have to run it for an entire 20 minute period without shutting down, it means that you don't let it idle until it has 20 minutes running time.

Dwayne Martin
Nov 11th, 05, 3:07 PM
I just broke in by 454 with a new set of hedman elite with the coating. It didn't bother them at all.

Nov 11th, 05, 3:14 PM
From what I understand, the coating needs to "cure" with variable temp cycles (moderate heat, cool, repeat). Supposedly the high temperatures at break in cause the coating to appear dull permanently.

I thought that I was going to have the same situation, I was considering breaking it in with the carb a little on the fat side. Maybe that would minimize the header tube heat. Makesure that you have plenty of advance too, retarded timing will cause the headers to glow on break in.

Bad Rat 414
Nov 11th, 05, 3:24 PM
I just broke in by 454 with a new set of hedman elite with the coating. It didn't bother them at all.
Same here no problems with the coating.

Nov 11th, 05, 3:24 PM
just run the motor for a few minutes and then kill it. let them cool down. then run again, real easy

Nov 11th, 05, 3:48 PM
Make sure you have enough timing in it and you'll be fine. If you start it up with the timing retarded and try and break it in that way the coating will be toast.

Then when you start spraying a bunch of nitrous on it, you can watch them crinkle when you get a little lean. Arghh.

Nov 11th, 05, 5:01 PM
Thanks everyone for your input.

Nov 11th, 05, 5:18 PM
Well I read all the warning ahead of time, and even took appropriate pre-cautions. What else to do, I didn't have any junk headers to use. Well I burned mine up quite well. BUT, I donít really feel to blame nor was it the coating. I did my start up and tried to time, tune, and watch everything all by myself, all while managing the throttle and do the appropriate adjustments. I later found my main problem with the timing chain/gears were off by three teeth. Not necessarily the ceramic coating problem, but more my fault (I guess, even though I didn't install the gears). I wish I would have spent the extra expense and found some junk headers.

Point being, I next time I won't take the chance. It only took a few minutes to realize it's too late. Lessen learned for me. It can and is done all the time, just not with my luck.

Good luck and hope the best for you,


Nov 11th, 05, 6:03 PM
Been there. done that, it DOES damage the coating.

Nov 11th, 05, 7:35 PM
especially if you are running a 671 blower motor.------- i ruined a $600 set of dougs headers. i will use old headers from now on.yes its worth buying a set of $100 cheap headers, to keep from ruining expensive headers.

Nov 11th, 05, 7:58 PM
I have seen it damage the coating on headers on engine break-ins B4. Seen many people have this problem. With my last engine build, i used an old set of headers during the break in period,then later on bought a new set of Hooker Ceramic coated headers. I desided not to take the chance because i have seen what it can do, on other peoples headers during break- ins.

Nov 11th, 05, 8:00 PM
This may sound like a dumb question but is this a roller cam or a solid tappet?, I don't see why your breaking it in if it's a roller.
If you call any of the coating companies, I am sure they will give you the answer, I would put them on, make sure oil syst, was primed, fire it up, smooth it out and go to 2000 rpm's and keep filling the fuel cell!!!!!, the headers are designed to withstand much more temp., than what you will do at 2000 rpm's, make it more rich, this will help keep it cooler than leaner, if your still uneasy, add a hugh fan or a bunch of small ones on tables aroung the engine bay and blow it in, they should be just fine, this will be there breakin period too!!, sounds good anyway huh?lol just go for it, they are usually warrantied right, for discolor , flaking and burning the coatings off?

Let us know what you do, I did this with my Hooker Super comps fresh, new coating 1st time running too, they are for sale on e-bay right now till Sunday. Good luck and keep us posted. Thanks and great thread.

The Elkyman
O/C 9900

Nov 11th, 05, 11:33 PM
From what I understand, the coating needs to "cure" with variable temp cycles (moderate heat, cool, repeat). Supposedly the high temperatures at break in cause the coating to appear dull permanently.

I made the mistake and that's what happened to a set of Jet Hot Sterling coated Thorley headers while breaking in a cam on my 442. The finish went from high luster silver to flat gray.

Bob Tiley
Nov 12th, 05, 10:32 AM
Just make sure your timing is advanced plenty. Retarded timing will make the headers glow red hot and ruin the finish.

Nov 12th, 05, 11:12 AM
HUMMM I have never herd this before but it would explane why mine turned dull, I just put mine on at work and drove 30 miles home, I just figured it was just diff. in coatings. but after 1,5 years it isnt flaking off so well see.

Grandpa's SS
Nov 12th, 05, 12:32 PM
I toasted a brand new set of Hooker Super Comps. I have some nice before and after pictures as well, look identical, chalkie powder grey.

The manufacturers all have a warning " Do not break in an engine with Ceramic Coated Headers ".

The warning is there for a reason. If you are lean, and or retarded ( hahaha that is me ), you will overheat the headers, and burn the Ceramic right off them.

If you know 100% that you are not lean, and advance the timing a bit on break in, there should not be an issue, but why take the chance.

I just finished applying a coat of Ceramic paint to a set of Valve covers, and the paint manufacturer states to cycle heat into a new Ceramic paint in stages to cure them.

I suspect that the header manufacturers already heat cycle, but some of them still recomend to heat cycle a new set of headers. I don't know how you would heat cycle if you were breaking in an engine.