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DSMunknown's Super Stealth Muffler & Axle-Back Exhaust System

DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
After finally upgrading my OEM exhaust system to the Thermal and RRE DP last year (and before that, sticking with the OEM system for 7 years!), it was time for a change. Don't get me wrong. I love my Thermal muffler, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm. So I took inspiration from both Dan's (sd_ff22) and Mack's (kenamond) threads and combined them into my own conniving little monster. I would also like to thank both Mack and Kevin (95GSXracer) for doing the math for me, and ensuring that I wouldn't be sacrificing performance by going with a dual chamber muffler and reducing the tips. :) A small nod goes out to Brian (redeclipse7782) for also being a minute source of inspiration. He also had a similar setup, but I doubt he took any photos to prove it. I don't think he did it intentionally either. (IIRC he bought someone else's customized muffler and stuck it on. IMO the muffler was kind of a hack job.)

Just for reference sake, here is the thread where the math was done out. And, of course, how could I forget about Dan's thread. Thanks again guys for being my muses. ;)

When I saw Dan's thread I was enticed. However, he was forced to stick with the 3 inch single tip due to the muffler he purchased. So I started looking into the Vibrant Performance Stealth lineup. I found out they sell a muffler with a single 3 inch inlet and dual 3 inch outlets. Interesting. As I was considering my options (as well as looking for other possible vendors who sold a similar muffler but with smaller tips) Mack started his own four threads (Mack, you're such a noob. LOL) trying to create his own stealth muffler with dual OEM-looking tips. Here is the thread where he posted up some finished photos. In the end he was happy with his accomplishment and finished progress. I, however, was not. His tips look way too big and bulky for my liking when aiming for a stock look. So I set off on my own quest.

Here are the other two threads Mack started regarding his new muffler setup. As to why he thought he needed to start four threads on the same topic, IDK. But here are the other two. Mack was really concerned about the DIY aspect. But I had neither the time (aka lack of effort) nor the experience nor the materials for this to be an option.

http://www.dsmtuners.com/forums/new...fler-dimensions-g-power-ebay-3-turboback.html
http://www.dsmtuners.com/forums/roc...8009-good-ss-welding-exhaust-shop-denver.html

After reading through Mack's threads, I still had a few questions. I didn't want to just throw on some smaller diameter tips if it would hinder performance. So I contacted Mack and Kevin to confirm the calculations were done correctly, and to let them know how I intended to apply it in my own situation. After being confident in their opinions (not that I doubted either of them in the first place) I decided to go with 2.25 inch tips. I would have gone with 2.12 inch tips, but I wanted to ensure there wouldn't be any unnecessary exhaust restrictions. (Good thing too, as you will later read.) And having a shop do the tedious work of customizing pipes to near exact parameters seemed way too fussy. Plus, there really isn't that much difference between the two sizes in terms of visual appearance. No one would know the difference besides me, myself, and I. So 2.25 inch piping it was. Compared to the enormous 5 inch (outside diameter) Thermal tip, this would fly under the radar all day long.

Hopefully this will start a trend in the DSM world for all those who like the stock look with the high performance. This is what we live for. ;)

I looked around a bit, but found no online vendor that sold the muffler I was hunting for. So at the beginning of June I got myself a Vibrant Performance Stealth Muffler (part number 1149). It was a very nice piece covered in a decent flat black finish, but the tips were too big for my liking. Not only that, but after getting into some trouble with the cops, I didn't need any more 3+ inch tips hanging at the rear of the car. As I have said in the past, patience is a virtue. So I waited. Finally I found the down time and funds to take it to a local trusted performance shop (ESP). I told them to use stainless steel with mandrel bent tubing, and of course 2.25 inch piping for the tips. I also had them cut the tips at an angle to mimic the original VP tips. Had to leave the car for a few days there so they could mock up the piping to the Thermal B-pipe (aka mid pipe) and to order the smaller tubing for the tips. Almost forgot to mention the need for hangers. Told them to copy Thermal's design where possible.

If you know me, I like to take pictures of my installs. So here are some photos of what I got back from ESP.



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DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
I decided to take some close-ups of the tips, specifically to get a look on the inside. The first group will be of the left tip and chamber, and the second group the right tip and chamber.



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And the right.



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And here are a couple close-ups of the tips.



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If you notice, the tips aren't perfectly centered. They're only off by about a millimeter or so, and it's not something I will lose sleep over. But you will notice how closely the inside diameter of the chamber tubing resembles the ID of the tips. I didn't get a chance to measure them myself, and forgot the ask the shop to get some numbers for me. But I bet if I call up VP and ask, the ID will be VERY similar (that is, very close to 2.12 inches). Wouldn't surprise me one bit.

When I asked the shop to put on 2.25 inch tips, I forgot that most piping is measured at the outside diameter. So when they ordered and welded on the new tips, the outside diameter was at 2.25 inches. No need to worry. I measured the inside diameter of both tips and came up with 2.125 inches (or 2 and 1/8th). Just squeaked by on the calculations. Phew. I could make an argument that the extra millimeter or two from the off-centered tips isn't good for exhaust flow since I only have .005" to play with, but another part of me says to go DIAF and STFU. So there.

Here are some with the original VP tips that slide over the new ones. Definitely a difference. Thanks to my sister for helping. Just a little FYI, the original VP tips start out at about 2.5 and open up to 3 inches.



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DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
Now as I said, the VP originally came in flat black. Very nice. Something to help it not scream "aftermarket exhaust". So I started looking around for shops that could offer me something similar to cover up the new SS tips and 3 inch piping. It was crucial to me that everything was covered in black, including the mandrel piping. I will explain my reasoning in a little bit. There were two shops I had in mind. One of them was JNZ Tuning. I had seen their work in their powder coating thread, and like everyone else was impressed. And since they're located in PA (and not across the country) I decided to go with them. Called them up and spoke with Joe S. (Nailz). He's a great straightforward guy to deal with. Spoke with me about the differences between powder coating and ceramic coating, and what he could offer me. IIRC, he had flat black coating, but it was only rated at around 450*. The concern was the coating not holding up to the heat. He offered the alternative of some high temp glossy black coating, rated at 1200*, which was more than enough. It was either that or go with ceramic. I chose to go with the gloss. Not my first choice, but I told Joe to do whatever he felt was appropriate for the application. His knowledge and experience with the different coatings was better than me flipping a coin. And he reminded me that over time it would inevitably get dirty, so all the gloss wouldn't be as noticeable. Living in New England, I had to ask him about the winter compatibility with the coating (i.e. the salt, sand, ice, slush and everything in between). He's in PA, so we both know what we're up against. He assured me it would hold up fine.

He told me he sand blasted it for only a couple minutes to prep it. He was surprised at how clean it was. Since it was never on the car, it didn't surprise me one bit. ;) Since everything cleaned off so quickly he gave me a break on the price. 67 shipped. Sweet. :D (I was actually planning on at least double, but that's JNZ for you; great prices and great service.) Got it back to me within a week. As requested, very well packaged. Thanks again, Joe. :thumb:

And I've already inspired him to do the same thing on his Evo's Apex exhaust. :)

After all this blabbing on and on, here it is.



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DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
Here are some comparison shots of the new VP and the Thermal. Didn't bother to clean up the old muffler. The muffler dimensions between the two are VERY similar yet the sound is somewhat different, but I will speak to this later on.



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As you can see, the Thermal muffler is at an angle, and the tip is turned for the straight through look. All original design. But with the new VP muffler, the piping has to take a more drastic turn because of its own original design. Just thought I would point that out if it wasn't already abundantly clear. :rolleyes:

And here are a couple shots of all three mufflers I have.



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"Where the hell is the original OEM turbo muffler?" you say. Well, back 8 years ago when I bought the car, we tried to install the dual tip muffler. For whatever reason it would not fit on. (I wasn't too car savvy at the time, so I don't know the details.) So a decision was made to use a GS muffler instead. And there it is. It ain't pretty, so try not to look. I would have liked the VP muffler dimensions to be somewhere in between the Thermal and GS (to further aid in noise suppression), but I can only hope for so much.
 

DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
Anyone else wondering how the top bracket is supposed to go on? Took me a few minutes to figure out. The last bracket hanger needed to come off to utilize one of the mounting bolts.



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Even with my small hands I had trouble bolting the new bracket down. Only with a small ratchet and short 12mm socket was I able to do anything. But without those two things I would have needed to either take the muffler heat shield off or cut a small part of the heat shield supporting bracket to get leverage on the bolt. And no, the socket elbow & extension combo wasn't working for me.

Here is the rest of the axle-back system. There's enough room so that the frame won't be scraping against the coating. Wish the shop had utilized the other rubber hanger as well, but I think they were trying to cut down on cost. How thoughtful.



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Just a little note, WD-40 works great at getting those rubber exhaust hangers off any metal hangers, even if they are old and rusted. :thumb:
 

DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
So I can picture you jumping around like an ADHD kid off his Ritalin and Dexedrine waiting to see the final install. I think I've tortured you long enough. I'm not a professional photographer, and I don't know why I didn't get any really great shots. These are all mediocre, at their very best. Again, sorry. :( As a lot of people say with posting videos and pictures, it looks a lot better in person. I just had real trouble capturing its awesomeness.



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I suppose it's understandable why I had the tips powder coated, but why would I bother doing anything with the piping? Well, as you can tell with this or this picture (as well as the 12th photo above), the piping is clearly viewable from the rear when you take a quick peek. I didn't want the stainless steel tubing to be immediately noticeable if (or when) I get pulled over again. If they're gonna catch me, they're going to have to put in a little more work than usual. :D Thus is the reason to coat everything.
 

DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
Now, on to the review. This VP muffler is definitely an "upgrade" (or should I say, improvement) if you're looking for a quieter exhaust system. The excess droning/grumbling/growling/gurgling/gargling/throatiness has definitely been suppressed. (There's my effort to humanize a car part. ;) ) This is especially true when leaving from a dead stop (good for those who live in quiet communities) or at low speeds in low RPMs. I believe it is through the use of two chamber tubes that the excess rumble is suppressed, instead of the one large single chamber tube found on the Thermal 2G GST/GSX units. Two chamber units are better than one. :) Not only that, but I believe the muffler is more efficiently packed with sound-deadening material than the previous muffler. Now if I really wanted to cheat the system, I would add a couple resonators in there somewhere. But I like my straight through piping. Perhaps in the future I will add in a few, but not right now. That will probably be a project for next year. ;)

As almost an afterthought, I'm posting up Eric's (turbosax2) old GSX muffler.



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Honestly, my new VP muffler looks like I sprayed a turbo muffler black. Eric tells me that the OD of the tips are 2.375, but that number represents the shiny tip covers. He measured the ID of the actual tips, and they're at 2.1. Wow, that's pretty cool. Talk about a numbers matching ride. :cool: He still needs to get back with me about the OD of the actual tips (and not the shiny covers' OD), but I'm sure he'll read this and post the numbers up. :)

Maybe this'll be something for others to seriously consider, including those Cali bitches.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DSMunknown

Proven Member
4,109
37
Sep 16, 2004
Worcester, Massachusetts
And now for a quick price check.


-140 shipped for muffler

-210 in labor

-30 in materials

-67 shipped for powder coating

-447 total


Not exactly mindful for those on a tight budget, but if you can space out the spending like I did, it hardly seems like anything. Besides, it's well worth it IMHO. And if you can weld and/or paint, then more power to you. Of if you just want to spray on some high temp spray paint from Wal-Mart or somewhere every few months, then you probably can take that route. Not something that sits well with me, but if you don't care that's your business.
 

PieEyedPiper

DSM Wiseman
5,577
47
Nov 13, 2004
North Bay Area, California
This is the exact type of exhaust system I've been going on about for ages.. I want one quite badly.
Excellent work Anthony.
The mandrel bends are beautiful, the paint is glorious and the measurements make it a real science.
Do you have any flow calculation for the entire system? Sorry If I missed that info in one of your links.

Also, one thought I'd had, is now that you have Eric's old GSX/GST muffler are you interested in utilizing the stock tips for an even greater stock appearance? Obviously you're interested in the measurements, as you mentioned, but I was unsure if you intended to use the tips themselves. They look like they're in reusable condition - with a little work they'd sparkle again.

My interest in the tips is that they're the stock tips and that they could potentially make your car look like it had a stock exhaust even to the eagle eyed DSM'er. Black is stealthy and all, and I love how the important bits are all black, but a blacked out muffler says "replacement exhaust" to me. I'm sure, to a cop, so long as it is not 5" dia. and blingin' like a diamond then it's of no concern to them.

Either way, a wonderful job.
Well done.

Flying under the radar FTW. Louder coffee can FTL.
 

Nailz

Proven Member
65
0
Apr 15, 2003
Dublin, Pennsylvania
Very nice writeup Anthony, looks great on the car :) I actually did the same to my muffler afew weeks back using regular Satin Black powder just to see how well it holds up. I'll have to snap a pic of it when I get a chance. Let me know how well it holds up! :thumb:
 

turbosax2

Moderator
4,411
425
Nov 19, 2006
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
ID of chrome tips - 61 mm (2.40 in.)
OD of chrome tips - 74.5 mm (2.93 in.)
ID of actual exhaust tips (black part inside) - 46 mm (1.81 in.)
OD of actual exhaust tips (measured near muffler) - 48.5 mm (1.91 in.)

I measured the OD of the exhaust tips near the muffler. I didn't want to attempt removing the chrome tips for fear of breaking bolts.


PieEyedPiper:
Anthony doesn't have my muffler, I still have it. I just provided the pictures and measurements for him.
 

FonZ454

20+ Year Contributor
454
11
Nov 4, 2002
Granby, Massachusetts
Very nice Anthony.

I've never been a fan of dual tips, but to keep it the most stock looking, that helps for sure. I REALLY like the black coating. I may do something similar to that... and get a quieter muffler... You live in Mass, you know how it isLOL.
 

architechnik

15+ Year Contributor
689
9
Jun 21, 2007
Glad, Oregon
Great solution and complete write-up. I've been looking at the Magnaflow one for quite some time, but it looks like this might be a more cost effective solution. The only difference is that you can choose for them to put on the 2.5" outlets...

Once again, looking good! :thumb:
 

loser_635

Proven Member
216
0
Jan 9, 2008
Woodbridge, Virginia
wow, that looks nice, id totally trade my can for one of those. good work
 

daren_p

DSM Wiseman
4,608
92
Nov 22, 2004
Newmarket, ON_Canada
Looks good Anthony :thumb:

I did something similar because I was tired of the hassle I was getting with my Apexi N1. I used a vibrant universal, 3" in, dual 2.5" out. Then picked up a set of their 3" slat tip, rolled exhaust tips which basically match the factory tipps 100%. I had them weld the tips on staggered, just like the factory, so the tips follow the body contours. The muffler setup almost looks identical to OEM & even other DSMers have trouble telling its not stock. The rest of the system was done in 3" SS, mandrel bent & used 2 of the Vibrant 3" resonators. Not only does it look stock but it was a huge improvement in top end flow over the N1 system. I picked up 4-5 lb/min at the exact same boost level & datalogs in DSMLink were showing a 40-50 hp & ft/lbs increase at 7000rpms, taken under the same conditions. I only have a couple close up pics & I can't locate them but here is one showing it from a distance. The universal mufflers come polished which I didn't want, so I took different grades of sand paper to the muffler body to get a nice satin finish, that looks stock (just kept the tips shiny). They even took the time to route the 3" pipe above the rear subframe, so you don't see any of the 3" pipeing sticking out.
 

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