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cat-back exhaust


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  Initially I planned on simply cutting the tailpipe off and slip-fitting a new one onto the muffler.  Then I decided it would be easier (and nearly the same cost) to go ahead and just replace both the muffler and the tailpipe also known as the "cat-back" (from the catalytic converter back).  I ordered 4wd hardware's 2.5" aluminized cat back exhaust which consisted of a muffler & flange piece (for bolting to the catalytic converter), a tailpipe and a couple muffler clamps.  The muffler is a basic "turbo" style manufactured by IMCO.  I was mainly paying for the pre-fabbed tailpipe. 


  This seemed like a pretty straight forward install.  Of course, I wasn't that lucky and ran into a few hitches. 
  First off, the 2 nuts holding the muffler and cat flanges together were damn tight (as expected).  I couldn't possibly get enough leverage on them (especially the inner one) with the t-case skid on.  So off it had to come.  *Note: the t-case skid IS the crossmember and supports the tranny and transfer case.  So, I used a jack under the tranny to support it before I removed the skid.

supporting the transmission with a jack & block of wood

  I PB-Blastered the six 3/4" bolts holding the t-case skid to the frame, removed them and dropped the skid.  Now I had a nice angle to attack those 2 muffler nuts with pb blaster and a big ol' ratchet.  The first one came right off, however the second decided to partially come off then start spinning with the "bolt" if you want to call it that (it's more of a stud with nothing to grasp it by).  So, in short, I laid there and hack-sawed that bolt off for a good twenty minutes.
  Having that rusty muffler drop away from the cat was a satisfying feeling.  The feeling didn't last long though when I realized I couldn't get the damn muffler/tailpipe out because the tailpipe was so badly bent.  I even tried removing the rear/passenger shock for more clearance but I still couldn't wrestle it out.  I was going to have to cut the tailpipe off.  A sawz-all would have been nice, but all I had was my trusty dremel and an assortment of attachments.  Four cutting discs later, the muffler and tailpipe were officially scrap metal.


  Now it was time to install my shiny new stuff.  I greased up the flange piece and slid it onto the muffler.  I then loosely attached it to the cat with the provided hardware.  Next, I slid the tailpipe into the other end of the muffler, adjusted as necessary, and fit it up onto the 2 hangers.  I loosely installed the 2 muffler clamps, tightened down the muffler/cat connection and then went back and tightened down the muffler clamps.  Finally, I re-installed the skid plate.  Lowering the transmission mount bolts into their slots in the skid while holding the skid up can be sort of tricky.  I torqued the skid plate bolts to 55 ft/lbs, the tranny mount bolts to 45 ft/lbs, and bolted that shock back into place.

  So that's it, right?  Mission accomplished, right?  Wrong.  The first thing I noticed was that there was a large leak where the muffler and cat were bolted together due to the poor design of the flange piece included with this kit.  Once I drove around a bit I also noticed the muffler knocking against the rear upper control arm mount.  Not to mention, I was dissatisfied with how the tailpipe was positioned.  It was sticking out too far and too low for my liking, was barely attached to the inner-most hanger, and was rubbing against the parking brake cable housing.  Not good.
  I was going to have to take it to a shop.  Luckily, I got a good tip on a exhaust/welding shop near me.  The guy there did an excellent job of custom fitting and welding everything up.  The neck of the muffler had to be shortened so that it wouldn't knock against that uca mount.  The tailpipe also had to be shortened so that it would sit higher for maximum ground clearance. 


  For those wondering what it sounds sounds deeper.  Louder than stock but not to an extreme (thankfully, it doesn't sound like a weed wacker). 
  This kit is a good deal compared to others out there.  However, I think it would be hard to install it correctly unless you're capable of cutting & welding exhaust tubing. 
 *UPDATE*  I noticed the tailpipe would knock against the bumper mount bolt (that goes up into the frame) when I hit big bumps.  This is because I have it mounted tight to the frame for clearance reasons.  Nothing the sawz-all couldn't fix.  I actually like the new "chopped off" look much better.