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jpekarek 11-15-2012 02:29 PM

Headers burning up my starter!
I have very large, tuned pipe headers on my BB Chevelle wagon. They are eating up starters and burning my cables. The headers don't go down through the normal place at the back of the engine, they twist and bend down the side of the engine and one pipe wraps right around and under the starter, burning the cables and solenoid constantly. The starters last about 4 months Max! Even heat wrapped.

Has anyone built heat sheilds for these? Are they effective? What should they be made of? As a last resort I would install normal headers to stop the problem, but I don't want to risk affecting the performance of the engine.

gearheadslife 11-15-2012 03:04 PM

I'd think you could fab up a system like g.m. did for the poor carb'd t/a's
a thermo switched fan to blow on the starter area when stut off (heat soak )and a simple pipe to direct air to the starter while car is moving..

g.m. did something like this on the 85+ pontiac t/a to keep the fuel from boiling in the carb..

a small fan and a thermo switch thats only ativated when car is off. would cool the starter and header

when moving you'd have something like a brake duct on a race car.. to cool that area.. just the air movement alone will help..

1971BB427 11-15-2012 04:00 PM

I've built shields from thin aluminum sheet that easily cut and bent. Also some header wrap to the closest tubes to insulate the heat from getting to the shield.

hcompton 11-15-2012 04:56 PM

Like others have said wrap the headers with the old school style heat wrap. The cheap cloth type usally works good. Go around twice to make sure they are good and stay in place.

Also use a piece of aluminum sheet in betwwen the headers and the starter helps if you have atleast a 1/2 inch air gap on each side. Im sure thats not going to work but try the best you can. The sheet can be pretty thin. It just needs to reflect heat. Dont paint it a little shiny metal will work better.

The factory used to use thin steel pipe to get the wires past the manifolds. A little piece of alum or steel pipe will allow you to run the wires past the headers. But you got to make sure its not going to rub and cut the wires. Gm usally flared both ends of the pipe so it never touched and edge. Also buy oem style heavy wire the kinds thats hard to bend the insulation has a higher temp. You cna buy wire with insulation good for 600 degrees just got to source the right stuff.

Now to the real problem why it is so freakin hot. I know the headers get hot but those old wagons usally had a lot of room. Is it running a little lean?

jpekarek 11-15-2012 05:03 PM

Probably not running lean, plugs look fine. It's a 541 inch roller motor putting out about 700hp. The header tubes are 2.5 inch and tuned. The tubes don't go back toward the firewall then down where they are supposed to. They go down and twist around right under the engine. One of them wraps right around and under the freekin starter. I will attach pics when I het home today.

lumberjacknooj 11-15-2012 05:14 PM

Wow, for 700hp I'd be willing to replace a starter now and then :-D Plus, it being in a wagon makes it even cooler (to me, anyways).

I know folks have used the multi-layered cookie sheets to make heat shields with. That, plus a silica fabric or reflective wrap ought to help.

Is the routing of those headers something that was done to have them properly tuned?
Good luck, I hope you straighten it out. If not- I hope you buy the lifetime warranty starter, so at least ya don't have to pay for it each swap!


poncho62 11-15-2012 05:17 PM

If its any consolation....its a common problem on BB Chevs...Are you using a stock sized starter or a mini starter? Mini starter would get it further away from the pipes

hcompton 11-15-2012 05:32 PM

For under the starter and beside it you could use the starter bolts or some studs to hange the sheet of aluminum off of. Make an L shaped piece the has to holes for the starter bolts. It should do the trick and not any harder to remove than a normal starter.

beertracker 11-15-2012 06:04 PM

Take a look at this:

Moroso 74300 Starter Heat Shields SBC BBC with Delco Starters | eBay

Maybe it will work??? 11-15-2012 07:23 PM

starter prob.
Have had the same problem with big headers on big blocks and on all of them just switched to a good brand mini starter and wrapped them and no more problems after that.

techinspector1 11-15-2012 07:30 PM


Originally Posted by 1971BB427 (Post 1611653)
I've built shields from thin aluminum sheet that easily cut and bent. Also some header wrap to the closest tubes to insulate the heat from getting to the shield.

Exactly. Using two or more pieces together and leaving an air gap of maybe 1/8" between the pieces by using flat washers as spacers works well. I have never seen the fan arrangement, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

jpekarek 11-16-2012 11:58 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Yes I already have a mini starter, I bought a lifetime unit so that's not a worry. A standard starter will not even fit in the space. The headers were hand built to only fit a mini starter. The process of removing it is horrible though. I cannot get to the bolts. It has an offset bolt pattern unlike a standard BBC and the offset bolt is right under the number 8 header pipe. I have to use a freekin open end wrench to get the bolt out. The exhaust also has to be dropped off and the passenger header has to be removed and pulled out of the way to access the starter bolts. The header cannot come out though, they had to be laid in the frame before the engine was lowered in, but I can move it just enough to get the bolts out. Then it takes about 15 minutes to work the starter out of itís spot. I hate it! The whole starter takes me 10 hours of work to swap.

That Moroso heat shield looks like that way to go. Heat shield + starter wrap + header tube wrap might solve the problem and for hundreds less than new headers.. All good ideas, thanks to everyone. I have never run into this problem before.

Lumberjack said it would be worth the 700 horsepower, it is.:evil: When the starter is working, itís crazy fast, most out of control thing I have ever driven. People are shocked when they see a big station wagon. But if I donít fix this problem, I will end up stranded somewhere.

Quick shot of the waggy.

1971BB427 11-16-2012 05:15 PM

I totally agree with your feelings on big HP vs. reliability. It doesn't really matter if you have 2,000 hp, if it wont start. Hope you get it reliable so you can enjoy it.

F-BIRD'88 11-16-2012 05:47 PM

What cam is in this motor? what is the base ignition timing at idle?

632Mantis 11-17-2012 06:53 PM

join the club
I have a big block with the same issues. And I'm not even running large primary tubes. I'm running Hooker Comp headers, and they snake around the starter. Takes me all day to change my starter. I have to pull the dipstick tube, the tranny cooler lines, the plugs and wires on that side, and remove the header. Then I have to remove the heat wrap, so I can SEE the starter. Last starter I put in it lasted 6 months. I'm going to buy a better starter next time, and put more Thermo-Tec wrap on the tubes. It has some on there now, but it could use more. BB race motors eat starters.


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