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Old 03-01-2010, 02:42 PM   #1
downest
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Unhappy AMR EL race header

DISCLAIMER: this post is not meant to be advertising for my shop or anything like it, I just wanted to post a review of a part I received so that other people won't waste their money and/or get a sub-par part and not understand or know why it's bad. My intent here is solely to help the greater Subaru community, I do not make or sell any Subaru race headers at all. This topic has been cross posted on New England Subarus as well as on Honda-Tech's welding and fabrication section.



I want to post about a product we received (and returned) recently for a customer's STi. I originally posted this on my Welding and Fab forum, but I figure it's important for Subaru owners too since you guys may be more likely to buy something like this. If anyone has any questions about the specifics of the welding etc that goes into building a manifold, feel free to ask.

Story... we're building a big power STi, it's an '05, EJ257 block with Wiseco pistons and Manley rods, Perrin GT4088 rotated kit, Labonte meth kit blah blah. It just barely cracked the 400wtq range on the stock engine and turbo, with meth, APS FMIC kit, GTSpec UEL manifold, Helix downpipe and HKS Carbon Ti exhaust. Anyway, the customer wanted to go with a built motor and shoot for more power after the 4088 kit basically fell in his lap for a steal. His GTSpec headers wouldn't fit with the Perrin kit since they use a 3-bolt flange that's not in the stock location, so we had to choose a manifold. I personally will not build a manifold for a Subaru, because I know they are extremely prone to failure, and there are guys out there doing it way better, and have been doing it for a long time.

Our first choice would have been to go with Full Race, but they didn't offer a header for this application (using the stock location uppipe), so we went with the supposed "next best" equal length header from AMR. This header costs about $1200, supposedly comes ceramic coated and has large 2" primaries and of course all stainless construction etc etc. Our other main concern, aside from power production, was the durability and/or warranty offered on the piece, since this car is daily driven, always has been, always will be. After a couple of calls with AMR we were turned off a bit by the piss poor customer service, and lack of ability to answer the simple question of the length of warranty (received numerous answers that didn't seem to mean much at all). The only consistent thing we were told was that the header would never break, so it didn't need a warranty, which didn't mesh with research on the forums of course.

Anyway, the customer still wanted it, so we shelled out the $1200 and received the piece in a few days. When the header arrived, I unpacked it and immediately told the customer I would not be putting this piece on the car, we would either have to get a new one that was properly made, or get something else.

I think the pics below explain it pretty well... undercutting, lack of backpurge, terrible fitment, pinholes and mistakes in just about every weld, warped flanges, half assed back grinding, improper use of a mandrel bender, it's pretty much all there. Flanges are also some kind of ferrous steel, and the "ceramic coating" scraped off from sitting on my wood bench.

For those not familiar with the terms.... Undercutting is basically when the weld bead sits below the surface of the base metal, as seen in the pics below where the DS runners merge into the rest. Backpurging is when the welder runs shielding gas (argon) inside the piece while welding the outside, so that the weld bead on the inside (given full penetration) will not "sugar" from the stainless reacting with free air. This is, IMHO, very important when building manifolds like this, especially with EJ manifolds being prone to failure already. The pinholes and inconsistencies pictured are nothing short of amateur mistakes or lack of care. Not kidding, I taught my girlfriend how to TIG steel last weekend and she doesn't even do that. If they don't leak, those spots will leak to cracks down the road. The flanges will warp when welded, unless they are bolted to something sufficiently large and able to dissipate heat and hold the flange flat. A lot of times this is unavoidable, but the flange can be re-surfaced to make it flat, a thin flange may flatten out, but the ones on this manifold are far too thick. Back grinding is grinding out the "sugar" and other inconsistencies once the piece is welded, this is commonly done on production pieces and most of the exhaust parts you guys already have, and it's perfectly acceptable when done properly. Finally, the mandrel bends should be smooth without any ripples in the pipe, which is of course the point of using a mandrel bender. The machine was improperly adjusted for the tube in the pics. Use of non-stainless flanges is also very common, and I don't think it's a deal breaker, but personally I always use stainless flanges on my stainless work.


I first attempted to call and get the situation straightened out by getting a proper header sent to me. I complained of the quality of the piece and was told that there were air pockets that are unavoidable with this kind of welding, the flanges would flatten out when bolted to the motor, the runners touching didn't matter, and the ceramic coating would bake on when the engine was run. I proceeded to tell them that I'm a welder myself, and this quality is unacceptable, especially considering the price of the header. I asked why the piece wasn't backpurged, and was told "they never leak, why would we backpurge them?!" and clearly started to make whoever I was talking to angry. I also asked if the bends (as seen in the pics) were actually mandrel bent, and if so, they would need to adjust the machine so they could make smooth proper bends (my roommate worked with a bender for a few years at a local shop, honestly I know little to none about how they work, that was his diagnosis). I was told that the bends are fine. After numerous complains and making it clear that I wasn't going to be BS'd about this piece, and that I wasn't putting it on the car, I was told they would take the header back and refund the entire cost. I told them that we would rather just have a replacement that was made properly and as advertised. AMR told me that this header is perfect, and if I got another one it would be the same, so guess what... we sent it back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by from my fab forum post
I'm not trying to stir anything up here, just posting facts. I don't believe AMR is even involved in the Honda community, I'm posting this as a fabricator to other fabricators. Stuff like this just pisses me off, I know everyone on this forum strives to make their parts to the best of their ability, and we are struggling to make money on this stuff in a tough market that's oversaturated with cheap parts. It's insulting to receive something like this which is supposed to be comparable to a Full Race piece, after already admitting that I can't make a quality Subaru header myself. It's things like this that really get me down about the whole scene and the lack of care and quality some companies will let slide.










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Old 03-01-2010, 02:42 PM   #2
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Old 03-01-2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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WOW

even my agency power header looks 100x better than that and I realize it will probably break within the first 10k miles.

subaru manifolds are pretty much wear items. they will ALL break eventually (except cast stuff like the stock manifold). claiming they will never break is just stupid imo.

again, why do people still buy stuff from amr? why do people STILL go there?
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:25 PM   #5
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They sent THAT to a customer?!
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:50 PM   #6
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They didnt claim it would never break when I spoke to them, but the guy was a serious ass and basically told me he didn't care if we bought his manifold or not, and stated it was the best on the market. haha. And he said they have 'never had one break' The guy on the phone was practically yelling at me when I was trying to get simple answers to my questions. I've never had such a bad customer service experience. I read in another thread they record their phone conversations, I wish I could get ahold of that one.

what a joke. we ended up grabbing a perrin manifold for now, and its a billion times nicer and half the price.
Im surprised noone has outed their sheisty products in the past.

And yeah, they sent that to us after I stressed it was for a major build, and that I was concerned with quality, look, and durability.

M@
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:54 PM   #7
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they have been called out about a million times. but for every guy that sees how much they suck, theres two kids who think theyre the best and ride their balls. im not saying that every single part they make is 100% **** but i do feel every single part they make, there is a part out there that is better AND cheaper.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IIdiceII View Post
they have been called out about a million times. but for every guy that sees how much they suck, theres two kids who think theyre the best and ride their balls. im not saying that every single part they make is 100% **** but i do feel every single part they make, there is a part out there that is better AND cheaper.

That's why I'm trying to post facts with detailed pics, and my own opinion as a welder/fabricator. I'm sure a lot of people who buy these things may not even know what they are looking at in terms of a properly made and welded piece.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:20 PM   #9
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ive seen ebay headers in better condition than that. thats really really, bad... OMG... for $1200, you sure it was not $200? lol


edit: also, i know ceramic coating does scratch real easy, so thats normal. as far as i know.

Last edited by patrick smith; 03-01-2010 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:57 PM   #10
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amr is grimey like that
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Old 03-01-2010, 11:43 PM   #11
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ill pass .
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrick smith View Post
ive seen ebay headers in better condition than that. thats really really, bad... OMG... for $1200, you sure it was not $200? lol


edit: also, i know ceramic coating does scratch real easy, so thats normal. as far as i know.

I handle GrimmSpeed ceramic coated parts on a daily basis and they don't scratch being installed and removed from cars... this thing did on my wood work bench.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:25 AM   #13
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I heard the AMR TMIC is really a SSAC TMIC.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:32 AM   #14
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They definitely need to hire a different welder.. and some quality control.
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:00 AM   #15
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Thats Weird I got there Un-equal lenth headers welds and quality where spot on and the customer service was above par. It is almost like we are talking about two totally diffrent shops here.
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Old 03-02-2010, 11:12 AM   #16
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We did apologize for the poor shape the header was in. We did refund the customer his FULL payment back for the inconvenience along with the offer to build him a new one.

This is what happens when you have a large staff. We did hire a new fabricator, who built that one header and unfortunately after receiving the header in such poor condition he no longer is employed here.

We have never had a problem like this before and will never have a problem like this again. Any one who has purchased our headers and have seen first hand they look nothing like what was posted in the photos.

We again apologize to the customer for time lost.
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:20 PM   #17
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New employee or not, that should of NEVER left your building, plain and simple. I HIGHLY doubt your "fabricator" boxed those up, so someone else had to see those before they went out...
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:41 PM   #18
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Whoever I spoke with on the phone said that he had built all of the headers, and that they were perfect. Getting a proper replacement wasn't an option as far as I knew, since I was told they would all be the same. When I asked if I should email pics to AMR originally, I was told not to bother.

I would like to see some other pictures (close up) of these headers before I accept that we got the one bad one out there.... not everything in the pics can be explained by a bad fabricator.
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:08 PM   #19
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The employee I talked to, Al I believe, told me (in between his rants) that he makes them himself. The whole experience was a joke. Time lost indeed
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:10 PM   #20
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what a POS, i wouldn't use there part if they GAVE them for me for free, dunno why people still bother
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:28 PM   #21
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LOL...Even cheap Ebay headers have better welds.
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:40 PM   #22
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lol thats hilarious, my 40 dollar ebay headers have better looking welds than that. having been a tube bending operator myself, those bends are a joke. You should have no problem being wrinkle free if you know how to adjust a bender, I've bent plenty of stainless tubing with better results on my setup pieces. To me it looks like they fabricators don't care about their work at all.
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:42 PM   #23
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This matter has been resolved the best it could be. A refund was issued, and the fabricator who made the part was let go. This really should not have been posted in the first place since it was resolved, and only after the refund was sent did the OP post this thread.

From other reviews this appears to be a once in a blue moon incident for the vendor, so we're closing this thread.

Last edited by Nick; 03-02-2010 at 03:38 PM.
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