Re: 350 Engine with Factory Exhaust Manifold
I would be willing to bet that they next time someone asks about putting headers on you will chime in and let them know about your experience.
You are wise to dump the headers....high maintance and they don't do any good for the RPM ranges we use on the trail.
The truth is, you have a couple of good options.....the main problem is that you need a center dumping manifold so that your exhaust will clear.....on my CJ (passenger side drop), I have to run the right side down under my oil pan where it meets up with the left side into a Y-pipe just behind the oil filter....I believe you have a drivers side drop...opposite problem....in either case, I don't know of anyone that can get a pipe down past the xfer case....unless you go down under...hence, the stock manifold that exits out the rear won't work.
Sanderson makes a block hugger header that exits out the center....down side is that you will still be tight for space....
My suggestion is stock GM Ram Head manifolds. I lucked out and found some 2 1/2" manifolds...but the 2" will be fine. Gives you plenty of wiggle room for exhaust pipes and makes it easy to work on. For gaskets, use the stock GM stainles steel gasket...it's actually 2 or 3 thin layers....muffler shops like to use them because they don't come back with issues.....and you can re-use it.