Blueflame Performance Engineering Ltd
My day with Blueflame appeared to be starting quite well. The unit is located on a large industrial estate, which is controlled by a one-way road system. I managed to find the unit on the first attempt and for the pre-arranged time of 9:30. However on my arrival the sight of a Director outside pushing a broom greeted me. Unfortunately the firm had suffered a power cut and everyone was doing tidying jobs to pass the time as none of the machinery would work. Nigel (the director) apologised and showed me to the waiting room to await the arrival of the electrician. An hour and a half later the electrician arrived and within minutes the power was back on.
The car was brought in and placed on the ramps (they had nifty little add on bits on the ramps to enable cars with low fronts access without ripping spoilers/splitters off) and the disassembly of the old system could begin. I had discussed with Nigel on the phone my requirements for the system and these where related to the fitter who would be building the system. They appear to geared up for producing any type of system that you require. I wanted something similar looking to the original system but with an exit pipe on each side of the car (I had already modified the rear valance to accept this). I chose a 3 diameter slash cut, rolled edge, tail trim but again there was a lot of choice on sizes and designs for the trims. They had also agreed to replace the old system from the turbo back, which on my car was just a piece of pipe but on the later cars may include the cat replacement pipe (you would need to confirm this in the price with Blueflame).
The discussions over, the fitter could start work getting the old system off. Other than a couple of the nuts being a bit seized and the minimal access to some of the bolts holding the silencer on this seemed to come off fairly easily and I was soon met by the sight of a rust coloured piece of steel. Here was my first surprise; the weight of these things is incredible. When people discuss sports silencers and the weight of the old system you never truly believe them till you actually pick one up. It weighs a ton!! Im not sure what the weight saving is but it must be quite a bit.
With the old system off the work could begin on the new one. As this system is custom built in-situ on the car it would be very difficult to keep bending a piece of pipe to get 100% correct fit. They therefore have a large supply of pre-bent pipe, which can be joined to get the correct size and fitment (they have a machine that shrinks the edges to make them a smooth push fit). When the fitter started I got my next surprise. The bits of pipe he started to collect appeared massive in diameter in comparison with the old one. I kept quiet and continued to watch. He selected the pipe he required, cut, rolled, offered up, re-cut etc till he had the shape he wanted. He then offered it up for a final test before welding on the end pieces (for bolting to the turbo and silencer) and welding up the joint. Unlike some systems this entire pipe was also stainless (though not polished) and at this point I asked about the pipe diameter. He had used 3 pipe for this part. This is where the largest part of the performance gain was to be achieved, as it would allow much better breathing for the turbo. Once this part was finished (approx 1pm) it was time for lunch.
On the fitters return it was time to start on the creation of the back box and exit pipes. To save on the fitters time a large amount of back boxes are pre-made but with no internals. These are made from mirror finish high grade stainless and look ace (even though they have a protective covering at this point). Having selected the required size the fitter then began to make up the internals of the box and attach the end caps. I didnt watch the packing of the box and attaching of the end caps but you can see from the pictures the finished result. With this part complete he then fabricated some brackets to weld to the box to utilise the original mounting points. This complete, the box was offered up and bolted in place. The next stage involved the fabrication of the exit pipes. Again these were made from pre-bent pieces of pipe, which were then tack welded into the required position (once edges rolled etc). The final part was the attachment of the tail trim pieces to finish off the look. The pictures show this process better than description. Once the fitter was happy with the alignment and confirmed I was happy with how it looked, he took the whole system off to seam weld every single joint. I assume this was done using a special welding wire (not sure here) as the whole thing is still in stainless. Happy with all the welds etc, the fitter then cleaned up and polished the system before refitting it to the car. The weight difference was very noticeable and all of the fixing bolts used were also in stainless. With the system in place and the underside photos done, the car was lowered down for the moment of truth. She started at the first touch and the exhaust note was wonderful, a nice deep base rumble and not at all Max Power. The grin factor was very high as I reversed off the ramps. The time was 6:30 and the fitter had put in a bit of overtime to make up for the time lost in the morning with the power cut. Payment was made and some more photos were taken (by me and them) and it was time for the drive home. This was uneventful and the difference the exhaust made was noticeable. The pick up was quicker and the car felt livelier. It also sounded much, much better and it burbled away quite happily on over-run. The fitment is great and in my opinion looks like it was originally made that way by Lotus (why they didnt do this in the first place I dont know!!).
In conclusion I am very happy with the exhaust and feel that I have had great value for money. All of the welds are very good (wish I could do that) and the system looks the part. I would say though, that Blueflame are not really geared up to having a visitor sit and watch throughout the process. The facilities are very basic and you either need to take some food and drink, catch the sandwich van that comes around, or walk across the estate to the burger van for refreshments. However, the staff are quite friendly and answered all my questions (some of which may have sounded daft) and were very apologetic about the power cut. Without the inconvenience of the power cut the system would have been finished within the normal working day.
The cost of this little exercise was a very competitive £350 and my car is a 1989 Turbo. They have fitted systems to both V8s and other 4 cylinder cars so should be able to cater for all tastes. I would suggest unless you really want to watch the build that you drop the car off to them and then disappear elsewhere for the day. All in all a very good mod that Im really happy with, which increases both performance and looks and sounds just right. The fitter suggested that the power gain would be approx 10 to 11 BHP but without the second pipe would have been 12 to 13 BHP. Other than putting it on a dyno I cant test these claims but it is quicker. Oh and they have some nifty little Blueflame stickers which Ive attached to my lower sills. Big thanks to all at Blueflame and also to Yahoo! Group member Dave Walters.
If you use Blueflame. Feel free to e-mail me with your opinion on them and I can add it to this page. email@example.com.
Can I say that when I first contacted Blueflame [Nigel]
I was very apprehensive of what they were going to do to my beloved
Esprit as it was very poorly, but having had it re-covered via RAC to
them and getting a call back to advise that my car was there I was a
little happier as not having use them before,
I have just got back from Blueflame exahasts to have straight through pipes to replace my cats on a V8GT. Firtstly blue flame were excellent.....they started work at about 9 ish and had some major problems getting the old cats off. After that they knocked up two custom pipes which look excellent and I was on my way home at about 1500 Hrs....the cost £200 incl. VAT.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether removing the CATS on a V8GT trigger the CEL........my car has the upgraded sports 350 code/ hi torque code and the CEL light has NOT been triggered.
As expected noise is significantly increased........it sounds awesome when opened up above 3000 RPM but below that sounds more like a tractor! I will live with it for a couple of months and at the same time look to get some high flow cats put into my old CAT pipes. However performance wise there is a noticeable increase in power....particularly in 4th and 5th gear where before it was quick now its Bloody quick.
Finally the reason that started all this off was that I thought I had an air inleak due to major loss of power and a air blowing noise coming from within the plenum chamber. I posted this
Ive been having a few turbo related problems on my V8. I have replaced both wastegate actuators over the last month or so. Now I have a new problem........severe drop in power and loud whistling noise at anything above 1800 RPM. Car idles fine. Seems like a leak between the turbo outlet and plenum chamber. It must be before the airflow sensor (anyone know where this is on the V8?) otherwise it wouldn't idle properly. Spent some time looking around and worringly the whistling appears to come from within the plenum chamber. Has anyone had a similar problem or can offer advice?
Andy Blackwell responded and explained he had experienced the same problem which turned out to be a blocked cat......and when I checked both outlet pipes on my cat one was emitting gas at a significantly higher pressure than the other. By the time I got to blueflame this morning the whistling had become a screeching and I very much thought that there must be something else wrong....but no......was purely down to the left hand CAT being blocked. I'm still struggling to explain why the whistling noise appeared at the plenum and no where else ????
I took some pictures and will pop them over to Kato to update his section on blueflame exhausts. A big thankyou to Rob Ellis and Neil Mcdonnell whose advice led me to blueflame and to Risk the CEL being triggered. In terms of blueflame would recommend them to anyone....fantastic guys.
One very happy (although slighty deaf) V8GT owner!
1999 V8 GT"