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The front exhaust manifold on my 2002 Ford Escape is warped. The problem is the catalytic converter is integrated into the exhaust manifold so a new one is like $800 and you can't get them at either of the junk yards I go to.

I don't have the time or money to take it to a machine shop.

Are there any tricks I can use to get it fixed good enough to get back on the road?

Examples I thought of:

  • Use two gaskets on left and right cylinders but one gasket on middle cylinder

  • Coat the gasket in high temp manifold cement sort of like how you use RTV.

  • high grit sandpaper and some kind of custom rig to keep everything at right angles + a lot of manual labor to even it out.

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    I would make thicker gaskets and a little sealer on each gasket.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 20:02
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    I would also contact my local machine shop, they would face this off quickly and for a small fee. But I know my local shop... However, it is by far the better solution - trying to hand sand that amount will take you a while.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 20:23
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    Have you checked with a machine shop? You may find that it isn’t at all expensive to get it skimmed. I had a 5 cylinder exhaust manifold skimmed once, it didn’t take long and for a very reasonable price. Best do it properly than have to do it again.
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 22:28
  • @HandyHowie just what I said in my comment above...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 22:34
  • @SolarMike We agree then.
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 22:37

3 Answers 3

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In your images, it appears the right flange is lower that the other two. The reason I say this is because in the second picture, the left and middle flanges are level to your square with the right one being lower. In the third image, there is light between the left side of the center flange. This means it isn't in line with the right flange. With that said ...

The best/cheap way for you to get your manifold in good shape is to bond sandpaper to a flat piece of thick wood, then sand the manifold flat. You have to be careful when doing this to ensure you're hitting the high flanges (in your case the left and center flanges). Check your progress regularly with the square to ensure you're getting the desired outcome.

Secondly, you could use the double up gasket method as you're suggesting, but you'd need two under the right one and one under the other two.

Thirdly, Copper Permatex (high temp) might work, but you can expect it to fail at some point down the road. This would get you by, but you'd need to look for a more permanent solution.

Lastly, getting a replacement manifold from a "you pull it" wrecking yard for really cheap. You might check to see if you have something close to you which might have what you need, just to see if the price might be something you could afford.

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I would say there are two good choices, and several other choices. Find another junk yard or search on the internet for a flat manifold. Or, get it milled flat at a local machine shop. I had a four cylinder head milled flat several years ago and it must not have been very expensive because I can't remember the cost.

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I think I have the situation under control. I made this rig with my angle grinder and got it a lot flatter. I need to finish it up in the morning but I at least know it works. The four bolts on each corner go into a threaded insert in the wood and are supposed to make it easy to dial in the orientation of the grinder but it doesn't work very good so keeping it level is a real pain in the ass. Pardon my french. Anyways a little TLC and I think it'll be fine.

These pictures don't do it justice. It's awesome, trust me.

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