Heat Shield Installation Instructions

Our exhaust heat shields are a prototypical scale 48” in length and 180 degree coverage and made of finely etched stainless steel. The material is quite strong and somewhat stiff; bending them without creating an undesired crease can be a little tricky. We experimented with different tools, techniques, and methods and have determined the following sequence as our recommended guidelines on bending and forming these heat shields. We want to specifically thank fellow modelers Jim Groeneweg and Brad Hassler for their tips and contributions to these instructions! If you have any helpful tips to pass along to your fellow modelers we’re happy to post them here and give you all the deserved credit for your ideas.

Recommended Tools –

  • Self healing cutting mat
  • Hobby knife with NEW, sharp blade
  • Cyanoacrylate glue (Loctite Ultragel Control shown)
  • Round nose pliers
  • Round shaft, 2 mm (smaller screwdriver shown above)
  • Round shaft, 3 mm (larger screwdriver shown above)
  • Tweezers
  • Straight edge razor blade (just in case)
  • File (not shown)

Jim Groeneweg’s set of tools above

  • Screwdriver, 2 mm shaft
  • Screwdriver, 3 mm shaft
  • Drill bits, shouldered, appropriate diameter (may require experimentation)
  • ”Jig” – plastic I-beam from Heljan scale steel accessory

Brad Hassler’s set of tools

  • X-Acto needle file
  • Duckbill pliers, smooth jaws (not shown)

  1. Remove the heat shields from the fret using a new, sharp hobby knife such as an X-Acto No. 1 knife with a No. 11 blade. Cut on the etched side of the runner attaching the heat shield to the fret as close to the heat shield as possible to minimize cleanup. Refer to photo above
  2. Once both heat shields are removed from the fret, using a file, smooth the edges where the heat shield was attached to the fret. If you intend to photograph your models for print or web publication this is a critical step to avoid the attaching points from showing in your photographs!

  1. We have experimented with a multitude of pliers and tools to correctly shape these heat shields and have found what works best for us are round nose pliers with tapered tips commonly used for jewelry making found online (Amazon is a great source) or locally at craft stores or beading supply shops, Refer to photo above

One interesting note: we tried wire looping pliers (shown above) that visually appear to be exactly the shape and contour to shape the heat shield properly but found they simply do not perform the desired function; we advise you avoid them unless you already have access to a pair and just want to satisfy your own curiosity! If you really want a pair and just can’t live without them, we’ll make you a deal on ours!

  1. We begin the shaping process by carefully introducing a slight curvature on each end using the round nose pliers. The intent is to gently introduce the curvature without a crease in the center of the heat shield. Be sure and start the curvature perpendicular to the ends (i.e. not at an angle). It is not intended to completely shape the curvature using the pliers; you only want to start the curvature without a crease! Refer to photos above

  1. Jim’s version of initial shaping using his jig and drill bit shank also begins the shaping process by carefully introducing a slight curvature. Again, the intent is to gently introduce the curvature without a crease in the center of the heat shield. Be sure and start the curvature perpendicular to the ends (i.e. not at an angle). It is not intended to completely shape the curvature using the jig and drill bit shank; you only want to start the curvature without a crease! Refer to photos above

  1. Due to the tapered tips on the round jaw pliers we use it is extremely difficult to achieve a nice even curved shape. For final shaping, we’ve found that shaping or rolling the edges over a cylindrical object of approximately 2 mm (0.0775”) diameter after you’ve started the curvature with the round nose pliers as described in Step 4 achieves this without too much additional effort. We have a small screwdriver with this shaft size that we’ve found to work very well! You may find it helpful to finish shaping around a 3 mm (0.1175”) cylinder for the final curvature (the larger screwdriver shaft in our tool photo). Jim Groeneweg also uses a screwdriver shank for this final shaping and Brad Hassler uses the X-Acto needle file shank for shaping. Refer to photo above

  1. Test fit your shaped heat shield to the intended muffler and confirm the fit is acceptable (we strive for a perfect fit but sometimes “acceptable” is the best we can achieve). Don’t be too concerned if your heat shields are not a perfect semi-circle; in the real world of the prototype they get bent and banged up with time and exposure to maintenance activities and on the road mishaps.

  1. After you’ve determined the fit is acceptable, position the heat shield in the desired location on the muffler and cement in place using CA (cyanoacrylate) glue (we like Loctite Ultragel Control glue). You may find it helpful to position the heat shield with the muffler/exhaust stack in place to accurately place it. Shown above is our installation on an Athearn Freightliner; below is Jim Groeneweg’s installation on an Athearn Kenworth W900 with additional vertical grab handle.

We welcome your feedback, both on our products and these installation instructions. Thanks again to Jim Groeneweg and Brad Hassler for their contributions to these instructions! If you have a suggestion for improvement, helpful hint, or just a comment, please send us your comments through our Contact Us page.