(Published September 11, 2010)
Now that the Black Halo Racing Midpipe is in regular production and things are going smoothly with them, we at Black Halo Racing wanted to share with all of you the processes, trials, and tribulations we endured in order to make such a seemingly simple product and why it took 14 months before we got it right.
In the Spring of 2009, during one of Arizona's famously beautiful evenings, Charles was in the garage building a bunch of BHR Ignition Systems when he heard several cars approach his house. Knowing that he had no warrants issued for his arrest (this time!) he wandered out to the driveway to see 4-5 guys approaching him with folding chairs, looking like they planned on staying for a while. Since this group included other BHR team members, Charles figured it must be some sort of "intervention" and immediately recalled the sketch from "Chappelle's Show" where Tyrone Biggums receives his own intervention. The difference was that there was no toilet for Charles to flush himself down and escape the brow-beating this group was about to heap upon him.
Up until this point, Charles never saw the need to develop a BHR Midpipe because he felt the market was saturated with them already and the available products were sufficient to satisfy the market's needs. This was what the guys intended to enlighten him about. The fact was, Charles had already been looking at various resonators available in the supply chain, and saw a couple interesting versions, but never felt the need to investigate further.
The gang began to regale Charles with all sorts of reasons why he should strongly consider having BHR develop and offer our own midpipe and the reasons were as varied as they were plentiful. Charles listened and then responded with the same set of criteria that are used to evaluate whether BHR pursues any of our product development or not;
1) We must be able to build a unique version that is obviously different from anything yet offered. 2) We must be able to build a more durable version of whatever we are offering. 3) We must do it as inexpensive as possible while still making it a worthwhile effort for the team.
These are the main criterion that go into every original product offered by Black Halo Racing.
Once the discussion was over, Charles agreed to pursue the BHR Midpipe idea, which started with purchasing the Moroso 92055 Race Muffler as it has a very unique design which uses no internal packing.
He then removed the resonator from his catless Bonez midpipe (which included a typical straight-through resonator design that every other midpipe offered currently uses), which was purchased several years earlier and served his needs quite well, and installed the Moroso unit. The results were exactly as he had hoped and expected; deeper tone, smoother and quiter sound, and great fitment underneath the car. Todd's interpretations while using the prototype BHR Midpipe were spot-on as far as the tone that was generated by the design that Moroso uses for their race muffler; the midpipe with this muffler had created a whole new sound from the Renesis engine and one that was universally pleasing and acceptably quiet at the same time. Todd also loved driving through freeway tunnels and close to retaining walls while revving his Renesis to 9,000 RPMs and listening to the unfettered sound of this prototype midpipe. (We think you will, too.)
We also organized a Sunday afternoon where our prototype midpipe was to be tried on several RX-8s, with different cat-backs on each one, and different expectations from each owner. Summary; everyone loved what they heard and each cat-back (even the OEM unit) had new life breathed into it.
The guys at BHR then purchased several more Moroso 92055 mufflers and installed them on their own cars. The same outcome was repeated and we all drove our cars around for a month or two before we were satisfied that they withstood the durability element.
So, we announced a new BHR Midpipe and sold 7 of them right away.
We built these 7 pipes and shipped them out to their happy recipients. This is where things went sour......
Shortly after installing the BHR Midpipes on their cars, we started getting calls/e-mails from those first 7 customers that there was a strange "rattling"/"buzzing" sound emanating from inside the Moroso muffler. In a couple cases, a guitar pick-sized piece of metal was ejected from the exhaust system.
We had those faulty midpipes shipped back to us and cut one of the mufflers open, lengthwise. We discovered that the welding Moroso used to secure the internal baffling to the muffler case was inferior, as well as discovering the gauge of the baffling plates was insufficient to withstand the unique characteristics of a rotary engine's exhaust output.
Charles contacted Moroso to discuss the situation and the fact that there was a hungry and excited market for our midpipes to be equipped with their muffler. Moroso asked to have the faulty mufflers sent back to them for evaluation. Moroso also expressed grave concern, initially, and promised to redesign the mufflers per BHR's specifications/concerns and replace every bad muffler we had. Moroso built two modified mufflers and they were utter failures, as well. Shortly after this, Moroso stopped responding to Charles's e-mails about Moroso's promise to replace all 7 mufflers and the next chapter in "The Saga of the BHR Midpipe" will clearly indicate why Charles no longer cares about Moroso's promises.
Along the way, one of the customers whom Charles endearingly referred to as "The Magnificent Seven" (because they had purchased those first 7 midpipes on nothing more than BHR's reputation) discovered who it was that may have actually originated and patented the design that Moroso was using for their muffler. This moment was pivotal in the development of the BHR Midpipe because BHR were about to give up on the entire idea of developing their own midpipe.
Charles called the gentleman whose name was forwarded to him and the ensuing conversation turned the entire situation around. BHR were back to full-on development of the Black Halo Racing Catless Midpipe!
The story that Charles heard regarding the design of the race muffler BHR is exclusively using in the BHR Midpipe was very typical of the performance aftermarket industry and it essentially involves a seemingly "large" company with a huge market presence blatantly violating patent law and copying the ideas of a smaller company with a much smaller presence. This is a principle that does not sit well with the guys at Black Halo Racing.
Further, the gentleman to whom Charles was speaking (upon hearing that these mufflers would be used on a rotary engine application) addressed every single concern the guys at BHR had before Charles even had a chance to express what their concerns were. At this point, Charles KNEW he was talking to the right guy and that the BHR Midpipe was going to redefine what people expected out of midpipes for rotary applications.
As such, if one were to compare the BHR Resonator/Muffler to the previously-mentioned Moroso unit one would see much better materials used (14 ga. instead of 16 ga. stainless steel), far better weld penetration, and longer weld beads on the deflector plates inside the resonator/muffler.
The result was a very quiet, pleasingly smooth, and intimidatingly deep tone with no more "rasp" from the Black Halo Racing Midpipe for the RX-8. A somewhat unexpected, albeit beneficial, outcome was also that our midpipe allows each cat-back system with which it is used (even the OEM system) to retain it's original tone and character, causing their owners to fully appreciate the sound of their chosen cat-back system (in many cases, for the first time since they installed their cat-back systems).
Since the Black Halo Racing Midpipe uses a resonator which has no internal packing, and our resonator builder has the highest quality standards we have seen, we at BHR expect these midpipes to also retain their original tone/character for the life of the car.