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Exhaust Stacks 101

Have you ever wondered what the pipe coming out of the bed of a pickup truck is called? Did you know the first product I built was an Exhaust Stack for my 2005 Ram 2500? In 2016, I was beginning to build my truck, and I wanted a set of stacks. I searched online, but couldn't find anyone to make them for a reasonable price, so I went to a local welding shop to have a set made. After I installed them, they instantly attracted attention, with dozens of people coming up to ask where I got them from. I told them I built them and could build a set for them.

With several orders and zero knowledge of metalwork or welding, I set off to learn how to weld. Luckily, I had a high-school welding class that next semester. Fast forward eight years, and exhaust stacks are our second-best-selling product. But people still have questions about what they are and whether they should be reserved for semi trucks.

What are Exhaust Stacks?

Exhaust stacks, also known as smoke stacks, are pipes that route through and into the bed, where the exhaust gases are blown up and away from the truck. Think of a stack as a longer exhaust tip in the bed rather than under the truck.

Why do people run exhaust stacks?

Exhaust stacks can make the sound of your exhaust much louder and deeper than an exhaust tip. Another reason is for looks. Stacks give a distinct look to a truck build you can’t get with any other mod. Installing exhaust stacks onto your truck is a surefire way to make your truck stand out.

How do you install exhaust stacks?

Exhaust stacks are essentially longer exhaust tips so that you can use the exhaust already on your truck. All you have to do is set your stack in the bed where you want it and drill a hole big enough for the exhaust pipe. Then, connect the stack to your exhaust pipe using a 90* elbow and a piece of pipe. It’s a simple process, but it’s not easy. It will likely take 1-2 hours for an experienced mechanic to install.

TSO Octagon Exhaust Stack vs Round Smoke Stack

There are two main mounting styles. The traditional stack has a tapered inlet. With this style, you run the exhaust pipe through the bed and into the stack. Since the stack isn’t bolted to the bed, you must use a clamp that mounts to the top of the bed rail. We don’t like this option for two reasons: it doesn’t look good, and they are prone to rattling.

We use a double baseplate mounting system where one baseplate is welded to the stack with a separate baseplate and an inlet welded on. This design offers several advantages.

  • Makes installation a breeze since you can see EXACTLY where the stack will be once installed.
  • You can switch between 4” and 5” exhausts without buying a new stack. All you need is a properly sized inlet plate.
  • You can change the stack configuration from a single stack to a shotgun stack.
  • Cleaner install because all you see is the stack.
  • Rigid with zero rattling since it mounts directly to the bed floor.

Are exhaust stacks only for diesel trucks?

No, BUT that doesn’t mean you should run one on a gas truck. Running a stack on a gas truck is like squatting your truck. Don’t do it. We only offer exhaust stacks for diesel trucks.

What options are available for exhaust stacks?

Exhaust stacks come in many shapes and sizes. We specialize in building Octagon Exhaust Stacks, but you can find a round stack. You will typically find stacks running in sizes from 6” up to 10” with lengths of 32” to 40”. The bigger the stack, the louder and deeper the sound will be. The most popular lengths are 36” and 40”. These lengths position the stack just under or right at the top of the cab.

What is the difference between a Miter and a Cat Stack?

TSO Octagon Exhaust Stack on a 2108 Ford F250 on a Kelderman Air Ride Suspension

A miter stack is a straight pipe with an angle cut, typically 45*. This style blows the smoke straight up the stack. One downside to a miter stack is rain. Since the stack is straight up and down, water can fall down the stack. Once you turn the truck on, soot water is blown all over your truck. This can be eliminated by drilling a few small holes in the bottom of the 90* pipe or by placing a cover over the stack while it rains.

TSO Octagon Cat Stack with an americna flag

A cat stack is a stack that angles at the top, shooting the exhaust gases away/behind the truck. Caterpillar first popularized this style on their heavy machinery, hence the name. The angled top practically eliminates rain getting into your exhaust, unless it is raining sideways of course. Due to increased production costs, cat stacks are slightly more expensive than miter stacks.

Trash-A-Way installed on a TSO 8" Octagon Exhaust Stack

How do I keep people from throwing trash down my stack?

Keeping someone from throwing trash down your stack is almost impossible with a traditional stack. You run the risk of trash burning to the inside of your stack. This can limit exhaust flow, causing your EGTs to rise. At TSO, all exhaust stacks come with a Trash-A-Way plate welded in the stack. This keeps the trash towards the top of the stack so it can easily be blown off when starting your truck.

TSO Exhaust Stacks are constructed from heavy gauge steel, almost twice as thick as traditional stacks. Our stacks are then powder coated using a four-stage process to ensure the finish quality your truck deserves. We offer a range of styles and colors so you can match your stack to your build. Click here to see how you can transform the look and sound of your truck with a TSO Exhaust Stack.