By JOLENE CRAIG
WASHINGTON - A request from a product supplier has become a labor of love for a local business owner as decorative exhaust pipe tips become more popular.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Marshall Ferguson, owner of the Lubeck Service Center in Washington, has created the Steel Images line of colored and patterned exhaust tips for vehicles of all shapes and sizes.
Photo by Jolene Craig
The full line of Steel Images exhaust tips is available through Advanced Auto Parts, 910 Division St., with a display case to show the designs and colors readily available, although everyone has the opportunity to have exhaust tips specially made.
Mitchell Ferguson, owner of the Lubeck Service Center, has created the Steel Images product line, a variety of sizes of exhaust pipe tips available in any color or design wanted by the customer.
"We were asked by an exhaust supplier back in November to see if it was possible to create a decorative exhaust cover," Ferguson said. "It has taken a little bit, but I think we have the right product."
Ferguson was told by his supplier that another company had tried to make exhaust covers of vinyl wrapping that would melt from the heat of the exhaust pipe almost instantly.
* A Wood County businessman has created a decorative way to cover exhaust pipes with the creation of Steel Images exhaust tips.
* Marshall Ferguson, owner of the Lubeck Service Center on Harris Highway, said he was asked in November last year to create the exhaust tips by his exhaust supplier because people had asked for the product.
"We knew it wouldn't be that simple and started to design our tips," he said. "We had to redesign the tip and design to be able to take the heat from the engine's exhaust."
The stainless steel exhaust tips consist of inner and outer tubes, separated by an air gap and air holes to allow the outer tube to remain cooler for the color and designs to not be harmed by the heat. The outer tube uses a hydrographic transfer to put the pattern or paint the color on a ceramic, urethane and clear coat base before a similar blend is placed on the top and the pipe tip is fired.
"We have filed for a design patent," Ferguson said. "When our supplier asked me to do this, I figured it would be a pretty easy project, but once I started, I realized it was anything but easy."
The exhaust tips are made in all sizes for small and passenger cars, sedans, sports utility vehicles and pick-up trucks.
"I also plan to build a larger cooker to be able to make 36-inch big rig stacks," Ferguson said.
Because the pipes can be designed and decorated to order for each customer, Ferguson said the possibilities of how they can look is limitless.
"Not only can we make any color, but we can also do silk screens of any design for school mascots or company logos," he said. "We can also design and create a pattern for people, but it will take a little more time."
The pipes are on display and available through both the Lubeck Service Center, 3005 Harris Highway, and Advance Auto Parts on Division Street in south Parkersburg.
Ferguson said the Steel Images website, camouflageexhaust.com, has received traffic from around the country and Germany.
"There is nothing like this on the market," Ferguson said. "The closest thing are black powder-coated tips and these are more versatile."
With the interest, Ferguson said he is in talks with Advance Auto Parts with the possibility of going national.
"Right now, we are waiting to see how sales and interest goes before things move," he added.