Finally got off my ass and replaced my entire exhaust from the manifold back. Pipes, cat, muffler, O2 sensors, hangers, everything. The thing runs better than ever. Its quiet and all the scary vibrations are gone. Its weird driving around without the warm familiar glow of the check engine light too.
Luckily I managed to get hoist access. Made work a lot easier.
Still took me and a coworker about 7 hours to get the thing done. Started off really easy, just sawzalling rusty bits off. Ran into our first issue when we couldn't get one of the front pipe nuts off. Eventually I asked one of the techs in the shop to borrow a turbosocket, but not before over an hour of struggling with it myself. Then the rear most tailpipe hanger was a bitch and a half to install. Its some stupid design that has no reason to exist. Then we discovered that Rockauto sent me the wrong size donut gasket for the exhaust manifold, luckily we discovered that while the local auto parts store was still open and we were able to get a replacement. And the tailpipe didn't seem to have enough length to fit into the muffler and be on its hanger at the same time so we fiddled with it as good as we could and wedged it together with a exhaust clamp. Been 3 weeks and 500ish miles and its been holding so I'm calling that a win.
Still planning on replacing this thing. Was hoping to have the replacement this month, but certain elements didn't work out. Targeting mid February right now. Details to come.