Forever a classic, this 1932 Ford High Boy certainly plays the part. Dressed in basic black with red wheels this one is subtle but sure has the right balance of chrome and paint. Its triple Stromberg carburetors with progressive linkage makes driving around town a breeze, yet extra power is there when you need it.
Strombergs-on-a-flathead is a difficult package to tune. Strombergs have a natural tendency to want to stall on hard braking. With three carburetors you’ve got triple the trouble. Getting the right balance of idle speed and low speed drivability is key to success. This car is not meant for high speed (and will not likely see it) so it is best to focus on getting it to run best where it is going to live its life. This is likely cruising around town on the weekends, either to the grocery store, a car show, or just driving slow downtown.
I set the linkage up so it is progressive. This means that below a certain throttle angle (how far you are pushing the accelerator pedal), only the center carburetor is supplying fuel and air into the engine. As the throttle is depressed further towards wide open, the other two carbs begin to open and now all three are supplying the mix to the engine.
This does a couple of important things. The job of the throttle body (the butterflies on the carb) is to regulate the amount of air coming into the engine. When you are controlling air flow with just one throttle body (instead of all three) you have more finite control of the amount of air coming into the engine. The torque output of the engine is directly proportional to the amount of air entering the engine. What this means is that when you are below that certain throttle angle where you are running on just the center carb, the torque output of the engine is very easily controlled. It makes the car easy to drive downtown. That’s a good thing because in this car, you have enough on your hands dealing with the clutch and brakes.
When you are ready to go all-out, step the go pedal all the way to the floor and let all three Strombergs rip. In this area of the throttle, it’s kind of like on on-off switch. It’s either all or nothing. The three throttles now open wide, belches out that gravelly flathead roar. Let off the pedal and it turns to deep noise with the occasional metallic pop as fuel burns off in the exhaust.
Driving the car takes all of your attention. The steering is vague at best. The steering wheel is huge yet still requires high effort. Around town it certainly is manageable and gets a lot of looks. This is where it was meant to be driven. On the freeway it is a little sketchy, but once you get the hang of it cruising becomes effortless. Stomp on the gas and it gets downright scary about 90 mph. After 100 – let’s just say I won’t be doing that again.
The brakes on this example are four wheel drums. Drums are notoriously difficult. Any difference in braking force from wheel to wheel is going to cause a pull and drum brakes are famous for this. They require constant adjustment and are hard to ever get right. Stopping distances are long so plan ahead.
Somewhere along the way, everyone forgot how to work on drum braked cars. Even our guys, who see them all the time, struggle. We are doing much better now that figured out a better method for arcing we call the ‘Fultz’ method (named after Chris Fultz, one of the finest collector car mechanics in the country). If you are interested in knowing our secret, send me an email and I’ll fill you in.
Overall, this car was a lot of fun and certainly a fun project.