There are some things in life that seem like they will live on forever. And while there are a few we could probably do without-"I Love Lucy" reruns and Brennan's stories about the '74 Street Rod Nationals spring to mind-there are others, such as Stromberg 97 carburetors, that some of us would be lost without.

While Stromberg produced carburetors for a variety of manufacturers, the two-barrels most hot rodders are familiar with first appeared on 85hp Ford Flatheads in '34 with the model 40; the model 48 was introduced in '35 (the preceding were both rated at 170 cfm); and from '36 to early '38, 97s were installed (155 cfm), model 81s (125 cfm) were used on the V8-60s, and the LZs (160 cfm) were found on the Lincoln V-12s. Along with the units that were plopped on top of Flatheads at the Ford factory, Type I Stromberg 97s were manufactured by Bendix in South Bend, Indiana, as replacements for Holley 94s; most of these have the 97 logo. Replacement versions, designated the Type II, were manufactured by Bendix in Elmyra, New York, and have a 1-1 logo.

Of all the Stromberg carburetors that shared the same basic design, the 97 became the performance carburetor of choice. There were quite a few reasons for its popularity with hot rodders (not the least of which was the fact that 97s were plentiful and cheap). From a performance standpoint, multiple Strombergs worked well, and the jets were easy to change so tuning was simple. But while well regarded, these mixers certainly weren't perfect. The needles and seats were prone to sticking and leaking if too much fuel pressure was applied, resulting in fuel leaks and the engine running rich. Typically, the ham-fisted method of addressing those problems was to over-tighten the cover screws to stop the leaks (which simply served to warp the mating surface or strip the threads) or to bludgeon the float bowl area with whatever heavy object was handy in an attempt to free a float. This didn't solve the problem either, and only made the carburetor look like a gunnysack full of walnuts.

Certainly the carburetor casualty list was long due to mistreatment, but many received ill-advised modifications, like drilling out the passages for use with alcohol or nitro, that could make a good carburetor into a great doorstop. The net result is that good, rebuildable 97 cores are becoming more expensive today. However, there are a number of sources for kits, parts, and rebuilding services (check the source box) if you do find yourself the proud owner of rebuildable Strombergs. But if you want to top your street rod's engine with one or a bunch of 97s and can't come up with them, don't despair because they're available new.

After years of rumors, the Stromberg Carburetor Ltd. of England is producing new 97s and parts. The new carburetors combine the early style cast-iron base with the later Stromberg-style circuits for improved off-idle response, and they wear a big 97 logo. Like the originals, they come with 0.045-inch main jets and a number 65-power valve. There are also a variety of improvements, including a new air horn design with extra material around the float bowl lid to help prevent warping and the leaks that result, and a new, no-stick S-Jet inlet valve. The finish is correct pale lemon chromate with iridescent highlights and the bases have a black Parkerized/lacquered finish. The first batch of new 97s has been delivered, and while there have been some supply interruptions, we're told that is being handled and more are on the way.

If you now have new or used Strombergs on your street rod, or if there are some in its future, here are some sources for parts and services that should be helpful, along with a couple installation tips. Since there may be more than one source for the following pieces pictured, we've identified the specific suppliers of those shown at the end of those captions. With all this cool stuff available, Strombergs just may live forever.

SOURCE
Dick Crawford Designing
fittings, stacks & linkage
Stromberg Carburetor LTD.
Mooneyes
www.mooneyes.com
The Hot Rod Company
www.thehotrodcompany.com
O'Brien Truckers
29 A. Young Rd
Charlington
MA  01507
508-248-1555
Vintage Speed
1916 63rd Ct., Dept. SRM
Vero Beach
FL  32966
Speedway Motors
P.O. Box 81906
Lincoln
NE  68501
4-02/-474-4414
  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • View Full Article