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Ron’s Tripowers

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Ron’s Tripowers
Ron Kellogg
Cell 309-256-2550
309-579-2278

Chevytripower.com

Chevy Ford including Flatheads Olds Pontiac Mopar including Hemi

Official Offenhauser Dealer

I have been active in the street rod hobby for many years. I was active in a small car club, Slowpokes, in the Peoria, Illinois area starting in the 60s. Our club put on the first Street Rod Nationals in 1970 in Goodfield, Illinois. I drove the 31 Ford Roadster you see below and have driven it to every Street Rod Nationals since. That’s 34 years, 34 shows, all in the old 31.

I enjoy attending swap meets and have been buying, restoring, and selling vintage one-piece aluminum wheels for many years. In the last five years, the vintage wheels, including, E.T., American Racing, Appliance, Halibrand, etc., have become very popular, almost too popular. Besides the fact that used wheels are becoming difficult to find, companies have begun reproducing them. I still have over 100 vintage wheels available, but the supply seems to be drying up here in the mid-west.

For many years, I have been buying used tripower intakes and piecing together small block Chevy units. Often, I was able to buy 348 Chevy, or the old Olds J-2 tripower carbs to rebuild and use on the intakes. These carbs as well as the old SBC intakes have also, like the wheels, been getting difficult to find and costly.

 

When I discovered that Offenhauser was offering NEW intakes, made from the original molds, I became very interested. The older, used intakes I was buying were often made for the old 3 bolt Stromberg. I was MIG welding the holes and re-drilling for the 4 bolt, more dependable Rochester carbs. I was drilling, taping, and using helicoids to get the intakes functional again. I bought a new Offenhauser intake to see if it was as good as the old ones. It was new, perfect, and identical to the original. I was sold.

I am now stocking new intakes with and without the oil filler tube. I also carry the Offenhauser valve covers. (see picture) Both are made from the original molds.

My goal is to make tripowers with as many new parts as possible to look good and function perfectly. I use stainless and aluminum parts wherever possible and replate or refinish every rod and lever to make the unit look clean and sharp. I want your tripower to be a bolt-on unit that will provide years of dependable operation.

For more specific information about the SBC tripowers, see “Complete Tripowers for Sale” section.

 

Check out my other car, a 68 Corvette which also runs a tripower.

 

Tripower Myths

MYTH: I can pick up a tripower intake, mount three regular 2 bbls, run rubber lines to a fuel block, make some linkage, and have a nice tripower that runs just fine.

 

Fact: I hear this often when people look at the cost of my units. It is certainly possible to do and I have tried it myself, years ago. Regular 2 bbls can be made to function in the end location. In fact, I can supply the parts and advice to help you with that process. Regular 2 bbls are made to idle, and to provide and extra surge of fuel at low manifold vacuum (via power valve.)

 

Consequently, regular 2 bbls have thin throttle blades (3/32″) that do not shut completely. If they did, the motor would have no air or fuel and die. They also have idle circuits. A tripower end carb has thicker throttle blades (5/32″) that close and seal tightly. Why? With no idle circuits, any air leaking past the throttle blades constitutes a vacuum leak, causing a lean condition.

 

When people run three regulars 2 bbls, they often screw shut the idle screws on the end carbs. Then, they are forced to richen up the idle on the center carb in attempt to compensate for the lean condition. Driving down the highway with this mixture cannot be a good thing.

 

Certainly, linkage can be made to work using three regulars 2 bbls. I have seen some creative uses of rods and levers to accomplish this. However, it looks cluttered and homemade. Actual tripower end carbs have a throttle shaft that protrudes on the passenger side. This allows linkage to run on the passenger side. Most street rodders prefer this as it is the vintage look.

 

Remember the old Ansen linkage? There were many companies that made tripower linkage kits not only for streetrodders, but to convert the old vacuum linkage to mechanical. Many Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles came with vacuum activated linkage that was not responsive. Solution? Go to your speed shop and get a set of progressive mechanical linkage.

 

Certainly, it is possible to get by with a tripower using three regulars 2 bbls. But, unless it is done correctly, the potential risks faced make this a poor choice. I can assist you I am doing the job correctly, supplying the parts and advice to do the job. See the section “Parts for Sale” for the parts you need to do the conversion yourself.

 

MYTH Tripowers are always problematic and hard to keep in tune.

 

FACT I don’t know where this started, but you hear it often repeated at car shows and swap meets. Think about it–a tripower is made up of 3 very simple 2-barrel carbs. The center carb supplies the fuel always, except under full throttle. The end carbs are extremely simple. They have no idle circuits, no power valve, or power piston, and no choke.

 

I do believe that even when these units were new they frightened many mechanics and owners. I hear many stories at swap meets about people having difficulty with their tripowers back in the 60s. Many stories end with, “So, I took it off and put on a 4 bbl.” This was not necessary if they had only been able to find a mechanic who understood these relatively simple units.
MYTH The carburetors must be “calibrated.”

 

FACT What? Maybe a set of Weber side-drafts. I’ve got an original motor manual from GM–no mention of calibration. The only adjustment on end carbs is the float, and I suppose the rod to the accelerator pump. You adjust the center carb exactly as if the car had a 2 barrel.
MYTH Tripower cars are prone to catching on fire.

 

 

FACT Well, there is some basis for this. Notice that Pontiac (as well as Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Cadillac) used metal fuel lines. When owners rebuilt the carbs, these had to be disassembled. There are many opportunities for leaks. On an SBC tripower with a common fuel block, I count 12 sites for possible leaks, versus 2 for a 4 barrel. Yes, back in the 60’s the red translucent lines were popular.

Most tripowers I buy at swap meets or from individuals have rubber lines or evidence of them. Don’t ever use rubber fuel lines on a tripower. I have seen streetrodders run those old red lines over new aluminum lines on their tripower for the nostalgia look. That makes sense.

 

MYTH I can take my tripower carbs to the local carb rebuilder, he can rebuild them, he said so.

FACT Don’t let anyone who isn’t familiar with these carbs touch them!! Yes, they can rebuild them and set the floats. But, unless they understand tripowers, they won’t know if your carbs are right in the first place. They can’t offer you any advice.

 

I recently got an e-mail asking for help. He had had a local mechanic rebuild the tripower on a car he had just bought, a 60 Pontiac. It still did not run right. He sent me pictures of the unit. The end carbs were regular Rochester 2 bbls that had not been converted. All three had power valves and idle circuits. It did not idle right. When all three carbs opened, so much fuel entered the manifold that the engine would almost die. His mechanic char