Taking Your Air Breathers to New Heights and Dimensions

By Gerry Burger – Photography by the Author

Let’s face it, when it comes to hot rod motors nothing says performance quite like multiple carburetors. Even the uninitiated can gaze under an open hood and announce with authority … “wow, dual-quads” or “three deuces,” tri-power for Pontiac lovers, and the list goes all the way up to six-twos. Of course, having owned my fair share of cars with multiple carbs—and I even own one with “dual-quads” that are actually dual EFI units—I fully understand that while performance may be enhanced, the bigger impact often comes in the form of hot rod eye candy.

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Of course, the perfect fit of the carburetors took some work. The induction system is a brand-new Mopar 340 Six-Pack arrangement. The air breathers would need to be lifted and moved fore and aft to achieve perfect spacing.
Work began by forming 3003-H14 aluminum flat stock to match the shape of the carburetors.
After overlapping the material, it was cut and a TIG welder was used to close the seam.

Now none of this was lost on my longtime pal Larry Shoaf. A metal man extraordinaire, Shoaf basically hand-formed at least 70 percent of his 1927 Chrysler track roadster. Rescued from the woods, it was the proverbial “rusted to the door handles” example, but being a Mopar guy, Shoaf knew the answer when the owner queried, “When’s the last time you saw a 1927 Chrysler roadster?” And so he hauled them home (yes, remarkably the guy had two 1927 Chrysler roadsters side by side in the woods behind his house) and  began to form one very cool track-style roadster. One of the key elements in the design was forming a custom three-piece hood with a trio of Stellings & Hellings air breathers peeking just above the hood line. The carbs would be perched atop a warmed-over 318ci motor, keeping things all Mopar. The induction setup was actually ordered direct from Mopar and included the intake, linkage, and carbs. Originally designed for the 340 Six-Pack motor, the intake fit just fine atop the 318.

Using a simple bench shear, filler plates were cut out to fill both corners of the D-shaped base.
Here we can see the filler plate. Since each base will be slightly different, Shoaf opted to just fill the corners. A piece of aluminum tubing provides the needed lift for each carburetor.
After some final shaping with a grinder the filler pieces fit the base. The ring of tubing will be located with the proper front-to-rear offset, ensuring the front-to-rear spacing of the three air breathers is equal.

Forming the hood was just another example of Shoaf’s metalwork.  The opening for the air breathers is surrounded by a raised reveal. There was only one problem. The breathers did not quite rise to the occasion; they were too low on the motor. There was a secondary problem. Due to the angle of the motor and intake manifold, the air breathers were not level with the hood. The solution to that problem was fairly simple: fabricate three air breather spacers to lift each breather to the proper height. But wait, there’s more! Not only were the carburetors at different heights, the spacing between the carburetors was not uniform, either. This meant each riser piece also has a different front-to-rear offset so the carbs are now both level and equally spaced.  This same process could be used for dual-quads or six-deuces, the concept remains the same. It is this attention to subtle proportions that separates an average hot rod from a great one.

With the ring positioned on the D-base the filler piece can be fitted to each corner. Measure carefully for the proper offsets. Speedway Motors offers air breather spacer rings in different sizes if you don’t have tubing on hand.
Here is one finished breather seen from the carburetor side. This one is for the center carburetor, so the breather ring is centered. The D-base and the ring were tack-welded together, placed on the engine, and checked for proper height before final welding of the pieces.
The aluminum base that came with the Stellings & Hellings air breather was welded to the tubing to provide the proper surface for the air breather element.

If your carburetors have a round throat and simply need to be raised, the process may be a bit easier by simply working with round tubing. Actually, Speedway Motors lists air breather spacers in their online catalog. If your carburetor breathes through an irregular shape, or you need to change the front-to-rear spacing, a bit more fabrication is in order. This particular breather adapter transitions from the D-shape opening of a Holley carburetor to the round air filter found on most vintage-style air breathers. Working in aluminum gave Shoaf the opportunity to polish the finished pieces, contributing to the aforementioned eye-candy effect of multiple carbs. While the linkage between the carbs is factory “six-pack” style, a simple Lokar cable will ultimately open the throttle.

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Here we can see the typical hot rod paper air breather element in place on the air breather riser.
The front and rear riser/spacers were then fabricated, taking special care to get the spacing and height perfect. The front-to-rear pieces are stair-stepped to compensate for engine angle and intake manifold geometry.
After sanding and polishing the newly formed adapters they look like a piece of vintage speed equipment.

The same type adapters could be fabricated in steel or stainless steel, the material is your preference. This is a project easily within reach of the average home hot rod builder and one that pays rewards every time you are behind the wheel of your car. So, without further ado, let’s follow along as Larry Shoaf lifts and relocates three breathers. MR

(877) 469-7440

Miller Electric Manufacturing Company

Speedway Motors
(800) 979-0122

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