View Full Version : Tom classics disc brake conversation

06-11-2016, 05:20 PM
Looking for everyone thoughts.

I bought and installed the tom classics disc brake retrofit kit from eBay. After the installation was completed I've tried to bleed this system and have not been able to get anything but a spongy pedal. Now I've put at least 180oz of fluid through the system bleeding and have started over from bench bleeding the MC more then once. Have bread it with the two men manually bleed and a one man vacuum bleed with no luck same results. I've sent an email to tom classics asking for a new MC since I can't find any other problems.

Note I've added a residual pressure valve for the rear brakes and use a prop valve bleeder tool. Still nothing but a sponge.


06-12-2016, 10:48 AM
Air in the system is not the only cause for a spongy pedal but it is a major cause.

Go over the train of hardware from your brake pedal to your master. If any of the steel components flex, it will feel like a spongy pedal.

The idea is like standing in a bucket and lifting yourself up by the bail wire. Your brake pedal pivots from the brake pedal support. The brake pedal support has firewall bolts that continue through to the booster/firewall bracket. This 'sandwich' needs to be tight and all four bolts need to be there. From the bracket to the booster, same story. Get someone to mash the brake pedal hard and repeatedly while you inspect. If anything moves, even slightly, fix it. The hydraulics are an extension of this mechanical train. Since brake fluid cannot compress, the only other culprit can be air, anywhere in your system.

The residual valve is ok but I prefer to use self adjusters on my rear shoes. I stay out of deep water so the adjusting ratchet (star wheel) doesn't rust.

The residual valve keeps the shoes spread out so the pedal remains up. Eventually after the shoes wear, a pistons will pop out of a cylinder. In that scenario, your pedal won't go down but your fluid level will.

Self adjusters spread the bottom of the shoes to keep them close to the drums but the cylinders always return home. The pedal will not go down and the fluid level will remain full. More importantly, the brakes will squeal before a wheel cylinder piston gets close to coming out.

If you're happy with the residual valve, it is important you stay on top of your brake adjustment schedule. Again, you will not get a warning if the shoes are too far out. Ford Tempo cars had this problem. Thousands of them were towed into dealerships with a rear wheel dripping with brake fluid long after warranty expired. - Dave

06-12-2016, 02:32 PM
I will check it out to make sure nothing is moving

06-12-2016, 04:06 PM
At the factory, we vacuum bleed. If the system doesn't hold a vacuum, we won't fill. This holds true for the radiator, A/C, etc. Vacuum filling is the grand daddy. There is no such thing as empty pockets or trapped air.

I forgot to mention, the brake pedal support is bolted to your dash AND your firewall. There is no way the firewall will flex when you mash the pedal hard. Loose or missing bolts will make the firewall bracket & booster flex because you're trying to push the booster out the other end.

A good bench bleed is really all you need. What method are you using? I screw two old brake lines into the side ports and bend the open ends back into the reservoirs below the fluid level. At first, use short strokes. After ~20 pumps on a level surface the air should stop. There is no reason to go through more than a cup of fluid. The transparent plastic 'bleed kit' works too.

When shoes and pads are not bedded-in, they tend to feel odd or maybe a bit spongy. Give it a few weeks and your system will get better. Apply the brakes as you would normally during this period. You won't notice the slow change until you need to stop fast.

Think about it, shoes are a different arc than the drums and pads don't wear flat. Old pads are normally worn on a slight angle, even though they still work well. Every component is always slightly different.

I would like to see a few pictures of your setup. - Dave

06-12-2016, 05:08 PM
Tom has a quality control issue that may be affecting this. The calipers are from an S10 and have to be machined at two locations to clear his custom bracket. Make sure that the piston is able to make full contact against the rotor. Inadequate clearance can cause a problem in this area.

06-12-2016, 09:02 PM
I have bench bleed the master cylinder several times with and without brake lines leading back into the wells. Today I removed the brake line and plug the mc while on the car. Had my son exercise the brake pedal so I could make sure we didn't have anymore air in the system. i didn't see a thing so I put the cover back on and checked with the mc isolated we have great pedal that holds.

Once I put the prop valve back in the system and bleed again I have the same spongy pedal and even worse when I start the car I have no pedal at all so I can't drive it like this.

I will post pictures of my set up

06-12-2016, 09:06 PM
I can't figure out how to post my pics on here

06-12-2016, 10:01 PM
Dave I sent you a private message

06-13-2016, 10:27 AM
Bob, I've seen videos of that 'blocked port' type of bleeding but I prefer using the 'recirculating tubes' type of bleeding because it has never failed me yet.

I have to ask a few questions because I have to believe the reason you kept adding more fluid was because the bubbles didn't stop coming...

Was your M/C 'running clear' when you installed it or was it still showing bubbles?

Your whole system only holds about a cup of brake fluid. Were you showing bubbles at every bleed valve?

Did you change your steel lines?

Did you change your hoses and are all connections right? (Notice I didn't ask if they are tight because a bad fitting or cross-threaded nut can still be tight, but leak.)

If you still aren't getting anywhere, call me (248) 544-8834. - Dave

06-22-2016, 11:11 AM
Hi Folks:

I am going for it, and getting ready to order a front disc conversion kit from Tom's (eBay) store.

Here's the one line in his description I have a question about:

"You will have to make new brake lines to make this booster assembly work"

Who has done this work to "make new brake lines"? What can i expect? I have not worked with steel lines yet, so I need some education....any help?



06-22-2016, 11:33 AM
Does the new booster/master cylinder combo come with the proportioning valve. You will need one of those also. Doing brake lines just takes practice. I would contact Dave and order a roll of cunifer brake line stock from him. That is easier to work with for the novice. He might also lend you the tools if you don't have them. Getting a good flare is the hardest part. Like I said it takes a little practice. A good rule of thumb is to measure and do the flaring and fittings first before you bend the lines.


06-22-2016, 11:52 AM
Here is the link to Toms eBay store. I'm going for chrome! Why not.


But it describes what is included. I've posted it below:

This is a new in the box 1961-1964 ford Thunderbird power front disc brake conversion. This kit uses your original spindle. You will need 14 inch disc type rims or 15 inch or larger. We welcome your questions. You will have to make new brake lines to make this booster assembly work.
Kit includes:
1- power booster with master cylinder and proportioning valve. 8" chrome booster with chrome master. Pro valve is chrome. Mounting brackets for booster and pro valve are not chrome just like the photos.
1- rotors with 5 on 4.5 bolt pattern drilled and slotted
1- pair new in the box calipers and semi metallic pads
1- complete set of mounting hardware. caliper brackets with bolts., rubber hoses, banjo bolts, bearings and seals.

Other than the brake lines, and the tools for that, anything missing or you think I may need?

06-22-2016, 11:59 AM
It looks like everything is included. The only problem you may run into is the strut tower brace. You may have to modify it to clear the new master cylinder.


06-22-2016, 12:03 PM
To the guys who did this (Yadkin, booalu), did you have issues with the placement of the kit and the strut tower?

If so, how did you manage it?

06-22-2016, 12:13 PM
Geoff, as I recall from past installations of systems like this, there can be a problem of that strut tower brace interfering with the installation. There have been other postings about this, and if memory serves me best, I think they had to notch an area on that brace to allow the MC to install properly. You might consider getting a MC with the flat top instead of the two rounded bubble tops. Hopefully, those who have been down this road before and had that strut problem will tell you what they did. I know there have been posts and pix posted of what they did to that strut to get clearance.

06-22-2016, 01:28 PM
I am not finding that anyone has done a full disc brake conversion on the Bulletbird. I see folks attempted them on earlier and later versions....and I am concerned not of the installation, but what are the dominoes, like the tower strut issues, am I going to run into?

If there is anyone who has done one on a 61-63 model, please let me know.

06-22-2016, 02:10 PM
I have seen pictures of conversions done. I can't seem to find any at the moment however. I do remember that the strut brace had to be raised where it bolts to the shock tower to clear the master cylinder cap. Ray makes a good suggestion about using a flat cap. You may want to email the seller of the kit and see if he has any pictures of completed installations. Tell him that you know for a fact that the brace will not clear the master cylinder without modification and see what he says.


06-22-2016, 03:44 PM
I have already emailed the seller and asked that same question! I am getting smarter! Thanks John!

06-22-2016, 04:29 PM
Pictures of the brace modification here, posts 22 and 23.


Note that I chose a "slim line" booster, which not only cleared my Offenhauser valve covers but reduced (not eliminated) the conflict with the brace.

Basically, I made two small cuts on the backside of the U shaped brace to allow for the width of the conflicting part, bent the steel under (making the 90 a 180), then a little tweaking with a ball peen hammer to form over the master cylinder cover. There's about a toothpick's clearance.

06-22-2016, 10:56 PM
Thank you. I had seen that earlier but could not find the thread again. Thanks for helping me out.

I see that the MC and the Tower Strut overlap. Do that bang into each other?

06-23-2016, 09:41 AM
Do that bang into each other?

I'm unsure how to explain it better than I already have. There is a clearance issue, easily solved.

06-23-2016, 10:21 AM
Got it. Thanks.

06-25-2016, 08:52 PM
Not sure about the fit on 61-63 models but on a 64 some people use a 66 shock tower brace top which has a curve in it.

07-03-2016, 07:44 PM
After removing the calipers to check the pads to see how they are seating to the rotors we found they are not. So we pull the grackets off and reinstall torquing each bolt. Even after this and isolating the rear brakes we still don't have a peddle.

Things we noticed

1. Passenger side bracket flexing much more then drivers side. Wouldn't expect to see the brackets flexing at all.

2. Instead of the pads sitting flush on the robots they're sittin like a "V" with only a small portion at the bottom of the pad touching. When you apply pressure to the brake the bracket has to flex for the pad to strike evenly.

I'm at the point to ask for a refund the kit infrastructure is not machined correctly in my eyes.

07-03-2016, 08:00 PM
Bob, the bracket needs to fit square and tight. I cannot speak for 'Tom's' but I can for Scarebird brackets. They have no stack of bolts or spacers. The brackets come as one piece with all necessary hardware welded in place:



Just three bolts and a spindle spacer. All the rest bolts on and is purchased locally:


I re-used my bearings and dust caps to save money. I bought new hoses (banjo bolts with washers) and seals.

If the hardware doesn't fit, make Tom pay for shipping back to him. I hope he straightens out his products. Thanks for posting and letting us know what's going on. - Dave

07-03-2016, 09:20 PM
The brackets on mine are two piece one bolting the the spindle frame then the other bolts to the bracket. Unfortunately they aren't square looks like a "V" and cause the caliper to flex a lot. The pads don't fit flush with only the lower part of the pad touching the rotor. So when you apply pressure to the brakes the caliper has to move sideways to close the V.

At this point I either need them to refund the entire kit or send me new rotors, brackets and seals.

07-03-2016, 11:20 PM
Bob, were it me I would take the position of, in good faith you purchased a brake system that Tom claimed would work. It doesn't so the product is misrepresented. Tom should refund ALL your money including shipping charges. Then he should offer an apology for wasting your time.

Am I taking a 'hard line'? Not at all. Suppose you planned on installing this product next year, which is often done in long term restorations. You would simply be out of luck with no recourse. (Rebates work the same way; they know some folks never apply for the rebate while others lose the check OR the check is never issued. BTW, they require 6-8 weeks for a rebate which makes a return nearly impossible.) - Dave

07-04-2016, 09:10 PM
Dave I guess I'll find out tomorrow what there position will be. I've already talked briefly with EBay to see what options I have.

The refund issue and the time I spent doing the install maybe an issue but the fact that I'm disabled with MS the time I spent is about as normal as I can do. Working only weekends on the car in the fact that 90% of the time spent was bleeding and trying to get a peddle I hope that will understand. So far Chris at Tom Classics has been understanding but we'll wait and see what the response is tomorrow

07-05-2016, 05:14 PM
I received a response this morning from To Classics. That want to see picture proofing there's a problem with the machine work. I'll supply what I can but believe I'll have to fight for a refund

07-06-2016, 08:43 AM
Very confusing thread here since at least two guys are doing a conversion. As I said in post 5 Tom has a quality control problem with his machine work that I found on my '64 kit. Yours may be similar. He grinds down the caliper where it contacts his custom bracket and on one of mine wasn't ground down enough.

My problem manifested itself as a howl when turning left unless I was also applying brake pressure.

Tom told me that the calipers were stock S-10 parts so I got a replacement locally for cheap. When I tried to bolt on the new caliper I found it contacted the bracket in two spots. I then carefully inspected Tom's caliper and found that he had ground them down at these two points, just not enough. The silver paint that he uses on the caliper makes the grinding work difficult to see.

So before you toss out the whole kit and send it back, carefully inspect to see if you don't have a similar problem.