Squarebirds, Rocketbirds, and Fifties/Sixties Ford Discussion Forum

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-   1958 T0 1960 Squarebirds - Disc Brake Conversion (http://squarebirds.org/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=83)
-   -   Disk Brake Conversion Discussion (http://squarebirds.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=5023)

JohnG 07-27-2008 07:46 AM

Disk Brake Conversion Discussion
I have finally gotten to the point of gving up on the drum system my 58 has. It is, for all intensive purposes, perfect. Shoes are near new, drums quite new, wheel cylinders replaced etc. There is only so much stopping power there and it ain't really enough.

Awhile back I did some reading on the design of the car and learned that the effective braking area (shoes) was about the same as the 2 seater TBird, a much lighter car. Further, in the quest for the low slung visual design, the drums were also limited. So what we get is what we get.

What I would like to find out is what experiences people have had with the disk conversions. I have one listed at


Is your braking now alot better?? If I am going to go to alot of trouble then I want some seriously better results. Not just better... It would not bother me to spend extra on even higher performance calipers (2 piston or more)

The other area I am in the dark on is wheels. I gather I have to replace my front two wheels. I have stock Ford rims at the moment (14") but not originals. What do I get and where do I get them??

It occurs to me that used parts sources are drying up fast due to the high price of scrap steel, among other factors, so junkyard items that we used to count on may be gone.

So...what do you guys know???


KULTULZ 07-27-2008 09:13 AM

Just A Thought
My concern (and it really doesn't amount to a hill of beans) is the using of GM componets on these aftermarket conversion kits. It really detracts from the appearance of the car (IMO).

I would much rather see a 100% later model FORD conversion.

protourbird 07-27-2008 09:14 AM

Stainless Steel brakes has a conversion that will work with a 14X7 wheel. They also have a 4 piston conversion that will work also. Down side is that it currently is not compatible with most sway bar setups. Especially OEM.
Kits for the rear brakes can be found in their street rod section where they list kits for the Ford 9" with 28 spline axles. They will be working with me on the conversion of my 60 but I am planning on using a 17X8 wheel. I will update after I do the swap this fall or winter.
You will have to change the master cylinder and add a proportioning valve. This all comes in their kits which are the most complete on the market. You can go to SSBRAKES.com to look around at their products. Just enter your make, model, & year at the top of the page.

JohnG 07-27-2008 10:56 AM

Jim: do you replace the sway bar or have it machined??

14x7 means a narrower wheel, I think (14x8 is stock?) so can I keep using the same tires?? (I run Diamondback radials which have about 6000 miles on them)

On the comment abou the non-Ford hardware, what ends up showing?? The master cylinder?? I am guessing the calipers are hidden...no?

Probably I am looking for a "conservative" solution where on the one hand I want disks but on the other want to use as much original stuff (tires for example) as is possible.

I recall people saying you could use Ford Granada parts (I am too lazy to do a Search and hunt the threads down) but I never knew if this meant junkyard stuff or auto parts store stuff (new but aftermarket). As I live in the northeast, the idea of digging up used, rusted, 33 year old Ford parts is...well...challenging.

It would be nice to have a soup to nuts list for each option (we seem to have 2 or 3 paths at this point) that had
* parts sources
* machining needed
* wheels (size) need and source

and anything else so that some guy just tuning in here for the first time could get the job done with no surprises and great results.

(I used to road race 750cc motorcycles where you simply could not have too much front braking power. In 1980 one could easily spend $1000 on rotors, calipers, SS lines and mc.) So I have this fantasy of 4 piston Brembo brakes hidden under my front end ready at my command... The ol' Squarebird, on the other hand... I am reminded of the comment of the guy on 101 Cars You Must Drive when driving some 1930s gem said something like "I get a kick out of the vague resemblance of brakes"). In more down to earth terms, if someone - pedestrian or car - pulls out in front of me and I have to panic stop, the fact I am in this delightful old car will be totally irrelevant and perhaps a liability. If the Squarebird were produced today, emissions aside, it is hard to imagine the pathetic brakes being DOT approved.


byersmtrco 07-27-2008 07:54 PM

I have the SBC kit on my 60. It stops every bit is good as my 87 SS Monte Carlo. AND . . . in a straight line. You can be going 85 mph and stand that car on it's nose. It has NO steering pull or other ill effects.

The down side is; the orig 14X5.5 whls won't work. You will have to run 14X7's. I had to have a front swaybar custom made. The orig (little pinner Pinto size) sway bar won't work, nor will the hvy duty bars that the Thunderbird suppliers sell. The calipers in the SBC kit mount to the stock 58-60 spindles, facing the front of the car. They interfere with the swaybar links. I had to move mine forward, only an inch or so. I just have "L" shaped brkts on the frt of my lwr c/arms.

It was a headache but well worth it. With the addition of the rear swaybar, my car handles really well for what it is. Let's face it, these things are tuna boats.

I have devised a bar design using the stock mountin locations. Welding will be req, but this will mount the heavier front sway bar out of sight.

The other option is that drop n stop. He uses Granada type spindles, mounting the calipers towards the rear. You can then use the stock (or) the heavy duty version they sell. To me, that's the way to go.

As far as the master cyl, yep it won't look stock. It dosen't look GM either, even though it is an early 70's Chevelle type m/cyl.

I understand that now, concours rules are, they don't dock you for safety inprovements. Personally , I don't care. "If" my car was in any other catagory than show n shine or "driver" class, it would be in "modified".

But, by all means . . . Change over to disc !!!!

Bob M 07-27-2008 08:41 PM

John Byers
You feel that the kit from dropnstop is the way to go.
Is this a all bolt on unit and will I have to buy a proporition value?

Do you know if I would have to change the wheel size form orginal size to 14X7's ?

Do you know if my new Coker tires P215/75R-14 will fit the rims if I have to change them as I do not understand about wheel size?

Would I have to change sway bar ?

tbirdave 07-27-2008 10:51 PM

disc conversion
I converted mine about 3 years ago , I got my bolt on kit from Larry's Thunderbird, along with a power brake kit, mine were standard no power before. My mechanic said it was pretty straight forward to put on. When I did this I took off the mags that were on the car and put the original type wheels back on with wide whites and original wheel covers. I ran into a problem with the original wheels that the seller had given me when I bought the car. They were made for drum brakes and wouldn't clear the calipers. Through much frustration and research I found a set of Mustang wheels that cleared the calipers and were 14" to fit the wheel covers. I sold the original rims to Thunderbird Headquarters. I am soooo glad I made the conversion my car stops now when I step on the pedal. Hope this helps.

Penelope 07-27-2008 11:11 PM

OK, you guys have got me worried about my brakes now. Penelope has power assisted drums and I think she stops pretty well, certainly not up to my daily drivers' standard, but OK I reckon. Anyone else happy with their drums?


byersmtrco 07-28-2008 12:57 AM

Please see comments (peanut gallery below


Originally Posted by Bob M (Post 23826)
John Byers
You feel that the kit from dropnstop is the way to go.
Is this a all bolt on unit and will I have to buy a proporition value?
{yep, bolt on. The kit will come with a prop/valve. My kit came with an adjustable one (you adj the rear only with it)}

Do you know if I would have to change the wheel size form orginal size to 14X7's ?
{Yes you will, the stock wheels won't clear. For sure you have to change wheels.}

Do you know if my new Coker tires P215/75R-14 will fit the rims if I have to change them as I do not understand about wheel size?
{That tire size is fine. You "may" be able to squeek by w/14x6's. It would be VERY close though.}

Would I have to change sway bar ?
{No, but I would. That orig sway bar is comical, but you don't have to change it}

fomoco59 07-28-2008 07:47 AM

I wonder if a set of 15" wheels from a '65-66 (disk brake) TBird would fit on a conversion kit for a 58-60?

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