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  #1  
Old 03-09-2011, 10:58 PM
TechStuff TechStuff is offline
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Default Brake help for my '55

hi!
I have a '55 that was a barn find. I have been working at it for a number of years and have it in running condition with lots of cosmetic work remaining. I am keeping the car original so restoring and refurbishing alot.

As they stand now, the brakes are in correct operating conditions, most components being new. They just aren't all that good, at least by today's standards.

So - - has anyone reading this managed to convert to disk brakes ? If so what are some effective but economical ways to go about this? Can I keep the same tires?

While I want to keep the car original, if safety or reliability are compromised I don't mind upgrading, as in this case.

Any help appreciated!

Fred
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  #2  
Old 03-10-2011, 02:39 AM
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simplyconnected simplyconnected is offline
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Fred, two things weigh heavy here. You either have to keep your car stock or not. There is no inbetween.

Having said that, I have converted both of my Ford Classics ('55 Customline & 59 Galaxie) to power disk brakes.

Power disk brakes will put you through the windshield, they don't pull to the side, they dry out fast and they don't fade. If you drive your '55 in today's traffic I highly recommend you install disk brakes.

Here's the deal (you're in for a treat)... The 1955 Thunderbird and the '55 full-size Ford Cars used the exact same spindles. Here are the Ford Parts Catalog part numbers for 1955 spindles. S=Thunderbird and A=all other Ford cars:



You can use a Granada spindle to take the place of your originals. That means you can put your original spindles in storage in case you ever want to revert back (I guarantee you won't ever go back).

The Granada/Lincoln Versailes setup bolts right on to your original ball joints and the set should include the spindles, calipers, rotors, and backplate (wind catcher). If your wheels are 15", you can probably use the originals. If they are 14", you need Granada-type wheels which are designed to give clearance for the calipers. Several steel wheels fit.

If you are serious about this retrofit, let me know and I will go into more detail. - Dave
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Last edited by simplyconnected : 03-11-2011 at 12:49 AM.
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  #3  
Old 03-10-2011, 03:08 PM
Joe Johnston Joe Johnston is offline
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We have a couple of club members that used the Granada swap and have never been happier. It works great. I chose a complete kit from a vendor that included rear wheel cylinders. Smooth installation with full instructions and the 14" wire wheels on my 57 fit with no problem. Any way you go, disks are a big improvement.
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Old 03-12-2011, 09:55 AM
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Thanks for the encouraging replies!!

Now - - has anyone put together a list of specific parts that I would need??

Fred
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  #5  
Old 03-13-2011, 12:04 AM
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You might consider the kits that the TBird suppliers have for sale. They do not require changing the spindles like the Granada stuff does. All the parts are enginerred for a TBird. They even have larger rear cylinders to equalize the front and rear brakes.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul274854 View Post
...They even have larger rear cylinders to equalize the front and rear brakes.
Paul, thanks for your post, but rear cylinders need to be much smaller, because front calipers require hundreds of psi more than drum brakes.

When that kind of pressure is applied (usually from a power booster), the rear drum brakes lock up before the fronts can do their job.

The solution is a combination proportioning/metering valve which is installed on ALL disk/drum systems regardless of brand.

You have the right idea, but front brakes do about 80% of the braking. Even with drum/drum systems, the rear brake shoe area is always smaller and so are the piston diameters. We don't want the rear-end to lock up and swing around to the front.

Can you cite a company who offers disk brakes for my '55 without changing spindles? You mentioned, 'suppliers'. Who are they? - Dave
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Old 03-16-2011, 04:59 AM
Jimz Bird Jimz Bird is offline
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Disc Brake conversion is one of the first things that I am going t do for "Mable" (Girls always like new shoes) when I get back.

First let me recommend that you go to:
http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_g...ibrary/trl.htm

This is the link under Ray's sig and is available elsewhere.

Scroll down to the section on "Disc Brakes Conversions"

Ray has put a ton of stuff there and I have found it quite useful.

Here is a link to a post there with about 28 pages of discussion that has a lot of good points:
http://www.squarebirds.org/vbulletin...t=5023&page=28
(Scroll down to start at Post 1) Good stuff there!

"WARNING WARNING WARNING Will Robinson"
There is so much good stuff in the Tech Section that you may not be seen for days.

There is also a good Post and Links that Ray and Dave have put together on Combination, Proportioning, metering and residual valves.

BTW Ray - I think one of the links on Proportioning valves has changed. Here is the new one:
http://www.mbmbrakeboosters.com/inde...ters&Itemid=10

There are also a couple of good articles in Gil's Garage:
http://www.ctci.org/gilsgarage/DiscBrakes.php
and here:
http://www.ctci.org/gilsgarage/DiscBrakePerf.php

This last article and the info I got from here prompted me to send a question to CASCO yesterday and ask them about installing a "Residual" valve in addition to their "Kit" and "Combination Valve".

Here also are a couple of shots from their catalog. I am not affiliated and don't want to start a "But this vendor and that vendor" argument but only post them because Dave asked about specific vendors.

I have some other thoughts on replacing the spindles vs. buying a kit but will save those and post them when I get an answer back from CASCO ( http://www.classictbird.com/ ) on the residual valve.

I also think it is good to convert the rears to "Self-Adjusting"

Also a couple of considerations with the new Dual Master Cylinder:
1. a new longer heat shield should be used (Sanderson Headers look like they "aim" down away from the MC and reduce the heat - Yea, that's my excuse to put headers on my want list)
2. probably convert to DOT5
3. another reason for the combination valve is to isolate the front and back systems in case one of the systems fails you still have the other.

I added the Prestige Thunderbird page with their kit also. I couldn't find a Combination valve in their catalog but they may have one or recommend one if you talk with them.

HTH
Attached Images
File Type: png Front Brakes Disc Kit.png (164.8 KB, 58 views)
File Type: png Combination Valve.png (145.7 KB, 60 views)
File Type: png Front Brakes Disc 2a Kit.png (200.6 KB, 58 views)
File Type: png Front Brakes Disc 2b Kit.png (119.2 KB, 58 views)
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Last edited by Jimz Bird : 03-16-2011 at 06:49 AM. Reason: Added another vendor and notes
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  #8  
Old 03-16-2011, 01:26 PM
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Jim, your info is fabulous! I didn't know these kits were out there for the '55 and I appreciate you sharing your resources.

Edit: I forgot to ask... are you a restorer? Do you perform brake or suspension work?
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Last edited by simplyconnected : 03-16-2011 at 01:29 PM.
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  #9  
Old 03-16-2011, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyconnected View Post
Paul, thanks for your post, but rear cylinders need to be much smaller, because front calipers require hundreds of psi more than drum brakes.

When that kind of pressure is applied (usually from a power booster), the rear drum brakes lock up before the fronts can do their job.

The solution is a combination proportioning/metering valve which is installed on ALL disk/drum systems regardless of brand.

You have the right idea, but front brakes do about 80% of the braking. Even with drum/drum systems, the rear brake shoe area is always smaller and so are the piston diameters. We don't want the rear-end to lock up and swing around to the front.

Can you cite a company who offers disk brakes for my '55 without changing spindles? You mentioned, 'suppliers'. Who are they? - Dave
Hill's, CASCO, Larry's and all the rest offer the kits. As far as the rear cylinders go, they are probably bigger to provide better rear braking to equalize with the better braking of the discs and so you don't need a separate proportioning valve.. But I am not sure which way the new cylinders go so you could be correct.
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  #10  
Old 03-29-2011, 07:04 AM
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I've been following the disc brake discussion on the 58-60 area and have been curious as to how the Caliper adapters attach on the older spindles and what type of bracket the "kits" have.

It appears that the spindles are different and the kits (both that I posted earlier) use a circular bracket (plate) with four holes to attach the caliper "carrier plate" to the spindle.

Attached are some captures from the 56 Shop Manual.

While the kits are substantially more expensive than acquiring the parts and changing the spindles, I am inclined to do so on this series of Birds. This is particularly so if you plan on doing a substantial amount of driving and be exposed on the highways.

My concern of swapping out the spindles since they are so much different is that it may affect the steering geometry and perhaps even cause alignment issues. I, like Dave and the others, believe this is a critical safety upgrade along with the dual master cylinder.

What are some thoughts on this arrangement?

Thanks and HTH
Attached Images
File Type: png Front Shoe Brakes.png (253.5 KB, 55 views)
File Type: png Front Spindle.png (285.9 KB, 55 views)
File Type: png Front Spindle close.png (43.3 KB, 54 views)
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