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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Tue 10, 2017 11:27 pm 
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CurtisL wrote:
I discovered when visiting some relatives out of state that drum brakes sure don't work wet.
Indeed! As for driving within the limitations, what about the actions of other drivers? Why have to explain to St. Peter, the police, and relatives of the deceased how keeping old drum brakes won out over the safety of their dead relatives?

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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 2:47 am 
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Location: Litchfield Minnesota USA
Shouldn't have to explain anything to anyone if you know how to drive. I mean DRIVE, not let the car drive you like most people.
Again, drum brakes work just fine. No, they don't perform as well as the latest disc brakes. But neither do the older disc brakes perform as well as newer brakes.
And remember, there are still thousands of cars out on the highways and byways right now that are equipped with drum brakes... mostly on the rear, but drum.

And by the way, disc brakes also don't necessarily do well when they're wet. I've been there, done that too.

Mark D.


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 3:05 am 
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I've got a couple old cars insured with Hagerty, they encourage brake upgrades.

In Germany, they have to deal with the TUV inspections, any brake modifications may need to have some sort of official approval.


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 3:43 am 
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Location: Santa Cruz mountains
Had a '65 mustang that I drove as a daily driver for over a decade. Had drum brakes all around. Never a problem with the brakes, and I lived in a mountainous area with mostly winding roads during most of that period.

One gets used to the limitations whatever car they drive pretty quickly. Your brain knows when to start slowing down and how much pressure to put on the pedal. It's called muscle memory.

There has only been one time driving where I was frightened of the limitations of an original braking system. I was asked to drive a car home that was purchased by a friend from someone out in the country who had not driven the car in many years. It was a '32 Ford. The car was in fine shape-but it had the original mechanical brakes on it (no hydralics). I damn near broke my leg pressing down on that brake pedal. You want fade? Bring me another car like that and I'll show you fade. I got the car home safely, but that car was a hazard. The owner put a hydraulic system in as part of a frame-up restoration of the car and it was 1000 times better when braking.


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 4:59 am 
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Location: Detroit, MI USA
I'd definitely consider converting to a dual master cylinder setup for added safety. Unless you plan on driving on the Autobahn at high speeds, you are probably OK with the drum brakes, with all new parts such as wheel cylinders, steel lines and rubber hoses and premium quality riveted brake shoes. I know those cars are heavy but the original brakes were designed to be able to stop them safely when everything is right.

If I were going to buy a kit to convert to disc brakes, I'd want to be sure the parts they were supplying were from a car at least as heavy as the one they are going onto, and that they were all brand new non-Chinese made parts. In many cases, you have no way of determining that the parts they are giving you are going to do any better job of stopping the car than the original drum brakes did.

All of my vintage cars still have the original drum brakes. I'm keeping both of the '59 Ford retractables as they came from the factory. I plan to eventually put a dual master cylinder on the '57 Ford and will likely keep the drum brakes on it as well. Also plan to convert to a dual master cylinder and newer power brake booster on the '60 Cadillac, with the original drum brakes.

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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 9:01 am 
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Ted wrote:
Drum brakes have problems in that they are subject to fade on long mountain downhill grades.

CurtisL wrote:
I discovered when visiting some relatives out of state that drum brakes sure don't work wet. .

Yuppers, these were the downsides of drum brakes, but hell, that's all we had back then.
With a stick or slushbox, you would simply downshift to second when necessary.

IIRC, when discs first came out, they were available only on the front, with drums being used on the rear wheels.

The OP might consider that option, for the best combination of cost and performance.

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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 6:34 pm 
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Location: Litchfield Minnesota USA
I agree totally with converting to dual master cylinder. Make sure to keep the bias proper for the particular vehicle when doing it. Can't just take some master cylinder out of something and bolt it in. Requires a bit of homework to do it right. Been there, done that.
Mark D.


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 6:37 pm 
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Location: Waterloo, Iowa
Drum brakes persisted for the rear axle because of the parking brake, mostly. Turns out the mechanisms required to effect a reliable parking brake on a disc equipped axle are somewhat of a PITA. That, and the front axle provides around 70% of the stopping power, so rear discs are not necessary for a grocery getter.

Drum brakes have somewhat of a "chinese puzzle" aspect to them. The modern internet archives for DIYers has made, like most things, a lot less problematic. Brake techs say that "back in the day" probably half of the cars they serviced had incorrectly assembled drum brakes. There are a lot of "gotchas" that the average cheapskate will overlook.

If they are installed and adjusted correctly they work well. Big trucks and 18 wheelers, it should be pointed out, have only recently converted to discs. To suggest drum brakes are inherently unsafe is nonsense.

One of the things that was routine during a brake job in the drum brake period was arcing the shoes. They sold oversize linings to better match a drum that had been turned to a larger diameter. This made for decent brakes right off the bat. Because of Asbestos dust concerns these shoe arc machines were essentially banned. Asbestos shoes were probably a lot better at resisting fade and "softer", providing better braking as well. I feel sorry for chain smoking asbestos miners, but it was probably unwise to remove such a useful product from so many things. There really is no viable substitute.

I can assure anyone if a 4 corner drum brake system is not performing well there is a defect in materials or workmanship, not inherent to drum brakes themselves. The Bendix "self-energizing" system is ingenious and worked for decades.

If you to get REALLY old school, consider that Ford resisted the advent of hydraulic "juice" brakes - he had a slogan for this "The security of steel, from pedal to wheel." and continued with mechanical linkage till the late 1940s iirc. Modern collectors and restorers seem to agree that they work very well (again, adjusted and maintained correctly) with even one advantage - they don't deteriorate when sitting idle for long periods. Modern juice brakes are subject to corrosion and sticking, seals start to leak, brake lines fail, glyco based fluids absorb moisture. Letting an old vehicle sit for long periods just seems to cause all kinds of problems.


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 7:35 pm 
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Ted wrote:
Drum brakes have problems in that they are subject to fade on long mountain downhill grades.


In the 60s us car guys installed VelveTouch metallic shoes on our hot rods. No fade and worked like crazy the hotter they got. Of course they were hard on drums. Virgin drums and arcing were a must. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 8:01 pm 
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FStephenMasek wrote:
Mike Toon wrote:
FStephenMasek wrote:
Driving a car with front drum brakes (the old NASCAR brakes excepted) at anything over parade speed unreasonably endangers both those in the car and those in other cars.

Wow, like saying all AA5s (with hot chassis) should only be used in museums. :x
Not at all the same! The radio presents a danger only in odd circumstances when both the chassis and a ground are being touched. The car with horrible brakes present a danger in normal usage. My mother learned to drive at age 50, after my father died. Her first car with front drum brakes was a real hazard.

Then they were never serviced correctly. I was a line mechanic for more than 20 years and a Shop Foreman then Service Mgr after that, built and raced many vehicles starting in the late 1950s and have been involved in restoring antique and collectible vehicles for more than 60 years. To say drum brakes are inherently dangerous just isn't true. If they were most heavy duty trucks wouldn't still be using them. My most recent restoration is a 1950 Willys Jeep. I have heard the same kind of misinformation concerning the jeep brakes. I restored mine to factory condition and I can lock them up and stop on a dime if need be, something disk brakes would not improve upon. The main advantage to disk brakes, as touted when they came into fashion, was a reduction in brake fade, something that was an issue mainly for people going down a long hill with their foot constantly on the brake pedal instead of downshifting. Braking under normal driving conditions was never considered a major improvement.

Now to be fair it should be pointed out there were several different drum brake designs, some better than others. Willys, for instance has both shoes anchored at the bottom and adjusting them is a PITA. It involves sliding a feeler gauge thru slots in the drum and slowly moving the upper and lower eccentrics until the correct clearance is achieved and then if you're real lucky you can lock the eccentrics without changing the setting. It can take a couple of hours to adjust that kind. And all that depends on the inside radius of the drum matching the radius of the shoes. Bendix self-actuating style used an adjuster to spread the bottom of the shoes to take up wear. Later Bendix used self-adjusters (some vehicles still use this design on the rear drum brakes). Chrysler, from the 1930s until the 1960s, used a unique Lockheed design that consisted of a half a wheel cylinder at the top and bottom of the backing plate, each actuating a different shoe. I hated them when I worked for Dodge-DeSoto and still do. In my opinion they were the least effective drum brakes.

Some of the disk brake applications installed from the factory can actually be detrimental. For instance, I have a 2001 Toyota 4Runner, 4WD. The disk brakes from the factory are wholly inadequate. The rotors are too thin, overheat easily, and quickly develope a hot spot which in turn causes brake thumping. In addition the calipers are too small. I installed new rotors and calipers for a Tundra truck (same chassis) and it became like a new vehicle, no overheating, no thumping, and it stopped better. The point I'm making is that simply installing disk brakes is not the answer if those brakes are not properly matched to the vehicle. Inadequate disk brakes are no more inherently safe than inadequate drum brakes.

Larry

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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Wed 11, 2017 9:25 pm 
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Jay Leno does it on many of his old and rare cars as well. Of course he has lots of money to burn.


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 10:37 am 
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Ted wrote:
Big trucks and 18 wheelers, it should be pointed out, have only recently converted to discs.

"Big trucks" (those over a certain weight) used air brakes. We could damn near stop on a dime with 'em. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 1:35 pm 
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Location: Lincoln City, OR
Greetings to the Forum:

I must agree with those who say that a properly designed drum brake will stop you just as well as a disk brake and that the only real advantage to disk brakes is resistance to brake fade.

However, an improperly designed or maintained drum system will be dangerous.

An example of the former was some of the earlier Alfa Romeo cars... from the 50's and early 60's. They used Alfin drum brakes... Alfin being a trade name derived from ALuminum FINned drums. These drums were finned aluminum with a steel band pressed inside as the friction surface, and used aluminum alloy brake shoes... three of them, each with its own wheel cylinder. They were as effective as many disk brake systems of the time. The extensive use of aluminum helped to get rid of heat.... the cause of brake fade.

On the other hand, my daughter's 1966 Ford Mustang had drums all around and they were horrible. It required extreme skill to avoid locking up the front brakes... one could almost lock them up by touching the brake pedal with a feather.... and after one or two stops like that, they faded so badly that they almost didn't work at all.

I replaced them with a kit from an outfit called "Stainless Steel Brake Company". The kit included a new dual-circuit master cylinder, new brake booster and new supports, four piston calipers and brake disks for the front. I installed an adjustable proportioning valve for the rear brakes. The whole thing was a bolt-on. The only difficulty is that the calipers are so large that you have to be careful with your choice of wheels in order to clear the calipers. I wanted to put Krager mags on the car for that authentic 60's look, but they wouldn't clear the brakes... so I had to go with some phone dials instead. The conversion was great though.... the car stops controllably and reliably, and is now fun to drive as opposed to scary before.

Attachment:
Mustang W Phone Dials R.JPG
Mustang W Phone Dials R.JPG [ 92.21 KiB | Viewed 59 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 5:19 pm 
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My brother's 1961 Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce has the Alfin drum brakes that Jthorusen mentioned in his posting. I had a 1966 Mustang fastback that had drum brakes and I put on the optional Kelsey-Hayes 4 piston calipers back in the mid-1970s. I also installed the disc brake master cylinder (single reservoir) and proportioning valve, and the braking of the Mustang did improve, although the factory disc brakes back then were manual and you really had to push down on the pedal in order to stop. I sold the 1966 years ago, but bought a 1970 BOSS 302, which does have front disc brakes with power assist. I took a photo of both cars when we attended a local Cars & Coffee show.


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 Post subject: Re: New front disc brakes on early 50s Cadillacs
PostPosted: Jan Thu 12, 2017 8:03 pm 
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The bottom line being, you shouldn't be making scare tactic comments about drum brakes (or other vehicle components for that matter) unless you have first hand experience with how to properly drive and properly maintain things.


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