With a 427 under the hood, my 1963 Galaxie's stopping power was not as good as the acceleration it was putting out, so I was in the search for a good value for money disc brake kit.
Although most kits would work the same, I settled for the Tom's Classics kit found on eBay. It seemed like a good all round kit at a good price, where everything was supplied, and I wouldn't have to go searching anywhere for parts to complete the conversion.
There are three kits that are on offer.
Complete kit including discs, calipers, master cylinder and booster.
Same kit but master cylinder only and no booster.
Same kit but no master cylinder and no booster.
Below is what you get in the complete kit.
I opted for the kit with master cylinder but no booster. The reason being that the 427 usually wont give enough vacuum for boosted brakes, and secondly I don't think there would have been enough clearance for the valve covers.
First thing to do when the kit arrived, was to compare the new monstrous master cylinder with the factory original.
I then compared the rotors and calipers with a spare set of '71 Galaxie ones I had in the shed. It turns out that the new rotors are in fact dimensionally the same as those for a '71 Galaxie, the only difference being the slots and drilled holes. The new calipers also were similar in a way, where the pistons are close enough each to being around 2 3/4 inches each.
Now to get started on the disassembly of the stock drum brake set up.
You need to remove everything right down to just leaving the stub axles.
If this is out of your reach, then it's time to leave this whole job for your mechanic.
Since this kit, and most others don't come with the rear dust shields, the first thing to do was to see how close my spare '71 Galaxie shields matched up. This shows how easily they will be to adapt.
Next up is to trial fit the caliper bracket and see what needs to be done. The instructions say that some small amount of grinding needs to be done at the lower mounting just behind where the bolt goes through.
While I was at it, I thought I'd see how the original backing plate would fit, to see if that could actually be made into a dust shield. I think it can, with some reworking and some cutting and trimming.
These kits are designed to suit both the small and larger bearing stub axles. My '63 uses the small bearings, so I'm assuming the larger ones are when the chassis was changed from 1965 up.
I then trial fit the small bearings on the stub axle.
Next, I fit larger bearings on my spare '71 stub axles to see the difference. I did this for those who might be reading this who have the larger stubs.
Next is a comparison between the two. There is a considerable difference.
Back to the bracket. I found it easier to do a little chamfering on the bracket first. Then if necessary, you might have to do a little bit of grinding in that same area on the back of the stub. It's not hard, but just needs to be trial fitted a couple of times. Just remove some metal along the length of this straight bit in the below picture.
Once that is done, mount the bracket up, and take some measurements from the bracket to the machined face to make sure it is parallel. Once it is, it is time to bolt it down.
Next up, fit the caliper momentarily, and trial fit the dust shield so you know where it needs to be trimmed. Here it is all trimmed and ready to paint.
One last thing that I wanted to do was to check the clearances inside the wheel which was going to be used. With this kit, and most other kits, you must use 15" wheels with the large center hole of around 70mm.
With the disc and caliper in place, there is roughly about 1/2 inch clearance from the caliper to the inside of the rim.
I also wanted to check the clearance between the dust shield and the caliper. A little trimming was needed.
Since I am satisfied that everything is now ready to be bolted up for good, the fun begins. It is worth taking the extra time to do a little bit of pre-planning, then when it comes time for final assembly, it is easy.
Here is the lot all bolted up and nearly complete. All that needed to be done was to set the bearings correctly, fit the split pin and grease cap.
That just about finishes it down here, so up under the hood to fit the master cylinder.
The instructions tell you how to bench bleed the master cylinder. It's easy enough. I tried it the traditional way where you run a couple of hoses from the two outlets back into the top of the master cylinder, but it didn't work. The master cylinder comes with two steel plugs. Use them and push the piston with a rod or screw driver for a minute or so until the air bubbles stop and the piston can't be depressed much anymore.
The bracket which came with my kit does not need to be used. The master cylinder can bolt direct to the firewall. Then attach the supplied combo valve.
Below is a comparison between the standard and new master cylinders.
All that needs to be done now is to make up a few lines, bend them and flare them. Then bleed the whole brake system and test drive the car.
This one last final picture shows how good this disc brake set up looks on the car.
Overall, this is a very good and simple enough kit to fit.
The only frustrating thing from this whole assembly was fitting those damn grease covers in the end of the hubs. If that was the only annoying thing, then life is good!