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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After years of fiddling with the stock 4 wheel drum (power) brakes on my '63 4 door sedan, I've come to the conclusion that they were just inadequate straight off the factory floor. I've replaced all 4 drums, shoes, hardware, self-adjusters, brake lines, and master cylinder, bled everything multiple times, and I STILL have poor braking performance. :mad:

I'm looking for a kit for a disc brake conversion, but all the ones I've seen are designed for 15 inch wheels or larger. I would very much like to keep my stock 14" inch wheels, as the car is very original and I like the original hubcaps I have. I also don't want to pay for new wheels/tires, etc when my current ones are in good condition.

Does anyone know of a setup that will fit my stock wheels? Thanks in advance.
 

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torino disk setup will work fine with 14" wheels. i took one of my 14" wheels to the junkyard to make sure. it went on with not problem at all. now i just gota find out if its ok to run my disk setup with manual master cylinder
 

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now i just gotta find out if its ok to run my disk setup with manual master cylinder
Yes, you can use a dual-res drum master cylinder for discs, but be sure to remove the residual valve under the brake line seat in the port before reassembling or the new discs will drag.

David
 

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After years of fiddling with the stock 4 wheel drum (power) brakes on my '63 4 door sedan, I've come to the conclusion that they were just inadequate straight off the factory floor. I've replaced all 4 drums, shoes, hardware, self-adjusters, brake lines, and master cylinder, bled everything multiple times, and I STILL have poor braking performance. :mad:
Please define 'poor braking performance'.

The stock drums are capable of producing more friction than any commonly-available Galaxie-size 14in tire can handle (remember, in the end, your brakes are only as good as the tire contact patch.)

That isn't to say they're great - drums are still non-linear in their response to pedal force, do not properly self-adjust so side-pull is typical, they trap water so behavior in wet conditions often leaves quite a bit to be desired, they will fade and warp and 'bell' in continuous hard use, etc.

And there are other weaknesses (the variable-toe behavior of the crank-shaft front LCA pivots, the limited grip of the typical present-day 14in tire) that might also come into play.

So the question is what you want that you're not getting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Please define 'poor braking performance'.
The brakes work, but the brake pedal has to be pushed nearly to the floor to get the brakes to work at all. There is quite a bit of free play in the pedal before the brakes engage. When you do press the brake pedal to the floor, I can get the brakes to lock up and stop the car very quickly, so the car is safe for driving. There is not usually any pull to either side when braking, so it seems like the shoes are in adjustment and the wheel cylinders are working evenly. It just bugs me knowing there is something wrong, and having to push the pedal to the floor to keep the car stopped when in drive at a stoplight. It also worries me that if I were to have any brake fade, there will be no reserve in the pedal to make up for it.

Like I said, I have a brand new master cylinder, all new rubber brake lines, shoes, drums, hardware, and self-adjusters. Everything is stock OEM style replacement. All work has been done by the book straight from the original Ford Shop Manual. I've bled the living bejesus out of all 4 of the brakes many times, the fluid is all new Heavy duty exceeding DOT3-DOT4 specs. Didn't see any air bubbles in the system when bleeding. Still NO CHANGE. There are no leaks in the system, the level in the master cylinder is always full and doesn't ever require replenishing. The only things I haven't replaced are the steel brake lines, which seem to be in fine condition (rust inside the lines maybe?) and the wheel cylinders, which are only a few years old. Perhaps my brand new master cylinder is faulty??? I bought it from Dearborn classics, so I assumed that it would be a quality unit.

Just for the sake of experimentation, I adjusted all 4 brakes to the point where all 4 wheels were dragging a little bit and still the brake pressure was low. I've also checked the pushrod adjustment and it was properly set to 1". Just for experimentation, I extended it out a bit and it didn't make much of a difference, other than to cause my brakes to drag, so I put it back to spec.

It certainly would be great to keep the stock drum brakes if they could be made to work properly, for the sake of saving money, effort, and keeping the car original. But I am really running out of patience with them. If anyone could shed light on the problem I've described, I would be eternally grateful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm starting to think that the problem may be in the metal brake lines, which I'm pretty sure are original to the car. Perhaps, there is a blockage in the line (rust, an unseen bend, etc.) that is not allowing enough pressure to get through the lines. I will inspect them tomorrow and perhaps just order these all new ones:

Brake Line Kit, Stainless Steel, Power Drums, Galaxie, 1963-1964 - Ford Parts

If anyone has any other suggestions though, please let me know.
 

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The question is, How are you adjusting them? Did you adjust them 'til you couldn't turn the wheels and then back them off 'til there was a slight drag? That is the proper way. It just sounds like they are out of adjustment.
 

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Just keep in mind that the OEM disk brakes designed to work with 14" wheels probably won't work with your 14" wheels. You will probably need to find disk compatible 14" wheels and then they may not work with your hub caps.
 

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Just for the sake of experimentation, I adjusted all 4 brakes to the point where all 4 wheels were dragging a little bit and still the brake pressure was low.
By brake 'pressure' you mean pedal height?

From what you're saying I'd check out three possibilities:

a) You're not adjusting the drums tight enough (see what 63ford406 said above about adjustment.) The snug-it-down-until-tight part is necessary to get all the slop out of the mechanical bits so that all that's left when you back it off to slight drag is the actual drum-to-shoe clearance.

b) Master cylinder needs bench-bleeding

c) Does the new MC have the same size bore as the old one?
 

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Are your brakes power or manual? Are you sure you got the right master for the type of system you have?
If by chance they are power you may need to adjust the length of the short rod in the booster?

Scott...
 

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I converted my 63 to manual disc brakes. They feel and act as if power with none of the problems of power disc. It's all in the leverage of the pedal. The manual brakes pedal is much higher than the power therefore you have leverage and a good feel for the brakes. All of the parts for the conversion, other then the lines, master cylinder and tie rod ends, came from a 1978 Galaxie II. The master cylinder is available at Summit Racing listed as a replacement for a 1968 cougar with 427. As far as I know it's the only Ford that came from the factory with manual disc brakes. Just remember you have to switch to a 2 bail master cylinder
 

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I converted my 63 to manual disc brakes. They feel and act as if power with none of the problems of power disc.
Problems?

It's all a matter of mechanical advantage. With a manual disc system, either:

a) you use very soft pads and/or a very small-bore master cylinder, and you get reasonable pedal effort at the expense of long pedal travel and/or poor performance in hard use, or

b) you use the kind of MC and pads you'd use in a power setup, and you end up having good braking performance at the expense of needing 100lb of pedal pressure to achieve threshold braking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So I adjusted the brakes the proper way as 406 Ford described and they are SIGNIFICANTLY improved now! :tup: Thank you (x1000)
 

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Cool. :tup: To keep them working well, be sure to exercise your auto adjusters regularly. In decades past, the procedure would be done with each oil change. As a kid at the end of the drum brake era, I remember my Dad doing it each time, and it always stopped fast and straight. I still do it on cars with rear drums. I use it to finalize each brake job as well, as they adjust the shoes perfectly. If you aren't familiar, I described it in another post here.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So I'm actually STILL having problems with my brakes. It seems they are still dragging. You have to go about 55MPH or more to notice it. As soon as you hit about 55MPH and maintain it for about 15 seconds, I can start to notice a vibration in the steering wheel and eventually the whole car. After pulling over, I can smell burning brakes from both front wheels. I thought, "No big deal, I just adjusted them too tight" so I backed off both several notches. Same issue. Backed them off again. Same issue. Backed them off again SIGNIFICANTLY, and I mean several turns. Same issue. I have to back off the adjusters to the point where I have almost no brakes before they will not drag.

With the car jacked up, the wheels both seem to turn freely. I can spin them by hand and they will go for several revolutions before stopping. Anyone have any ideas?

Again, the drums, shoes, hardware, springs, master cylinder, tire, and wheel bearings are all new. Pushrod is adjusted exactly to the 1.000" spec using a high quality caliper.
 
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