Disc Brake Upgrade
The basic minimum modification is to replace the front drum brakes with disc brakes, which handle 70% of your car’s braking. The four-wheel disc is preferable, but if you’re on a budget, you can only replace the front for now. To complete a disc brake conversion, we see a variety of kits.
Converting drum brakes to disc brakes is not a difficult task, but it does necessitate some additional knowledge, tools, and safety precautions beyond changing your oil. The first step will be to bring the front end up in the air and properly supported, as well as to remove the front wheels.
The spindles will almost certainly need to be replaced. This entails removing the OEM spindle assembly, which might be a little tough if you’re not careful. This part is best done by disconnecting the brake hose from the drum brake setup. The outer tie rod is then removed from the steering arms.
This is the component that must be handled with extreme caution. Loosen the upper and lower ball joint castle nuts halfway, but don’t completely remove them. Then smack the spindle at the ball joints with a big hammer to pop the spindle out from the ball joints. This could take a few heavy whacks to accomplish. Place a floor jack beneath the lower control arm and raise it to relieve the pressure on the spindle and ball joints when they both pop loose.
Then you can totally remove the castle nuts and slip the entire drum brake and assembly off! The only piece you will reuse off this is the steering arm, so remove that and install it on the new spindle, then install the spindle onto the ball joints. Make sure the castle nuts are completely tightened and secured with a cotter pin.
The new disc brakes must now be installed on the new spindles. The caliper brackets are usually bolted to the spindle at this point. The hub and rotor are usually one piece in most kits; you’ll pack the bearings, install them in the rotor along with a seal on the underside, and then slip it onto the spindle. The rotor and the hub are two different elements in most kits. Install the dust cap after torquing down to the right specs. The caliper can then be bolted to the caliper bracket after being fitted onto the rotor. The next step is to connect the brake hose to the frame’s hard lines.
The majority of these early classics used a single pot master cylinder, which isn’t safe or up to modern braking standards. Remove the master from the firewall after crawling beneath the dash and disconnecting the clevis from the brake pedal. The new brake booster attaches with four bolts and will need a constant engine vacuum attached. The new booster will be fitted with a dual reservoir master cylinder.
The procedure for changing the rear drum brakes to disc brakes is fairly identical to the front. The most significant difference is that there is no need to replace the spindle. You will most likely have to lift the rear axles out of the housing to remove the drum brake backing plates and install the disc brake mounting brackets.
Grab a pal and begin bleeding the brakes! Here are a few pointers for your new setup: Make sure the brake pedal arm isn’t pressed against the stop completely. If there isn’t a 1/8th-inch space there, the brakes won’t be able to fully release. Check the length of the pin that connects the booster to the master cylinder – if it’s too short, your pedal will sink, and if it’s too long, your brakes will never release.
Overall, this is not a difficult task. It might take you a weekend to finish if you’re an average mechanic. Rest assured, the difference in braking between drum and disc brakes is night and day, and well worth the effort!
Better Brake Safety Upgrade