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Thunderbird Disk Brake Options

Posted By Florida_Phil 6 Months Ago
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Florida_Phil
Posted 6 Months Ago
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My 1955 Thunderbird has stock drum brakes and a dual drum brake master cylinder.  I rerouted the brakes lines without a proportioning valve.   I rebuilt the stock brakes from front to back and adjusted them as close as possible.  My pedal is firm and high. These brakes are less than adequate for today's traffic.  I see all kinds of front disc brake options from Granada spindles to high dollar kits.  I don't want to change the front steering geometry. I wish to run stock 15" steel wheels.  I may upgrade to 15" aluminum wheels in the future.  Do I need power brakes as well? What is the best option for my money?
miker
Posted 6 Months Ago
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Best option for the money is kind of a value statement, as opposed to “cheapest”. My bird has a front disc kit from 1999 or so, from a bird suppler. It consisted of a small spacer on the spindle, bearings, a Granda rotor with the hub turned dow to fit early wheel center, brackets, and an early Fairlane caliper. Misc parts and the dual master for disc/drum. The spacer (used to fi the new bearing stack) moves the front wheels out maybe 1/8”. Not a problem.

I don’t remember if mine had replacement rear cylinders,I know some available now do for brake balance. I used a separate rear proportioning valve not a combination valve.

They work fine, but you might want to look at the quality and type of front pads supplied. Mine were hard pads to go high miles, and took a lot of pressure to stop hard.

The Granda spindles require reaming the (IIRC) the lower ball joint, and lower the front, so you’ll probably need blocks in the back.

I prefer the Aerostar springs, and it’s been reported using both goes too low for most people.

I’ve also got rear disc, and I wouldn’t do that again. I’d fit the later model self adjuster to the rear drums. The ability to modulate the brakes right at lockup still isn’t like a modern car, so the expense wasn’t worth it. If you’ve got the money and engineering experience to do a full design using Wilwood or such, that would probably change.

miker
55 bird, 32 cabrio F code
Kent, WA
Tucson, AZ
oldcarmark
Posted 6 Months Ago
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Florida_Phil (2/6/2019)
My 1955 Thunderbird has stock drum brakes and a dual drum brake master cylinder.  I rerouted the brakes lines without a proportioning valve.   I rebuilt the stock brakes from front to back and adjusted them as close as possible.  My pedal is firm and high. These brakes are less than adequate for today's traffic.  I see all kinds of front disc brake options from Granada spindles to high dollar kits.  I don't want to change the front steering geometry. I wish to run stock 15" steel wheels.  I may upgrade to 15" aluminum wheels in the future.  Do I need power brakes as well? What is the best option for my money?

I don't have a specific recommendation for Disc Brake Conversion Kit but keep this in Mind. Any Kit that uses Granada Spindles will lower the Front End by about 2 Inches. There are Kits that keep your stock Spindles and use a Bracket to mount the Calipers. If You don't want to go lower find a Kit with the Brackets. Wilwood has such a Kit as well as several other Suppliers on the Web. When I did my 56 10 Years ago I used Granada Spindles and I had to source the Parts required to complete the upgrade as well as find someone to ream the Lower Holes in the Spindle. Now a complete Kit is available with brand new Granada Spindles already machined. If You are going to change to Discs find a Booster or Booster/ Master that works on 55 T-Bird. You will find a big difference in the Braking using Discs and a Booster. I know I did..You will also want to ad Self Adjusters to rear Brakes to keep them in proper Adjustment. Very important when You have Discs on the Front.

http://forums.y-blocksforever.com/uploads/images/b9ec8c4e-313b-486f-b1b0-422e.jpg http://forums.y-blocksforever.com/Uploads/Images/a82cee8f-be33-4d66-b65d-fcd8.jpg  
Florida_Phil
Posted 6 Months Ago
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Thanks for the reply.  The issue I keep struggling with is how much modifying is too much?  I know I can turn my '55 TBird into a modern car by replacing everything but the body.  If you have been watching the auctions lately, you will see the big bucks are being brought by resto mods.  It seems the younger folks want old cars that drive like new cars.  I bought my car so I could have the car I would have had in high school if I had the money.  My car is an early sixties hot rod Thunderbird.  It's been modified, but can be turned back to stock if someone wants to go back. If I put Granada spindles on my car will it reduce it's value?  How about electric power steering, a 5 speed or a 9 inch rear?  I think early TBird should have Y blocks.  Others may think differently.  We or someone close to us is going to have to sell these cars some day.

The power disk brake kits I have seen require moving the battery to the trunk.  Anyone done this?
KULTULZ
Posted 6 Months Ago
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It's been modified, but can be turned back to stock if someone wants to go back. If I put Granada spindles on my car will it reduce it's value?  How about electric power steering or a 9 inch rear?  I think early TBird should have Y blocks.


Simply keep, box and catalog take-off parts. The future buyer will have his choice of how he wants the car.


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miker
Posted 6 Months Ago
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The typical disc/drum bird coversion with power uses the original type booster only for the front disc. The rear drums remaim manual. I’ve had that, it work fine. For 4 wheel disc I used a hydroboost, it clears the hood latch and battery. It does require the power steering pump. One of those cases where one thing leads to another.

To me, given your comments, the kits the bird suppliers sell (Larry’s still sells them, I’m sure others do) would be your best choice. The oem style booster, stock spindles, all bolt on. Your choice of power or manual. There’s many articles over at the Ford Barn on what you need for the self adjusting rears, and it not much money or work. As K points out, keeping the rear adjusted is really important with the conversion.

I’ve put many front disc conversions on vehicles, and on the birds I’d go with the long time thunderbird suppliers. Many of those other companies sell parts that bolt up, but don’t work all that well together. Been there, too.

miker
55 bird, 32 cabrio F code
Kent, WA
Tucson, AZ
Florida_Phil
Posted 6 Months Ago
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These kits do not include a proportioning valve.  If I am only going to convert the front to disks, do I need one?  I used one on a Granada spinal 1965 Mustang front disk conversion I did years ago and it didn't seem to do anything.
DryLakesRacer
Posted 6 Months Ago
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Phil, Consider contacting Prestige Thunderbirds in Santa Fe Springs California. I've seen their kit which includes 4 piston front discs instead of normal 2 piston. They have also perfected the use of our power assist units with a dual master cylinder. They also have a catalog. At a recent Thunderbird show I saw their units on quite a few 55-57 Birds and they had a rep there.

Since I am local I went to their business and talked to the owner and was very impressed. They are definately not a start up business. They also have a website. It's the kit I'm going to use on my full size 56 car because many of them don't use the power assist and suggested I don't at first. Good luck..

56 Vic, B'Ville 200 MPH Club Member, So Cal.
miker
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Prestige has been around a long time, I had one of their soft tops. If DLR has seen the plant and is sold, then I’d second it.

On the proportioning valve. If you’re going to play around with the wheels and tires or lower the car, the braking balance might change a bit. Enough to notice, I don’t know. I just prefer to put the valve in when the brakes are apart so it’s there if I need it. I hate bleeding brakes.

miker
55 bird, 32 cabrio F code
Kent, WA
Tucson, AZ
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As you're interested in keeping stock height, you could also consider Scarebird.  I used their brackets a few years ago with only minor problems, mostly adding a washer outside the bearing so the cotter pin would work.  Lincoln rotors with C10 calipers.  You'll have to turn down the rotor hub to make stock wheels fit.  While many cars have been sold with discs but non-power, as in countless British cars from the sixties, you may not need power.  I used this booster,  https://www.thunderbirdbrakeparts.com/proddetail.asp?prod=9795tb, which definitely required moving the battery.  Some regrets on that as the battery does take up a fair amount of room and we go on more overnights than I expected while building the 'Bird.

X2 on what Miker said about converting the rears to self adjusting.  I did that when I switched to discs years ago and the car still stops straight with no drama. You can find information on this site, or I think I have a couple of articles on it.

Don Wigle
55 Thunderbird, 56 F100 project still in progress.


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