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Drum brakes and mountain roads

Posted By LordMrFord 2 Months Ago
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LordMrFord
Posted 2 Months Ago
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We got a plan to take 4000 km cruise in fjord-Norway in next summer with our 62 Falcon manual shift (no Y) and I never drove in mountains so should I change disc brakes at front? Twenty kilometer down hill with drum brakes sound like a suicide to me.



Hyvinkää, FI
MoonShadow
Posted 2 Months Ago
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Millions of cars drove for millions of miles without the front disc brakes. If the brakes are in good condition and properly adjusted you should have no problems. I would do a service check on them before you go. The biggest problem on the downhill's are a tendency to overuse the brakes and get them heated. This can lead to boiling brake fluid and blown out wheel cylinders and brake shoes. On the long down hills use a lower gear and do not keep your foot on the brake. You can apply them rather firmly and then lift off of them for a while. If they start to smell hot find a place to pull over and let them cool down. 
Disc brakes are much better on the long hills because they have more stopping power on the front and also dissipate heat quicker than drums. With normal informed driving practices you should not need them but if you want to swap them out it is a better option. I run all drum brakes on my 56 Vicky.

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Talkwrench
Posted 2 Months Ago
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use your gears.. IF your drum brakes are well adjusted and as they should be you should have no issue.



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Florida_Phil
Posted 2 Months Ago
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I have a related question.  I am not a professional mechanic, but I have done a number of brake jobs on my own cars over the years.  When I rebuilt the drum brakes on my 1955 TBird, they didn't work that well.  I considered upgrading to disks.  Since then, the drum brakes seemed to steadily get better.  It's like the shoes and the drums needed time to adjust to each other.  I assume this is normal?  Is there a way to avoid this and keep the drum brakes?  Are there high performance brake shoes that will stop better than auto parts shoes?
57RancheroJim
Posted 2 Months Ago
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Years ago when you bought brake shoes and had the drums turned they would arc the shoes to fit the drums, not many places you can get that done anymore so it takes miles before the shoes wear in to match the drum radius and have full contact. Also brake shoe material today isn't the same, no more asbestos. I use to run GreyRock semi metallic but those haven't been available for a long time. I don't know of anyone who makes a hipo shoe today.
charliemccraney
Posted 2 Months Ago
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Probably the only way you might get a performance oriented shoe is to send them out to a company that relines brakes.


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Tedster
Posted 2 Months Ago
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Drum brakes on all 4 corners aren't as good as discs, the main problem generally is that the knowledge base for installation and setup isn't what it once was. If they are setup right they work OK, I don't have a problem with them. Often the assemblies the new components themselves are installed on are usually in need of repair by now. The drum backing plates for example. There are 3 raised flat surfaces that each shoe rides on and slides or rotates on, with long use these pads become gouged and the shoes may no longer retract smartly or even stick. Old hoses limit the return of fluid.

High performance brake linings may not be what you want. This type of material is designed for racing or similar activities and won't provide decent stopping power till they achieve very high temperatures.

As mentioned oversize linings used to be sold, for a close initial fit with drums that had been turned oversize, and then the shoe linings were arc'd on a machine for a full contact patch with the drum surface. There are some ways around this, careful attention to the front axle brakes are important because it is responsible for roughly 70% of the stopping power.

There is also a break-in or "bedding in" procedure for any new brake lining. They need to get hot. Really hot, so's you can smell 'em hot. There are resins and binders that need to be burned off, basically. Ironically a long downhill stretch is probably the best way to achieve this.
charliemccraney
Posted 2 Months Ago
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High performance street materials should not require high temperatures to work.  It's stuff that is designed for track use that requires that.  I've seen warnings on track use items that said effectively if you use this on the street, you will die, paraphrased, of course.  I'd be surprised if anything like that exists for drum brakes.  As usual, if there is any doubt, check with the manufacturer or supplier.


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LordMrFord
Posted 2 Months Ago
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So rebuild drums and dot 5.1 fluids should do the thing?
If I swap the eight inch rear end from my 63 Fairlane with five lug pattern, I have to think, what to do with my front brakes... we dont have our scrapyards full of old US granada stuff so expensive front disc kit might be the only easy way.



Hyvinkää, FI
Daniel Jessup
Posted 2 Months Ago
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While I have not had my 55 Fairlane down any mountain roads yet, I am impressed by the upgrade of using a power brake booster on my original brake setup (turned drums and new brake shoes, new master cylinders, new hoses, etc). Especially in stop and go traffic, the interstate, etc. I cannot believe the price of getting an original drum for these cars, crazy stuff. The more I drive the car the more I think that when I wear out the front drums I will go with disk brakes up front. This is the last time I can turn those drums.

Daniel Jessup

Loveland, Ohio

aka "The Hot Rod Reverend" w00t
check out the 1955 Ford Fairlane build at www.hotrodreverend.com




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