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Old 06-29-2021, 04:50 PM   #1
ThosD
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Default Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

I want to make my new to me '30 coupe safe and reliable for driving on public roads; more than just a parade car. I think the Bendix style hydraulic brakes with Lincoln drums are what I want...but OMG, the kit prices I have found are nearly $4K. Is there an economical kit or a Bendix/Lincoln type kit that does not require a change of the hubs?
Same for safety glass kits. Prices range from $450 to almost $800 for a 5 window coupe.

Tom
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Old 06-29-2021, 05:47 PM   #2
nkaminar
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Thos,

How are the mechanical brakes now? You should be able to stop in 20 feet at 20 mph and you should be able to lock up the wheels. Did the previous owner do any work on the brakes? The mechanical brakes with the cast iron drums can stop the car well enough to drive in modern traffic if they are in excellent condition. You can have the brakes rebuilt by sending in the backing plates and all the parts.

There are aftermarket kits that can improve the mechanical brakes. Search for Flat Head Ted kits. Some owners will argue that these kits are not necessary if the original brakes are in excellent condition.

The hydraulic kits are made up of later components such as the master cylinder, slave cylinders, backing plates, shoes, drums, etc. You can search for these components online and possibly save some money. The kits usually will specify where the different parts come from. I am not the expert here so perhaps others can elaborate.

The safety glass is expensive. I had a small half of my windshield on my Model T replaced and it costs $150. I took the glass out of the frame myself and put the new piece in myself. If you do the labor you may be able to save some money.

You will have to weigh the cost of safety equipment against the cost of possible injuries to yourself and your loved ones that may be passengers in your car.
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Old 06-29-2021, 05:54 PM   #3
GeneBob
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

I think the Boling Brothers brake kit looks like a good "all in one" way to go, it is sold by Snyder's Antique parts as well. Good people. Sometimes your local Model A supplier has glass made locally for less and you save shipping costs.
On the other hand, when the original mechanical brakes are in good operating condition and kept in good working order, they stop the car well. Many on this website swear by them. I kept my mechanical set up and they work well up to about 60 mph. How fast do you plan to go?
Replacing plate glass and installing seat belts are both top concerns, especially at the higher speeds.
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Old 06-29-2021, 08:41 PM   #4
Kevin in NJ
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Hate to break it to you, but juice brakes are not safer.

They need the same amount of work to set up. You still need shoes fitted to the drums.

They will fail on you. Unless you really drive the car regularly they will fail. Maybe just one or even both rears go. Long story on why, but they do. I have a 65 Mustang it gets rear wheel cylinder problems. I asked around at car shows and found many of the cars had one or more wheels not working. More then one person said they knew the brakes were not working but did not fix them cause it was just their show car.

If you want reliable effective brakes with minimal long term maintence you want to pay someone to build a matched set of drums and backing plates. You will do it once and only just do minor adjustments for the next 50 years. If you put in juice brakes you will have to change fluid regularly and futz with wheel cylinders not working every few years.

In the end you really end up with the same level of braking.
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Old 06-29-2021, 09:00 PM   #5
ThosD
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Thanks to all for the brake recommendations. My car just came off of 20 years of non op. The previous owner only drove it once or twice a year, which is why he sold it. I need to tear into the car to sort things out.
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Old 06-29-2021, 09:09 PM   #6
Charlie Stephens
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

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Originally Posted by ThosD View Post
Thanks to all for the brake recommendations. My car just came off of 20 years of non op. The previous owner only drove it once or twice a year, which is why he sold it. I need to tear into the car to sort things out.
What kind of brakes are on it now? Any pictures (especially the master cylinder mount if hydraulic)?

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Old 06-29-2021, 09:40 PM   #7
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

I have old Fords with mechanical and hydraulic brakes. The cars with mechanical brakes are always ready to go as far as the brakes are concerned. The ones with hydraulics are another question.

Model A brakes are very good and need very little maintenance if completely rebuilt correctly.

My experience,

Chris W.
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Old 06-30-2021, 05:34 AM   #8
Patrick L.
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

I'd recommend fixing the mechanicals and go for a ride.
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Old 06-30-2021, 05:39 AM   #9
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Check out the Jalopy Journal message board. then search monthly banger meet...lots of information

Last edited by brokenspoke; 06-30-2021 at 05:40 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 06-30-2021, 08:15 AM   #10
Chris in WNC
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

if you want "economical" and "effective", stick with mechanicals.
cast iron drums are the only modification I'd recommend.
find someone who knows how or learn to restore the system correctly yourself......
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Old 06-30-2021, 11:37 AM   #11
Jim Brierley
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

It appears that Kevin has either had some bad luck with hydraulics, or has never tried them. Hydraulics are safer than mechanicals, better and easier stopping, really better for highway driving! Very little initial set-up, much less maintenance, etc. The ones most often used are Ford, 1939-48. the Lincoln's are the same diameter, shoe width, and the same drums, they are just Bendix style instead of Wagner, so a softer pedal. They were designed for a much heavier, faster car than the A. If hydraulics weren't good, no modern cars would be using them. By using silicone fluid, DOT-5, you eliminate rusting of the cylinders, the bane of hydraulics. If you buy a kit, they are expensive, how much is your life worth??? If you do it all yourself, not so much. Us hot-rodders have been doing it ourselves for decades!
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Old 06-30-2021, 11:48 AM   #12
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

When was the last time a hot-rodder installed 39-48 brakes ?
When i was hot-rodding I never used those #%%$* things. I had to work on them when they ever came to the shop.
I just helped a friend with brakes on his hot-rodded '35. We installed a Mustang front end and 9" rear. Brakes on all corners are disk. Even in the 60s I wouldn't think of installing those old Ford brakes on anything. But, JMHO
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Old 06-30-2021, 10:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

I'm the new guy here, so forgive me. Isn't the glass on the A safety glass?? The owners manual says it is. It doesn't matter what kind of glass you have, if it wont stop a person flying 40mph it isn't any better than what you have. Seat belts is what you need, IMHO.

If the brakes are adjusted and in good shape they should stop a Model A going 45 in a reasonably safe distance. As my dad said..."the brakes work fine, the operator has to start braking sooner than with modern cars." I find if I keep that in mind I do well, even in traffic.

I would make sure the brakes are in top shape before I spend a few grand on juice brakes...but that's just me.
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Old 06-30-2021, 10:49 PM   #14
Richard in Anaheim CA
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Only original windshields were safety glass and they were often replaced with plate glass. All the others are plate glass until late 31.
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Old 06-30-2021, 11:44 PM   #15
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Brierley View Post
It appears that Kevin has either had some bad luck with hydraulics, or has never tried them. Hydraulics are safer than mechanicals, better and easier stopping, really better for highway driving! Very little initial set-up, much less maintenance, etc.
I don't know about areas with more moderate temps, but up here in the north country juice brakes on the old cars are nothing but trouble. Rust and leaking seals to contend with every year when pulled out of storage in the spring. The mechanicals are as good when I pull out of the shed as when I pulled in last fall. Also stops the car just fine, yes may require a bit more foot pressure but other than that they work great. Not trying to cause controversy, but my experience with hydraulic brakes in a car that is stored for long periods in a shed is "no fun". I HATE brake jobs/wheel cylinders/master cylinders.
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Old 06-30-2021, 11:53 PM   #16
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard in Anaheim CA View Post
Only original windshields were safety glass and they were often replaced with plate glass. All the others are plate glass until late 31.

Thanks, I guess someone replaced the glass in the 30 Fordor I drive; it has safety glass all around.
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Old 07-01-2021, 06:30 AM   #17
Kevin in NJ
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Brierley View Post
It appears that Kevin has either had some bad luck with hydraulics, or has never tried them. Hydraulics are safer than mechanicals, better and easier stopping, really better for highway driving! Very little initial set-up, much less maintenance, etc. The ones most often used are Ford, 1939-48. the Lincoln's are the same diameter, shoe width, and the same drums, they are just Bendix style instead of Wagner, so a softer pedal. They were designed for a much heavier, faster car than the A. If hydraulics weren't good, no modern cars would be using them. By using silicone fluid, DOT-5, you eliminate rusting of the cylinders, the bane of hydraulics. If you buy a kit, they are expensive, how much is your life worth??? If you do it all yourself, not so much. Us hot-rodders have been doing it ourselves for decades!
Jim,

So please explain to me how a brake system with a single point of failure and known long term issues are safer? When the A has the shoes and drums set up properly the juice brakes stop just as good as the factory brakes with the tires being the weak link to stopping.

As for Hot rodders. I rarely see local rods that I consider safe. Often the brakes are likely undersized for the HP of the car. They do not know how to engineer the car. They have not worked the numbers to make sure they have enough braking for the weight and HP of the car. They just throw stuff together and drive to shows. Then they bitch when you go slow because their undersized radiators will cause them to over heat.

I have been working brakes for decades. I kind of cut my teeth on the 40,000 mile 1939 Fordor we owned that was all original. Here in the humid South Jersey with wild temp swings we were having to unseize one or both rear wheel cylinders every couple of years. I have to deal with my 65 mustang with rear cylinder problems too. I have talked to many, like 60, people about the brakes in their collector cars. All makes, all years. I found most of the people have had problems with their rear wheel cylinders. A large number know they have a problem but do not bother fixing them.

On the other hand, My brothers A was restored in 1970. He runs it hard and it has some miles on it. The brakes have only been adjusted in all those years. When we were running the beltway around Chicago at 60 MPH and we had someone on ramp in front of us and slow down to like 40 suddenly we learned how good the mechanical brakes really are when done properly.

As you can see other people have similar brake issues with juice brakes. For a collector car that is not kept in an temp and humidity controlled garage juice brakes are more likely to fail at some point. This has to do with differntial expansion of metal and fluid and how it can push past the seal and suck back in with more water. People who live in dry climates may be less likely to ever see the issue. I was friends with people who started Carlisle. The one guy had a large collection of Vettes. I asked him about brake issues and he said he never had a problem, he lived in Cape May, NJ near me. Then I found out his garage was heated and air conditioned.

I am talking from experience on this issue. If you want great brakes that will just keep operating with minimal work then you want mechanical brakes that were set up properly. This requires expensive special tooling so you are much wiser to pay one of the people who specialize in Model A brakes.

If you are putting juice brakes on the car and you have not fit the shoes to the drums then you are not going to get 100% braking. Your brakes will likely suck big time!!! Not too long ago I did a full brake job on a 65 Mustang. You cant just get good American (that is USA/ Canadian made) made parts anymore. They are all made in China and they did not seem to get the specs. The shoes are not even close to the drums after you cut them round (if you can cut them round). Throw in bleeder holes not at the top of th cylinder, front drums that do not center on the hub, hardware that does not quite fit. What should have been a 3 hour job took me 3 weeks. Between waiting for parts that were usable and having to extensive modifications to the parts so they fit properly. I have been buying up American made spare parts to have on stock for my car.

Anyway, what might I possibly know?
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Old 07-01-2021, 06:34 AM   #18
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

NOBODY has answered the original question, only their opinion on why to keep the mechanicals.
Many thousands of A's were converted to hydraulic. His car, his choice.


Boling Bros is the best (IMO), but you could go to the HAMB and ask the same question, find early parts and convert it.


JMO


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Old 07-01-2021, 07:00 AM   #19
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

I have F100 bendix brakes on the front and 40 ford on rear. Dual master cylinder setup. I think the fronts alone could stop several Model A's! To each his own, but my Roadster is not bone stock. If I had an all original car, I would keep the mechanicals without a doubt, but...Randy Gross lives just down the street from me!
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Old 07-01-2021, 07:19 AM   #20
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Default Re: Economical and effective hydraulic brake conversion.

I have two A's that were converted to hydraulic brakes over 20 years ago and I'm starting to feel cheated as they are still stopping on a dime with a nickle change. I switched to hydraulics after sailing through a red light due to the fact that the mechanical brakes failed after repeated use in urban traffic. And yes, I know how to adjust mechanical brakes. Mechanical brakes are fine if you're going to putt around on country roads. I'm with Jim that hydraulic are better than mechanical brakes, especially if you are try to keep up with modern traffic.


To the OP, cheap conversions are no longer available with the demise of wrecking yards. Check out the Speedway Motors catalog for prices on new components. As a side note, all of the Wagner wheel cylinders from NAPA are made in Mexico, not China.
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