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Old 12-14-2020, 05:32 PM   #1
JayJay
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Default Consensus on brake drums

All - just acquired a '30 Town Sedan that appears to be pretty darn close to 100% original (and regrettably it smells 90 years old too). 95K miles, haven't looked into the engine yet to see if it's been rebuilt oversize. But "original" means it has the steel brake drums.

What's the general consensus: can the supplemental support bands make the steel drums serviceable (it doesn't yet have them), or should the steel drums be replaced with cast iron? I'm leaning towards the latter. (It may be moot, I haven't pulled the drums to measure them yet.) My objective is to gradually go through it system by system to bring it up to top shape, rebuild the engine with B cam and 5.5 head, maybe put in an overdrive, then spend a happy retirement (yeah, when will that come) touring in it.

Thanks.

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Old 12-14-2020, 05:40 PM   #2
BRENT in 10-uh-C
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

My preference is for the cast iron drums. The drum "band" IMO is a portion of the word 'band-aid'. There was a time when the bands were all we had, and they were way better than nothing. Now, with cast iron drums, braking efficiency is much better. If you can afford it, step up for the new cast drums.
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Old 12-14-2020, 09:19 PM   #3
1955cj5
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

Give Randy a call, you can't go wrong.

https://www.fordbarn.com/forum/showthread.php?t=291301

He provided new drums, new studs swedged to my old hubs, new lined shoes arced to each individual drum. He even replaced a bearing cup that he considered worn.

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Old 12-14-2020, 10:16 PM   #4
Ernie Vitucci
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

I agree...We put iron drums on Miss Princess 15 years ago and the old Tudor stops pretty well to this day...even when the breaks are used several times in a short period of time. Ernie in Arizona
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Old 12-14-2020, 10:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

Agree. Don't screw around with bands or trying to refurb the steel drums. Go with cast iron and the go-to shop for those is Randy Gross.
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Old 12-14-2020, 10:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

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I would go with new Cast Iron Drums but I would also use the softer woven lining as Henry originally did if you really want good brakes.

My opinion,

Chris W.
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Old 12-15-2020, 02:48 AM   #7
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

I had my brakes done by Randy Gross, Couldn't be happier with them.
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Old 12-15-2020, 07:53 AM   #8
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Cool Re: Consensus on brake drums

Bert's in Denver, Colorado, did my brakes (cast iron drums, new shoes/soft linings, shoes arched to drum, etc.) and I can't be happier!



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Old 12-15-2020, 08:15 AM   #9
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

I wouldn’t use the bands if the drums are still good.

When we had our brake system completely rebuilt, the steel drums were still in good shape. Minor turning needed. Wheels lock up, car does not pull to one side, no noises. Have had many years of great service since.

I guess it depends on how you are going to use your car. Steel or cast, once wheels lock up you can’t do more.

I will say that if I had to rebuild again and the steel drums could not be reused. I would replace with new cast iron.

Last edited by WHN; 12-15-2020 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 12-15-2020, 08:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

Cast iron drums are highly recommended for a car that is going to be driven. I read that Federal law allows only 0.060 inch wear or machining off the original ID. I also read that most steel drums are at the 0.100 inch stage, so scrap. The cast iron drums will not fade as much as the steel drums.

On a side note, I have been using an IR temperature sensing gun to measure the temperatures of the brake drums after a drive and using this information to adjust the brakes. So far it has taken me about 5 adjustments to get them where they are about even with the front brakes a little hotter.
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Old 12-15-2020, 08:51 AM   #11
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

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Originally Posted by nkaminar View Post
Cast iron drums are highly recommended for a car that is going to be driven. I read that Federal law allows only 0.060 inch wear or machining off the original ID. I also read that most steel drums are at the 0.100 inch stage, so scrap. The cast iron drums will not fade as much as the steel drums.

On a side note, I have been using an IR temperature sensing gun to measure the temperatures of the brake drums after a drive and using this information to adjust the brakes. So far it has taken me about 5 adjustments to get them where they are about even with the front brakes a little hotter.
You are making a good point. I was told by many Model A people that Model A steel drums could not be turned. I went into rebuilding the brakes thinking that was the case and I would have to replace the drums. Our classic car restorer said that was not the case. If drums are in good shape, they can be reused and work like new.

The drums need to have some meat left on them. If they do, and the system is properly rebuilt, I think you could be very happy with the outcome.
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Old 12-15-2020, 08:55 AM   #12
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

Go with cast iron drums.
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Old 12-15-2020, 09:33 AM   #13
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

The original steel drums were not but .140 - .144. from the factory. After 90 years of turning and returning finding steel drums that are still .120 or more is a VERY rare thing. Most are in the .080 to .100 range. My shop has a .120 limit - after the final return - or I will not reuse them. Even the .120 thick, after a couple of heat cycles of hard stopping they will be rewarped or oval shapes causing soft stopping or worse.
Your life of even more imortant your familys life depends on the brakes.


Get the cast iron drums and if you are one of the lucky ones your hubs will still be good - new bearings of coarse. I have been using Mel's and Randy's drums for 12 years now. Good man to deal with.
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Old 12-15-2020, 11:56 AM   #14
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

JAYJAY, I know a guy who sells them and will do studs and hubs as well. Shoot me a PM and I can get you in touch with him. He lives in Pleasant hill.


Mike


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Old 12-15-2020, 12:07 PM   #15
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

I recently installed a pair of the cast iron hub/drum assembly from Bratton’s on the rear wheels of my roadster and got a noticeable improvement in braking. The old drums were original steel ones with about 90k miles on them. I plan to replace the original front hub/drums this spring.
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Old 12-15-2020, 01:12 PM   #16
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

Cast iron for sure, has my vote. Ask Randy, and see what he recommends.
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Old 12-15-2020, 04:30 PM   #17
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

I got my drums from Randy Gross and they work great. I found out after installing them my 16" bent spoke wheels didn't seat properly on the drums. Randy suggested a slight grind on the inner wheel spoke welds should help instead of taking any off the drums. Steve at Berts suggested the same think and I've had no problems so far.
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Old 12-15-2020, 06:43 PM   #18
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

Quote:
Originally Posted by Conaway2 View Post
I recently installed a pair of the cast iron hub/drum assembly from Brattonís on the rear wheels of my roadster and got a noticeable improvement in braking. The old drums were original steel ones with about 90k miles on them. I plan to replace the original front hub/drums this spring.
Cast iron drums on the back and steel on the front! I bet that car locks up the back wheels easily. You will notice a BIG improvement when you put CI drums on the front as well, especially if you have the wedges with the floating pin as well.
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Old 12-15-2020, 07:53 PM   #19
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

I have had all three. Cast iron with floating wedges is the way to go. In my case I had a more modern lining. Oh, and you have to go through everything to get the complete effect, no half-dos.

I love my cast iron brakes.
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Old 12-15-2020, 09:46 PM   #20
JayJay
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Default Re: Consensus on brake drums

Fantastic input, folks. thanks a million. Turns out Randy Gross' shop is just a few hours very scenic drive for me, so I may pull the hubs and head on down. But in the meantime - windows! Please see my next question. I'm really not a total dork, I've been involved in Model As off and on since the late 1960s and have a couple of non-Model A restos under my belt also. But now I'm beginning to run up against a few things that are more nuanced, and this collective braintrust is invaluable.


Best wishes, and stay safe.


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