These days it’s become really easy to drastically upgrade the power coming out of a stock engine with aftermarket parts. Some upgrades are even cheap, but don’t forget to match your power upgrades with some brake upgrades as well. Lots of people will spend thousands on major engine modifications and then run stock braking systems. This may be ok for a car built in the mid to late 70’s and newer when power disc brakes became standard on most cars, but most cars back in the 60’s and before had 4 wheel manual drum brakes like these and they sucked.
If you went through water over a few inches deep, the stopping distance was greatly increased. If they got too hot, performance was also greatly reduced.
When building my son’s 65 Falcon, we decided the factory brakes were just not good enough even after we had the drums turned, all new shoes, wheel cylinders and hardware. We found our solution through online recommendations on different car forums with the Scarebird disc brake adapter kit. Their products are available for many makes and models: https://scarebird.com/
We put significant labor and a little money into the tires and wheels and had just the look Alan wanted so we did not want to change to 5 lug hubs or axles.
The Scarebird kit contained 2 adapters and 2 rotor centering rings and a list of common parts to get from the local parts store.
The parts kit list for our Falcon (maybe same for 1st and 2nd gen Mustang 4 lug) came from a strange mix of donor cars: Nissan Stanza rotors, Cadillac Eldorado flex hoses, and Chevy Cavalier calipers and pads.
We took all of the drum hardware off the front, but we didn’t have to change the spindles.
Here you can see our new Eldorado hoses and master cylinder. The Falcon factory hubs do not fit inside the Stanza rotors without some adjustments:
One of our hubs was worn out and we had to replace it. Here you can see the lines drawn in sharpie on the new hub we need to grind to.
After adjustment the rotors should seat flat and centered:
Discs on the old bird!
Along with the upgrades down at the front wheels came all new steel brake lines, new flex hose to rear axle, a new Jegs portioning valve and a new custom red dual chamber master cylinder:
We did not add a power brake booster because of clearance issues with these shock tower braces common in Falcons, Mustangs, and Mavericks of the era. We felt power boost was not absolutely necessary given the light weight of the Falcon.
Even without the power boost the brakes were dramatically improved and performance was no longer effected by rain.
Cost of brake system total rebuild including the $86 Scarebird disc brake upgrade conversion kit, $36 Jegs portioning valve, new calipers, hoses, pads, master cylinder, all new steel lines and other misc tubing parts, wheel cylinders, shoes, brake hardware, wheel bearings and getting 4 drums turned, : just under $400
Labor: Son, Dad, Grandpa, two 4 hour days on 1 weekend, 1 case of beer.
Stopping when you want to: Priceless!
See you on the road!
All photos by David Wilhite.