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Fitting front disc brakes to cars from the teens and twenties?

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In speaking with a fellow today, we were talking about installing front disc brakes on older cars from the teens and twenties for safe modern day touring, etc. Has any one heard of Ford model Ts and alike being fitted with motorcycle brakes of maybe in some kit form.

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I've seen it done an a heavy 30 h.p. Stanley in the form of a hand actuated brake for intermittent use, like descending long grades. It can be an effective supplement if used properly. Never seen it on a T.

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I was in a world-renown restoration shop a few years ago, and they were hiding disc brakes inside the drums of larger brass-era cars.

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AACA/HCCA member Bob Barrett from Angola NY has been retrofitting the rear wheels of older cars with hydraulic disc brakes for quite some time. I have looked at several of his projects and the owners have many positive viewpoints. --Bob

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About a year ago, I was visiting a friend who owns a few cars. He was doing some work on a big brass era car in his shop. When I noticed the clever disc brake installation on it, I snapped a picture. He mentioned the original brakes were still functional.

brake-2.jpg

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Many Amish buggies have disc brakes.

My dad built a bunch of 5th wheel Hitch Wagons, ( Think the 8 Horse Budwiser Hitch type of wagon) and we did fit disk brakes to the rear wheels. I'm not sure who the supplier was? I think it may have been Martins Wheel shop in New Holland. He also use to get some wheels and odd parts from a place in Ohio some of the time. Another avenue to look.

Correction, For wheels and stuff.

Witmer Coach Shop, 1070 West Main Street New Holland PA. 17557

Phone 717-656-3411

Mervin Martins was the Harness Shop. Dandy Dave!

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)

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About a year ago, I was visiting a friend who owns a few cars. He was doing some work on a big brass era car in his shop. When I noticed the clever disc brake installation on it, I snapped a picture. He mentioned the original brakes were still functional.

brake-2.jpg

Slick installation!

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Fitting more modern brakes to Brass Era cars is generaly a good idea. Especialy when it is as nicely done as the setup in the photo above. I am sure people have fitted brakes to Model T front axles, but I personaly dont think it is a good idea. The Model T front end has a hard enough time keeping the wheels pointed where the driver intends as it is. Placing the added stress of front wheel brakes is simpley asking too much of an already marginal design. The steering system of a model T is particularly under engineered; tie rod failures are not unknown, even without the added stress of braking forces. Just look at the front end of a Model A. They have a good front brake system, and they show the amount of strengthing Ford themselves found necessary to safely fit front brakes. Greg in Canada

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My dad and I have looked at doing this many times on some of our two wheel brake Hudsons to give some better braking on the front end. These cars weigh in at 3000 to 3500lbs.

We always stop talking about when we look at the "tire contact suface area" and figure thats alot of work just to get atotal of about 10 square inches for both front tires of 40+ year old rubber to lock up on you with 3000lbs plus pushing you from behind:eek:!! But we still talk about it. In my mind The would have to only assist in stoping, they need to be a very very small set up. A hudson tire is a good size. Take the tire you want to stop and drop it on to a peice of white paper. Now look at what you are about to stop very effectivly. Any thing can be done, but will it work and be safe, and think about them 80+ year old wooden spokes.

I joke with my dad and tell him we should put the Lockhesd brakes of my Norton Commando on cause they cant stop the bike worth a darn:D

Paul

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I have thought of this modification to my '23 buick... it can be 'exciting' coming down a hill...:eek:

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Can anyone point me to a blog or some literature on how to rig up disc brakes on a rear axle without disturbing the original set up? My '21 Franklin is downright scary sometimes. My brake pedal operates on an external contracting band around the transmission shaft -- much less the rear wheels.

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In the old days some cars were converted to 4 wheel brakes by installing a newer front axle. It did make a difference. Cars from the late 20s had a safety triangle on the rear fender with "4 wheel brakes" on it to warn drivers of older cars to keep their distance.

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At the risk of sounding like a name dropper, I was at Jay Leno's garage in November to record a couple of interviews and we discussed this as he was adding a hidden disc brake system to a Doble.

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What kind of speeds are we talking about here? Disc brakes, weren't they designed to prevent fade, with little additional stopping power at low speeds?

OK, I'm old and skeptical, but I have driven my old drum braked '56 Chevy all over the place with nary a problem.

Now, let's talk about earlier cars. My 29 Essex stops......sometimes......,sometimes to the left or right. :eek: ......occasionally straight ahead. The problem that this car has is the mechanical linkage. It needs adjusting, for sure, and probably has many worn components, but a nice hydraulic linkage system would greatly improve its stopping ability. I'm really not interested in disc brakes. With a car that travels this slow(40 mph tops!) , it would not be a good investment, again, in my opinion.

But, for sure, I'm getting a little tired of heading for the ditch to keep from running over those model A's at stop signs.:)

Happy Touring everyone!

Wayne

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I have seen drum brakes added to the front of a two wheel brake car. On the first road test with an aggressive stop, the front axle twisted like a wound up rubber band. Just be sure your cars chassis can handle any modification you do on it. Ed

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