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Front power disc brake conversion on a 58 Buick


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The Kanter brake kit could not be used as is and needed some modifications including a different new dual master. A special firewall mounting plate had to be made. Spacers needed modification. A number of other things. Anyway here's some pictures.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes the pads are GM pads used on cars in the late 80sto 90s and can be found in any auto parts store. Performs well but there's a little grazing. I may need to switch to a ceramic pad. Again a lot of modification was needed to make it work. Couldn't use the kit's booster or master.

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"Glazing"???

What was the finish on the rotors? "satiny" or machined with the OEM-style "swirl polish"?

If the rotors did not have the factory-spec swirl polish on them, but were smooooth satiny instead, what you are probably experiencing is the pads smooothing out the roughness in the rotor's finish. Which means early fade and smell after just a few stops in succession.

I'd seen our techs re-surface NEW rotors from GM so their thickness would match the existing rotor on the other side of the vehicle. They'd not put the swirl polish on the rotor as the final step, but left them "cut". This caused much grief for them as the QC guy would immediately take the vehicle out and nail the brakes. As a result, we put out vehicles with an uncertainty of which way they'd pull--we just knew they would pull, though, just not which direction.

So, when I needed new rotors for my '77 Camaro, I opted for some aftermarket rotors due to lower costs than the ACDelco/GM rotors. They had the satin finish on them, without any swirl polish. In normal stops, they felt fine. When I got to where I could do some moderate stops to get them broken-in and the linings "cured", the first moderate stop from 40mph brought some smell and early fade. The second similar stop was moreso, smell and fade. I knew what was happening . . . the metallic pads were smooothing out the satiny roughness of the rotors' surface. So I let the car sit and cool before I drove it home from my shop that night. My normal driving was on the freeway, so no need for heavy brake applicatioins.

The next day, I did the same routine of a few moderate stops from 40mph. Less smell, better pedal feel, less fade. I knew I was making progress. I still took pains to not need to make a quick stop, though.

Third day, smell had mostly stopped and stopping was better still. I figured I could just drive normally and let the normal stopping finish the job, which it did. The rotors were mostly shiney, now, too.

Next time I needed rotors, I opted for some aftermarkets from a local auto supply. They were less money BUT had the proper OEM-spec finish and swirl polish on them. NO smell or fade as the satin-finish rotors had had (described above). A good purchase! Still, though, I did some break-in stops to ensure the pads were cured and ready for "work".

So, if what I've described is what you're calling "glazing", then I wouldn't be so quick to change pads . . . just yet. Some claim the ceramic pads are "higher performance", but some ceramic pad makers do not claim this. A "premium" pad that doesn't put normal brake dust on the wheels does not always mean "higher performance". Some have claimed that the ceramic pads WILL dust, but it's a lighter colored dust so it doesn't show up as readily as the darker metallic pad dust will.

What about f/r proportioning?

What specific application are the rotors/calipers/pads for on later model GM vehicles? Just curious. IF, per chance, the pads and such are not really big enough to handle the weight of the '58 Buick, that might be an issue too. Just curious.

Take care,

NTX5467

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BP 215 is the pad number from the kit. Rotors appeared to have the swirl polish. Brakes aren't "galzing". There's a lite sound that disappears when I brake. It has gotten better the more miles I put on it so far. Pad are just lightly touching the discs I believe when driving, but only occasionally now. Thanks.

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Typically, the disc brake pads should barely touch the rotors when the brakes are "off". In the 1980s, sometime, the engineering was changed to get the rotors to retract another "bit" or so to reduce the parasitic drag for fuel economy purposes. This situation also, as I recall, went with a "quick take-up" master cylinder to reduce braking action lag as the pads were not already on the rotors when the brake pedal was depressed.

Thanks for the information and update.

NTX5467

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In the world of brake friction materials, there are "industry numbers" which are or should be incorporated in the particular replacement parts vendors' part numbers. In this case, "215" is the industry number, which relates to specific vehicle applications. The type of friction material or manufacturer does not matter, "215" will be in the part number somewhere, even if it's a part of a longer numeric part number.

In general, the "215" applications include some higher-volume GM vehicles from 1983-1996, which explains the aluminum master cylinder (which probably is the "fast take up" cylinder). The only "hitch" I see is that the cars are the "W" cars, basically, with some expansion to the "C"/"H" cars of the later 1980s . . . all fwd cars with production weights in the low-to-mid 3000 lb range, including the minivans. To see the full list, you can ago into RockAuto Auto Parts and go through the menus for 1995 Buick Century, then when the window opens with the brake pad listings, click on the vendor part number and it'll bring up a full list of vehicles which use that particular pad. In the case of the 1984 Lumina, these pads fit the "heavy duty option" brakes.

Considering that, at that time, brake components had already been downsized a few times, with the exclusive use of some sort of metallic friction material to allow the physically smaller friction area and materials and still have acceptable braking performance.

One gut feeling is that these particular brakes might be sized for a vehicle weight of which the '58 Buicks might generally be heavier (especially the "senior", long wheelbase models and wagons) than the fwd vehicles for which they were designed and validated. This would make the use of a metallic brake pad IMPERATIVE, rather than something akin to the $9.99 auto supply house-brand "special" pads, with all due respect.

Not to say that they would not credibly stop the vehicle, just that in a worst case scenario with a fully-loaded (passengers and luggage compartment) '58 Limited or Roadmaster, for example, they might be a little "light weight". Worse if a trailer might be being towed.

But I also realize that these cars will not be driven with the same intensity (hopefully and generally) as the fwd vehicles for which the brake systems were designed. In normal use, or even a little "more intense" situation, they'll probably stop just fine and better than the factory brakes did. Being of late model origins and for vehicles of which GM built enough that most auto supplies have ready access to these parts is a major positive point, too!

Just me, but I would have liked to see something for the later Caprice/Roadmaster rwd cars, in the sizing of the calipers and such, but I also know that space and size issues can be a big determiner of what can work and be easy enough to install to make the conversion viable for those of "general" abilities.

Now that the front brakes are upgraded, what about adapting one of the rear wheel disc brake kits to the Buick rear axle? When that's figured out, then adding ABS would be the next step.

Thanks for the information on this conversion!

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

Dave,

The conversion looks great. I just did the same on my 1941 Super Convertible. Also went to Kanter and had to do some modification. Nothing as serious as having a bracket made, but the calibers sat to low on the rotor about a 1/16 too close. Brake hoses are metric, so need to convert the brake line ends. See my post me and my buick.

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  • 1 month later...

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