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mcdarrunt

Scarebird disc brakes on 37 Buick

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I had no complaints on my power boosted drum brakes on my 37 Buick Special UNTIL I got caught in a monsoon in Kansas City during rush hour. The water was deep enough on the curb side to submerge the right side brakes and they disappeared---completely. Checked out the Scarebird kit for a 37-40 Buick and was glad I did. Everything actually fit and excellent instructions. They furnish the brackets, adapters, and special parts and then give a list of parts you can pick up for yourself. You can go cheap with junkyard parts or still reasonable with Rock Auto new parts. I went new and ended up with about $400 for kit and parts. Time to install was just under 2 hours.

 

 

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Ben,

  I was going to just give you a call since you're so sharp on this stuff and an oral description would be all you needed but then thought maybe others might glean something from a few (very poor) photos; besides I need the practice of posting photos with descriptions. The subject is booster/master cylinder relocation on a 37 and probably older but not 38 and newer as they went to a coil spring rear suspension. The first two shots show how far back the booster/mc has to be moved back if using an automatic behind the straight eight and probably all other transmissions since it's a problem of booster clearance. Note the assembly is further back than the trans mount cross member. The next shows the pedal shaft to booster push rod is MUCH stronger---3/4" chrome moly to compensate for the longer length. Last is the booster mount plate welded to X member and with a strut rod (all thread) on the outer edge to remove any flex from the mount. The very crude hole for speedo cable access on the overdrive automatic through the X member was cut by yours truly.

 

 

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They do not stop better than cool drums but once drums heat you lose pedal. A plus with discs are they are self cleaning so dirt or water isn't a problem. Since I don't even check the weather before making a long journey they made sense. The old 37 made it in rain/snow/ice when it was young so I expect the same now---no trailer queen for me. When it gets faded, has nicks and dings, blow by, etc, then one of the benefits of owning a restoration shop is to just run her through again and and make her a young pup again. I think a rule of thumb for discs is a booster is needed if over 3000 lbs but I have run heavier with no King Kong pedal effort needed.

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Usually you need a large pedal ratio for no boost assist on discs, like 6:1. 4:1 is ideal with boost, but it also depends on the booster size as well. Yours looks like a compact design, but pretty long it seems. Did you add an inspection cover to fill or just hope for the best?

 

The stopping ability was the same for me as well. I eventually went back because I could not find NOS ball bearings anymore and although the plastic cups on the rockauto replacement ball bearings never broke, they just didn't feel the same as the worn and pitted bearings (they felt considerably loose or considerably tight, must be a huge tolerance margin in China). The Scarebird kit on my 56 required grinding down the corners of the calipers to fit the 15" rims. Did you have to do similar? Looks like they are unmodified in your photos. I would not run discs in the stock configuration without a booster, though. The big plus was the cheaper tapered bearings and the auto adjusting distance so there wasn't any more front end pull when braking. If I were to do it again, I would go with the Wilwood dual piston design. I am also planning to machine a hub spacer between the hub and rim so its hub centric and not lug centric, its my one complaint right now.

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You have some really good observations. Yes, I did have to grind caliper, right side only, for 15" wheel clearance. I have a drive on lift so it's easy to fill the mc with a douche ball, I just fill till it runs over. Next time it's up I'm going to drill a hole above the mc with a long aircraft drill to mark the spot and then use a large step drill or hole saw for an access hole. A rubber chassis plug should plug the hole and if I get it above the two chambers divider the hole shouldn't have to be big.

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