56 Drum to Disc Brake Conversion

has anyone out there done this project?
I've been looking at the kits and its not terrible price wise, but it looks like I'm going to be stuck buying custom rotors and pads if I do that.

anyone attempt it another way?
 
has anyone out there done this project?
I've been looking at the kits and its not terrible price wise, but it looks like I'm going to be stuck buying custom rotors and pads if I do that.

anyone attempt it another way?
I wanted to convert my 56 to discs but decided not to because of the cost, and work. instead I installed power brakes, the factory power booster on the fender well and went to softer brake lining on the front brake shoes. My brakes now are as normal as any newer car.
 

CSPIDY

Well-Known Member
Good to hear, disc brakes are better than drum but they have some down sides with wheel fitment and brake dust. I have stock power brake with drums on mine and I like it. Dual master cylinder should be added, just what I need another project.
 

Philt

Active Member
After several tries to adjust the drums decided it was time to toss the OEM drums for front discs. I hope to keep the booster, replace the single bowel master, install a "T" or proportioner valve and move the brake switch to the brake pedal.Probably toss all the old lines as well.
Can I keep the rear brakes cylinders or new and different size cyliders?
Phil in Nashville
 
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I am contemplating an upgrade to the brakes on our '56. Has original 4 wheel drums in great shape with manual master cyl. I have looked all over and cant find a power brake unit .. original type. I understand that a swap of master cylinder to '75 vette with the 1.125" bore and a change to smaller rear wheel cylinders may give us a foot pedalthat doesn't need two feet to push. FYI the drums were just turned and brake shoes are all new. Just a bear to stop. Our 1957 T bird stops much better and has power brakes. So I can compare.
 

jack-in-sac

Well-Known Member
I am contemplating an upgrade to the brakes on our '56. Has original 4 wheel drums in great shape with manual master cyl. I have looked all over and cant find a power brake unit .. original type. I understand that a swap of master cylinder to '75 vette with the 1.125" bore and a change to smaller rear wheel cylinders may give us a foot pedalthat doesn't need two feet to push. FYI the drums were just turned and brake shoes are all new. Just a bear to stop. Our 1957 T bird stops much better and has power brakes. So I can compare.
I converted my '57 to disc front without a booster. I have no trouble stopping. I like early 70s Maverick dual master cylinders for conversions. I have a 65Falcon Ranchero disc conversion and 57 Ranch Wagon disc conversion. As to the rear wheel cylinders. You can use 55 rear wheel cylinders or as I did, install an inline proportioning valve.
 
RonnieK, Can you expand a bit about "softer brake shoes" Looking online I really can't find any info about softer shoes stopping better. They sound like a good option. Do you know a brand that in fact works better on our cars as far as stopping performance?
 

Philt

Active Member
Did the conversion on my "61 and probably will do it for her "56. Be sure to check if the rotors require 15" wheels and some have offsets.
I will keep the booster, swap in a dual bowl master cylinder. Debating replacing all the plumbing as well. A pre-bent tube kit is under $200.00 and you will never think about old, corroded lines again. A kit from one of the Tbird houses eliminates a lot of parts searching which is time for me.
Usually, I dont think much about brakes but some times they can become REALLY Important.
 
We have a'56 bird with manual brakes that work ok but I would like to improve them. The question is what way to go ? I can put discs on the front and I am told they work well with manual master cylinder. This is a lot less costly than adding an original power booster and I have read that they only have a marginal improvement. Opinions ?
 

jack-in-sac

Well-Known Member
The effect of disc brakes is straight stopping and little to no fading under repeated use. that is the sum of the improvement IMHO. when in good condition and adjustment the original drum brakes will stop quite well. They are still subject to fade under heavy use like a descent down a mountain road. It is that drum brakes can develop a "pull" to one side. The disc brakes are not susceptible to that pulling in my experience.
I converted my '57 to disc brakes and without use of a brake power assist. I have no trouble stopping. But everyone can have a different experience.
At any rate good luck to you.
 
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