Modern Drum Brakes for your Deuce

When deciding on a theme for this project I thought long and hard about whether to compromise the theme with disk brakes. Since the period this car is supposed to represent is early to mid 1960's it would be very unlikely that a home built rod would have disks. That said I certainly did not want to compromise safety too much so as a result I opted for modern self energizing drum brakes.

There are a few different ways to install self energizing drum brakes on an early Ford such as the popular Lincoln brake option or the '51-'54 F-100 brakes. These are good options but I wanted something where parts would be readily available and cheap so the easy option was to adapt my 39-48 Ford backing plates to accept early '70s GM heavy duty station wagon/police 12"x2" drum brake hardware. This is not as difficult as one might expect. All the parts are readily available through Napa and other auto parts stores and the stock early Ford drums will easily work with this setup. The result is safe large drum brakes up front that are self-energizing and if you want can also be self adjusting. Here's how I did it.

Before modifying the backing plates I needed to "rob" some parts from a pair of junk GM backing plates. Here is a set of early 60s Impala backing plates I used to obtain the section that mounts the anchor pin and wheel cylinder. You can see those sections are mysteriously missing from this picture.

Here are the sections that were cut out of the GM backing plates. They will be grafted to the Ford plates and will save me from having to fabricate these important mounts. They will also make aligning things much easier.

This picture shows the stock Ford backing plate with the areas that will be modified marked. The top section will be removed to make room for the GM mounts I removed earlier and the bottom section will be removed and a flat plate welded in place to make room for the adjusters. The rest of the marked areas will be removed and the holes welded up just for the sake of neatness.

This picture shows the finished Ford backing plate with all the required mods finished. The stock Ford brake riding adjusters and hold down clamps were removed and the holes welded up. I also added a 5/8" piece of round stock on each side as a support for the GM anchor pins, which are as it turns out 5/8" longer than needed. Funny how that happened.

Here is a shot of the inside of the same backing plate. It's not quite as pretty but functional non the less. No one will see this side anyway.

I have to be honest here. There were some very minor modifications made to the stock GM brake shoes. Because I used the anchor and wheel cylinder mounts from a 11" GM backing plate it through the alignment of the wheel cylinders and shoes out slightly. Rather than have the little pins at an angle I relocated the recess in the shoe up slightly in order to align things. I also needed to relieve the thickness where the push pins slide onto the shoes as well as the adjusters. This would not have been necessary if I had used parts made for the station wagon brakes. Since I do a lot of junk yard diving for parts I sometimes have to make slight modifications in order to make things work. This was a minor tweak but I thought I would mention it just in case someone else uses junkyard parts.

Here is a picture of the completed brake assembly. You can see the areas of the brake shoes that were tweaked because they're shiny.

One other thing. As you can tell I did not include self-adjusters with these brakes. This is an option and if you have access to the correct parts go for it. Since none of my local wrecking yards had any early 70s GM station wagons I just decided not to mess with them. This simplifies the installation and is no big deal since adjusting the brakes when needed will only take about 5 minutes anyway.

Here is the back side with everything installed. This makes for a pretty clean installation.

You will notice in the picture above these brakes have primary and secondary shoes with different size friction material. The small brake shoe (primary) always goes to the front of the vehicle. One other thing to mention here. This modification will require a small section at the top of the spindle to be ground down to clear the GM wheel cylinder mounting area. The same type of grinding is necessary when installing the early Ford F-100 brakes as well so it really is no big deal.

You can see this area in the picture below. I also need to mention that you must use GM wheel cylinders that have the brake line attachment point on the side and NOT the bottom since the bottom attachment point will interfere with the spindle and the brake line will not fit correctly.

Once all the parts were fitted the plates were disassembled and I had them powder coated. Then they were reassembled and installed on the spindles.

Once reassebled and mounted it was time to have the original drums turned. The drums were designed to be mounted to the hubs by press fitting the lugs through both the hub and drum. This will lock the drum in position so it can't be removed from the hub without dissassembly and the use of a shop press. This "stock" system just won't do for a modern set of brakes so I drilled out the lug holes in the drums slightly so they could fit over the lugs without being a press fit. This allows them to be easily removed should the brakes require servicing.

The hubs were mounted with new bearings and a new set of lugs pressed fitted. This completes the majority of the brake work. The rear drums are stock Ford 9" so there will be no surprises there.

So here you have a complete set of self energizing GM brakes for your stock 37-48 Ford backing plates.
One day's work, approximately $50 in parts and there you go.

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