One day, while out for a cruise in our red '63 Fury ragtop, someone three cars in front of us slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting a bus. We locked 'em up too-for a split-second. Then, the brake pedal went to the floor, sending us smack into the back of the minivan a few car lengths ahead. Definitely not our finest moment!
Luckily, no one was hurt, and the damage to the front of the Fury was minimal-a bent bumper and grille and a few tweaked brackets. If the same thing had happened two days earlier when we were doing 70 mph on the interstate, it might have been a fatal accident. Frankly, the factory drum brakes were marginal, even for the slower-paced world of the '60s. With today's crowded highways, people talking on cell phones, and modern cars that can stop on a dime with their four-wheel discs, most of our earlier rides can use some serious help in the brake department.
The Master Power Brakes kit for the early B-Body includes everything shown here. Even inve
Time being of the essence, we chose to forgo the usual parts hunt and go with a prepackaged kit. Mind you, we have nothing against used parts. In fact, for us, a sunny day in a junkyard qualifies as time well spent. But when we saw the ad for Master Power Brakes' B-Body front-disc brake kit, we thought it would be nice to open a box of brand-new parts for once and do the job from start to finish. We decided on the manual discs, as we weren't sure whether we were going to go small- or big-block with our next engine, and clearances get really tight in that corner of the engine compartment with the added bulk of the vacuum reservoir. We placed our order, and before we knew it, UPS showed up at our door.
We took the car to our good friend Carl Solko, who has a well-equipped shop complete with a lift at his disposal. He was especially interested in this swap because he recently installed a Max Wedge in his '63 Dodge wagon and found the factory drums to be woefully inadequate for his new power levels.
After we put the car on the lift, the first order of business was to completely back off the torsion-bar tensioner bolt. The wheels, brake drums, and all of the brake lines and hoses were removed. Then, we separated the ball joints and tie-rod ends from the spindle using an air hammer with a pickle-fork attachment. The Master Power Brakes kit included spindles and caliper brackets that were bolted together and mated to the lower ball joints. We bolted the assemblies to the upper control arms. The bearings were greased by hand for maximum lubricant penetration, and the seals were installed on the rotors. The rotors were then mated to the spindles, and the rotor surfaces were cleaned with brake cleaner. It's always a good idea to clean the rotors before mounting the calipers to remove any grease or factory coatings that keep the rotors from rusting. The crusty old single drum-o'-death master cylinder was removed at this point and given the heave-ho.
Early B-Bodies had single-reservoir master cylinders, so new lines were fabricated in order to hook the dual-reservoir master cylinder to the disc calipers. The factory frame-mounted distribution block was retained, and the two ports that originally fed the front brakes were blocked with threaded plugs from NAPA-PN 131-X-3. The new dual-line master cylinder was bled on the workbench. Then, we installed the master cylinder/proportioning-valve assembly to the firewall. We were able to reuse the original brake line for the right-front brakes (see diagram) because it was already correctly positioned and had the right fitting.
There's not much good to be said about the rusty old drum setup on the car. At the time of
Whether you're working on a 9-second race car or a street piece, it's vital from a safety
The right tool for the job makes a difference. An air chisel fitted with a pickle-fork att
The spindles and new caliper brackets supplied with the kit are assembled, as shown, and t
This view from the rear of the spindle shows the spindle/caliper bracket assembly (with lo
Sometimes, a proper installation requires state-of-the-art equipment or cutting-edge techn