I apologize if this topic has been covered previously; I am new to the forum and keep getting error messages when using the keyword search. Does anyone have experience with or an informed opinion about the disc brake kits that are now being offered? I would like to put my grandfather's +/- 1925 coupe on the road, but not without reliable brakes.
I don't have any experience with the retrofit disc brake kits, but I can help with your searching difficulties.
Google works well for searching the forum, just get on Google, type in what you're looking for, and add the letters "mtfca" at the end. Almost all the hits that Google comes up with will then be from the mtfca forum.
That worked great! Thanks a million, Mark. This topic was covered thoroughly in 2011.
Chris, I purchased a set from the late Bill Thorpe before he died. When I installed them. after his death, Ben Hardeman of Texas T's was making them and has made some changes to them to improve them, such as a stronger master cylinder mounting bracket. The retrofit parts are available.
Contact Mike Walker on this FORUM. He has them on his truck.
I have a set from Texas T's and they work great. I had no problems installing them as per the instructions provided with the kit. Mine are about a year old now and I have gone 300-400 miles with the disk brakes on the 24 T.
Chris -- Contact Texas T Parts for a disc brake kit. They have kits for both large and small drum rear ends. They come with thorough instructions and they work great!
I have them and I wouldn't leave home without them. They work great. Now we have to get a way to safely put them on the front.
You can install disc brakes if you want but, is it still a Model T? Maybe you really want a modern car. Actually, I found the correct, original brakes to be totally inadequate for today's roads until recently. If you learn to adjust all three stock braking systems so that they work properly and learn how to use them in the right sequence, you will find that the car has more than enough stopping power for any situation.
Dave. I opt for safety.
Rear grease seal leak and there goes the parking brake.
Anything amiss in the drive line and there goes the regulars.
In today's traffic mess, give me brakes I can rely on.
OK. I opt for the originality experience and drive accordingly.
Thanks, everyone. This was the insight and voice of experience I was looking for. The forum is just a tremendous resource. I've learned more on the forum in the last two weeks than I have had time to learn by other means in the last five years. The best to all.
I'm with you, Dave.
The usefulness of rear only brakes is the percentage of total weight on the rear axle. The harder you try to stop, the less weight on the rears. The high cg and short wheelbase of a T magnify the weight shift.
They say a '26 rearend with it's 11" drums and the pedal kit is good enough to skid the tires. That's as short as you will stop. It should cost a lot less than discs, too.
Add in the cost of new rear tires, as rubber hardens with age, and they lose traction. Do a search on front brakes.
At the OCF this year i stoped to talk with another camper in the parking lot about model T's.He explained that this year he had brought a model A when his disck braked model T was turned down!Bud.
I have them on my '21 Coupe and they work great. The only problem I have is brake fluid leaking at the bottom of the fluid reservoir. I put silicone at the connection of the mounting bracket and reservoir like the instructions suggest but still lose fluid at the connection. Any suggestions?
Call Texas T Parts and ask them for advice?
I second the opt for safety. I can skid the tires on my '26 and I would still install disc brakes.
What would disc brakes do for you, Dwight?
I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy.
I also installed modern safety glass, kevlar bands, grade 8 bolts where I think they are needed, use new tires, inner tubes made out of modern materials and drive with 6 volt halogen bulbs turned on all the time. And yes, I have a brake light.
Most of my passengers are family or neighbor hood kids. I never drive faster than I can stop even with original brakes.
I know that whatever is going on with the rest of my 90 year old car, when I stomp on the brake pedal with disc brakes in a panic stop (and you know they happen)those rear wheels will lock up and stay locked up until I get off the pedal.
So what would they give me Rick?
A little additional piece of mind.
With disc brakes on the rear
I put a set of Texas T disc brakes on my 27 Tudor a couple of years ago,along with dual taillight,brake lights and turn signals,wouldn't be without the brakes,but you probably should ignore me as I also bought an Etimer.
You're welcome Dave.
I think he may have been referring to me.
I'm all for originality. I consider a Model T which doesn't have its original ignition system to be less than a Model T. I also know that water pumps seem to be a cure for a compromised radiator, but when you put an efficient radiator in the car and clean out the water passages in the block and head, the original thermo-syphon system works great.
The original Model T braking system works adequately if you don't drive more than 25 miles per hour, which virtually no one did "back in the day." But the original braking system is one of the glaring weak points if you drive a Model T on today's roads and in today's traffic.
Safety trumps originality on a car which you intend to drive, in my opinion. That's why I want the best brakes I can get on my "driver" T, as well as two tail lights and stop lights.
I am very seriously considering putting a small drum set on my recently acquired Coupe. Up and down the hills of the Ozarks a couple weeks ago has really persuaded me to add that particular safety enhancement.
I was checking the brakes today, when I took off the driver side wheel it wasn't all the way in, bolt cotter pin looked correct. So the wheel hub didn't go over the brakes completely about 80/20prcnt on. The upper brake part was broken in two. I also ck the other side it was ok. Should I be concern about axle. Also disk brakes vs rocky mtn brakes...
I too would like to know the differences in stopping between disc and RMs. I intend on driving at a top speed of 45 on the speedster if it'll do it. 45 is plenty fast...
I've driven T's with disc, hydraulic drum, rocky mountain and stock brakes and found the disc and hydraulic drum brakes less subject to fade and easier to modulate than either stock or rocky mountain brakes. Add to that the minor(?) detail that rocky mountain brakes are very poor in reverse and wretched when wet. Disc brakes like stock brakes are not subject to problems with water.
The disc brakes are superior in effectiveness but least appropriate (IMHO) in appearance. I prefer drum brakes for my cars and four wheel versions for my speedster where originality is less of an issue for me.
Ability to lock the brakes is not significant, it's the ability to modulate the brakes at any force up to just less than locked that is the most valuable.
Original brakes are great if you drive where there is little traffic and you don't intend to exceed 25 to 30 MPH. Few of us have that luxury.
So, which way does the rear end drift when the aftermarket rear brakes are locked up?
Some experience on wet and gravel roads when I had 2 wheel brakes on my speedster - it tracked pretty straight if I was going straight when I locked them up. If on a curve, the rear would want to slide out on the curve at which point I'd back off on the brakes.
Out of curiosity, do they bolt on with no cutting/welding/drilling to the car? In other words, is it reversible?
The Texas T Parts kit is one which requires no holes to drill, no cutting, no welding, and no other modifications to your car. One of the things Ben stressed when making up the kits was that there would need to be no modifications to your Ford parts. It is completely reversible. The kit contains everything you'll need to do the job, and I mean everything. all the bolts, nuts, brackets, fittings, stop light switch, and of course the major components such as the master cylinder and calipers and replacement brake drums for your wheels with rotors welded in place. My kit even included 2 cans of brake fluid and some wipes for cleaning up afterward.
It's one of those cases where the fabricator of the kit is a Model T driver, like John Regan, Larry Smith, and RV Anderson. And like those guys, Ben's parts are top quality. Try it, you'll like it!
No thanks, but I do appreciate your answer. I also appreciate the fact that the designer made the effort to not make any permanent modifications.
I suppose we all have our 'red lines' we refuse to cross. Some draw them closer to Henry's line than others. Mine falls awfully close to Henry's. I'm willing to accept the risks of the original brakes for the sake of originality. I may, one day, put on a set of Rocky Mountains or AC's, but never a set of discs. Just too dang ugly and out of place for my liking.
Not even on a speedster Hal? I got to thinking that if I ever built a speedster, it'd have to have a '26-'27 rear end with the large brake drums, but then the disc brake set-up really wouldn't be any more visible than those large drums! Just a thought Hal,......harold
I have disc brakes on both cars, one from Bill Tharp and one from TTP, i had Rocky's and had to stop on a steep hill at a stop sign, they wouldn't work and the car was rolling backward and picking up speed,there was a 75Ft drop off on the side with a creek at the bottom, i went off the road and when the right front dropped off it caught and caused the car to turn sideways, i finally got straightened and went up the hill and ran the stop sign, this was fifty miles from home so i went to a friends house and we adjusted the brakes, as soon as i got home the Rocky's came off and i ordered the disc brakes, i have never had a problem with stopping on a hill or when wet, i try not to lock the brakes as it is not necessary usually as they don't fade like the external brakes, they are not that noticeable to most people, like them or not is your call.
Good testimonial, Rick.
And while you are at it, why not drop in a small block Chevy?
If you went down a hill backwards it was because the Ford brake was not working properly. Rocky Mountain brakes are fine going forward. You still need the Ford brake to work going backwards.
Personally I am not a fan of disc brakes on the T. However I will not condemn those who choose to use them. Having had several experiences where some bozo has pulled in front of me and slammed on his brakes I sympathize.
The real solution (and era correct) is to install one of the versions of original accessory FRONT wheel brakes that were offered during the T production time. Better stopping performance and era authenticity.
Pretty darn hard to beat in my opinion!!!
Rick, were your transmission brake and hand brake not working properly?
No disc's, but one of my speedsters has hyd drum brakes on the rear. It sure gives you a more relaxing afternoon ride knowing you can stop if you get the Muncie caught between gears! I also have T's that are as correct as they came off the assembly line. I enjoy all my old cars--I'm not obsessed with them! To each his own
No. Not even on a speedster. I will admit to having an interest in a speedster, and I may act on that one day. But if I do, it will be period correct.
I don't mean to offend, so please don't take it that way, but your case sounds like an example of an aftermarket accessory CAUSING the exact problem it was meant to PREVENT. I'm no expert on RM brakes, but it is my understanding they are supposed to be adjusted such that the Ford brake still works with some additional pedal pressure. While the Ford brake may not be the absolute best brake in the world, it will certainly hold a T still on a hill no matter which direction it was pointed. Sounds like in this particular case, it would have been better to have had only the original system.
BTW, my entertaining of the RM or AC idea is not based on additional braking capacity, but as a redundant system in the case of drive line failure.
I've been around Model T's all my life. I've never seen an accessory Model T front brake system for sale. I've seen one such system installed on a car that I can think of. Is someone making reproduction original style accessory FRONT wheel brakes like those that were offered during the T production time ?
I won't deny that the disk brakes work well, and I certainly won't judge anyone for using a set. They are just a fantastic product that really work well. However, to me, they just don't look right. The shiny disk draws your attention to them, and that makes them stand out even more.
I certainly can't afford a set of disc brakes (or any other aftermarket brakes), so I did what I could and tuned up the stock brake system on my '24 Touring as best as I could. I have new lined shoes, new drums, new cams, new cam bushings, and new neoprene outer seals. I can lock the rear wheels with the transmission brake and nearly lock them with the hand brake.
In the event of a panic stop, I pull the handbrake all the way back and then use the transmission brake to get the rear wheels right on the verge of skidding. That is when you get your most effective braking. I trust my stock brakes and I know that they have no problems stopping me quickly if I need to. The stock brakes can work very well, but they just require more TLC and maintenance to keep them in top-notch shape compared to other brakes.
However, if you're building a speedster and plan on doing more than ~30mph, then by all means, put disk brakes on it!
A speedster with little weight on the rear would get less good from disc brakes than a Touring, unless it's lowered to lower the cg. That reduces forward weight shift.
If you disagree with my guesstimate of the location of the cg, please do some calculations and post or PM, please.
Here's what 4-wheel brakes do for you:
Nash Metropolitan 4-wheel brakes by the late Orville Enyart of Long Beach.
I got to get with Ralph so we can show a couple different options for Front Wheel brakes for our T's instead of those "semi looking Disc Brake things. I made some front wheel brakes that I copied from prints of the McNearny and the Big Four that were available back in the 20's. They look very similar to the Bennetts that I have on the back. Most people don't even see them at first glance and they are period correct.
Les and I can tell you how well the Metro brakes work that Ralph has. There's no comparison to any rear wheel only car!
You are so correct! Front wheel brakes are FAR more important than rear wheel brakes. After all, when you stop, the weight shifts forward, not backwards. My father, who is an ex-racecar builder, said that back in the day, hot rods often had rear brakes only. Even though the front tires were just motorcycle tires and had much less tread than the rears, cars with front-only brakes stopped significantly better than cars with just the rears. So if you want superb braking power, four-wheel brakes are the only way to go.
I have 4-wheel Metros just because I started down that path, and now there is no reason to change.
I got in one of those tandem stoplight situations where I didn't see the second one until it was too late to do anything but a full force stop. If not for the seatbelt, wifey would have been splat on the pavement ahead of the car. If you don't believe in seatbelts in a T, don't even consider front brakes.
In a modern car, front brakes do about 70% of the work. With a T's high CoG, and steep SVSA (side view swing arm) I suspect it would be closer to 80%.
My concerns would be the front spring separation due to the large amount of anti-dive that a stock axle arrangement would have, steering pulling to the side with more grip, and whether the stock pan can support the braking loads.
I think the car remains about level in a full force stop with front brakes. I replaced the 4-dip pan after a dozen years and 50-100K miles with front brakes, because one pan arm was cracked nearly in two. Also the wishbone socket was kind of wallowed out. No telling how it was before front brakes.
I use a castrated late wishbone welded to an early one.
The front suspension has proven to survive just fine. The "doubled" radius rod is easy to accomplish
I do NOT have Metro front baked. I have mechanical front brakes connected to the brake pedal
In regards to the steering geometry I now have reproduced the Ross original aftermarket steering box (externally exact copy)
My new front brakes are a exact copy of a original brake
Les, I'm seriously interested in your brakes and steering box, as long as their cost is not prohibitive.
Do you have pictures, ordering information, etc?
Are they available yet?
I've been planning to put rear discs mine, but if an authentic appearing period accessory that works even better is available, I'd much rather do that and just stick with the stock transmission brake for the rear.
Les, let us know about the availability of the steering box. I need that next.
Les, I am also interested in your brakes. Tell us more please. Thanks, Joe
It is all at the testing phase. Not available to you
Once you lock up a brake/wheel you have lost directional control and a significant amount of braking. Controlled braking, that is, when the wheel is slowed, with out sliding the tire is when the braking is most effective. The drivers that swear they can lock the wheels up with their original equipment, may be ignoring the idea of controlled braking that hydraulic disk brakes offer. My disk brakes have saved me from a modern car driver who has no idea how my model t works and what it's limits are.
Here's Gene's front brakes from Mike Walker's photos in the Hillbilly tour thread: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/331880/387182.html?1379035544
Great job Did you use rear emergency brake drums? Trans drum bands aren't long enough to reach around a small drum, I guess, so did you have to make all the parts from scratch? Any special type of steel in the contracting bands? Please show more photos how you connect the wires to the pedal and how the brake preform in operation compared to original and rear only accessory brakes
I copied and got ideas from the Big Four and the McNearney. I have Bennett's in the rear and were all available back in the 20's so they're period correct.
I used a set of rear small drums (some cast ones would be better) and everything else I made from things found in my shop except for the brake lining material and the rivets which I got from McMaster-Carr. I also purchased a stick of 1/8 X 1 1/4 inch hot rolled steel which is the same as my Bennett's in the rear. Forming the clamp for the mount around the spindle was the hardest. This requires a close fit and I found there is a lot of variance between spindles of different years.
I borrowed an axle with spindles from a local club member so I could work at the shop table vice. I didn't use a lever system to tighten the brake band like the Bennett or Rockies have but may later if needed.
So far I have jacked up the front and the rear to do some adjusting. The front wheel self energizes really good and with a little tension applied you can't rotate the wheels. It's really time consuming to get all three in balance.
I haven't experienced any evidence of the steering pulling to left or right at any time during the driving at the Hillbilly tour which had some really steep down hills. There is an equalizer pulley with a adjusting turnbuckle on a cable that is attached to the brake pedal.
The system has a lot or different leverages to consider so I drilled several holes in all the bell cranks and installed each in the center one.
I chose not to use the actuator system of the Big Four thinking it was too complicated compared to McNearney's. The key to the actuator system is the vertical centerline of the kingpin to allow turning of the wheels right and left.
I still need to clean up some cable ends you can see where they simply run thru the holes and are clamped but this is still a "work in progress" I've had a lot of guys compliment how good they look and I'm really happy with them. I do believe that they improve the braking but also think with more tweeking they can be much better. Just takes time.
One thing I do Not like is the horrendous looking 1/4" mounting plate. I intended to trim it after deciding where things would be mounted but somehow didn't.
I don't mean to bad mouth anyone with those modern disc type brakes, I really considered them myself On the FRONT but on an original car I couldn't bring myself to go that route albeit a better performing system. One thing I don't understand is why the accessory rear disc brakes are so giant.
So far they're very promising and I'm surprised that no one has made any type of front braking system available for the T's yet.
Whoever has copies of the original ones should really consider production.
I keep you posted hopefully with some measurable evidence of how well the work.
I admire anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit, but there is no way in Hades I would manufacture a set of brakes to sell to the public. Not in this day and time. The personal injury attorneys would be licking their chops before the first set went into the box.
I'm not a lawyer, but I know one or two.
Personal injury lawyers want only money. If there are no deep pockets involved, they won't sue. They probably won't sue a company in Canada or Mexico for the same reason. If your primary assets are your home and 401K/IRA, you are probably safe. They might go after the maker of the cables, though, and include everybody. That could cost.
How do Bob, Chaffin, Lang and Snyder protect themselves? Maybe sales only through retailers would provide protection.
Gene could make kits, or he could sell plans. T-tightwads would soon copy the plans and give them to their friends, huh?
Gene could draw up a set of plans, apply for a patent for $500, get a fat valuation for them, and donate them to MTFCA for a tidy tax dodge. The MTFCA could make kits or sell plans.
You just have to be creative. Too bad my old Greatracing partner from Mexico has passed.
"For offroad use only" is an effective catch-all product warning for non-factory safety equipment.
Interesting design and nice execution. One of the design options to consider is what McNerney did, which was a new extended nut for the steering arm. They than clamped to that for part of the attachment.