I think the stock brakes are OK here in flat country, but eventually I'll want to add some external brakes for touring in steep places. I want to stay reasonably period correct. What should I be looking for, and why? Rockies? AC? Others? Compare & contrast.
The new Rockies work. And the quality is fine.
They are period correct, as coming in the market in 1921, and the 'big drum' just needs you to getting used to the look. The real advantage over AC is more sq. inches of braking power. 108 sq. inch which means stopping power. They work.
The big drum fits over your regular small drum so you maintain the stock parking brake.
I use and like them, and won't rebuild another T without Rockies. Period.
I like the AC brakes.
Larry Skidmore has a nice reproduction unit. I think they are $350. Add $100 for an AC brake pedal.
I like the look of the smaller drum on the cars that originally had the smaller drum.
Brakes manufactured by a guy named Skidmore.
The original rocky Mountain Brakes are the best. But hard to find and get anymore. The new Rocky Mountain Brakes work great going forward. However, going backwards, or going up and having to hold on a hill.-----Not so good. My coupe has them, and with all my might, I cannot hold the car in my driveway. I do have a steep driveway. Fortunately, my coupe also has a totally independent hand brake system inside a '26 rear end. THAT brake stops and holds the car nicely in my driveway in either direction.
I have known Larry Sidmore for many years, long before he took over the small drum AC Brakes.
I have heard a few complaints about the brakes. Mostly, I hear good things about them. Mostly I hear they are well made and work well, in both directions. Because of the smaller braking surface, they may not stop quite as well under severe conditions, however, they seem quite adequate. Also, due to the smaller braking surface, they will wear out faster than the Rocky Mountains. Several people have told me that they much prefer to do a relining job on the AC brakes than change bands in the model T transmission. They like them.
Whichever you choose, I highly recommend keeping the pedal brakes and the hand brakes totally independent. Both my coupe and my boat-tail have two separate cross shafts. That is the way I like it.
The brass Ts I am working on are going to get model T brakes pretty much how Henry made them, except for cast iron lined shoes in the small drums and maybe Kevlar or wood linings in the transmission for the brake. Reverse at least, and maybe low will get cotton linings.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
This subject is near and dear to my heart as I need to do some kind of brake conversion. Being I have a Ruckstell rear Id rather be able to stop my car than worry about how the system looks so Iv been thinking about going with the wet disk brake system that Texas T sells. I heard they are very good even in panic stops which happens a lot in my area. Has anyone got any advice / experience on those?
I enjoyed the project of cleaning, re-lining, and coming up with the hybrid (pedal, equalizer, and pull cable) actuation method of my period AC brakes. They operate independently of the transmission brake and emergency brake.
My experience so far is that their braking power is an improvement (but not a drastic transformation) over the stock system.
The AC brakes work just as well going backwards as forwards and are more fade resistant than the transmission band. They operate on the stock, small drum, which looks more correct but gives less braking area than the Rocky Mountain Brakes.
Here is a link to my thread showing the installation:
Here is a link to a video from T. Oliver showing his installation of a set of Larry Sidmore's brakes. He used pull rods off his equalizer instead of a cable and pulley:
Oops, goofed, here is the link to T. Oliver's video:
Hey Steve, unless money is no object - I don't know how anyone likes the new Rockies over the ACs. Even if you get the AC brake pedal ($100), the ACs are about half the price. The only issue is you will have to make your own linkage - which a lot of folks end up doing to get their new Rockys how they want anyway. Granted, I'm biased because I have ACs, but I have them because I really think they're a better option.
Will C. -- The TX T Parts brakes work really well. I have put them on two T's and like them a lot. Their new smaller drum/rotor setup for small-drum rear ends is not as obtrusive as the earlier ones, which are huge. They work great going forward or backing up, dry or wet.
Some folks are dead set against modern brakes on a T (I don't like the looks of them either). But if you intend to drive the car, safety trumps originality in my opinion. YMMV.
Just yesterday I came across these copies of forum pages I printed out in 2002.
Posted by Reid Welch.
These can be enlarged by holding the CTRL key and hitting the + key.
Steve, I have rocky Mountains on my speedster. I set them up so the Rocky Mountains come on first and the Ford transmission brake comes on second, I did this for backing off the trailer. Rocky Mountains don't work in backing up and incase it rains on the external brakes. When you pull the hand brake lever back, you have an emergency brake without having to hook up Ford emergency brakes.
I assume you are talking about a regular T and not a TT, but in any event my $0.02 worth:
As Wayne says above, the period Rockies are better than the new ones. I believe the reason is that on the period rockies the brake band is anchored in the center of the band at the rear of the drum. This provided equal lengths of band (braking surface) both above and below the anchor, which has the effect of providing equal braking for both forward and reverse motion. The new Rockies have the band anchored at the end, thus providing really good braking for forward motion but not so hot for reverse motion.
I have Bennetts on my TT and they have the band anchored at the rear/center of the band like the old Rockies. For a TT this is, IMHO, very important if you're going to use it as a working truck. It's important for a regular T too, but not as critical.
In the end, what's best for you is probably a function of both how you plan to use the car and your pocketbook.
Best of luck whatever you decide!
Taking risk of heresy, I installed a set of Sure Stop Disc brakes on my 1926 Tudor. If you can get past the non stock part and the fact the the disk do block the spoke spaces, the brake fluid reservoir has to go some where, they work great, in both directions. Last August, my son and I toured with the Michigan Jamboree bunch in Charlevoix Michigan. The hills there are no exactly mountains, but they can be rather steep as you approach Lake Michigan. I was glad to have them. I would say that they are a great improvement over the stock brakes. I never drove a car with Rockies, so I can not compare them. Another item I liked is that they are a complete kit and was easy to install. My son and I installed the entire setup in one one. I think it was the best investment I made to my car. Again my car is a common 1926 TuDor and not a brass car or other higher end model, so....... my 2¢
I don’t think there’s any question as to whether the hydraulically-operated disc brakes do the best job of braking the Model T in either direction, wet or dry. They do. Unfortunately, the disc brakes, for all their reliability and efficiency, look wrong well beyond the point of being glaringly conspicuous, so the real question is one of just how far one is willing to depart from historical authenticity.
I have a couple of friends who have AC brakes installed on their cars and from what I’ve been told, their braking capability is no more than adequate—and the vibe I get is one of unambiguous disappointment. Then again, a poll of only two people makes for an unimpressive statistical chart.
On the other hand, I can tell you that I’ve got Rockies and I like ‘em. At speeds up to at least 30 mph, they can stop the car with surprising authority. Yes, I understand they’re lousy in wet weather and don’t work well in reverse, which is why everybody agrees it’s important to keep the original Ford transmission brake and parking brake operational.
Let me dissect that a little: When I got caught in a moderate rain on the way back from a car show, it was obvious from the way the car was steering that my skinny little tires had lost a lot of traction on the wet pavement, but oddly enough, the reduced authority of the wet Rockies prevented accidentally locking up the rear wheels when braking, so in a weird sort of way, that was a good thing.
As for braking in reverse: This is strictly a low-speed problem (which usually takes place at a red traffic light on a hill) and the original Ford transmission brake is more than up to that undemanding task, but should your Ruckstell happen to go neutral at that precise moment, there remains the parking brake which, if adjusted properly, should hold the car on a modest incline. As I’m a little compulsive, I hedge my bets one step further by sticking close to the shoulder of the road so that, should all systems fail at the same time (astronomically unlikely), I can still crank the steering wheel over and let the curb stop the car.
There is significant, inherent risk involved in driving a Model T Ford in modern traffic and the best ways to manage that risk involve planning ahead, sharp situational awareness and diligent maintenance. After that, you can only hope that when lightning strikes, you’re not sitting on the spot between the anode and cathode.
I converted my Ruckstell to a large drum so I would have real secondary brakes, plus the transmission brake. On a recent tour one of our drivers killed the engine at an intersection with a steep incline. The car had Rocky Mountain brakes which did not hold in reverse. The car careened backwards down the incline weaving all over the road. The driver was afraid to let go of the steering wheel to grab the hand brake as the steering wheel was whipping back and forth. Fortunately the driver got the car stopped without injury or collision with the cars in line behind.
Unless you have a different equalizer than what is sold that would be a mighty fine line between getting the Ford parking brakes to work in conjunction with the Rocky Mountain brakes.
That is why I am making a different equalizer that swings under the cross shaft instead of against it for a couple of the cars I have been working on.
The current equalizer sold are made to use the RM as parking brakes when you pull back the parking brake handle as well as needing a ez-slider to keep from pulling the brake pedal down.
This is the link that shows Jacks setup;
Mine will be about the same only I an using a flat plate instead of the 3/4 round with arms attached for the equalizer link. I have seen other way to do this but this seems the most cost effective way and is simple. I have not sat down to figure the cost but seat of the pants tells me it less then half to the current equalizer plus you would not need the ez-slider which is another 37$ saved.
Is there any way to contact the present manufacturer of AC brakes by mail ? I can't see AC brakes are sold by usual big vendors.
Here you go Philippe:
I think the main thing - whether you like Rockies or ACs - is that you have to put the time in to really adjust them correctly in order to get good results. I have no doubts that I could take a Rocky Mountain kit and make it work VERY well on my car. My set of ACs already do work VERY well on my car. I posted on here last year about a modern car cutting in front of me and then stopping hard for a yellow light that I had planned on cruising right through.
Obviously whether you have Rockys, ACs, or even the discs, you're only braking the rear wheels so you can only stop so quickly. I do think that the ACs make my car brake way better and I like that they are period correct.
I insist on having brakes that are totally correct so that means the factory ones. They seemed inadequate at first until I adjusted the parking brake to apply both sides evenly. The stock system teaches you to drive defensively and by using the right combination of the foot brake, hand brake and gearing down all in the right sequence at the right moment, I find the original brakes work well. Driving a T with proper respect for the limitations of the car is what matters most. A modern sports car has massive stopping power but they crash every day.
And you use original cotton linings, too?
Don't forget to put NOS 1919 air in the tires.
Hi From Cold Again In Iowa!! I had a set of Bennits on our '14 that I liked, but one of the bronze actuating levers broke(already been repaired)!I put on a set of ACs that I was saving for another project so we could take it to Kenab last July. Does anyone know where I might find parts for them? Thanks John
Hey Don't forget the most important place for brakes is on the FRONT.
At least 3 different companies made aftermarket front wheel brakes for the T. McNearney, Big Four and TodSmith.
I have Bennetts on the rear and some homemade copies of the McNearney / Big Four on the front. They both work really well and look period correct on my '12.
Does anyone know if there are plans by the manufacturers of Sure Stop or AC Brakes to produce versions for the TT? Right now, TT owners only have the option of Rocky Mountain Brakes when using aux. transmissions. Would be nice to have options like the T owners.
Hey David - you can call Larry and ask him what his plans are, he's pretty good about answering the phone. Just remember that he's in Pacific time zone.
I think Philippe asks a valid question about why the vendors don't advertise the AC brakes. I guess I'm old and half witted but this is the first I have heard of them. No advertisement that I can remember.
Anybody have them on their car for a user and installation report?
The vendors don't advertise them because they don't sell them. Larry Sidmore is the only person who makes/sells the AC brakes. If you are searching for auxillary brakes invariably you will run into the little flyer that I added to the thread.
David, the Sure Stop brakes are available for the TT contact Texas T Parts.
I don't know why the parts dealers don't sell AC brakes, but they're advertised in The Vintage Ford.
Does anyone have a picture of the new smaller version of the Sure-Stop brakes for small-drum cars installed?
The early version was very big and obvious, but I'd consider disc brakes if they look a little more discrete.
Steve, I use a Ford brass tire pump which converts the air to 1919 vintage.
Chaffin's has the AC's listed in their catalog.
Derek -- Here are some pics of the TX T small-drum brakes on my '21. Part of the kit is a new deeper drum with the rotor welded to it. It is deeper to allow space for the caliper between the rotor and the spokes. Your stock parking brake remains in place. The rotor is about 4" smaller diameter than the large drum version.
I think they were copies from the Peterbuilt...Sorry couldn't help it.
Sure look big but can't tell from the picture.
How about this? I bet I can stop shorter with my rear Bennetts and Front McNearney-BigFours. Any Takers?
I have the later Rocky mountain Brakes on my Kamper, ( it has a Moore box on the tailshaft) 25 years ago there was virtually nothing else.
I made 2 alterations
1. I threw away the steel drums and made cast iron drums. They work way better as the cast iron grips the lining more.
2. I also separated the transmission brake so I could use it without working the RM's as I reasoned on a long trip the balance could be messed up and I might not have the transmission brake available when I needed it as it may wear enough to be out of adjustment when i suddenly needed it.
You would be surprised how different the amount of travel and force is needed for each brake so long term one may be doing all of the braking and the other little or none. On a 2 month trip I didn't want to have to spend lots of time in a motel parking lot adjusting and checking which was or was not working, separated you always know. Rain, hills going backwards never a problem.
As it worked out I only adjusted the transmission brake once in 10,000 plus miles. After a long afternoon traveling down a mountain 20 plus miles of hairpin turns using the RM's ( they got hot -smoke) I tried to adjust them that night figuring they must have suffered only to find I could not get 1/2 turn to the next lock end on the adjuster. 3 years later they are still the same so you won't have lining problems.
looking at Mike's Disc set up my first thought was - could you put a metal shield drum shaped behind the spokes just larger than the caliper so they are less visible? and maybe a plate on the backing plate so they are hardly visible if not completely hidden.
Peter, you and I think alike.... I still have the steel drums front and rear but have been thinking of changing to CI ones.
Ya, the biggest issue with mechanical brakes is the balance and adjustment of each wheel and axle. That's a real advantage with a hydraulic system.
We have a young guy in the Long Beach club that has converted his rears to a disc brake from a small foreign car that uses a small rotor. His looks like a perfect candidate for a simple sheet metal drum looking cover to go over it. This was a thought of mine when trying to decide about the disc brake option.
If you have CI drums on the front, Gene, you won't need CI on the rear, as they don't do so much as when they were 100% of the stopping.
Now that all the good suggestions have been given, I'll tell you a story that this posting brings to mind.
Years ago my dad's friend Vince was moaning about his wife's constant nagging to buy her a car. He told my dad and their other buddy John that maybe he'll buy a her a nice, used Mustang. John said, "No! They've got bad brakes!" Vince said, "That's exactly what I'm looking for!".