The subject of front brakes comes up regularly — I had a close look at Gene Carrothers' homemade setup (based on period McNearney-Big Fours) on his '12 Torpedo a couple weeks ago, and with his permission, am posting photos here for general discussion...
If I understand correctly, these brakes are period correct but Gene fabricated all the parts and installed them?
They must work it looks like the car got stopped in the parking lot to take photos.
How do you like them Gene?
I think I understand most of it, but I'm missing something. The pulley which pulls the cable is attached by a turnbuckle to a lever that hangs down behind the auxiliary transmission. What moves that lever? What's that piece of chain by the exhaust pipe? Anything to do with brakes?
Hey Chris or Gene, is there anything done to reinforce the socket on the oil pan for the double wishbone?
Also, how does the linkage work - I see that arm hanging down behind the Warford - what is that connected to in order to pivot? How is it connected to the brake, ie is the pivot of that bracket hanging down in the middle, so the brake pulls the top forward (thus pulling the bottom backwards), or is the pivot at the end and the brake pedal pushes the arm backwards, (thus pulling the bottom backwards)?
Steve and I are asking the same thing. Steve I think the chain is for an exhaust whistle.
Definitely interested in how the lever is actuated.
One more question: I know it's not an exact thing but how much of your braking would you say the front wheels actually do with this setup?
Most of it / maybe half / lightly augment what the rears are doing ?
It's such a long arm to the oil pan socket that no reinforcement of it is needed. I used the same 4-dip pan with front brakes for 14 years with no noticeable wear or distortion.
On most cars with 4 wheel brakes, anywhere from 60/40 to 70/30 are typical ratios for braking (that's front wheels to back wheels ratio).
In theory front brakes should help - a lot!
PS if you remember the old days with drum brakes all around, you had to replace the front shoes about twice for every back shoe replacement.
Wow, Thanks, Chris for posting the pics.
There sure is a Lot of Stuff under that car! I'm glad people learning about T's at car shows don't look underneath. hee hee
That piece of log chain is an anchor for the my SB's. another unrelated topic, I hope.
What's not shown is how the lever connected to the equalizing pulley is connected near the top to the Bennett brake pedal under the floor boards. Pushing the pedal down pulls backward on the cables to the front and also pulls on the rods to the rear brakes. That Bennett aftermarket pedal has an eye that I attached the cable to.
I have not had any issues with the double wishbone Guess time will tell.
I realized after riding and driving Ralph's car that I need some type of front brakes as I started freeway driving much faster and attending lots of tours. My wanting to keep an original look prevented me from the disc brake set up and I admired Ralph's Nash Metro hydraulic brakes but reading here in the Forum about the period accessory McNearney and the Big Four brakes the light went on and I said " Hey I can copy these in my shop with stuff that I've been storing for years. I waited over a year for Les Schubert's so decided to do it myself.
Seth has a great question that I'll try to answer truthfully. You'll notice that I drilled a lot of adjustment holes on each bell crank arm. So far, each is in the original center position. Adjusting any mechanical system is difficult to balance.
Here's how I did it originally. Jacked the car up and backed off the front and rear brakes. Started to spin the front wheels and manually tightened each brake by hand to check the self actuating effect. I was impressed that the wheel locked up and stopped very quickly. Of Course no load. I tightened each side to where the drag was barely perceptible, then to the rears and did the same.
By this time there was no time for a test drive but the next day was a club inspection tour.
I can tell you I was sort of disappointed in the performance but they looked good. Good thing was that it didn't pull either right or left!
A little more adjusting after a break in period and now I can really tell an improvement in braking.
So Seth, how much are the fronts doing after all that work? My guess is about half maybe a touch more during a panic stop at a red light. They do seem to get better the more I drive it, probably wearing in.
This could really be improved with installation of a lever like the original McNearney and the Bennetts / AC and other had to actuate the brake band instead of simply a straight pull to tighten them. This will be my next change and also to get rid some of that terrible looking huge mounting plate. My original idea was to be able to have a mounting point where needed and latter cut down to size, Well you how that goes after I got it mounted I didn't feel like taking it all off. Just had to try it out.
I posted a challenge, sort of, in another thread about "Which Brakes". It would be really fun and interesting to see which type of brakes will stop a T in the shortest distance.
I betting (not very much) that my four wheel period brakes will stop quicker than a rear wheel only disc conversion.
If anyone will be attending the National MTFCA Tour this summer in San Diego I'm up for a challenge.
One interesting thing I've noticed is that when most T guys look at our cars they totally miss the front brakes. Of Course, why would you look there?
Gene has made his Torpedo into the best all around Model T there is.
It wins every car show.
It is fast. A fast car can always go slow.
It is safer. Front brakes.
It is on most local and national tours.
It has been uterly reliable, except for one crankshaft.
Great job! KGB
Here is another front brake set up one of our speedster guys made for his car. The car was on the Echuca Tour in 2008.
Can't put my hand on his name but when I talked to him he said the brakes definitely worked well. From memory the design is his own but they definitely look period.
What did you use for a pattern, Gene? Definitely a cool setup. I hope to see it in person someday.
I like them. Looks like you used std small rear brake drums? Did you use some special steel quality for the brake bands, for springiness?
Thanks for the answer Gene. Not that you are based on what you've said, but I guess if someone was really worried about how visible the brakes are you could always take what you did and swap the left and right and put the pulley and actuating parts on the bottom of the axle. That plus massaging that backing plate a little smaller would make it about as inconspicuous as it could get.
Bud - if you remember last year that fella fixin' up "Becky's Yellow T" that had disc brakes on the front? They deliberately set it up so that while the fronts were helping, they weren't really doing the brunt of the work since the T front end really isn't meant for that. They just wanted the front brakes to assist the rears a little. They also reinforced the oil pan at the socket.
Jared, I copied some from the McNearney and the Big Four. There was a thread that someone posted last year that showed an ad for them.
I also looked at my rear Bennetts for ideas.
Roger, Yes I used a steel rear small drum but a cast iron drum of the same size would be better. It was a simple job to bend some hot roll flat stock over an old 20lb fire extinguisher to get the circle. I bought the friction material from McMaster-Carr along with the rivets.
Peter, Now I really like the way the top bell crank is anchored and how it works. Wish I'd seen that earlier. It's unclear how the brake is attached to the spindle though? The critical thing is the pivot point of the king pin must be maintained to prevent actuation when turning right or left. I'm not sure I understand the purpose of the spring in the front?
Seth, Based on what I said I don't think I'm toooo biased. hee hee. Don't get me wrong, I WANT people to notice these front brakes. It's a good teaching point about the Model T and the vast amount of accessories that were made for them back in the day. Now of course if they were modern disc or hydraulic I'd feel different and want onlookers to not see them.
You're right about the pulley there and of course that unsightly steel plate mounting. I get upset every time I look at it. Ralph has already coached me about the cable clamps as well.
I do think the support at the ball socket is ok even thought these early three dip pans were made of thinner sheet metal. Like I said time may tell.
Surprised there has been no takers for a braking contest.
We're off to Tony Bowkers Sierra Vista, Az. tour next week and maybe I can get some interest there? Of course the winner of that contest will always be Ralph Ricks with his four wheel Metro's. Seat belts Required!
Howard Genrich Lucky #7 has Metro front brakes. They work good.
Lucky 7 also has wider tires. Maybe I can interest Humble into a little wager? We have run together for lots high speed miles together in Death Valley and the 405 freeway.
Anyone know how much better cast iron drums are than the small drum steel ones we have on the rear.
Gene, I really like your brake setup. Good job!
I have no actual facts except that the RM brakes with CI drums on my car allow me to drive with bare feet if I want to ( though it gets hot sometimes as it is RHD)
The effort needed is way less and the difference in slowing down is very noticeable with Cast iron drums.
The Ford drums are a simple machine job and would be easy to have cast. I did mine at work in the foundry but they should be a reasonable price to have done. If your steel drums in front are giving you a good result I think CI will make it a great result.
Ralph gave me a couple of modern CI drums that I might use to replace the steel drums. It's a simple machining job to cut them to size.
Peter... Were you able to see how the brakes you showed attached to the spindle?
A dozen years ago when I was looking, Chev Citation were the only domestic 8" drums I could find that looked suitable for the job.
can't help you, the car is interstate and those are the only 2 photo's I appear to have.
Maybe one of the Victorian members can put some more light on the car its a blue speedster.
Thanks for Posting Peter
Mounting to the front you don't have to be concerned with clearance issues between the spindle and the drum. Neat ideas
I have castings for some front brake drums to work with my true McNerney reproductions. They are 10"
The 7" internally expanding front brakes on my '27 do most of the stopping in conjunction with the stock T transmission brake.
Les, have you tried stopping with fronts only? I drove a Mercury Sable about 30K miles with only the fronts working, thanks to the idiot dealer..
In my 60 years of servicing cars I have seen several cars being driven thousands of miles a year with the rear brakes not working.
I have seen a few that had rear drums worn so badly and with a broken brake shoe return spring no one was able to remove the drum. The bare metal shoe was laying in the groove on the drum holding the drum from slipping off the hub.
The easy way is to plug the brake tube going to the rear.
I have done it a few times myself.
I have also seen the rear brake pressure limiter assembled incorrectly so the rears got no pressure at all.
A front wheel drive car is hard to tell when the rears are doing nothing, they don't do much when they are working.
I have a couple that I got from Ralph that are the same size a the small drum rears so they look correct. So far, I'm pretty happy with the performance.
Gene, Just in case some one is interested here is a front brake set up I found amongst slides I have been looking through.
The Picture was taken in 1983 on the Fulton tour.
The wheels may be a clue as to whose car it is?
Looks like Nash Metros? Very interesting spokes
Maybe Ralph will tell us.
Gene and Peter,
The other front brake set up belongs to a Model T Ford club of Victoria member, Andrew Brown. They are fitted to a 1917 Speedster. Andrew drives the car everywhere and likes to participate in Vintage hill climbs and track events in his car hence his quest for better braking. I will try to finds some pics of the complete car. I don't have an email for Andrew but can give him a call if you want more info.
Andrew Brown's speedster can be seen in a 2011 thread here: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/179374/251110.html?1323188056
In the thread Warwick wrote: "The four wheel brake system was designed and fabricated by our Victorian Club member, Andrew Brown. He started with an original set of small drum outside rear brakes (AC or Bennet??) and fabricated the front equaliser and set up himself."
I have the picture as a screen saver at work
Yes, Gene, those are Metros.