Following a recent scare involving a loss of brakes and a lonnnnng steep downhill grade, we decided to fit hydraulic front brakes to my '24 speedster.
I've seen neat installations of 8" Nash Metropolitan brakes and understand late Morris Minor brakes (and possibly Triumph GT6) to have pretty much the same hardware. I was unable to find any of these items at the three vintage British car outfits in the Edmonton area but did come up with something that should work just fine...
Photos show my new 1968 Triumph Spitfire rear brakes acquired from a local club member... 7" diameter, 1.25" shoe width, 34 in2 lining area each side, nice thick drums. Modest, yes, but not blatant in appearance and ever so much better than nothing!
The plan is to redrill the drums to accept the front hub bolts, and weld lug ears to the spindles to mount the backing plates with their original four holes. Comments and suggestions always welcome, and I'll post updates as the projects moves ahead.
That's the same brake as the Metro 8" rears, Chris. You could hook a cable to the parking brake lever, and have mechanical brakes instead of hydraulic, or even both.
Using rear brakes, you will have one leading shoe in each direction. This gives you equal braking forward or going backward. You will want to swap shoes now and again to equalize the wear. Front drum brakes always have two leading shoes for forward.
For others looking for donor vehicles, one of our members used rear brakes from the last of the rear wheel drive Toyota Camrys. You may not have had them in the USA though.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Those 7" backing plates are somewhat similar to the 2000# Dexter trailer backing plates. I bought mine at Standens in Calgary for a pretty reasonable cost and they are all new too.
The mounting bolt pattern looks quite similar, potentially the same.
The drums you got will be easier to use than the Dexter ones.
The Dexter electric brakes are 1 1/4" wide. The hydraulic are 1 3/4" wide. The Dexter have both shoes self energizing forwards, so they don't do much in reverse.
I see the backing plates you have will only operate one shoe hydraulically.
Maybe do some measuring to see if you can use the 1 3/4" wide Dexter backing plates. Another option would be to use the Dexter hydraulic cylinders with the electric brake 1 1/4" wide shoes.
I'm sure you will figure it all out!!
Certainly the 7" brakes are better than nothing on the front, but they will not throw you through the windshield.
I am finishing up a pattern for some 12" hub/drum castings to use with the Dexter hydraulic backing plates.
Anyway if you get down to Calgary I would spend a bit of time with you to show you what I have learned. I have nothing to sell you at this time although I have some stuff in progress.
Chris, too bad you weren't at Chickasha this last March, I had a set of T spindles with Metropolitan brakes, already installed, only needing new shoes and wheel cylinder kits and hardware. Because I didn't want to haul them back home, I finally sold them for $500.00, exactly what I had in them, plus I had to throw in an NOS 27 front axle and a rebuilt tie rod, just to make the buyer happy, so I lost a bunch of money on them.
This might be a dumb question but, has anyone looked at the cable brakes on the Cub Car golf carts? I know there not very big but maybe they would be enough to make better stopping power with the stock brakes. Also the being cable operated you wouldn't need to add juice.
"I see the backing plates you have will only operate one shoe hydraulically."
Gotcha', Les! This is rare to catch you in a misstatement. The wheel cylinder floats, so it puts pressure on both shoes equally. Same goes for the e-brake lever on the back side.
Neil, If you look around there are all sizes of cable brake calipers for sale, I have thought of going that route if I ever get a speedster project going. KGB
Yep you got me there!!!
I have come up with a "no-weld" brake adapter for the T spindle. It does require the use of my one piece hub-drums as it uses a bigger inner bearing. I have no parts to sell as I am still testing, but I can sell the castings and a sketch of the design. My wishbone "doubler" I have now tested well. Again no welding to any T parts
But I see that only one shoe will really do most of the work as the "trailing" shoe won't do much
That's true, les. The leading shoe will wear at least double normal, and will take maybe double the pedal pressure. I don't know how that will affect brake fade. At least he'll have good brakes going backwards.
Instead of 3/4" MC, I would go with 5/8".
I checked the price on backing plate assemblies. These are new with cylinders and shoes etc. ready to bolt on. The 7" are just under $100.00 each. The 12" are about $80.00 each. I'm going to do a 12" set to evaluate as I have the pattern made for the casting
If you are using a Ruckstell I have a bracket water jetted out that replaces the Ruckstell bracket and provides a attachment point for your master cylinder
Thanks Les and others for all the additional info. Much appreciated (and sadly, no Ruckstell on this car).
I have run into a major snag — while the Triumph 7" brakes initially seemed to be a good starting point, the diameter is clearly too small and/or the wood wheel is too thick. With a drum ID of 7" and kingpin height of 7-1/2" there is an obvious fit problem. With my wood wheels there is no recess in the hub to move the brake hardware outward to clear the kingpin and axle end. Essentially, the shoes and backing plate would have to be in the same vertical plane as the kingpin — not going to happen.
I don't want to switch to wire wheels as these ones are near new and I happen to like the look. And, I sure don't want to entertain disc brakes as they are too new and I abhor the look.
I will next explore adapting large rear drums and shoes to the front with cable actuation (just have to round up some 26/27 hardware to trial fit). The notion of adapting actual T-era hardware has great appeal.
First two photos show my fit problems with the Triumph Spitfire brake hardware. Following five photos show a rear-hardware-on-the-front setup on a Vancouver-area town car. I would use a beefier connection between the backing plate (or welded side lugs, more likely) and the spindle, and 26/27 drums will give more surface area and enable the kingpin to be contained within the drum
As always, comments and suggestions are most welcome.
I see nothing to stop you from offsetting the wheel further from the kingpin. The pictures you show of the BC car certainly appear to have the wheels more offset.
It is not like the stock T kingpin lines up with centre of the tire anyway
Either way a better steering box is desire able unless you want to embark on the Schubert solution
Les — from my perspective, I see plenty to stop me from offsetting the wheel further from the kingpin (assuming use of stock hubs and wooden wheels).
A spacer on the stub axle nearest the kingpin would move the axle nut well past the end of the axle threads. Or maybe I'm overlooking some other strategy?
Mount the drum outside of the hub flange!
I'm sure you have a extra wood wheel hub to experiment with.
Unfortunately I'm not ready to release my McNerney brakes yet. Totally bolt on and era correct
One of our T club guys put '27 rear brake drums on the front of his '26 pickup. They were cable operated. He had Rocky Mountain brake bands on the outside of the drums.
He did all the work at home in his garage/shop. He was in his late 80's at the time.
I saw him drive past me going down a hill in a back yard on sod. It was a steep hill and he could slide the front wheels on the dry grass.
He had only the drums with the outside bands, no inside brake shoes.
Good idea Aaron
I mounted the drum between the spokes and the hub flange. After I noticed a little charring of the wood, I inserted a thin sheet of fiberglass.
The drum is only 1/8 or 3/16 thick.
The wheel cyl can be oriented any direction unless you plan to use the e-brake lever.
Do what Les suggested and put the brake drum flange between the hub flange and the spokes. You cold even put an additional spacer in there to give a little more offset. Worth a try.
Thank you Les, and and Dan — there was not enough lateral thinking going on in the workshop this afternoon, but now it's obvious even to me.
Having said that, offsetting the drum to the outside of the hub would give me the necessary clearance to the kingpin, but causes the hub & nuts to foul against the backing plate components. A larger diameter offset drum with a generous free area in the centre of the backing plate could work OK.
Chris -- Put the bolt heads on the inside and the nuts outside to get a little more clearance. I don't know whether it will be enough, but it'll be more. You could even grind a little off the heads if it's that close.
After re-reading your previous post, I see that the hub itself is a problem as well. You might be able to machine a little off of it, if you don't need much more room.
Machining some new hubs from "scratch" isn't that hard!
Yeah I know easy for me to say, but they are a simple lathe project. 4140 lathes really nice especially if you take the biggest cuts you can. A home shop 14x40 lathe and you could make then easily in a day!
I would possibly suggest make a trial hub from wood. Don't bother with getting fancy on the inside. Just get it so it slides onto the spindle in the right place. Make the wood one so it locates everything right and has suitable clearances for all the brake parts
OK I would just draw it but I have 40 years of making things experience
I'm running metro. brakes on the front and rear of my speedster. I'm currently in the middle of fitting the backing plates from the earlier spindles to a 26-27 spindle in order to drop the front end down a bit more. Maybe the photos will help you out a bit when figuring out how to fit everything.
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Chris, ifn you hadn't already bought them you could go to the 8" version of them brakes.
You might be able to make those work, Chris, if you use Allen head bolts shaped like carriage bolts. Can't think of the name.
Ralph, I think those are "button head capscrews". Dave
Again, many thanks for the comments and suggestions.
Les, it is easy for me too to say it. Just listen... "I could make a couple hubs easily in a day". Actually doing it however, is as likely as me being offered work as an underwear model. Having said that, there is a local club member who has carved lovely front hubs out of 4140 for me for my 1912 Kissel, but I hope to complete this project by reusing existing (and, hopefully, old) components as much as possible.
Allen, thanks for those photos. I like what you've done adding a new centre section to the backing plate, and curious how you are attaching the BP to the spindle. What width are the Metro drums and shoes? I note with great interest you are using wood wheels... was there much difficulty getting sufficient clearance between the hub and the backing plate hardware (as I describe below) when you had them on the pre-26/27 spindles?.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Mounting the drum inside the hub helped greatly with the clearance issue. I can maximize clearance by countersinking the hub holes and using flush countersunk machine screws with the nuts to the outside. That still seems too thick, however, as the hub continues to foul against the wheel cylinder (first photo, arrow, note ) even with the backing plate tight to the axle (second photo, arrow).
I might still be able to get this combination to work by shaving 1/16" off the inner face of the hub and/or, relieving (cutting away) the backing plate top and bottom where it is touching the axle. Maybe. I think that 8" drums and backing plates would be easier to fit.
The other option at this point is using small drum handbrake hardware like the Vancouver town car pictured upthread. Photos three and four show this setup with the drum mounted inside the hub, and would seem to be OK outside the hub as well. Mechanical linkage and cables would be complicating factors but I like this option because it is not hydraulic and uses a lot of period parts. Of course, I like the hydraulic option because piping is simpler than linkage and cables, and should provide better braking.
At this point I'm not going to go with either option, but rather reflect on what I've learned so far and see if I can locate an existing hydraulic drum setup that offers easier installation and/or better performance — two cylinders optimized for forward braking would be fine, I don't see needing a lot of braking power in reverse.
As always, comments and suggestions most welcome, as are readers who may have more appropriate hardware they could live without!
If you look closely you'll see that the spokes aren't wood which I know, doesn't help you at all since you're worried about the heat so I don't have many suggestions there, however I'm not sure these get that hot. I don't really use the brakes much so mine rarely even get warm. I think it might be more prudent to worry about the wooden spokes failing from the increased stress of braking, or the front wishbone folding. I know a lot of cars with front brakes that run a double front wishbone, or an upgraded unit of some sort. I, however am not yet so I'll cross that path when I get there. Being that the wheels aren't wood, I don't worry about that factor.
This image shows where I cut the backing plates off of the early spindles. You can still see the weld bead as well as a little bit of left over material. I couldn't afford any down time with the car as we're still touring and running races with it, so I've been running with just the rear brakes while I work on this project. Driven appropriately it's not a big deal, even with the Chicago box (similar to a Warford)
This image shows where I turned out the middle of the backing plate and tacked in a new piece of metal with the correct shape to go around the spindle. Pay attention to the clocking, as this makes or breaks the fitment of all of this.
The width of the drum is 1.7" and the width of the shoe is 1.25" on an 8" diameter.
Thanks Allen, that is all good information. And my particular interest in your (assumed to be) wood wheels was that you successfully added brakes to that style of hub, whereas nearly all installations I have seen involved wire wheels.
i saw someone trim the drums thinner for rear brakes so it might work for the front too.
Are my pix invisible, Chris?
Good morning Ralph, and yes they are quite visible. In my defense, I did say almost all!
Do you recall any other mods to work out the spacing issue beyond putting the drums outside the hub? It looks like flush countersunk machine screws or at least the button cap screws you mentioned will be required.
Last night a member of our local sports car club offered me a set of 1958 Bugeye Sprite front brakes. They are 7" like my Spitfire brakes, but 2-piston so more effective forward — and I've got transmission and AC brakes for reverse. Still thinking 8" would be easier to fit.
There are many 8" brake drums available new at your local auto parts store. Honda comes to mind. And of course the shoes and cylinders etc. The backing plates are the problem (and the attachment there of). Making all new backing plates might be worth considering. They could be as simple as a disc of 10 gauge steel with the appropriate holes drilled. Weld on some re-enforcing where the cylinder mounts.
I have a design for a "no-weld" backing plate mount, but it will require some modification to the hubs as it relocates the inner wheel bearing and uses a different one. It might be worth considering. The Calgary club is having it's fall "colour tour" on Sunday, The 8" of snow should be gone by then. If you came down I could show you where I have gotten to and you can learn from my mistakes!!!
I had no spacing issues at all, Chris. I merely removed the Houk wire wheels and hubs, and installed the wood wheels. Maybe you can make out more from this closeup...
I'm pretty sure I used regular capscrews with the 8" brakes.
Is that oak?
Thanks Ralph, that is encouraging. Nice wheel BTW!
Les, it would be fun to join you guys tomorrow, but we are in Hinton area this weekend for two functions - one with our local club and another with my sweetie's workplace. Looking forward to another visit to your place sometime.
Yes, Ken: oak. I learned from that, and taught lots of others.
For any newbies that might be wondering why Hickory is the wood of choice for spokes:
For the technically minded, feel free to read the following document:
A cursory look at the tables in the document implied to me that hickory had both superior strength (called Modulus of Rupture in the document) and higher work of fracture (called Work to Maximum Load in the document) than Oak. The following numbers from the tables are for clear and straight grained specimens, dried to a 12% moisture content.
Modulus of Rupture: 139,000 kiloPaschals
Work to Maximum Load: 178 kiloJoules per cubic Meter
Northern Red Oak:
Modulus of Rupture: 99,000 kiloPaschals
Work to Maximum Load: 100 kiloJoules per cubic Meter
So, using these particular figures, Hickory has 40% higher strength and 78% higher work of fracture than Oak.
Mark, thanks for the numbers.
I'm curious if anybody's ever used bodark, aka "bow d'arc" or osage for their spokes.
We built fences out of that stuff here in Alabama back in the late 1970s, and what hasn't been knocked down by drunk/inattentive drivers is still there, strong.
Thanks, Mark. Most important is the resilience of hickory vs. the brittleness of oak.
Crude example with arbitrary numbers:
A 200 lb man jumping on a diving board of hickory at a speed of two feet per second will deflect the board five inches.
The same man jumping on a diving board of oak at the same speed will deflect the board only two inches.
F = ma
Force = Mass X Acceleration
The shorter the deflection, the larger the acceleration, and therefore, the Force.
Hence, the force absorbed by the oak is 2 1/2 times greater than for the hickory.
I'm sure several of you can refine the above idea.
Btw, what wood is used for diving boards?
I have a pile of hedge orange (Osage) in my backyard, waiting for a lathe. Looks like I'll never get to make spokes. I'm open to ideas.
I found this document online:
Taking a cursory look at some of the tables, it looks like Osage Orange would indeed be a good wood for spokes, comparable to or better than Hickory, provided you could find enough straight-grained, knot-free material to work with.
I also saw some anecdotal mention that Osage Orange was used by American plains Indians for their bows.
I'll be driving by in mid October. I would love help you with your "problem"!!!!
The guide at the Trail of Tears Museum in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, talks quite a bit about it being used for bows.
That might be timely, Les.
I have a longbow made by my Great-great-grandfather (Cherokee), and another I made about 40 years ago. Both were made from Osage Orange. After working with it, I can see why our ancestors attributed supernatural powers to the wood. It is magic.
And BTW, I think it would make great wheel spokes.
Not much to report. Still deciding on appropriate hardware. Looking now at MGB rear drums -- larger diameter than I would like, but the recessed backing plate helps greatly with hub-to-kingpin clearance.