I was reading some old forum posts about installing Rocky Mountain brakes and came across a thread talking about AC brakes. The threads were several years old. What experience does anyone have with AC brakes?, are they still made? From the threads they are much cheaper and in some instances superior to the Rockys. Yet the major parts suppliers don't sell them (at least the ones I looked at)
You get AC brakes directly from the guy who makes them. They have less braking surface than the RMs as they are smaller. I intend to get them. Both are period correct, but have much less stopping power than the disc retro fits. Depending on your T, where and how you drive you'll have to choose which is best for you. I like the ACs, and may use them on my speedster. My reasons are they are era correct, cheaper, and will provide the braking my lighter T needs. I have no performance parts and will not be going 60+ MPH that the souped up speedsters can. On those I'd want discs.
All AC brakes are not the same. I got some about 1990 to fit a 26 with the large drums. Later I got Rocky Mountain brakes for another 26 with large drums. Both sets are identical except the lining on the AC is woven and the lining on the RM is pressed material. I am unfamiliar with other AC brakes.
I'm not aware that the current manufacturer of AC brakes makes, or has made, a large drum variety. I am aware however that Rocky Mtn. used to use woven lining and now use a pressed material.
So, to my knowledge, based on what's available today, all AC brakes are the same. They're small drum style.
They are still being made by the same fellow in Califunny that has made them for quite a few years now. They had been made by someone else years ago. He is a fine antique automobile hobbyist, and the quality is still good. For looks, and working both forward and backward, I tend to prefer the AC over the Rocky Mountain brakes. The big advantage to the Rocky Mountain brakes is that with a much larger surface area, they wear more slowly. The smaller AC brakes will need to be relined more often. It is an easy job, and does not appear to be a major issue for most of the people using them.
I think Larry Sidmore is still the fellow to contact. Try phone number (209) 533-9207. He does require that you sign a liability waiver "for display only" which is why I think the regular vendors don't carry them.
You can read more about them at the following thread:
Personally, I like to put the outside brakes on the brake handle, and then use the brake handle a lot for stopping. It becomes second nature and I grab it automatically in panic stops. I prefer to keep the planetary brake just how God and Henry made it, and use it lightly in normal driving. That way, it works well, and doesn't wear fast. Keeping the two systems that way keeps two independent braking systems intact. If something breaks, or fails? You still have one operable braking system.
Although not a close personal friend, I have known Larry Sidmore for many years.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
Dang I type slow!
To elaborate on something others touched upon. The current "Rocky Mountain" brakes are NOT reproductions of original Rocky Mountain brakes. They are something totally different. I much prefer the originals.
The current "Rocky Mountain" brake offering are actually a modified version of the original AC large drum brakes made for '26/'27 Ts. The modern modification is a significant change in how the brake bands are mounted. This change makes the brakes "self energizing" going forward, so only light brake pedal pressure is required for heavy braking. The downside of this, is that the forward self energizing function makes the brakes work almost not at all in reverse. Not a good feature when backing up, and especially not going up hills.
Just another consideration when you make your choice.
Given the Rockies' reputation for being ineffective in reverse, I would assume the AC's are better in that regard. Is that right?
The key feature is the brake band anchor point. AC brakes are anchored at the rear, and based on my experience with them they work the same going forward or backward. When going forward, the upper half of the band is self-energizing, when going backward the lower half of the band is self-energizing.
The current Rocky Mountain design was patterned after a 1926 A-C Brake.
Yes, a brake system anchored at the center of the band will provide equal braking forward or reverse. I have Bennetts on my TT and they have center anchored bands which give me equal braking.
Talked to the guy (Larry)yesterday. Couldn't have been nicer. In addition to talking to me about the brakes, he is sending me info from a guy who makes linkages that bolt on for the AC's
$350 for the brakes
$175 for linkages
I'll be ordering both as soon as my signed waiver is in....ha
I too, have a set of these brakes "for demonstration purposes only" and the linkage. Still have to install, but have seen them on other cars & the quality seems to be great.
I am in the process of putting Larry's AC brakes with Richard Baughman's linkage on my 19.
Both are well designed.
Also, both are gentlemen and an asset to the hobby.
I am either in a process of putting Larry's AC Brake and Rich linkage on my touring 1911. I am totally agree, both are awesome gentlemen.