All the talk about the current reproductions not being like the originals, and not like earlier reproductions, and some being OK forward but not in reverse, etc., etc., is a bit confusing for somebody (me) who has no experience with any of them. It would be nice to have all the information together in one place. I think the greatest help for somebody (me) wanting to learn about all the variations would be good pictures of the various brands in their original and later incarnations. Statements like "The new ones aren't like the old ones" are no help at all if you don't know how to recognize them when you're scouring the auctions and swap meets. I want to see them, and I suspect others who are equally ignorant would too. Along with good pictures, an explanation of what's good and what's bad about each type, and why, would be a big plus.
I know a lot of this has been covered in bits and pieces before. But I'd like this to be a definitive collection of all the information. If I'm trying to reinvent the wheel here and it's been done before, I hope someone who's a better searcher than I am will post a link.
Sounds like the makings of a most excellent VF article. I certainly would appreciate having all this info in one coherent article. jb
Well, my car has Rocky Mountain brakes, so I can share a little of my fallible understanding of the type: _
The original incarnation of these brakes came on the market in 1917, were not of the self-energizing geometry and so, worked as well in reverse as forward. _My car is equipped with the later, more common type, which are self-energizing and so, require less effort to apply. _In fact, they have more than enough leverage to lock up the rear wheels. _The self-energizing type do not stop well in reverse, though, and in that case, I'm relying heavily on the driveline brake to stop the car or hold it in place on a decline at a stop-light (If they're self-energizing forward, then they're self-loosening in reverse).
One of the disadvantages of a stock Model T's drive-line service brake is that most of the braking impulse is distributed to that rear wheel which has the least traction—because that's what a differential does (as so eloquently elucidated by Marisa Tomei in the movie, "My Cousin Vinnie):
Properly adjusted, RM brakes overcome most of that disadvantage—at least where stopping is concerned.
The problem with both types of RM brakes is that when they get significantly wet, their power diminishes and then you'd be relying heavily on the driveline brake.
With the current version of Rocky Mountain brakes, you need both the transmission brake and a good parking brake. Both the foot brake and the parking brake will apply the Rocky Mountain brake. It is a very good idea to rehearse what you would do if you started to roll backward down a hill. First is to press hard on the foot brake. Second is to grab the parking brake and pull back hard. Third is to apply all three pedals. If you adjust the brakes so that the foot brake will first apply the Rocky Mountain brakes and then with harder pressure it will also apply the transmission brake, you will be able to stop rolling backward if you press hard. If there were to be a failure in the drivetrain, the parking brake will stop the car. It is important to adjust the parking brake so that it first applies the parking brakes and then if you pull back hard one more click it will also lock the Rocky Mountain brake.
Keep enough gas in the tank to be able to climb hills without stalling the engine.
I just ordered a set of ac brakes and linkage that is supposed to work equally well with the car moving forward or backward
I, like you, was interested in knowing the difference between the original Rocky Mountain brakes and the new ones that are offered.
So here is some history I cobbled together from various posts on model t forum along with a link with some more information and pictures. I did this a while back and retained it for my own information so I could be go back to it when I am ready to buy accessory brakes. I wish I could credit the original authors here, but maybe they'll chime in.
Note that "A/C" is another brand name like "Rocky Mountain".
"Short history of Rocky Mountain brakes. They were originally manufactured in the '20s for small drum model Ts. Later, they made changes to fit large drum Ts, still while Ts were being produced. I don't know when they stopped manufacturing.
Sometime in the late '50s or early '60s, someone began manufacturing Rocky Mountain brakes again. They were nearly exact copies of the originals. You have to know what to look for to tell the originals from the repos.
Up until that time, RMs did not look anything like they do today. (Not a bit!)
About that time, someone else began reproducing A/C outside brakes. They were just one of the dozens of other companies that made improved brakes for Ts during the '20s. Look on page 32 of "Model T Ford, In Speed and Sport" book. Note, the picture shows the emergency brake still connected separately.
Somewhere along the line, someone decides to make an "improved self energizing" set of brakes for Ts. Personally, I think it was a bad idea.
The original Rocky Mountain brakes did not lend themselves easily to the needed modifications. The A/C did, and they got renamed. Why? I do not know? I wish they would have named them something else.
I do not like the "new" Rocky mountain brake setup. There are several design weaknesses in them. Not the least of which is holding a car on a hill.
My '24 coupe does have the new RMs in it. But whoever put them in, made major changes that eliminated several of the weaknesses. They still won't hold on a hill. But when the car was restored over 30 years ago, they used a '26 large drum rear end. That holds the car on a hill. Since there are a lot of hills where I live, that is important to me.
Most people leave the transmission band in and connected. They adjust it to grab if you push the pedal REALLY hard. Some, including me, do not like that idea. The adjustment can wear one way or the other so that things won't work the way you expect them to. Regardless of whether you use the transmission brake or not, the potential exists to lose your brakes and not have a functioning secondary or emergency brake.
The original type Rocky Mountain brakes were, and are, the best."
I offer these comments in an effort to be helpful in your quest for aux. brake data. I hope it doesn't backfire....
First, it is my impression that occasionally (maybe even often) auxiliary brakes are called "Rockies" whether they're Rocky Mountain brakes or some other brand. This causes more confusion than any other single problem.
Having said that then there's the additional compounding problem of the fact that period manufactured Rocky Mountain brakes are nothing like the modern production Rockies, but both carry the Rocky Mountain name.
In my opinion what's important is understanding the difference. I'm gonna stick my neck out here and if I'm wrong I trust I will be corrected. To the best of my knowledge the only auxiliary brakes that have the "useless in reverse" flaw are the modern production Rocky Mountain brakes. This flaw exists due to the fact that the band is anchored at the end, giving them great "self actuating" properties when moving forward and none while moving backwards.
In contrast to this, all other auxiliary brakes (I know, my neck is way out there) have the band anchored at its center. With a little room for band movement designed in the mounting, this provides equal "self actuating" properties when moving both forward and backward. Of course, since the modern production Rockies have more band to drum contact area that "self actuates" when moving forward (the whole band) they do work better than others when moving forward. Others are less effective when moving forward due to the fact that only half of the band "self actuates".
In light of the above, I don't think there's much difference between period production Rocky Mountain brakes, AC brakes, Bennett brakes, and pretty much any of the others. The ones that are different are the modern production Rocky Mountain brakes.
I hope this helps.
I got a set of old used original Lockwood small drum brake from a fellow on ebay last winter, and they are excellent. I had to reline them and fabricate the complete actuating mechanism but it was very worthwhile. I can skid the back wheels at 45 MPH if I have to. Without them I'd be afraid to drive over 25. Cheers : Bruce
Glen Chaffin pointed out fault with Sunderlin RM repos of the late 50s. Hope to get a response so I am adding my question to this thread: Glen,thanks for your input on the Jack Sunderland RMBs. I have a new set that I picked up a few years ago but have hesitated to install because of this anchor point issue that I didn't fully understand. The rear support hole is 7/8 and the diameter of the shoulder on the rear bolt is 3/4. How much should I elongate the hole? Should it be elongated toward the top or equal both ways from the center? After doing this will I have a good reverse brake? Thanks again for your remarks.
Bruce - Can you post pictures of your brakes?
Chaffin remarks from earlier post. Antique Ford Brakes was owned by Jack Sunderland back in the 1960-70's. He made the original style Rocky Mountain Brakes but changed the design to the present day AC brake design because they didn't stop well. All he had to do to fix them was elongate the rear support bolt hole so the band could move forward when the brakes were applied. This is called self energizing. But Jack didn't know this so he changed the design. The AC design is still sold today by Bud Williams of Rocky Mountain Brakes. These are instructions from the original reproductions not the originals. Glen
When I get my Sunderlin repro Rockys from Layden Butler, I'm going to take a close look at the rear anchor to see how much if any the rear band mounting hole can be elongated to allow more self-energizing action.
Slightly OT, this may or may not be of interest, but here is an illustration of how the self energizing feature works on the rear drum brakes that used to be ubiquitous on the rear of Detroit cars:
Dan : I'm not good at posting pictures, but there is a set that just sold on ebay. Google "Lockwood outside brakes " and scroll down a bit. Cheers : Bruce
One more thought - Has this topic been covered in a past issue of Vintage Ford? If not, it would be a good one!
Thanks Bruce. Here are some pictures of the Lockwood Brakes for the good of the forum.
While we're on BRAKES,
I wonder how many Front wheel brakes were produced? We sure don't see many come up and I know it's not because they didn't work.
I have home made copies of the Big Four and McNearney on the front of my car and really like them.
Bennets on the rear and all small drum.
Some Day I'll challenge anyone to a Stopping contest.
Somebody should also post here about the Metro drum brakes. The Late Famous RDR was always ready to show how good his stopped the Ole Brass Picup.
OK, now we have pictures of the Lockwood brakes. How about all the others?
For future reference, here are pictures Jay posted in 2013.
OK, with the original rocky mountain brakes how were they anchored on 26/27 backing plates? The casting is quite light and quite a long reach is needed for the rear anchor point. Currently trying to figure how to fit up brakes which are not self energising as some of the drivers won't understand the flaws until the time something goes astray
My '14 has a 26 - 27 rear axle with home made brakes engineered and fabricated by my dad. He found a set of cast iron brake drums that were the same OD as the original T drums. The rest of the parts are mostly home made, except the adjuster and pivot arms from an Overland (unknown vintage) rear axle that had outside contracting rear brakes.
The lining is 1/4" X 2" asbestos brake lining riveted to the bands. The car has fabulous brakes going either direction.
The photo Steve Jelf posted of the original Rocky Mountain brakes is only partially correct. The two small drums are not needed because they are already riveted to the large drums. The equalizer is from a Bennett brake, and is not used.
Here's a set I have which I believe to be APCO accessory brakes.
Here's a set of Model T accessory brake actuators. Has anybody seen these on a car or know who manufactured them??
Okay, I just got an email from Larry Smith with 17 pictures of original period Rocky Mountain Brake parts, none of them had to be resized. Here they are, just as Larry sent them. Thanks, Larry!
I have a set of home made brakes on my 26 roadster that work very well (however my pictures of them are not so good). The drums were off my dump trailer so I am not sure what they fit, they were for 11x2.75 brakes so the outside width of the drum is 3 inches, I machined the out side and built the brakes 3 inches wide and had them lined with a bake on lining from the friction material people that I have do custom clutches and brakes. The drum had to be drilled to bolt up to the wood wheel hub but being an 11 inch drum the stock e-brake still works like it should. They work so well that the 440-21 tires would lock up quite easily so I put on 525-21 tires which gave me more surface area on the ground,6 ply tires and approx. 3% hobo overdrive. These brakes work well in reverse as well.
Mark, Thanks for posting the pix. Larry,What does the rear portion of the brake band look like? The rear of the ORM support is difinately different from the Sumberlin repo that I have. Thanks
Jay ,the brakes you show are not APCO. They are Royal Contracting Brakes that were lined with Raybestos lining. I had only one of them and a Raybestos Dealer publication ( Silver Lining) that had a half page add for them. See page 384 of The Model T Ford Owner for information on both Royal and APCO units. I have APCO brakes on my hack.
Warren, You need to elongate the Rocky Mountain pivot hole on the back side so the band can move forward when the brakes are applied. The only way to improve braking in the reverse direction is to synchronize the internal brake to work with the out side brakes and to adjust your parking brakes so they also engage when you pull your hand brake back.
I'm wondering whether I'm being conned. I'm told I have to have auxiliary brakes if I have an auxiliary transmission, because if the aux tranny gets stuck in neutral or otherwise fails, I have no brakes except the silly little Ford parking brake, which is barely better than no brakes at all.. When is that most likely to happen? When I'm struggling up a hill and have to downshift my Ruckstell or Warford or whatever; it jams in neutral and I start rolling backward. So what am I being sold? An aux brake that only works going forward. What's wrong with this picture?
Rolling backwards with some brakes is better than no brakes at all. The Rocky Mountains and other brands do work going backwards but not as good as going forward. Our founding father president was killed because he was caught in a situation with no brakes.
Install a large drum rear axle and you have real emergency brakes. Then just use your transmission brake as the service brake. Forget the Rocky Mountains.
Ill post some pics of my AC small drum set that I used on my 1922 touring. I tried to get them set where the trans brake and the AC brakes worked together. It was an aggravating thing to do and keep adjusted. So I came up with a fix I have never seen anywhere else. I added a 4th pedal to the floor. The 4th pedal is just for the AC brakes. The stock Ford brakes are left "as stock". I made a special bracket that attaches to 2 of the trans inspection cover bolts and 2 of the hogshead/pan bolts. There is also a "return" pedal stop bracket that attaches to 2 more of the inspection cover bolts. I used a low speed pedal and straightened it out to be where I wanted it to be. It just pivots on a bolt and nut shaft attached to the bracket, and has a "tab" welded to it for the pull rod. The two "screen door springs" are to keep a little side pressure to the brakes. I had a little trouble with them never "settling" back into a neutral position and rubbing the drums. It was very little rubbing, but the screen door springs attached to the bolts of the drive shaft spool solved the problem. I used them several years on the touring and loved how they worked. It was also fun to see what people thought about 4 pedals in the floor. I plan on using them on my 1925 speedster project Im working on this winter. Other than the two screen door springs and the turn buckle hooking the brakes to my "special pedal" The rest of the AC brakes are as original. I do not claim this to be the "right way" or "wrong way". It was just "my way". I think on my speedster project the 4th pedal will be another feature for Folks to look at, and I like the two separate brake systems ... submitted with respect, Donnie Brown ..
My complete setup with special floor board
special floor board for fourth pedal
photos of my special pedal bracket and how the screen door springs are attached to the driveshaft spool bolts. The screen door springs may not be need on a different set of brakes, They just helped on my set.
I just now noticed that I have the special floor board labeled "APCO" instead of "AC" I must have had a "old timer" moment when I labeled it.