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Old 06-11-2019, 10:05 AM   #1
alexiskai
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Default Tips for brake floater kit installation?

I recently ordered a brake floater kit (the deluxe kit, shipped direct from Flathead Ted in NZ) and I'm preparing to install it. I've seen two opinions about brake floater kits as a group:
  • "Works great, I've had it for years, highly recommended"
  • "Never got it to work properly for very long, finally took it off"

I'm trying to figure out the causes behind these very divergent opinions. I can think of two possible causes. First, maybe the people who had problems bought lower-quality kits. So I've tried to avoid that by getting the best kit I could find. Second, maybe there's some element of the installation process that some people are doing and others aren't, or maybe your brakes need to be a certain way to start with.

So I'd like to know, does anyone have any tips on installing these that they think might make the difference between me ending up keeping these in for years or getting frustrated and taking them out?
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

And I would like to know how I can 'follow you' to find out how/what you were able to accomplish --
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:21 AM   #3
alexiskai
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

I could make a video like I did for the seat belt installation – problem is I won't really know whether I did things the "right" way for a while. That's why I was asking for tips.

The Diablo A's club has a DVD they sell for $25 called "Installing Flathead Ted's Brake Floater Kit on Your Model A Ford," but based on the preview it looks like it covers a lot of brake restoration stuff above and beyond just the floater kit install, so it's not clear to me how much of the 35 minute runtime I'm paying for is about the floater kit. Ted himself has a video on YouTube that covers the installation, but bless his heart I don't think he's a great instructor.

Anyway I think there's still an opening for a step-by-step video, and I'd be happy to make one but this is install #1 for me and I could easily do it wrong. Hence my request for tips on mistakes to avoid.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexiskai View Post
I recently ordered a brake floater kit (the deluxe kit, shipped direct from Flathead Ted in NZ) and I'm preparing to install it. I've seen two opinions about brake floater kits as a group:
  • "Works great, I've had it for years, highly recommended"
  • "Never got it to work properly for very long, finally took it off"

I'm trying to figure out the causes behind these very divergent opinions. I can think of two possible causes. First, maybe the people who had problems bought lower-quality kits. So I've tried to avoid that by getting the best kit I could find. Second, maybe there's some element of the installation process that some people are doing and others aren't, or maybe your brakes need to be a certain way to start with.

So I'd like to know, does anyone have any tips on installing these that they think might make the difference between me ending up keeping these in for years or getting frustrated and taking them out?
Well for certain your brakes have to be in tip top shape before you install FHT's kit. FHT's kit will NOT cure bad brakes!!

I can not comment on the down side as I never had any. My brakes had cast iron drums, new shoes, all parts inspected and replaced as necessary. I was very happy with them. And it stopped great.

I would probably have not even thought about installing FHT's kit. but I won the FHT's kit at the OC Pancake breakfast so I thought what the heck, they're free. Why not try them? I could always take them off again as there is no modification to the stock parts.

Well they worked great and are still on the Town Sedan. It is hard to explain, but the brakes almost feel like like power brakes. Maybe it has something to do with the 'self energizing effect'.

The only thing I noticed is that sometimes when I have to really stand on the brakes they stick. All I have to do is move forward a little and the unstick. Not really a problem but I mention it so you will be aware. Someone suggested I re-install the top spring (removed during installation per instructions but I have not tried it.
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Last edited by Y-Blockhead; 06-11-2019 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:38 AM   #5
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

OK, so I've got:
  • New cast iron drums on the front brakes
  • New shoes arced to the drums
  • Front bearings freshly greased
  • Minimal play in the king pins
  • Brake rod connecting points set to 15 on front and rear

The missing link here is that I haven't taken the rear brakes apart to check them fully, but they seem to perform well, and if I notice any of the above that need work on the rear brakes when I do this upgrade, I'll fix those items.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Here are a few articles...

http://santaanitaas.org/wp-content/u...ead-brakes.pdf

http://santaanitaas.org/wp-content/u...ead-brakes.pdf

http://www.ocmafc.com/techarticles/BrakeFloaters-2.pdf

https://www.vintagefordforum.net/for...brake-floaters

I have the complete kit (front and rear) on my car. Quite happy. Much better pedal feel and stopping ability. I'd guess that those that did not get good results...

Did not insure all brake parts and linkages were in "as new" condition before they started.

And/or didn't follow the instructions. Not removing the upper return springs is a common error since this seems counter intuitive to many.

And/or didn't adjust the brakes properly. The fronts need to come on first. Again, this is counter intuitive to those that have been adjusting Model A brakes the same way for years.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Thanks for these articles, this is very helpful.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

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Originally Posted by rfitzpatrick View Post
And I would like to know how I can 'follow you' to find out how/what you were able to accomplish --
You can follow this thread by clicking at the top of the page "Thread Tools" Then click "Subscribe to this Thread".
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:52 AM   #9
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

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Originally Posted by Dick Steinkamp View Post
And/or didn't adjust the brakes properly. The fronts need to come on first. Again, this is counter intuitive to those that have been adjusting Model A brakes the same way for years.
Thanks Dick for mentioning this. This is so true. I have had more "discussions" about this than I care to remember...
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:01 AM   #10
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Just for the record, what is the current thinking regarding whether/how the wheels are off the ground when you calibrate them? I've seen arguments that checking the wheels while the car is up on jack stands doesn't reflect actual braking behavior. Somebody recommended taking the car out to a gravel/dirt road and, er, interpreting the skid marks to adjust the brakes. Frankly that is not something I have time for.
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Old 06-11-2019, 11:06 AM   #11
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

I like them and have used them for years on the front. I don't feel they are nessasary on the rear. There are two big advantages. One, they self center the shoe to the drum and two, they work on the principal of double leading shoe which gives you the self energizing effect.
Instalation is pretty straight forward. The biggest problem is to be sure your brake adjusting shaft slides freely since you don't have that big spring any more to pull the shoes back in.
As i'm sure you know they are not a panacea for bad brakes.
Let us know how you make out.
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Old 06-11-2019, 03:39 PM   #12
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

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You can follow this thread by clicking at the top of the page "Thread Tools" Then click "Subscribe to this Thread".



Well I'll be darn!
Thanks
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Old 06-11-2019, 07:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexiskai View Post
Just for the record, what is the current thinking regarding whether/how the wheels are off the ground when you calibrate them? I've seen arguments that checking the wheels while the car is up on jack stands doesn't reflect actual braking behavior. Somebody recommended taking the car out to a gravel/dirt road and, er, interpreting the skid marks to adjust the brakes. Frankly that is not something I have time for.
I'm not sure what you mean by "calibrate".

But...with the car on jack stands under the front and rear axles, it is the same as having the car on the ground...except you can turn the wheels. Obviously the wheels have to be off the ground to adjust the brakes. Not so to adjust brake rod lengths but, again, it's the same as having the car on the ground and a lot handier.

With hydraulic brakes, there is no need for the dirt/gravel road. The beauty of hydraulics is that each corner gets the same pressure. Not so with mechanical brakes. Start with the gravel road to make the initial adjustments to insure all 4 wheels are sliding. Progress to smooth, dry pavement to make sure you see the same thing. Adjust as necessary.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:05 PM   #14
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

The Diablo A's dvd shows how you have to modify the plate that mounts on the wedge anchor bolt. Get the dvd for that alone.
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Old 06-12-2019, 04:37 PM   #15
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Modifying that plate is key for Model A front brakes. The shoes will bind on it if it is not modified. I have them on my cars with cast iron drums and can out stop hydraulic brake As.
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Old 06-12-2019, 08:59 PM   #16
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

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Modifying that plate is key for Model A front brakes.
Thanks for pointing this out. I think the modification in question is grinding the lower edge of the plate, as discussed in this clip from the (extremely helpful) Model A Times article linked above. Is that right?
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:09 PM   #17
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Brakes not fully designed for self energizing may stop better than Ford centered brakes...for awhile,then you'll be back in dealing with uneven shoe wear before long.
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Old 06-12-2019, 09:43 PM   #18
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

Yes. The bottom of the plate needs to be ground down to let the shoe clear. I think the plate works fine on the 32-34 12” brakes.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:49 AM   #19
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

The main reason hydraulic brakes are superior to mechanicals is application force is transmitted evenly to all wheels.This allows the use of self energizing shoes,which by design use centrifugal force to assist application.This self energizing design requires a full floating foundation,there are no fixed anchors.The model a uses a centered type wedge applied braking system,the shoes contact with the drum is not affected by centrifugal force.

Whats important to remember with this is two things,the adjuster design of the model a brake foundation cannot be altered to allow for full effective self energizing,meaning uneven brake shoe wear.The other ,more important side effect of self energizing brakes is rooted in a mechanical brake system,even application force is dependent on maintaining concise adjustment,with the centrifugal assist of the self energizing foundation if they don't apply instantaneously the brakes will pull..

Floaters are a way to improve baking efficiency but they come at a cost,its why Ford did not use them.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:58 AM   #20
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Default Re: Tips for brake floater kit installation?

In THEORY, a honey bee shouldn't be able to fly.
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