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Old 03-31-2011, 08:16 AM   #1
Roadster62
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Default Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

For the experts only please, just how much different are PROPERLY rebuilt STOCK A brakes vs. 1939-49 Ford hydraulic brakes on a Model A.
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Old 03-31-2011, 08:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

I can tell you from years of experience with flat-head MoPars ( which use the same damned Lockheed Brakes as the Ford) that the fixed-anchor Lockheed hydraulic brakes can be just as lousy as poorly-maintained Ford mechanicals, if they are not set-up properly.

There are two adjustments: the "heel" contact on the lower anchor pin (referred to as "Major Adjustment", which requires a special gauge, such as the Ammco 1750 brake gauge ), then the service adjustment, which is another eccentric, more easily adjusted by feel, with the drum in place. The linings MUST be correctly arced to match the curvature of the drum.

If the Lockheed hydraulics are not adjusted / functioning properly, the only "advantage" you will gain is that the juice brakes are "self-equalizing" between all four wheels.

You'll spend a fair amount of time & money gathering parts for the conversion, and modifying your car, and still wind-up with an obsolete, fiddly braking system.

I think it's six of one, half-dozen of another, having dealt with both types of brake.

The Model A brakes are a bit simpler to adjust, and do not mandate that use of the special (expensive) brake gauge to set the anchor-pin adjustment.

My two-cents worth.
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Old 03-31-2011, 09:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

I believe the 42-48's were easier to adjust. Go over to the EV8 forum and post question, fellow there, richard lacey, specializes in ford brakes, or ck into cling's, and there are others. Supposedly, "properly rebuilt and adjusted" mech brakes as good as hydraulic.
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

We have 20 vintage cars. Six of them are model A Fords. The model A's stop as well as the cars with the hydraulics. What is really nice about the mechanicals is that the cars with them can sit for years and their brakes still work well. The hydraulics freeze up, develope leaks, and they also drie up. So before taking the hydraulics out after a long storage rest, their brakes usually have to be gone through again. In the hydraulic brakes, I have silicone brake fluid in some and hydraulic brake fluid in others. Less problems with silicone fluid.
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

Also, those step-bore wheel cylinders are EXPENSIVE if they have to be sleeved or replaced.
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:44 AM   #6
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

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Originally Posted by Special Coupe Frank View Post
Also, those step-bore wheel cylinders are EXPENSIVE if they have to be sleeved or replaced.
New wheel cylinders are $35.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

I used front brakes from a 35 Ford, made a huge difference on how it stopped. The brakes are bigger than the stock "A" brakes and they are still mechanical. Was a nice upgrade. Properly adjusted and working correctly, these mechanicals stop well. Just dont drive it like your every day car.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadster62 View Post
For the experts only please, just how much different are PROPERLY rebuilt STOCK A brakes vs. 1939-49 Ford hydraulic brakes on a Model A.
Would it be fair to ask you what is your opinion?? Why would/do you feel one is better than the other?

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Old 03-31-2011, 12:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

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Originally Posted by mrtexas View Post
New wheel cylinders are $35.
They were $50 each 15 years ago when I needed them for my '41 De Soto...

I guess the Ford guys are lucky then.

Who has 'em for $35 ?
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

I have juice brakes on my coupe and it stops on a dime. I've driven stock coupes with both properly adjusted mechanical brakes and with improperly adjusted mechanical brakes. To be honest, from what I can tell-when adjusted correctly, stock mechanical brakes perform really well! If they are not though it can be scary.

I wouldn't say the properly adjusted mechanical brakes stop AS good as the juice brake conversions do, but pretty close.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:17 PM   #11
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

I would tend to ask the same question as Brent regarding the
word "better." I'm no "expert" by any definition, but I have owned
juice and mechanical brakes on my two A's and my own opinion
is that in a panic stop----and I have made at least one or two in
my day------is that you need a plan "B" in both scenarios, lol.
Just my opinion, but I think juice brakes on a model A present a
false security. I almost learned the hard way! JMHO

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Old 03-31-2011, 01:49 PM   #12
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

If you want hydraulic brakes you are much better off with a new set of modern bendix backing plates available from several vendors, at least for the front. They are much better than 40-48 Ford brakes.
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Old 03-31-2011, 02:01 PM   #13
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

I am not an expert either , but i do have a question ,if mechanical brakes are as good or better then hydraulic why did they change to hydraulic and still 80 years later use the hydraulic system . God bless
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Old 03-31-2011, 02:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

Discussing more of what Jerry just brought up, you can apply more force in a smaller space using the hydraulic principal than you can on the fulcrum principle. Think mechanical jack vs hydraulic jack. So, from a physics standpoint, It would seem that you can do more with hydraulics in modern cars.

I would also think it would be hard to run straight brake rods from the pedal to all four wheels in a Modern Honda. You can bend hydraulic hoses and they still work fine. You can't bend mechanical brake rods around corners and they work as well. Maybe cables, but still, hydraulics seems to be the natural progression. In the 50s, cars got much bigger and heavier. I would hate to stop a 1959 Cadillac going 85 mph with mechanical brakes.

But on the light weight Model A with skinny tires, I think the Mechanicals are excellent! Mine stop on a dime as well.
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Last edited by Jason in TX; 03-31-2011 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 03-31-2011, 02:32 PM   #15
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

Lobuckboz nailed it..... whichever system you use, just dont drive it like your everyday driver.
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Old 03-31-2011, 02:59 PM   #16
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

No expert on brakes either. I understand the hydraulic push principle that Jason pointed out. But another factor has to be cost. Imagine the production cost of all those rods, bushing, springs, clips, etc. and the labor to fit it all together. By comparison, juice brakes have to be cheaper.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:01 PM   #17
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

The limiting factor in the A's braking is the width of the tyre. A well adjusted set of rods/drums will stop just as well as hydraulics on 4 1/2 inches of rubber.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:36 PM   #18
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadster62 View Post
For the experts only please, just how much different are PROPERLY rebuilt STOCK A brakes vs. 1939-49 Ford hydraulic brakes on a Model A.
The advantage to hydraulic is they are self equalizing. As far as stopping power it does not matter hydraulic or mechanical, it is all about leverage. You could put longer levers on stock brakes and they would work easier, but you would have to adjust them more often.

I reworked my front brakes on my speedster to bendix type. They work real easy.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:43 PM   #19
Special Coupe Frank
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

Juice brakes are much cheaper to make, and to install on the assembly line.

And cheaper to adjust (if you're paying someone to do it).

Remember, Ford was one of the last American auto makers to switch to Hydraulic brakes, so their mechanicals must have done an okay job of stopping the V-8 85.

The 12 cylinder Packards and K-series Lincolns used mechanicals to the end of their days, 1939 & 1940 respectively.

If you're bent on going with hydraulics, I would recommend investigating one of the conversions mentioned above, that uses the modern (post 1950) Bendix "self-energizing" / self-centering shoes... they work MUCH better than the fixed-anchor Lockheeds.

Just not enough advantage gained by the Lockheed set-up, in my opinion, to make me want to change my A; I've driven over 100,000 miles on Lockheed brakes in my vintage MoPars, so I have some experience with them.
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:44 PM   #20
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Default Re: Mechanical vs. Juice brakes on an A

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadster62 View Post
For the experts only please, just how much different are PROPERLY rebuilt STOCK A brakes vs. 1939-49 Ford hydraulic brakes on a Model A.
Mr Texas has it right! Bendix is the proper set up to use if you are going to change mechanicals to more modern hydraulics. Ford knew that Bendix has superior system, but being frugal, scuttlebut has it that Ford refused to license Bendix and used his own (Lockheed) version of hydraulics. 'Ted' floaters, has sold a system all over the world that attempts to mimic the 'self energizing' Bendix brake system! Why is that? Because Bendix system was/is superior brake design(floating/self energizing) was/is the best of the rest!
Now which to pick for Model A:
Pricewise/cheapest...nod to model a to restore/maintain vs complete reengineering to hydraulics;
Maintenance...if car stored long periods of time, nod to model a vs seized/rusted up master and whl cylinders;
Safety...if driven long/hard/often, nod to Bendix vs fadeing/pulling,etc mechanicals;
Ease of maintenance if driven often/regularly...Bendix
Nice to have choices!!

Last edited by hardtimes; 03-31-2011 at 04:52 PM. Reason: MORE...
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