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Old 11-05-2015, 06:53 PM   #1
drewbaby
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Default 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Brake System completely rebuilt with new wheel cylinders, brake shoes, master cylinder, flex lines, USA made drums, Adjusted anchor pins, no power brake booster, and still have poor braking!
Is it a poorly designed system?
Anyone with any experience or thoughts. I hate to pin it on poor brake lining. That's more like wishfull thinking.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:07 PM   #2
Dobie Gillis
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

It may be just the nature of the beast. Old Ford manual brakes always seemed to require more pedal effort than the competing brands. Call it poor design if you wish. Eventually you factor it in to your driving habits and using them effectively becomes 2nd nature.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:23 PM   #3
Daves55Sedan
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Try pressure bleeding each wheel cylinder one at a time starting with the furthest wheel cylinder from the master cylinder. I believe it is a myth that you can successfully gravity-bleed the lines when these have such high points where air pockets can get trapped, such as where the line runs near the top of the frame crossmember.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:23 PM   #4
henry8
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

is it possible that not all the air was bled out of the system, or maybe the shoes are not adjusted close enough to the drums.
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Old 11-05-2015, 08:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Did you manually adjust them first?
What procedure did you use to bleed the brakes?

With new shoes & drums it may take a couple hundred miles for those parts to 'settle in'.
If your daily driver has power disc brakes, yes there's a real big difference.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:47 PM   #6
Alaska Jim
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

I have stock brakes on my 1951 Mercury, if the brakes are properly bled, and shoes adjusted properly it stops VERY well. true you have to use more "foot" than modern disc, or even old drum power brakes. I think that you have not done something right, or you are expecting to much. like I said if all is done properly and you have a good hard pedal and a reasonably high pedal height , you will have no trouble stopping even in traffic, or highway unless you are a tailgater.
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Old 11-05-2015, 10:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Are the linings installed correctly ? Short shoe forward ?
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Today's brake linings aren't as good as the old asbestos ones. One lost art is fitting the shoes to the drums. It may be, as dmsfrr says, they will settle in. If you don't feel safe in the meantime, you might pull one brake, lay the shoes in the drum, and look at the contact. Good mechanics in the old day fit the shoes to the drums as sets, individually.

The other thing is the adjustment. The shoes don't move a lot, so it's more critical. If you haven't done a lot of drums, find someone who has. When I bought my bird, I set them too loose and had a similar problem. Make sure the parking brake is fully released, I made that mistake, too.
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Old 11-06-2015, 01:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Quote:
Originally Posted by drewbaby View Post
Brake System completely rebuilt with new wheel cylinders, brake shoes, master cylinder, flex lines, USA made drums, Adjusted anchor pins, no power brake booster, and still have poor braking!
Is it a poorly designed system?
Anyone with any experience or thoughts. I hate to pin it on poor brake lining. That's more like wishfull thinking.
================================================== ====






Curious, what do you mean by Poor Braking ?

Do you have to pump them up each time you want to use them, OR,
do you have a good pedal, but have to stand heavy on it to stop ?

Please describe your actual problem, so we can advise you better.










.
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:29 AM   #10
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

ditto on Lanny's questions, and also I'd add
- can you reference it against experience you've had with brakes in another '40-50's era car?
- do you notice any pulling to one side?
- what brake fluid are you using?
- did you adjust them as per the shop manual?

As Dobbie mentioned, it may be the nature of the beast with these non-assisted brakes. When I first got mine I thought the same, but after bleeding, adjusting, etc. I determined they worked like they should and it was a matter of changing driving habits to match the car.
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Old 11-06-2015, 09:05 AM   #11
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

I did brakes for a living when discs were new... some shops refused to work on them at first! But some of the systems at the time were 4-piston, parts were hard to find and so on.

So, drums it was. Just about every shop had an Ammco shoe arcing machine. Shoes were over-size and were fitted to the individual drum. Rule of thumb back them, keep the front drums within .010 or each other and never turn them over the limit.

Things you can do to help yourself now, make sure the brake hardware is good and everything is free and lubed. I know "professional" mechanics who never knew what brake lube was.

On new shoes, I bevel the leading and trailing edges of the shoes with a wood rasp. Some shoes come like that. See the attached picture.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BEVELS.jpg (45.2 KB, 24 views)
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Old 11-06-2015, 09:22 AM   #12
Ole Don
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

There are several answers above to questions not asked. All remedy's are correct. Back when most brake shoes were asbestos, and shoe arching was part of a good brake job, dust was flying all over the shop. There was a time when the shoe arching machines were being tossed in the land fill just to get the dust levels down. This is my answer; when you walk up to a 65 year old car, never compare it to anything other than another 65 year old car. Put your mind back 65 years and enjoy the experience. Don't tail gate, give yourself plenty of room, drive it like a motorcycle. Know where every threat is, and stay away from them. And have fun, that's what the hobby is about.
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Old 11-06-2015, 08:22 PM   #13
Daves55Sedan
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Raise one wheel off the ground and adjust the brake shoes out until they are firmly butted up against the brake drum. Now back the star wheel adjuster screw in the opposite direction ten notches. get up and spin that tire. If there is friction with the adjuster backed off that far, you've got some kinda problem with the shoes. Spin the tire again then quickly get in and smash the brake pedal hard, then go back and spin the tire again and listen for the sound of friction between the shoes and drum. Do all wheels this way. Make sure master cylinder is filled. Have parking brake released when adjusting rear brakes. BTW, some people might say that ten notches out could be too much. Just using ten as a guide. Experiment with that a little bit till you get good performance without having dragging brakes.
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Old 11-06-2015, 08:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ole Don View Post
Don't tail gate, give yourself plenty of room, drive it like a motorcycle.
My '55 Fairlane has the worlds worst brakes. They go to the floor and even then it just slows the car down some. It's been this way for years. I drive 60+ MPH on the highway, 60 miles a day where abrupt slowdowns and sometimes emergency stops are required during rush hour traffic.
My '55 Courier sedan delivery has the exact same brakes, but they are absolutely perfect. That car could stop on a dime and there would be no problem locking up the wheels if I pushed the pedal hard to make an emergency stop.
Yes I try to leave lots of room between the Fairlane and the car in front of me when driving on the highway.
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Old 11-06-2015, 08:47 PM   #15
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daves55Sedan View Post
My '55 Fairlane has the worlds worst brakes. They go to the floor and even then it just slows the car down some. .....
Sounds like a bad master cylinder.
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Old 11-06-2015, 09:04 PM   #16
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

I agree with Ole Don. The brakes back then if not power assisted were not that good even new, so don't try to compare a newer car with discs to an old one. I have almost bent my steering wheel on my 56 back in high school pulling up trying to put enough pressure on the pedal to stop. Of course, I was going way too fast..
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Old 11-06-2015, 09:27 PM   #17
frank long island
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

I just did a conversion on my ranchero (64) manual disk/ drum it takes a bit of pressure to stop it compared to my 2011 f150 thought the same bled/ re adjusted and got the same results as stated above we can't compare them to modern cars
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Old 11-07-2015, 01:48 AM   #18
JeffB2
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

Two things we found out over at the 1952-59 Ford Group on the HAMB that I moderate,if you keep the drum brakes convert them to self adjusting instead of manual and go to a dual master cylinder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXfXKlj2D1I all 52-59's use the same parts. To do the self adjusting upgrade you match the earlier Fords shoes to a later mid sixties and later Ford that use the same shoes as yours as in this example: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/t...r-a-54.899224/
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Old 11-08-2015, 04:42 PM   #19
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

One last item for you to consider (after answering all of the above questions)...

Did you adjust the eccentric? There is an eccentric to adust from outside the backing plate. It has an offset so that when you rotate it, the cam will butt up against the shoe frame itself. Also, do not forget that the top pin can be adjusted UP or DOWN depending on what you need to increase the contact surface of the ENTIRE brake shoe linings. Hydraulics and good hardware notwithstanding, most of the times these things are how good you can get the set of shoes CENTERED in the drum and then getting the shoes to have even contact across the drum surface. Jeff's idea about self adjusting is certainly fool - proof. Investigate that also.
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Old 11-08-2015, 07:23 PM   #20
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Default Re: 1955 Ford poor brake performance

The chances are you have just fitted a standard lining in an oversized drum.
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