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Technical 1955 Mercury junkyard front disc brake conversion

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Will_K, Jul 23, 2021.

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  1. Will_K
    Joined: Jul 23, 2021
    Posts: 44


    OK so at my favorite junkyard in Michigan's northern lower peninsula I'm planning on acquiring myself a set of spindles and associated disc brake components from a '70's Ford to be used on a 1955 Mercury for a disc brake conversion. Probably using this on my station wagon, also I expect to get a Ford Ranger axle, so changing from 5x5" wheel bolt pattern to 5x4.5" is fine by me.

    I wanted to present some candidates for donors, see if anyone thinks one is better than another. I'm leaning towards the '77 T-bird because I think it saves me some digging and/or might be easier to hoist up since the engine is out... I may be off on my years so let me know, but I'm pretty sure I got it close enough that when I use the calipers for cores and I buy new pads and rotors and all that, I'll get something that works...

    The candidates for which I've got pictures are:
    1972 Ford Gran Torino station wagon
    1973 Lincoln Continental
    1977 Ford Thunderbird View attachment 5123455 View attachment 5123456 View attachment 5123457
  2. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 13,108

    jimmy six

    If you find aGranada get them or maybe a Lincoln Versailles. Not sure but Scarebird sells just the brackets for your stock spindles…maybe all That big Ford stuff will fit them.
  3. Krash Vegas
    Joined: Jul 18, 2006
    Posts: 475

    Krash Vegas

    I have heard, but cant confirm, that this conversion will push your wheels out about an inch, or inch and a half per side. So if you running super low, Like I am, you may run into tire/fender rub issues. Off set wheels may correct it, but its why I haven't done the conversion on my 56.
    jimmy six likes this.
  4. Do yourself a favor and use a conversion kit. As mentioned, Granada/Monarch/Versailles/mid-late '70s five-lug Maverick/Comet are the easiest conversion, but the spindles don't have the same architecture; shorter steering arms and less distance between the ball joints to name two differences. You'll also have to ream the tie rod hole out larger. The big Ford disc spindles do have the right architecture (and the mid-'70s have your 5-on-5 bolt pattern), but the tie rod hole is too small and the lower ball joint hole is too big. The steering stops won't be right with either choice, that needs mods. And one other possible fly in the ointment is Ford enlarged the hub diameter a few times, the early wheels won't fit the later hubs. You may have this issue with a kit, do ask. Most aftermarket wheels will have the larger hole, but you should check.

    I did this swap in the early '70s using full-size spindles before any kits were available. I had to have custom tapered bushings made for the lower ball joints ($90 back then!) and it was a all-around PITA. By the time you buy the junkyard parts and rebuild/replace needed bits you'll have most of the cost of the kit. I wouldn't do it again...

  5. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 6,263


    The 73 Lincoln will give you a 5 on 5 bolt pattern!

    X-cpe and VANDENPLAS like this.
  6. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 2,228


    You need to join the '52-'59 Ford social group. Many there have done the disc brake conversion and can advise you accordingly.
  7. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 8,209

    from Oregon

    My buddy did his earlier Merc using Ford truck disc brakes.
  8. oldiron 440
    Joined: Dec 12, 2018
    Posts: 3,129

    oldiron 440

    If your going to grab parts not knowing how they will work get everything from spindel to spindel. Drag link, idler arm, control arms and probably the steering box.
  9. Does that wagon possibly have a 351 Cleveland engine? The pictures are not that revealing.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  10. big bird
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 148

    big bird

    All of your listed choices use the same brake system/spindle. Differences are the 72 uses a one-year bearing/rotor (NLA), The Lincoln uses a 1" larger diameter disc with 5x5 bolt pattern and a bigger caliper adaptor to fit.
    Thunderbird uses a 5x4.5 bolt pattern.
  11. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 6,263


    I’ve got one for sale.

    warhorseracing likes this.
  12. Will_K
    Joined: Jul 23, 2021
    Posts: 44


    I did this conversion once on a 1956 Mercury. In that case I ordered springs with an inch drop and the spindles provided another inch of drop, I didn't pay a lot of attention to offest but I had wheels from a Bronco II that belonged to my sister and my mom had driven it into a ditch. In that case I got Mercury Montego parts, forget what year, and I ordered off Ebay. Not saying everything was perfect or received proper consideration, but it worked and I had the car out on Woodward a couple years.
  13. Will_K
    Joined: Jul 23, 2021
    Posts: 44


    I'd think the pic above is probably better because you can see the valve cover, I'll be honest I never successfully committed to memory the difference between 351C and 351W because until I got the '56 with a 352 I only concerned myself with Y blocks, so I can identify a V8 if it's a Y-block or if it's an FE block. Or a flathead. I only noted to myself that it wasn't one of them.

    I did get a second picture, so if this one makes it easier to tell then here ya go. View attachment 5125774
  14. Will_K
    Joined: Jul 23, 2021
    Posts: 44


    I vaguely remember running into some of that. Somehow I made it work and I was happy with it.

    Sometimes it feels like the wisdom we've gained with years is just there to slow us down from doing the fun but stupid things we did a couple decades ago... Like the time I had my '55 Ford over a hundred on the freeway driving home from seeing my girlfriend when I was 16... before I redid the brakes, or the carburetor, the worn out u-joints or the rusted out front cross member...

    What I am able to figure out plugging the different vehicles into Autozone is that they all use the same caliper but different rotors, and I can dig into the descriptions and find the different rotor diameters and bolt circles.

    Since I'm planning to grab a Ford Ranger axle, the 4.5" bolt circle works in order to have the same front and rear.

    If the outer tie rod has the same thread I could always just use the outer tie rod in my original adjuster sleeve. So that's a quesiton.
  15. Will_K
    Joined: Jul 23, 2021
    Posts: 44


    I'll have to do that, I came here from another site where it was mentioned somebody else that used to be active there that's done this came here LOL.
  16. While both will have the distributer in the front the Cleveland will not have the upper radiator outlet on the front of the intake manifold like a 302 or 351 Windsor. The Cleveland will also have the pent roof style valve covers and not the 302 which are identical to the 351 Windsor which are really not readily observable in either picture. If you get back there it would be worth looking into.
  17. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,894


    Its best to stay away from scarebird. His parts wouldnt fit my spindles without grinding and I didnt want to do that.
  18. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 2,307

    from Napa

    The Scarebird kits give you mounting brackets and such to use later over the counter rotors n calipers, IIRC the Fords are Mustang and GM is Chebbelle
  19. The one caution I'll give is make sure the caliper mounting brackets are still good. It appears the donors are all sliding caliper types, with different brackets corresponding to rotor size. The upper bracket slide is replaceable, the lower one isn't so if it's noticeably worn/damaged you can expect very uneven pad wear or possible dragging brakes.

    I also noticed at RockAuto that a lot of the parts for these are out of stock or being closed out from some of the major reman suppliers, so future parts supply may be iffy as good rebuildable cores dry up. That's another reason why the kits are attractive because they've made it a point to use readily-available calipers/rotors, as some of the calipers used are now being reproduced.

    400Ms were pretty common in the wagons....
  20. That is also true. years ago we dismantled a '72 wagon for it's 351 Cleveland 2 BBL. Also I have a '74 T Bird with the 400M. For someone not familiar with what they are looking at they could call a 400M a 351 Cleveland.
  21. greybeard360
    Joined: Feb 28, 2008
    Posts: 2,042


    That is a 74 Torino. Could be a 351M Or 400
    warhorseracing likes this.
  22. Will_K
    Joined: Jul 23, 2021
    Posts: 44


    Well I'm sure I've heard all this before, but whether it's a 400M or 351 Cleveland or otherwise... is it just interesting to know it's there? I've certainly never been through the experience of trying to pull an engine from a car sitting in the dirt.
  23. corncobcoupe
    Joined: May 26, 2001
    Posts: 6,601

    Staff Member

    While the car you want to put it on is HAMB ERA - all the examples and pictures of donors are not.
    I'm going to close this post.

    Will_K suggest you read the rules so you know how things work here on the HAMB.

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