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Technical 54 chevy disc brake conversion

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 68caddydaddy, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. 68caddydaddy
    Joined: Jul 23, 2009
    Posts: 81


    Hi, I recently bought a 1954 Chevy handyman . I started to improve the front brakes a bit. Added new drums, wheel cylinders, brake shoes and tapered wheel bearings . 2" Dropped spindles were allready installed. Now I decided to convert the system to a power brake system, that should be an easy job. Front disc brakes are crossing my mind ..... lots of questions
    Can I relocate the front drums and shoes to the rear ? Can I re-use the wheel bearings and install them in a set of new rotors (wich type should I order 11" ?). Will this disc brake conversion work with stock 15" wheels , what kind of calipers ....... . Brackets shouldn't be a problem . Who can help me out .
  2. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,695


    The drums are the same 51-58, so the brake parts should be the same (the wheel cylinders might have a different bore size than later/earlier years. I was looking at a Speedway catalog today than I forgot I even had. There is a disc brake conversion for a fair price. I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
  3. 68caddydaddy
    Joined: Jul 23, 2009
    Posts: 81


    I dont want to waste my wheel bearings, run 130 miles with them, brand new. I want to buy the rotors and calipers in the Netherlands due to high shipping cost ( weight)
  4. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 26,423

    Jalopy Joker

  5. Vinnie
    Joined: Aug 17, 2005
    Posts: 127


    I did a disc conversion on my chevy 15+ years ago. I used 70s GM calipers and rotors (I think they are 11"). You will need later gm tapered roller bearings and gm grease seals. You will need to machine a spacer to accept the later bearings.
  6. Bearcat_V8
    Joined: Sep 21, 2011
    Posts: 371

    from Dexter, MI

    Caddydaddy, I think I know what you are wanting to accomplish here. I don’t believe there is any hub-in-rotor type rotor that is a direct fit to your spindles and uses the same wheel bearings. However I am not a Chevy guy by any means, so I could be wrong.

    This is what I suggest. First separate your new drums from the hubs, you might have to sacrifice the wheel studs in order save both the hubs and your new drums. I would then look for a floating type rotor with the proper bolt pattern. Since it is a Chevy, I assume it is 5x4.75. Take a look at 1988 S-10 4x4 pick-up front or (maybe) 1988 Camaro rear rotors. There are probably others that will work. Take a look at to get an idea of what might work and then order them locally. Make sure they slip over your hubs and install with new studs if necessary.

    For calipers I would use what has become the hotrodder’s standard, GM metrics from a mid-eighties G-body (Monte Carlo). This is where you will need some fabrication skills, or enlist the help of someone who has those skills, to make caliper brackets. This should not be horribly difficult. You can find examples of home built caliper brackets here on the HAMB.

    As for the rest of your questions, all I can say is I am not sure. Rock auto lists the same drum front and rear, but lists different wheel cylinders and brake shoes. The wheel cylinders appear to have a different inlet, whereas the shoes are listed as 11x1¾ rear, and 11x2 front (Chevy 210 series).

    Your early wheels may require a 1/8-1/4” (3-6mm) spacer for them to clear your calipers, but again, I am not certain.

    Hope this helps.

    (pics below, stolen from

    Attached Files:

  7. 68caddydaddy
    Joined: Jul 23, 2009
    Posts: 81


    Tnx for this great advise ! Never thought of floating rotors ! Super . I allready seperated the hubs from the drums when i installed the bearings
  8. 54fierro
    Joined: Jul 6, 2006
    Posts: 493

    from san diego

    While i am still running drums this is the way i would look into. I did a similar upgrade on an ot car.

    This page might help with ideas, i know some of the newer style calipers use a "cage" to hold the caliper. I think something like this might be easier to build a bracket for.

    again, just for ideas as the spindles shown are different than your 54.
  9. pdq67
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 787


    Please look here to give you an idea is all.

    Engineered Components, Inc. - Your One Stop Brake Shop!
    Hot rod brakes and brackets. Disc brake conversion kits, boosters, master cylinders and components. Photo catalog with prices.

    And here

    TSM Mfg
    Hello there. TSM Mfg. Co. Inc. proudly manufactures parts Made in the USA. Company hours. Mon-Thur 8:00-5:00 MST. Fri 8:00-12:00 MST
    Hello there. TSM Mfg. Co. Inc. proudly manufactures parts Made in the USA. Company hours. Mon-Thur 8:00-5:00 MST. Fri 8:00-12:00 MST

    68caddydaddy likes this.

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