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Technical BRAKES, Finned Buick brake drums on early Ford brakes

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Automotive Stud, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,184

    Automotive Stud

    First I'll apalogize for the lack of progress pics, but at least I can tell you how I did it.

    I did these for my dad's A. His car was already set up with 40 Ford brakes all around. He got the Buick drums and 46-48 hubs to do the conversion and keep his 40 brakes, just adding the buick drums.

    With the ford hubs in the buick drum, you end up using all standard 40-48 Ford hardware. Spindles, brake shoes, backing plates, bearings, seals, the works. When you are done you should be able to just replace them with existing 40-48 drums and be good to go.

    I was able to do all the needed machine work on a brake lathe.

    First you need to get the ford hub to fit in the buick drum with no play. There's a flange on the hub that needs to be cut down to fit the hole in the buick drum. I mounted up the hub and cut the flange down, using a rotor bit at first, but I ended up flipping it and using the drum brake bar to square it off nicely. Looking back, I probably could have done this with the drum brake bar. You can see in the first pic how it has to set into the hole in the drum.

    After both hubs fit both drums, I cut the edge of the hub where it meets the drum as if it was a rotor to make sure it was smooth and true. Now the hubs should both be done for now.

    Then I mounted the drum up, less the hubs for now. You have to cut a ridge, about 1/2", off of the outside lip of the brake drum so it clears the ford backing plate. It will still be plenty wide enough for the skinny ford brake shoes to make full contact area. You can see in the 4th pic where it was cut down to narrow the width of the inside of the drum, and making the edge of the steel insert even with the edge of the aluminum drum. If you have a stock buick drum it will be obvious where this was removed. I found it was easiest to just cut it away little by little, but taking heafty cuts on a fast cutting speed. You have to do it manually mostly, no power feed. You can't just try to dig in and cut the ridge off in one big ring, you'll jam up the machine.

    Now back to the workbench to mount the hub to the drum. I wanted the ford bolt pattern. I staggered the hub in the drum, then used the holes in the hub as a guide to drill the holes in the drum. I used a bit that would just pass through the holes in the hub. These are for the lug studs.

    Then from the inside out I used a smaller drill bit, but went through the buick pattern holes and drilled the hub. I tapped these holes and used short 1/2" fine thread bolts to actually hold the drum and hub together. I used all 5 so it would be balanced, I probably could have just used 3.

    Then I installed the studs. With the assembly complete I mounted it back to the brake lathe as one piece and cut the drum to make sure it was true.

    And this is what it should look like at that point, and it should be ready to bolt up and go. But if your ready for more work, you can polish them! See pic 5, you'll have lots of smoothing to do between those fins, but I'm sure it will look great done!

    Now you look cool and have cool brakes too!

    Attached Files:

    kidcampbell71 and DrewModelA like this.
  2. Reggie
    Joined: Aug 25, 2003
    Posts: 1,700


    This is a neat low buck post. It would help to have a few pics of the tooling used since we have no progress pics. This will allow the novice to grab his friend at the local brake place and get this job done. No more paying machine shop wages.

    How about some more neat stuff that can be done with a brake lathe!!!!
  3. Dirty2
    Joined: Jun 13, 2004
    Posts: 8,903


    Thanks for sharing !! Me and dirty31 was just talking about this .
  4. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,184

    Automotive Stud

    Sorry guys, I forgot my camera at home when I took them to work on the brake lathe.

    Doing the drums is pretty straight forward. I wish I had a picture of how I did the hubs though. It was a trick to get the machine to cut something so small. I had the hub mounted inside out on the shaft and I had to pivot the cutter at a 45* to get it to reach the hub, and even then it would only barely reach one side, but that's fine because you only need to cut on one side.

    The hub is pretty soft metal, much softer than rotors, so it cut easy and is nice and smooth when it's done. The metal ring in the drum is pretty solid and can take a while go cut off, but after you get into the aluminum it goes easy.

    More info, I used napa 641-1145 studs, they fit like they are made for the conversion! I'm sure other stores could cross the number.

    I know they will clear Ford 16" and 15" wheels, but I'm not sure they will clear a reversed wheel. You might be able to cut down the fins a little in the middle section of the drum, but leave them on the outside and it would probably look fine when done.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.

  5. Rusty
    Joined: Mar 4, 2004
    Posts: 9,453


    Great post and thanks for sharing.
  6. Excellent, I needed this....Great post...and easy.
  7. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,184

    Automotive Stud

    I've seen flywheels cut on brake lathes also.
  8. joeycarpunk
    Joined: Jun 21, 2004
    Posts: 4,446

    from MN,USA

    Nice post, easy tech.
  9. Automotive Stud, I thought I was the only knot head that cut flywheels on a brake lathe. Tried it back in the 70's and it worked tits!-MIKE:D
  10. Slag Kustom
    Joined: May 10, 2004
    Posts: 4,312

    Slag Kustom

    before i bought a lathe i used the brake machine for all kinds of stuff. lightened a bunch of flywheels, cut off electric start ring on a harley clutch basket.

    tuffest part is trying to figure out how to hold the part.
  11. Does anyone know what studs to use w/ the Buick setup? Stock 46-48 studs?

    Also, what if you cut the center of the drum to the size of the hub? Will it weaken the drum?
  12. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,184

    Automotive Stud

    As stated above, I used napa 641-1145 studs and they fit like they were made for the conversion.

    You could cut the center of the drum to fit the hub, but it would be much more difficult to do, not possible with a brake lathe because it mounts the drum from the center hole. It's just easier to cut down the ridge on the hub.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  13. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

  14. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,184

    Automotive Stud

    Bump for tech week
  15. Levis Classic
    Joined: Oct 7, 2003
    Posts: 4,066

    Levis Classic

    I love this post!
  16. djmartins
    Joined: Feb 11, 2005
    Posts: 411


    Uh yeah, great post.
    I love it so much it is saved for future reference!

  17. pigpen
    Joined: Aug 30, 2004
    Posts: 1,624

    from TX USA

    Dorman 610-132

  18. Boon BA
    Joined: Jan 12, 2012
    Posts: 87

    Boon BA

    Anybody know where you can find the hubs shown here? Studs are in the drum, hubs mount over drums. All I can find in the studded hubs that the drums lay over. I am replacing a bad hub on a set up that I inherited and I don't want to redo both sides.
  19. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,184

    Automotive Stud

    I've been looking for another pair myself. They are supposed to be 46-48 passenger car, but I have a complete set from an original '46 and it has the earlier style hubs on it.
  20. A friend of mine did mine real similar to how you did. He did however turn them on his lathe. He also took a cut out of the drum as well as the hub then screwed them together. He's done numerous sets with no issues. I did polish the fins on mine and then painted the rest of the drum with "cast iron" paint color. Tim 184.JPG
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  21. Kan Kustom
    Joined: Jul 20, 2009
    Posts: 2,703

    Kan Kustom

    This internet thing has sure taken away a lot of trial and error time with everyone sharing their experience. Always appreciated.
  22. Phil Carracho
    Joined: Mar 24, 2015
    Posts: 34

    Phil Carracho
    from Atlanta GA

    An important update, if you turn down the aluminum and the steel insert the brake shoe will stand over the brake drum surface. It is not necessary to machine the steel insert. I learned it the hard way, luckily I started with the pitted brake drum. I can provide some pictures and measurements .
    crozch likes this.
  23. Rand Man
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 4,258

    Rand Man

    I guess I was thinking the Buick drums were a larger diameter. Like 12" vs stock 11". What am I thinking about?
  24. Andy
    Joined: Nov 17, 2002
    Posts: 4,844


    Model A and F100 brakes are 11". The Buicks are 12" like 32-48 Fords.
    Atwater Mike and kidcampbell71 like this.
  25. Do you have the photos and measurements?
  26. That's exactly what happened to me. I gave my machinist a magazine article on how to do it. I explained what I wanted. I gave him everything, spindles, backing plates, drums, so he could trial fit so as not to remove too much. He ended up taking about a 1/4" off the iron ring. WTF!!?? I must have been speaking Swahili again. The brakes work ok , I'll just have to live with it but what a piss off.
  27. Andy
    Joined: Nov 17, 2002
    Posts: 4,844


    I have warned about cutting the iron for years. There are more done wrong than I can remember. A lot end up on eBay and some on here.
    The other bad deal is using 40 hubs on the inside. The Buick drum does not have the diameter to support a 5.5" bolt pattern wheel and the drum is not covered by the shoes with the iron intact.
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  28. dentisaurus
    Joined: Dec 11, 2006
    Posts: 395

    from Boston

    Really? A 12" Buick 45 fin drum doesn't have enough diameter for a 5.5 " bolt pattern? I'm a bit confused. I have a 5.5 bolt pattern, on Wilson hubs but why would that be a problem for the drum, what did I miss?
  29. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,406

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    Well, I know wire wheels could be an issue on Buick drums, but I wouldn't think steel wheels would be. There is the challenge of getting the '40 hubs on the inside to sit flat in the drum because the Buick drum's flat surface is slightly smaller than the '40 hub outside diameter. The answer is to bevel the '40 hub to match the taper. It works.
    oldfordtin likes this.

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