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Help with 50 Chrysler brakes.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by carmak, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. carmak
    Joined: Aug 8, 2005
    Posts: 451


    I am going to be helping a friend fix the brakes on his 50 Chrysler in the next couple weeks. Although I am a big Chrysler nut (66 Newport 4drHT and a 67 Imperil convertible) I know very little about early 50’s Chryslers.

    If you fill the master she has brakes for a couple weeks. Rather than chase a leak here and there we would like to replace everything we can (shoes, lines, hoses, master, cylinders etc...). The drums are in good shape as she stops nice when she's got fluid.

    I have a fuzzy memory that 50 Chryslers have press on drums and dual wheel cylinder brakes. Can anyone shed any light on this project before I get involved? Is there anything I really need to be aware of before we tear her apart. Any good sources for the parts we can't get at NAPA.

    Riverside, Iowa
  2. hellbound gasser
    Joined: Dec 13, 2005
    Posts: 435

    hellbound gasser

    I too have a 50 chrysler.... Press on drums in the rear and dual wheel cylinders are standard. I found my local parts store (dont know if its napa or parts america or what) actually has all the part numbers and can get all the parts for the bastard. cylinders are 20-28 bucks apiece. hoses are 8-30 bucks and i got a master rebuild kit but they can get the master cylinders too.
    Nothing really queer about the way they are put together.....just the amount of parts they use to do a simple job.
    Probly want to go through the wheel bearings while you are up there, they have to come off anyway.
  3. When I did brakes on my '49 plymouth and '54 dodge p/u, I got some stuff from NAPA and some from Andy Bernbaum.

    They used the same basic style stuff from pre WWII (mid-late thirties?) thru '56 or so. May be some minor differences; different sizes of drums, etc.

    I've done this on two of my own cars, and another that I ended up getting after I did the brake work. Each time, we threw away seven cylinders (M/C at $200+ and six wheel cyl's) and all brake lines. Wasn't cheap, but hey, fifty year old hydraulics aren't safe still, are they?

    BTW, a few things I learned the hard way:

    Brake adjustment has to be right on these cars. Oversize drums will reeeally be a bitch with the double leading shoe brakes (two cyl's per wheel). The extra clearance means that when the end of the shoe contacts the drum (one end contacts first & with more force; the other end is near the pivot) will 'wrap' or dig into the drum. This effect is why the brakes were made that way; cheap/easy way for designers to get an increased brake performance for the same pedal pressure. But too much clearance (like when the drums are oversized and you can't adust the shoes out to reach em...) and you get so much effect that the brake will grab REAL hard with only minimal pressure. If only one side is adjusted with real huge clearance, then the car will whip the wheel outa' your hands when you stab the brakes. Literally.

    The factory has (okay, had) a killer tool to get these brakes dead-nuts-on. It was a base that held an adjustable pointer that you matched to the drum. Then you put it on a front spindle or rear hub (I think it used different adapters or something in the base) to set the shoes to go just inside that size. My factory manual reprint had a pic; I don't know where I've got it buried. Ask around; maybe someone will have one...

    I used a 'dime store' brand brake gage. Do yourself a favor; get a better quality one than this one (it wasn't accurate for shit):

    Hope the pic comes out here on the post instead of just a cheesey link. I seem to have problems making this work out...

    Anyway, what I ended up doing to get this kind of brake to work was adjust the adjuster at the pivot end of the shoe until I got a light drag, then the second adjuster of that same shoe, until the shoe just began to drag a little more. Then I went back and re-set the pivot end adjustment (sometimes it'd get too tight as I got the other adjustment right. I found by the time I chased back and forth between both adjustments 2-3 times, I'd get the shoe adjusted pretty well. Repeat for remaining seven shoes, and thank God you're not doing this flat-rate!

    There are probably old guys who've worked on thousands of these who do it WAY slicker than me - (I've only done three sets of this style) if someone wants to post a better way, I'm all for it! I didn't have anybody show me an easy/quick way, but my way will (eventually) get the job done right.


    Attached Files:

  4. I've had several of these old Mopars over the last 42 years and agree with all the info peresented here. That gizmo in the post above this is a piece of #@%^. But, you can use it as described above to get close on your adjustment. You'll notice that the dual wheel cylinders are only on the front wheels. As mentioned previously, itb was an attempt to get the self-energizing effect that Bendix brakes had. The rear Mopar brakes used a single wheel cylinder at the top with adjustable brake shoe anchors at the bottom (much like '48 and earlier Fords). There is great advice here on adjusting the damn things.....took me week to get it (mostly) right when I did my '53 the last time. I'm planning a drivetrain swap for the '53 so I'll be using a later model rear end (Mopar 8 3/4" or Ford 9") so I'll be getting Bendix style brakes for the rear. Not sure how they'll interact with the original fronts???? I visited Master Power Brakes up the road outside Charlotte and they can fix me up with a disc conversion for the front and its awfully tempting after re-building the originals!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Good Luck with that '50!!!:eek:

  5. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 50,965


    this gizmo?

    Attached Files:

  6. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 8,233


    I have a new master cylinder and front wheel cylinders for a 50 chrysler if you need them. Jeff
  7. carmak
    Joined: Aug 8, 2005
    Posts: 451


    Wow guys! Thanks for all of the help!

    Knowing what awaits us will help us a ton. I'll also make sure to do the job in a place we can leave it for a while in case we can't complete the job in a weekend.

    The friend that owns the 50 is a machinist. With that picture I think he could make his own!

    Jeff, you have PM!

    Thanks again!

    Does anybody know the trick in adjusting the shift linkage to get her into reverse?

    Riverside, Iowa
  8. Yup!

    Never seen one IRL but bet it'd work. Fabbing one is probably only 10X the effort of making a dozen brake adjustments, but...


  9. i have one of them , bought it at a swap meet years ago for $5, no one knew what it was. i've used it on many old ford great
  10. mikeys toy
    Joined: Jan 8, 2007
    Posts: 77

    mikeys toy
    from jOklahoma

    I accidently bought 2 too many cylinder kits in november; buy mine and thet other guys and you'll have a full set
    just give me the $10 each that I paid for them + shipping
  11. 4woody
    Joined: Sep 4, 2002
    Posts: 2,108


    You can make a suitable version of the "Gizmo" with an extra axle nut, some threaded rod, a nut to go on the rod, and a piece of scrap tubing for a pointer. Look at Squirrel's pic and squint up your eyes to visualize it. I should take a photo of mine, but you can probably figure it out.

    Set one shoe's leading edge just right, then take off the drum and use your new tool to measure the radius @ that leading edge.Then rotate the tool to help you set the rest of the shoe(s) to the same radius.

    If I wasn't so tired I could probably explain it better...
  12. carmak
    Joined: Aug 8, 2005
    Posts: 451


    I was thinking along the same lines. I can also imagine a gizmo to get the job done.

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