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Technical Mechanical Brakes on a Hairpin Suspension (Model A Ford)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Scotch Buzzard King, Sep 4, 2019.

  1. I've been looking high and low for a picture of mechanical brakes on a hairpin suspension for a Model A Ford, but I can't find anything. I've seen pictures and posts concerning mechanical brakes on a dropped axle (which is really cool), but I can't find a picture of mechanical brakes on hairpins. Does anyone out there have a picture of such a creature? What is your experience with the setup? Did you use store bought hairpins? What was their length? Thank you.
     
  2. irishsteve
    Joined: Jan 10, 2017
    Posts: 434

    irishsteve

  3. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,855

    BJR
    Member

    Why on earth would you want to do that. Mechanical brakes were marginal back in the day. In modern traffic plain ass dangerous.
     
    doug j and gimpyshotrods like this.
  4. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 16,250

    gimpyshotrods
    Member

    Mechanical brakes are for restorations.
     
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  5. I don't have to justify why I want it. I just want it. It's the American way. If you have a picture, please post.
     
  6. $um Fun
    Joined: Dec 13, 2008
    Posts: 483

    $um Fun
    Member
    from Nor Cal

    Mechanical brakes are fine if they are adjusted properly and well maintained. I was in a 32 big heavy Auburn about three weeks ago when a car cut us off and my buddy locked up the mechanical brakes and stopped the car. Bugatti grand prix cars race with mechanical brakes and I have seen them out brake better brake cars into turns at vintage races.
     
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  7. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 1,891

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    I’m real conservative with brakes but I think this is backwards thinking. I’ll explain why.

    The Model A was obsolete in 1928. It’s cutting edge was that it replaced the Model T, a design that was obsolete in 1909.

    Hairpins show up when? Mid 50s??....closer to 1960?? Maybe, maybe late 40s??
    By that time a Av8 would be updated to hydraulic brakes. I believe that’s why photos are nonexistent . It’s like wood spoke wheels on a 57 Buick.

    If I had a 32-38 Ford with good brakes I would probably run it, maybe with OHV power albeit to the original drive train.

    If I had an A with a banger I’d probably run A brakes if they were good.

    If I built a AV8, it would have ‘39 up hydraulic brakes.

    I would not use a 50s fad chassis component and run 1920s brakes.
     
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  8. F-One, your arguments are well thought out, and I respect your opinion.

    Where I disagree with you is in the original Model A front suspension design. The wishbone attached directly to the transmission. What happens more times than not is when a driver hits a bump or a curve is that it cracks the adapter plate between the transmission and the engine.

    By switching to hairpins, you attach the front suspension directly to the frame. This fixes most of the original problems in the original suspension. Hairpins also give you a level of suspension adjustment that you just don't get with the factory wishbone. You can eliminate spring bind with the turn of a wrench. That alone is worth the change.

    And to address your comment about backwards thinking: just because its a different way of thinking doesn't make it backwards thinking.
     
  9. split wishbones...at least you would be using original parts? Not sure if there would be room for the mechanical parts?
     
  10. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 14,387

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    What does this mean? Using an aftermarket bellhousing (Clings?) to put a flathead V8 to the original A trans? And they all crack?
     
  11. Alchemy, you bring up a point that I haven't addressed. Everyone assumes that I would want to switch to hairpins because I intend on making an A V8. I'm not switching to a V8. I'm using the original Ford four banger and four banger equipment.

    The original adapter between the four cylinder engine and the non-synchronized transmission cracks during normal driving conditions of the vehicle when a driver hits a bump, pothole, or curve due to the suspension being connected directly to the transmission.

    We have a great deal of potholes where I live. It is a great benefit to me to attach the front suspension directly to the frame so that I don't bust my drivetrain.
     
  12. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 14,387

    alchemy
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    So it's not an adapter, it's the original Ford cast iron bellhousings that are all cracked? I never heard of this, but it's interesting to learn that they are all cracked. I wonder what the million original A's on the road today use to keep the wishbone from falling off the transmission?

    (Can you hear my sarcasm?)
     
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  13. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,403

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    A pre-war GowJob/Hot Rod would have more than likely been rocking mechanical brakes. I would suggest the later ones though since the A drums are stamped.

    I have a T and a B banger with a full set of working 34 rolling and running gear that I'm planning to put together eventually.

    As far as wishbones, I believe I have seen them made out of two Model T wishbones on EARLY race cars that may have been running mechanical Ford brakes.
     
    F-ONE likes this.
  14. You're a funny guy. Can you hear my sarcasm?

    Well here are some links to some people who know what I'm talking about:
    https://www.fordbarn.com/forum/showthread.php?t=237347
    http://www.fordgarage.com/pages/flywheelhousingcracks.htm
    https://fordbarn.com/forum/showthread.php?t=94270
     
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  15. 62rebel
    Joined: Sep 1, 2008
    Posts: 2,531

    62rebel
    Member

    A's were obsolete the day they were introduced? Five million obsolete cars sold in 4 years; folks must have been pretty stupid in those days. Simple? Yes. Obsolete from day one? Hell no.
     
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  16. Could not agree more.

    I believe all of the direct aftermarket replacements are now cast iron. I use to not believe in the mechanical brakes either until I watched a man in his 70s rebuild his. They function just as well as hydraulic brakes when one trues the shoes to the drums. Its when the shoe doesn't make total contact with the drum that disaster happens.
     
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  17. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,403

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    Yeah, I believe you are correct. IIRC, the ones MAC's carries are at least. I think the Rocky Mountain style vented drums (if you find good ones) are cast also. I would still probably step up to a later setup since everybody seems to be tripping over them (myself included). My point here is that it may be cheaper and easier to run 32-35 brakes if you have access to a good set from somebody who upgraded (36's would be a package deal with the spindles and you'd need to make an upper steering arm).

    I'm not sure the hairpins are/would be as much of a concern as your axle choices. I think you can easily get away with a 32-36 axle but if you drop it, I think you can run into issues with mechanical brakes past a certain point. I know there's a couple threads on here where that is addresses, (search: DROPPED "MECHANICAL BRAKES" and a lot will pop up).

    These might be handy:
    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/model-a-dropped-front-axle-and-mechanical-brakes.877684/
    https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/early-ford-spindle-interchange-thread.953600/
     
  18. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,417

    woodiewagon46
    Member
    from New York

    I'll try to answer you question if I can and make sense. The Model A, front spring perch anchors the wishbone and the front brake actuating lever arm. Since you are going to replace the wishbone with hairpins you will need to make some sort of adaptor to accept the taper of the spring perch, both top and bottom, the nut is also tapered, to attach to the hairpin. You might be able to cut off the "cups" from the wishbone and fabricate and weld a piece to attach to the front of the hairpins. I understand what you are trying to accomplish, but if you are keeping everything period Model A, I would drill the stock wishbones. I have been playing with hot rods since 1962 and have never seen what you are trying to accomplish. IF and thats a big IF, all the components in a mechanical brake system are new, a mechanical brake system is adequate for a Model's speed. Every 1/16" of slop in the bushings, shafts, brake rods, levers, operating pins, ETC, will reduce it's efficiency. I would also scrap the steel Model A brake drums and put on cast iron drums and of course new shoes. Good luck and keep us posted.
     
  19. 41rodderz
    Joined: Sep 27, 2010
    Posts: 3,239

    41rodderz
    Member
    from Oregon

    This is what I love about the hamb. The "tech".
     
  20. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,403

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    Speedway batwings are tapered:

    https://www.speedwaymotors.com/Speedway-Bolt-On-Hairpin-Radius-Rod-Axle-Brackets,3320.html
     
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  21. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,403

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

  22. woodiewagon46
    Joined: Mar 14, 2013
    Posts: 1,417

    woodiewagon46
    Member
    from New York

    The batwings from speedway will work, but you will have to fab and weld some sort of bracket to anchor the front brake actuating shaft to attach to. On Model A's they bolt to the perch.
     
  23. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,403

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    What would prevent you from running the stock perch pins?

    I do not think we are talking about a spring-behind setup here.
     
  24. If you are predisposed to hairpins; just cut the yokes off your "A" wishbone and weld on ears for the hairpins; similar to the attached picture, easy way to get there.

    A step up to 12"diameter '32-'34 brakes will make a world of difference as compared to "A" mechanicals.

    4IMG_20190104_125702 (Medium).jpg
     
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  25. You're right. It will retain the original spring over axle design. Your illustration concerning original suspension geometry is exactly what I have in mind. As long as Point B stays were it was meant to stay, the rest of the suspension should work as if the original wishbone were still there.

    I love the idea that you and woodiewagon46 floated about the original spring cups from the original wishbone. I've seen that done in the past, and the results are exactly what I'm looking for.

    I also liked your idea earlier about the 32-36 Ford axles. I've been pricing those out, and I just can't come anywhere close to buying a complete front and rear 1932 axle like I'd like. I agree with you also concerning the mechanical brakes on these axles. It's a much better setup. I really like the way that the actuator rods ride really close to the axle instead of on the outside of the frame like the Model A.

    I actually have a 32 k member and front crossmember from a Model B that would make this all so much easier if I found the axles to accomplish, but I can't modify them the way I would have to in order to make them work. I just can't come to peace with the idea of cutting these pieces up.

    I did get my hands on a Model B transmission and adapter that I will be swapping in behind my four banger. This is really the reason why I want to make the switch to a frame mounted suspension. I don't want to hang a wishbone from that Model B transmission. Much less cast iron to play with.
     
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  26. Absolutely gorgeous.
     
  27. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,403

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    32 stuff always pulls a premium, but a lot of 33-35's get street rodded. Even the ones that don't usually get juice brakes, so you're looking for a guy who put a P&J Superbell or MII setup in his car and has been tripping over the old front end for years (he probably cut up a mint car).

    You can buy the 32 style front crossmember from So-Cal for like $75.

    I would wager that you will find a complete B banger drivetrain before you will find just the transmission. The one I have stashed away came out of a 34 pickup. If I were in your position, I'd change my front end stance a bit and hold off on the center crossmember changes until I had that sorted out.
     
  28. flatford39
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 2,321

    flatford39
    Member

    They crack around where the starter bolts up due to stress but those are the only cracks I have ever seen. I suggest the OP slows down when he sees a pot hole.
     
    tb33anda3rd likes this.
  29. Believe it or not, I actually found a 1932 Ford Model B transmission for $50. Got my hands on the adapter for $75. I was looking at buying the Clings kit to adapt a 39 trans to my four cylinder flathead, but I just couldn't come to peace with drilling a hole into the 39 transmission case. These old Ford parts aren't getting any easier (or cheaper) to find these days.
     
    patmanta likes this.
  30. Not sure I understand. I have an A motor, B flywheel housing, B trans, 32 K member in my 31 roadster. What adapter are you talking about? Other than a tin shield to cover the bottom of the flywheel it all bolts together.

    Why not just make a rear mount like the 32 K member or F1 mount with a wishbone mount, extend the wishbone the length the same as a 32 and be done. Nothing to crack there. There are plenty of hacked up K members to modify if you don't want to cut yours. If you do the mount correct you can move on to a 32 -36 axle later.
     
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