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Rant: People who think that drum brakes are dangerous

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Tugmaster, Nov 13, 2011.

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  1. Lild
    Joined: Feb 22, 2010
    Posts: 260


    I drive a 3/4 ton 70 Chevy truck with drums on all four every day. I leave myself plenty of stopping room not because of the brakes but because you never know what some idiot in front of you is gonna do. Id do the same if it had modern discs on all four.
  2. I have to confess that I have esperienced drum brake fade. If your brakes get hot you are crowding them too much or overdriving them you are liable to get brake fade. I have experienced it with drums and discs.

    Both times I have found this to be a problem with a car if mine I took the necessary steps to make it not happen again. On the discs I made cooling ducts that ran from the front of the car to the brake and on the drums I make cooling scoops and drilled the backing plates.

    Our old merc had cooling scoops and drilled backing plates on all four corners. We drove the cascades in that one a lot and both me and the missus had a tendency to push it pretty hard.

    Its like I said drums will do just fine if they are up to par. There is a lot of technology that has been lost in the last 40 or so years. Some of us know what to do and we do it. When someone asks we will tell them or show them, if they don't want to know we just let them live in their own world and we stay in ours.

    Here is an interesting thought, when Chrysler (MOPAR?) first started putting discs on muscle car era cars with few exceptions big block cars didn't come with disc brakes. The reasoning was that with the weight drum brakes worked better than the production disc brakes.

    The exception you could order discs on the '69 Big Block Dart GT, they were 4 piston Bendix brakes same as you could get on a Mustang Shelby GT 500.

    All that said I am putting discs on my next car just because I have them and they are period correct. I am keeping the big drums that came stock on the car incase they don't do the job or I don't like the feel of them.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  3. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    I remember a couple of years ago, i had just pulled into the fair grounds after a 600 mile trip to get there. While unloading my newly purchased traditional coupe i kept my foot on the brake, as the coupe finished it's 10' trip and made contact with the grass, catastrophe struck:eek: The long trip off the trailer caused massive brake fade and i couldn't stop the car, it rolled a 100 or so feet and crashed into an E-ZEE up awning and a few lawn chairs, as well as a cry baby doll, all were destroyed. No worries though, i had a spare doll and everything worked out, my coupe never recieved any damage:)
  4. Zombie Hot Rod
    Joined: Oct 22, 2006
    Posts: 2,453

    Zombie Hot Rod
    from New York

    I've got to say, I know more young guys building traditional Hot Rods than older guys. Most of the older guys I meet at shows are the guys with bucket seats, disc brakes, and tilt steering columns.

    While the younger guys without any money are making old parts work.

    P.S. I drive all drums, in New York City and they work just fine.
  5. Zombie,
    The youngs guys that I am talking about as well as the old guys you are talking about come from the same world, its a computer controlled must be modern technology world.

    The young guys you are talking about are the ones I was talking about when I mentioned core group of this site. They have had the opportunity to learn that tradition is not bad.

    You are correct I run into old street rodders all the time that are just as dumb as a post. They have bought into this whole newer is safer crap.

    Guys like you and I are lucky in that we can get our stuff a little cheaper because the others think it is not safe. I say a little cheaper because as people find out that old is good the price keeps going up.
  6. Just wait a couple years. Those "young guys" will be replaced by a new generation of young guys who think disc brakes are old technology, and all brakes should be regenerative...which really ain't a bad idea...:rolleyes:
  7. Mad Mouse
    Joined: Apr 1, 2007
    Posts: 93

    Mad Mouse

    I'm with you guys. In the late 60s we ran an A/Fuel Roadster with rear Drum Brakes only, and an injected Hemi. The thing ran Low 8s at 180 MPH. No problem stopping.
  8. brad chevy
    Joined: Nov 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,627

    brad chevy

    Thats what a 65 year old gold chainer will tell you about his $50,000 32 Ford. Yeah disc brakes all the way around. Then he'll tell you he won't drive anything with old drum brakes on it. The myth killer is when hes loading the trailer queen on the trailer,his pull er is a Chevy pickup with disc on front and drum on rear. Then ask him what his 1st car was and he'll tell you a 55 Chevy. which came drum all the way around and still works fine today.People will believe anything they hear twice. Who would have thought bottled water would be a multi-million dollar business.
  9. Oilcan Harry
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 906

    Oilcan Harry
    from INDY

    I don't know, seems I see an awful lot of late models running discs and anti-lock brakes with mangled front ends. If you're going to tailgate 6 feet off the guy in front of you and run 15 to 20 miles per hour over the limit, you're going to hit one once in a while. It's not the brakes that matters, it's not using them soon enough.
  10. Ga66mopar
    Joined: Jun 8, 2010
    Posts: 81

    from Ga

    I agree with hillbillyhellcat. Discs are better and safer. My first car was a 72 GTO 455 ho with 4 wheel drum brakes which I still have. When I was street racing the drums were good for one high speed stop before they would heat up and fad. Just about killed myself a few times. Changed to discs never had a problem with brake fad again. There is a reason the auto manufactors changed to discs.
    I remember putting on the brakes with drums after running thru a water puddle and brakes would pull from side to side.
  11. Blasted
    You are correct it is hard to come by quality brake shes these days. You can have the same problem with discs as you have had with your drums I am afraid. I had a disc loose its pads on the way down a big mountain pass in Mexico when I was there, as well as the wife and I had a late model Thunder Bird loose both pads on the driver side front discs again on a steep pass on the west side of the great divide.

    Tossing a shoe is common to all horses.

    I have a pair of Stude drums big old finned mothers in the garage, the brakes are brand new and binded as opposed to riveted. When I pull the drums and hubs to make ready for a font end rework one of the shoes just came off. I actually posted looking for advice/info on rebinding the shoe as I am cheap and don't want to throw it away. I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do is rivet them. No biggy quality rivets are easy to come by and I know where I can borrow a rivet machine.

    I probably ride my cars as hard as anyone and always have. I still think that anything you own should be able to hit the off ramp at 130 and get you stopped by the end. If one is more comfortable with discs then they shoud be all over them but I don't see a need for them if your drums are up to par.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2011
  12. Gator
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,016


    The fact that disc brakes give a shorter braking distance doesn't make drums 'unsafe'.

    I think the only real 'problem' many folks have with drum brakes - especially up front - is that they require periodic maintenance to work properly. Had a conversation just this weekend with a 'young' guy who just bought an F1 with a Nova clip that still has drum brakes. All set to switch over to discs because the drums pull to one side and he didn't have a clue how to adjust them. (I explained the process to him in about 5 minutes)

    Shit, 'modern' drum brakes are easy - the old non-energizng brakes are a hassle to get just right.

    Same thing with points type ignitions - nothing 'wrong' with them per se, they just require periodic maintenance to perform properly. I bet plenty of so-called 'hot rodders' couldn't properly adjust a set of points (or adjust brakes, etc) to save their lives.

    Go into your local parts store and ask the kid their for a points file and see what kind of blank stare you get.
  13. I had a 67 truck with drums all around and I drove it for many years with no problems. In high school auto shop, drum brakes were the first mandatory things to learn. You do have to be on top of the maintenance and adjustments though.
    The only complaint I had when I converted to disc brakes was the freakin brake dust on the wheels. I would wipe the wheels with a towel once in a while with the drums. With disc it was a daily deal.Let it sit to long and the heat of the brakes will bake the dust on to the wheels.
  14. Drum brakes have been stopping millions of what we now call "old cars" for decades just fine. Sure, people's driving habits have changed and adapted to depending on disc brakes to save their agressive arrogant driving style used today. The big change is the composition of the new linings available now that have eliminated asbestos making our lives better but braking ability worse on older drum brake cars. The common replacement linings today just don't stop an old car like the originals did. I know a couple guys who were still able to get linings with "some" asbestos out of Canada a couple years back because their cars wouldn't stop with the newer stuff. I don't know if they too have gone to all asbestos free materials now. I'm not saying we should go back to cancer causing materials, just a possible reason why the OP's "expert" made that statement. He may have driven an old drum brake car with modern cheap crappy linings. Never buy cheap when it comes to brakes, we all can make a car go fast, stopping them is something else.
  15. i just figured i drive a vehicle made of all steel and have a good bumper then when my drum brakes fail i will destroy the plastic/fiberglass, car in front of me. then i can just drive home and get stoped by my garage door.

    i mean im saving up for brakes, they are expensive.

    wait... cars have brakes?

    i think we can all agree. that disk are better then drum. but drum still will stop a car. wither way disk, drum, boat anchor, foot, or rubber chicken as drivers we need to pay attention to what is going on the road and not friggen texting or updating facy-space. we need to watch the road and the other drivers. maintain a safe distance and speed. all of these reasons and scenery are why i wake up two hours early for work. my drive is not the fastest or the shortest it could be. but it is sure as hell more enjoyable. plus i dont have to deal with the idiots in the freeway. my drive on the freeway should take me 15 min. the drive it take is 45 min.
  16. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 1,582

    from Napa

    OK, now I've gotta jump in- was just amused, as after all this was clearly marked a RANT.. all the folks who knew that all big trucks have drum brakes, that was a good one- don't spend much time around big trucks I guess. Lots of stuff like that- it is the HAMB after all :p

    Well, my '62 ragtop has the little single pot soupdish stock drums on it, and yeah, I could put you in the windshield with it- at 30 mph. At 60, it doesn't stop for shit- compared to a stronger or more modern system. My '62 406 car has the big manual 3" drum system like a cop car or station wagon, and will stop pretty good- but as well as a good disc setup? C'mon, lay off the disco biscuits ;) You can try to leave a big space, drive slow, all that stuff- but it's the other "person" that can still get you- can't tell you how many close calls I've had on the Indian or Ducati from militant soccer moms in Suburbans with cell phones :eek:
    I drove an '88 Lincoln MKVII LSC DD for quite a while, a very surprisingly athletic vehicle with the 5.0HO engine, air suspension, 16" wheels, 4whl ABS- that sucker would absolutely run the wheels off my '69 Mach1 with all the front end tricks in it thru the corners, and the brakes seemed pretty strong- so I tried them out one day in the rain on Hwy 80, no cars around and 4 lanes wide and straight, too it up to 80 and stood on it- that thing pulled down right now, dead straight, and never slipped a tire- very impressive. My '01 F350 Powerstroke duallie 4x4 with big 4-whl discs is the same way- awful nice to know it's there if you need it. My '32 dump truck still has the mechanical brakes, and yeah, they work OK, but it just putts around shows and such- and of course I don't have to worry about blowing a line with a single pot :)
  17. scoobyscooter
    Joined: Sep 1, 2011
    Posts: 97


    I'm with you...had drum brakes on a lot of cars and have had close calls but not because the drums wouldn't stop it. They were usally caused by idiots cutting me off. They cant be all that bad, I've got a 40' MCI bus (Greyhound style) and it still runs drums on the rear and on the steer tires and that thing weighs in 30,000 + lbs.

    If it's about the "chance" of wrecking, then you better not work on it either.....there's a "chance" you could break a bolt or scrape your knuckle :)
  18. outlaw256
    Joined: Jun 26, 2008
    Posts: 2,023


    meangene you only got part of what i said. lolwhat i was saying is that as my dd i can stop it quick if need 30 it will throw you at 60 it will lock them up and skid. i know for a fact i had to do it a couple days you couldnt drive a 10 penny nail up my ass with a sledge hammer while it was all happeneing either!!!anyway i did say that disc were better than drun for stoppin but there aint nothing wrong with drum if adjusted and welll maintained.oh yeah mr. meangene, im crazy jealous. you got a 62 406!!! man i looked for awhile around here for one but no luck. anyway i got a couple 429s and a couple 460s for when my 352 lays down. got a couple of 352s also but i want more!!think it would be hard to talk you into sending me some pics of that 406. ken
  19. Hot_Rod_Johnny
    Joined: Dec 28, 2008
    Posts: 197

    from Sweden

    What's a disc brake? Never heard of ...
  20. hillbilly4008
    Joined: Feb 13, 2009
    Posts: 2,917

    from Rome NY

    I hate that "drum brakes are shit" mentality. A drum brake setup that is properly setup and maintained is just as good as any disc setup. My local brake shop owner agrees also. I have drum brakes on all of my old cars, with the acception of my heavily modified 1971 Jeepster. I have discs on the front of that and they suck! Im thinking the reason they suck so badly is because of my previous comment of "...properly set up and maintained"

    For me, if the car came with drums its gonna keep the drums.
  21. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 1,582

    from Napa

    Kinda partial to '62's

    The Evil Twin- presently a 427, C6 w/4000 converter, and 5.14 gears- "responsive"


    The Croozer Twin- 390-4V, soon to get another 427 (probably the one out of the 406 car)

  22. Hillbilly
    Some people think that a disc setup is an uprade and some are. most are not it is just people bolting on discs because it is the "best" thing they can do. Most are GM metrics because that is what most conversions are set up for, they are the cheapest discs on the market. A well engineered disc brake conversion is an upgrade but just because it has discs doesn't mean that it has been upgraded.

    A lot of the disc setups I have seen are about like bolting a tunnel ram on a 265. They look like discs for sure but are no better then the drums that they replace or are marginally better at best.

    All that said because some folks see fit to bolt discs on there car does not make drums unsafe. That I believe is the point of the thread not which is better.

    Something that I think we miss with a lot of our threads along these lines is that what is being done does not necessarily make the car better it just makes it different.

    The braking characteristics of a disc brake are different than the those of a drum. Both have their down side and there is no reason to go into them it doesn't solve the one is dangerous idea.

    To drive these old hoopties you have to develope a different driving style and for many learn a new skill set. Face it none of them are ever going to handle or perform like a ZR1 Corvette or even a new Focus. They are not late model cars and if traditionally built they will never be a late model. Why would anyone want them to be, that misses the whole concept of building a traditional hot rod.

    They are unruley on a good day, even the underpowered ones can be a handful if you are not accustomed to one. It all comes down to being willing to learn to drive I suppose.
  23. I have drums on all 4 corners. They are just fine on the street. It's at the track that sometimes I get a little nervous. I just deal with it!
  24. 39 All Ford
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 1,531

    39 All Ford
    from Benton AR

    I think we are on the same page.

    :D I have to confess that I am pretty easy on my brakes unless I really need to stop. I am kind of old school by wanting my equipment to last. Not that I don't get on my cars at times, and I am not one of those who drive under the speed limit (except in neighborhoods).

    My late model daily p/u truck never has a noticeable amount of brake dust on the front wheels unless someone else has been driving it. (I despise "herkey-jerky" driving)

    For me, a suitable set of drums works fine, for the folks who drive down the highway hitting their brakes every 2 seconds to keep from running over the guy 3 feet in front of them, drums might not be that great.

    At the same time, I have seen plenty of disk brake cars with the pads de-laminated off their backing....

    My Lincoln has drums, and my son has drums on his 64 Falcon, I am actually impressed that they stop so well. No, not as smooth or as even as disk, but they don't give up much (if any?) in raw stopping power. I will have to admit to never getting the brakes hot enough to experience fade.

    I have a car I can't really post here with disks, and I like them too, but I think the bottom line is that drums are not inherently unsafe, unless a person drives like a dick. :D
  25. Stefan T
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 2,166

    Stefan T
    from Sweden

    The big problems with drums is singel brake system and if you get some problems you losse all brakes on one time

    or on cars there the dimsions of the brakes not match the weight and preformace
    like some inemidet GM cars from the 60's

    they do 0-60 faster then 60-0

    I have losed my brakes one time on a cutlass and have to drive up on the pavement for not smach som girls.

  26. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 20,946


    2 words.

    Who cares.
  27. Stefan,

    Not all drum brake cars had a single master. They built plenty of cars with dual reservoir master cylinders and 4 wheel drums.

    When I first started building cars some of the old fellas were taking their old coupes and moving the master from under the floor to the firewall. It was a popular thing to take two jelly jar master cylinders and mount them with a balance bar, one would feed the rears and one would feed the fronts. That was considered high tech with the older fellas that I ran around with. Some of the fella were snagging masters from mustangs or corvettes with a split system and modifying them to work on there old cars as well.

    Loosing brakes is no fun but it doesn't matter if you have drums or discs if your master goes it goes.

    I like the drama. ;)
  28. junk yard kid
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 2,719

    junk yard kid

    Disk brakes can be dangerous too. If you forget about the truck with a trailer behind you and stop to fast and he smashes into you. Doesnt matter whos fault it technically is if you get hurt or killed.
  29. James Curl
    Joined: Mar 28, 2006
    Posts: 370

    James Curl

    Just go here to find out about drilled brake drums and their advantage.

    1. Drilled Drums [​IMG]

      Project Plymouth gets a decades-old brake trick&#8230; Drilled Drums Text by Dave Hill / Photos by Jerry Weesner and Dave Hill. cvrX.jpg. What's the first thing you ...

      Add Kevar linings to the drilled drums and you have a much lighter unsprung weight than you do with disc.
  30. I've had some 4-wheel drum cars that stopped as well as disc brakes. I do upgrade to a dual master if it doesn't have one.

    Once I buy a car and get it ready for the road, it goes up on 4 jack stands and all the wheels are stripped to the backing plates. All new hardware, wheel cylinders, hoses, the works. If the drums are close to oversize, they get replaced too. I always opt for the best linings I can get even if they have to be ordered.

    I had grown up with drum brakes and I find that many people don't know how to do a drum brake job properly.

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