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31pontiac's 1959 Bonneville

2022 November
of the Month

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Has anyone out there managed to put together a disc brake system for a '63 full size or similar chassis that uses either Wilwood or Classic Performance disc brake parts on the front, both supply brakes for the 9.3 Olds Pontiac rear end but nothing for the front. I purchased the only front disc brake system I could find and put it on. It does have the advantage of stopping straight, something I could never get the drum brakes to do but it is not a very efficient system it requires excessive pedal pressure to stop and as a result the rears lock up anytime the streets are wet. The proportioning valve that came with it is non adjustable and there are ways that I could reduce the rear brake efficiency but it makes a lot more sense to just build a matched brake system. There is no line of thinking that makes sense to have that much time and money in a car and a brake system that came out of Disney's animation studio.

If no one has done it I will figure it out and will post pictures but it is a lot easier if someone else has figured it out and can tell me what I need. 

Thanks

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Have you considered running an adjustable proportioning valve to adjust the front/rear bias? Do you need a recommendation for one? Is your proportioning valve mounted on the frame in the stock location or up need the master cylinder?

What size front rotors and tires are you running today Old Guy?

Pictures always help and are appreciated.

Edited by Frosty
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I have thought about an adjustable proportioning valve, the problem is that the only front brake kit that I found that fits on my Pontiac appears to have been designed in Disney's animation studio. It is superior to the factory drums in that I can step on the brake with out the car diving one way or the other, but the stopping power is less than the drums. I would like to have a balanced system that comes from the same supplier, probably Wilwood as they are local to me if I find that I need something. They make a rear brake kit for the 9.3 drop out so if they have a front rotor that will fit my spindles or a hat that will fit the hubs that are in the front drums that came off and a gm style single piston caliper to match the performance of their rear kit I will make brackets to fit. I was just hoping against hope that someone had found a spindle that would work with an existing kit and save me a couple of weeks of R&D.

Now if I can just find a spindle to bolt to my work bench for the mock up I can still drive my car while I build the new system. I will supply pictures and measurements to document the system.

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The current kit is one I found on ebay. Wilwood does not make a kit for it and if I had fount CPP first that is probably what I would have gone with. After a lot of research and brain picking I have decided to build my own. I just need to find a hat that fits the original hubs roughly the same dimensions as a 90's vintage Caprice. I will use the Wilwood 4 piston caliper. The Caprice had a 15 inch wheel so that should not be a problem. As long as I own a cutting torch, arc welder and a drill press making a caliper bracket should be well within my wheelhouse.

I will be using the CPP rear kit with a parking brake. 

Yes I do have a power booster and no it is not a must. The first disc brake conversion I ever did was 67? Corvette discs on the front of a 55 Chevy 210. Used the stock master cylinder without power and no proportioning valve. I had to remove the residual check valve because the constant pressure did not get along with the calipers, caused brake drag. Put a 3/16 smaller wheel cylinder in the rear to compensate for the lack of a proportioning valve and the last time I ever saw it it still stopped great.

So those who say that it is impossible to have front discs and rear drums without a booster or a dual master cylinder my reality trumps your theory. It is just the kind of stuff we had to do waaaaaaay back when, before you could just call up summit and have a kit sent out.

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3 hours ago, Old guy44 said:

So those who say that it is impossible to have front discs and rear drums without a booster or a dual master cylinder my reality trumps your theory. It is just the kind of stuff we had to do waaaaaaay back when, before you could just call up summit and have a kit sent out.

And you carried a boat anchor to throw out the window as a backup.:rofl:

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Master Power Brakes has a front disc brake kit for your car.

https://www.mpbrakes.com/front-brake-conversion-kit/pontiac-catalina-1963-front.asp

Then there is Scarebird Brakes LLC

https://scarebird.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=231

 

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On 3/16/2021 at 3:23 PM, JUSTA6 said:

And you carried a boat anchor to throw out the window as a backup.:rofl:

Never needed the boat anchor, the 55 stopped better without power than the Indian does with, it is all in the brake design. The Corvette was a 4 piston caliper with a large pad. I did however think about throwing my ex wife out the window more than once.

Frosty, I am now aware that MP makes a disc conversion however the guy I work for part time knows Wilwood very well and they are only a half hour from my house. When I get over the task of putting the coil overs in the car, it required more modification than I ever imagined, I am going to chat with Wilwood to see if they can come up with a set of calipers and rotors that are balanced for the weight of the car and have a parking brake in the rear. I can make all the brackets necessary and I know that when I get done I will have a brake system that works. 

The conversion I have on it now uses the single piston GM caliper which is what MP uses and the pads are over half gone at 5000 miles. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Wilwood disks and 4, or maybe 6 piston calipers work so it seems to me to be the best idea.

When I eventually get to it I will post pictures and all details of the project.

Thanks anyway for your suggestions. 

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5 hours ago, Old guy44 said:

Never needed the boat anchor, the 55 stopped better without power than the Indian does with, it is all in the brake design. The Corvette was a 4 piston caliper with a large pad. I did however think about throwing my ex wife out the window more than once.

Frosty, I am now aware that MP makes a disc conversion however the guy I work for part time knows Wilwood very well and they are only a half hour from my house. When I get over the task of putting the coil overs in the car, it required more modification than I ever imagined, I am going to chat with Wilwood to see if they can come up with a set of calipers and rotors that are balanced for the weight of the car and have a parking brake in the rear. I can make all the brackets necessary and I know that when I get done I will have a brake system that works. 

The conversion I have on it now uses the single piston GM caliper which is what MP uses and the pads are over half gone at 5000 miles. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Wilwood disks and 4, or maybe 6 piston calipers work so it seems to me to be the best idea.

When I eventually get to it I will post pictures and all details of the project.

Thanks anyway for your suggestions. 

yes please do that Dwight ! it would be great to see your set up :cheers:

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Old Guy, I think the real trick is finding the spindle/hub assembly that Wilwood can work from. If someone has a spindle that will adapt to say a late model Corvette or Camaro hub, I think you would be in great shape. So yeah, give Wilwood a call. They might have something for a Chevy Bel Air/Biscayne/Impala in the same time period that might work for you. Food for thought.

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Just food for thought. I put Alden coil overs in it and it is a totally different automobile. Be advised that if you try it the Alden springs have a 3 3/4 inch inside diameter and the original springs had a 4 inch ID. I had to grind the flat on the final coil to open up the spring as much as possible and get up into the spring hole with a large crescent wrench to bend the spring pad in all the way around so the new springs would seat. I got them bent in enough that the springs started to locate. When I got it back together I jacked it up as high as my jack would go and dropped it down hard to seat the springs a couple of times before I did the final height adjustment. It took 3 days off and on to get them in but well worth the effort. It corners a lot flatter than it did and the front end float is completely gone.

I do plan to contact alden about the spring issue.

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  • 3 months later...

Don’t mean to hijack your thread but I I have somewhat the same problem. Nobody seems to make a disc setup for a 61 full size. I’m told it’s because of something in the suspension. Just looks like old Pontiac suspension to me. Hope you don’t have a 428 and want a/c same problem.

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Wilwood makes a complete bolt on rear kit for the Olds Pontiac rear end. Part number 140-11397. My research has found what appears to be a front rotor part number 160-15506 and a front caliper 120-13846. The rotor is just a hat and will require using your existing hub. The caliper is the one that Wilwood uses for the disc brake kit for the 66 Caprice, which except for brackets uses same kit as they supply for the Pontiac rear end. The Caprice is a similarly large and heavy vehicle, within a few hundred pounds one way or another. My assumption is that if it will stop a Caprice it will stop the Pontiac. My assumption is that they balanced the kit for the Caprice so it should work well on the Pontiac. If you are in a rush sorry but the Pontiac brakes are the third thing on the must do list. When I do it I will take pictures, measurements and whatever else I need to accomplish it. The big thing will be the caliper brackets. I will need to whack them out of 1/4 plate. I have a set of disc brakes on the front that I found on ebay but I do not recommend them as they were designed by Walt Disney's animation department. I can use those brackets for a basic template but the calipers mount differently so will need to engineer that side. 

The reason no one makes a kit, or should I say that no one makes a kit worth having, is that Pontiac was GM's red haired bastard child. they did everything different. When I rebuilt my front suspension I could not find bushings for anything. I finally used either Buick or Cadillac lower bushings but had to drill out the center sleeve because the sleeve is for a half inch bolt and Pontiac uses a 9/16 or 5/8 don't remember which.  I made my own upper bushings by using the factory shell and center sleeve and whacking out plastic bushings. This has been my experience with everything on this car that I have had to fix. Fortunately I grew up in the era of making it yourself when there were no aftermarket suppliers like today.

RE: the A/C. I have an L83 and 6L80 trans in mine, if you go to the how to section there is a long write up on the install. I used the radiator, compressor condenser and evaporator out of the truck and built a firewall/under dash unit out of a highly modified unit from a 98 Crown Vic. We are going into summer So I will see how it works. If you are interested I have brackets, compressors, pulleys, belts, 4 row aluminum radiator, condensors, some hoses,100 amp alternator for two systems that I built when it had the original 389 in it. If you are ever in the LA area I would sell the whole mess for bargain basement price just to get it out of the garage.

The L83 was cammed by Comp and has other minimal modifications for performance and it is a lot more interested in going fast than it is in stopping fast. So the Wilwood brakes are a necessity because I cant play with mustangs, camaros and possibly hemi's. If I need to stop fast I am screwed.

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