David Stribling
December 18, 2013

Braking the Bird

I have a 1964 Falcon convertible, and would like to add power brakes with a dual-circuit master cylinder for enhanced safety without having to modify the firewall or shock tower. I found a unit from a company named Nelcohotrods online. I contacted the company and the guy I spoke to said it should fit. It is 12 inches long, but he didn't say if one had been installed on a Falcon before. Do you have any info that might help?

Jerry Larsen
Lakeville, MN

I took a look at Nelcohotrods products, and it looks like the company is selling the Master Power Brakes 7-inch diaphragm booster with a GM-style master cylinder. It takes some work, but this system will fit the Falcon. However, I have something else in mind.

First, to our other readers, Falcons have been difficult to upgrade to a power dual-circuit master cylinder because of the minimum distance between the firewall and the shock tower. Add to this the massive welded shock-tower braces and an all-Ford solution will simply not work.

You have three choices right now: the first being the type that Nelcohotrods sells, which is the small single-diaphragm booster and GM dual-master cylinder. This system does fit and it doesn't require a huge amount of effort, but because of the large shock-tower brace directly over the master cylinder filling the front reservoir requires a tube and syringe. The second option is a homebuilt setup from a Geo Metro. It requires a little more fabrication to make it work, but it uses an easy to access fluid reservoir.

I'm going to recommend the Scott Drake conversion unit, which uses a similar small diaphragm booster and dual-reservoir GM master cylinder as the Nelcohotrods product. The part number is PBC-F-D and it is made to fit your Falcon with a minimum of effort using a specially designed mounting bracket. The pushrod is threaded as well for pedal height adjustments. You'll need a new distribution block as well, and you'll have to bend up a couple of brake lines, but the Scott Drake website states it offers these items as well for installation. This should solve most of your fit problems on the early Falcon chassis. The unit is available from most Scott Drake dealers.

Swedish Mod Swap

I have a '69 Mustang SportsRoof that is going to get a '05 4.6L Three-Valve modular engine swap. I will modify the shock towers for it to fit, of course. I wonder if you know what oil pan to use for this swap and maybe the front coilover shocks?

Hans (last name withheld)

Canton Racing www.cantonracing.com sells the oil pan you will need to run the original rear-mounted steering system in your car after you've trimmed back the shock towers to fit the engine. For the Three-Valve 4.6L modular, use pan PN 15-790. The pickup tube for the Three-Valve should be 15-791. Canton also sells a dipstick tube for the application under PN 20-850.

As far as the coilovers, the two major players for stock-style suspension coilover conversions would be Total Control Products (www.totalcontrolproducts.com) and Global West Suspension (www.globalwest.net). If you are looking at a coilover system, look at one that connects the shock as close to the lower knuckle as possible (the point where the spindle attaches to the lower control arm)—this makes the shock work more efficiently. As you know, using a coilover allows for the shock tower sheetmetal to be trimmed for fitment of some modular engines without having to go to the expense of a Mustang II-style front suspension.

8.8 Axle Upgrade

OK, you got me, where's the 8.8 rearend upgrade for early Mustangs? I've got a '66 coupe sitting in my garage and an 8.8-inch axle with a 3.73 geared Posi sitting on the floor next to it. I really would have liked to have seen that article before I lit up my torch. What's up? Could you email it to me? And while we're on the subject, my 8-inch has the big Galaxie drum brakes, the 8.8-inch axle has discs; any advice on how to safely connect the new system with the old? Will the original master cylinder be OK or do I need something later? What bolts in? Did you address this in your article? You can see my dilemma and disappointment. Thanks.

Tom Gunshannon
Larksville, PA

The 8.8-inch as a cheap alternative to the 9-inch or aftermarket debate is kind of like someone giving you a free aquarium: sure it's cheap, but the fish are expensive. There are a lot of 8.8-inch rears floating around out there, most with Traction-Lok differentials and disc brakes. The problem is that most times it costs as much to make these pieces fit as it would be to buy a nicely made-to-fit aftermarket 9-inch unit. In the case of your '66 coupe, it's a little harder since the only 9-inch units available come from Hi-Po cars.

So which is better: the 8.8-inch or the 9-inch? Opinions are pretty much split down the middle. Both are good, strong units with a myriad of gear selections available. The 8.8-inch has less reciprocating weight and less friction, which means more horsepower transfer. But the 9-inch still remains king when it comes to overall strength, and top competitors use it no matter what your emblems say on the side of their car. The 8.8 suffers at the bearing ends over the 9-inch, and a lot of built 8.8s use the 9-inch housing ends, bearings, and axles. Also, the 8.8-inch axle tubes are pressed in and not welded, and if you hit something hard enough you can knock them out of place. The only real factory 9-inch leaf spring rear axle with disc brakes was the Lincoln Versailles from the 1970s, and those were heavy units and very rare now in scrap yards. Some people have tried the leaf spring Bronco 8.8-inch with discs, but because they are four-wheel-drives, the center section is way too far offset for practical use. The common Explorer 8.8-inch requires shortening one side to fit properly and relocating the spring perches.

As for your '66, your original 8-inch axle is 57.25-inches wide. Fox body 8.8-inch rears are 59.25, so you're already 2 inches too wide to start. You can make this up with wheel offset, but you have already started limiting yourself. Welding on a set of spring perches isn't terribly difficult, but you need to make sure you get it straight. By the time you start adding in the pieces to make it fit, it starts looking like an aftermarket disc setup for your 8-inch will start looking pretty good. Take a look at the article concerning the remaining issues. It was published in the June '13 issue. In my opinion, it's still a toss up on whether to improve the axle you have vs. installing the newer one and taking on the fabrication effort, however, the bolt-in suspension kit used in the June 8.8-inch story does make the process much less painful.

Boss 351 Hose ID

Dave, I have more of a restoration type question for you. We're restoring a '71 Boss 351 Mustang for a customer. There is a pair of holes in the side of the Ram-Air air cleaner that were missing their OE hardware/hoses. I assume that they are for the PCV system. Do you know what parts/fittings are supposed to fit in those holes? Any info would be a huge help.

Bob Roeder
KR Motorsports, LLC

There are two holes on the passenger side of the Boss 351 Ram-Air base. The rear one attaches to the passenger-side valve cover breather cap to the base. It uses a clip and there is a filter mounted to the inside of the base where it is used to soak up oil fumes. The front hole is the port to the evaporative emissions charcoal canister mounted on the passenger-side inner fender. This system takes excess gas fumes from the tank and sends them to the engine to keep emissions down. The front hose is a cardboard like or corrugated paper tubing and is no longer available from Ford. Hope this helps.

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