Wayne Cook
July 1, 2001

Step By Step

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Look at the smoke rolling off the left front of this race car! Your brakes work hard, too, so a swap to discs is a safe place to start.
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Shown are the contents of the kit from Dearborn Classics. Manufactured by Stainless Steel Brakes, this kit is a good way to get your car out of the Stone Age. Across the bottom are the rotors and dust shields. The two calipers on top of their respective mounting brackets are shown above the rotors. Directly beneath the calipers are the brake-pad retaining plates, with the brake pads shown on either side of the calipers. To the left of the photo are caliper mounting-bracket fasteners and the needed bearings and seals. At right, we see the new flex brake lines that lead to the caliper. The new dual-reservoir master cylinder is seen at top right, and beneath the master is the rear-brake proportioning valve.
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This is a better look at the rear-brake proportioning valve. This is a great safety feature because it allows you to adjust pressure to your rear brakes relative to the front brakes. By adjusting this inline valve, you can prevent premature lockup of your rear brakes.
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In the front wheelhouse of our ’64 Ranchero, we’re disconnecting the hard brake line from the old flex hose. Always use a line wrench when working with these brake fittings. If you don’t use a line wrench, you’ll risk rounding off the fittings on the hard line. Once this happens, replacement of the hard lines is necessary.
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Here, the flex-line retaining clip is removed, allowing the flex line to come free of its retaining bracket.
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Around the backside of the drum, remove the four bolts running through the spindle. These bolts hold the whole drum assembly in place. The bolts may be discarded, as new ones are furnished with the kit.
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Next, remove the dust cap, cotter key, and castle nut, and the whole drum assembly will come away from the spindle. There’s no need to open up the drum.
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We inspected our spindle and found it to be in good shape. Clean off any grease and crud, and check for any abnormal condition such as scoring or bent steering arms.
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Select the correct dust shield and caliper-mounting bracket, and assemble as shown.
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Using the new fasteners, mount the new components on the spindle as shown. Of the four bolts, three are short, and the fourth longer bolt goes in the lower left position as shown.
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Attach nuts on these bolts and tighten securely. You don’t want this bracket ever coming loose on the road.
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These Ford-manufactured dust shields can be slightly oversized. Instructions with the kit advise trimming material away from the upper and lower edge of the shield, and show exactly where to make your adjustment. We’ve found that just curling these edges inward slightly cures any clearance problem when the calipers are installed. Be sure you don’t ignore this condition or you’ll never get both caliper mounting bolts started properly into the mounting bracket.
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If you don’t have a pneumatic bearing-greasing tool, you’ll just have to get your hands full of grease as you pack each of the four bearings full. Do all four at once, and also pack the hub inside the rotors; you’ll have to clean up only once. The rotors are furnished with all races already in place.
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With the large inner bearing in place, it’s a good idea to grease the inside edge of the new seal so it isn’t damaged upon installation. It must slide over the shoulder on the spindle; you want the seal to slide and not tear.
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Next, seat the seal in place on the inner edge of the rotor and tap the seal gently with a light hammer to seat. Make sure the seal is properly seated around its entire circumference. At this point, it’s a good idea to use some brake cleaner or similar product to clean any grease or other crud off the rotor surface. We certainly don’t want any grease between our rotors and new pads.
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At this stage, the rotor can be installed into position on the spindle. As you press down the rotor to seat, turn it slightly to help the inner seal over the shoulder edge.
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After you’ve installed the outer bearing, place the large washer over the spindle end, followed by the castle nut. Tighten the nut to 15 lb-ft and back off one notch. Install the cotter key as shown, followed by the new dust cap. Seat the cap by tapping gently around its entire circumference with a flat-blade screwdriver and mallet.
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Turning to our calipers, the new brake pads have been dropped into place and now the retaining plate or shield is installed over the pads. Don’t forget to use the furnished lock washers. Without these bright metal plates, the brake pads won’t stay in the correct position.
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Now the calipers can be put into place. This is the time to check for any interference with the dust shields. You’ll know there’s a problem if both caliper mounting bolts don’t start easily.
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The attachment of the calipers is shown from the inside of the wheel. Notice how the caliper comes close to the dust shield once installed.
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When the time comes to install the flex lines onto the caliper, don’t overlook these soft copper washers. They’re found on the caliper underneath the red plastic plug. Omit these, and you’re guaranteed a leak.
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Use a line wrench to install the flex lines onto the caliper. Make the connection snug but not too tight. Attach the line at the caliper end first so the whole line assembly can be rotated to seat.
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A new clip is furnished to attach the flex line to the line-retention bracket. Once the flex line is in place, the hard line can be attached. Our hard lines looked so bad, we decided to replace all brake lines on our Ranchero.
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Up in the wheelhouse, your finished installation should look like this.
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We removed our stock single reservoir master cylinder, and now our new dual-reservoir unit goes into place. We reused the pedal-to-master pushrod and dust boot. This has worked for us in the past on Mustangs, but you should check your pushrod to see that it will work on your application.
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Our rear brake proportioning valve is now situated near the master in line to the rear brakes. From above, it’s directly beneath our cowl-to-shock-tower brace, but we should still be able to accomplish our adjustment when the time comes. On your vehicle, bleed the brakes at all four wheels, starting with the wheel most distant from the master. This would be the right rear; then bleed left rear, right front, and left front. The bleeding process is extremely important, and if not completed correctly you risk impaired brake performance. Once your system is properly bled, you’ll be amazed at your car’s braking performance.

If you’re thinking of a “hot swap,” one of the changeovers near the top of our list would have to be swapping out OEM front drum brakes in favor of a set of front disc brakes. Disc brakes have numerous advantages over drums, and adding them to your vintage Mustang or Ford is one of the most worthwhile swaps you can make. With the addition of disc brakes, you’ll reduce fade considerably. Disc brakes shed heat much more efficiently than drums, so heat doesn’t build up nearly as fast. Heat buildup and retention causes fade, and brakes that stay cooler will stop your car better.

Disc brakes are much less likely to pull unexpectedly to one side, and this is a big safety plus. Drive through a puddle with drum brakes and the wet side won’t grab, causing a tremendous pull toward the dry side. This pull can cause surprise lane changes. We don’t need to explain why this is a bad thing. On a disc-brake setup, the water is cleared off the rotor quickly, almost as soon as pressure is applied.

There are any number of ways to go when you’re looking to install disc brakes on your car, and one of the best ways is the ready-to-install front disc-brake kit made by Stainless Steel Brakes. With all-new parts, this kit replicates exactly the factory disc-brake system found on the ’65 Mustang. The four-piston calipers were a good setup then, and they’re a good way to go even now. Using the SSB kit, correct fit and performance are a sure thing. Dearborn Classics carries this kit and supplied it. Those of you who have been keeping up with us in Mustang & Fords will recognize our ’64 Falcon Ranchero pickup. After our new Dearborn Classic suspension was installed, a new disc-brake kit seemed a natural next step toward bringing it up to driving specs. The front spindles on the ’64 Ranchero and ’65 Mustang are the same, so a Mustang kit is a perfect bolt-on fit. Study the installation procedure, and you’ll see this is an easy swap to make.