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Thread: Brakes 51 Commander

  1. #1
    Speedster Member lelshaddai's Avatar
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    Brakes 51 Commander

    Today was a good day. The 51 started and with the linkages Dean provided she shifted properly and drove well. Only problem are the brakes. I have the manual and will dig into them, but always looking for experience that may solve things faster and easier. The brakes stop but the pedal is hard and they are not releasing. I will check the free play Saturday. Problem is free play settings are different on different cars. The manual says 1/8-1/4 inch. Starting when? The pedal travels about 1/4 down and becomes very stiff. The brakes squeal. I know they are not releasing properly because I can smell the right front overheating. Also the wheels have a very hard spin. Other cars have an adjustment wheel to reset them. I did not see that here. Thoughts before I jump in?
    Jim
    51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
    53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
    62 Volvo PV544 Sport



  2. #2
    Speedster Member
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    Inspect, clean and bleed front brakes. If the problem still exists, do the rears

  3. #3
    President Member
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    Jim, '51 has the "old style" brakes. They are adjusted by using a box wrench on the adjustment nut on the BACK of the backing plate (one for the front shoe and one for the back shoe on each wheel). These adjustment nuts move an eccentric cam that adjusts the shoes in or out.
    Howard - Los Angeles chapter SDC
    '53 Commander Starliner (Finally running and driving, but still in process)
    '56 Golden Hawk (3 speed/overdrive - in process)

  4. #4
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    How long has the car been setting without using the brakes. Often times a hard pedal comes from one or more stuck wheel cylinders. If turning the eccentrics doesn't help, then I'd start at the front and check for stuck wheel cylinder pistons. I know my 50 Land Cruiser has at least the right front wheel cylinder stuck because the pedal feels a little harder than normal, and stepping on the brakes makes it pull left.

  5. #5
    President Member BRUCESTUDE's Avatar
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    Also these brakes have early self adjusters, but on only one shoe of each wheel (believe the froward shoe) , probably not the cause of it locking up but FYI. Like everyone here has mentioned; take off the drums and inspect.

  6. #6
    Speedster Member lelshaddai's Avatar
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    It has sat for about 9 months. All the drums are coming off. Rears are always fun Just wanted info to start with.
    Jim
    51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
    53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
    62 Volvo PV544 Sport



  7. #7
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    The right front on my 3R11 would not release after a couple of stops. Found the rubber hose was bad not letting the fluid to return. The hose had been replaced about 5 years prior.

  8. #8
    Golden Hawk Member rockne10's Avatar
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    Brakes are the single most important system on your car! Better no go than no whoa!

    If you have never done so, it is past time to completely restore the system, if only for peace of mind. Replace all steel lines and hoses. Replace or rebuild all five cylinders and fully disassemble, clean and reassemble all parts inside the drums, repacking bearings as well. Also a good opportunity to verify drum geometry. Reassemble and adjust per manual instructions. It's a grand feeling to know your brakes are absolutely reliable.

    It's actually time for me to do my '51 again. Thanks for the reminder.
    "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

    Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
    Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
    '33 Rockne 10, '51 Commander Starlight, '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée"

  9. #9
    Golden Hawk Member
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    Like Rockne10 said. Go completely through the brake system. It is much more important to be able to stop than to go.
    My first take on your problem is wheel cylinder(s) and/or flexible brake line(s).
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  10. #10
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    Something to think about. You can get brakes off any '54 thru '64 V8 (and possible '65 and '66) and bolt right onto your '51. I did this with my '51 Chicken Hawk and it stopped great until I got over 125 mph in the quarter mile. If the strip didn't have a lot of shut off area I eventually went to big disc brakes but the fronts did the job well until speeds got over 125. I did not change the rears as I knew I would be going to a Ford 9" and would use those rear brakes. You need to get the drums, backing plates along with the shoes and cylinders and new hoses. Jim Turner now makes steel flex hoses.

    You will be amazed at the difference this makes.

    Ted

  11. #11
    Speedster Member lelshaddai's Avatar
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    New 51 brake questions

    So with the help of StudeRich I have updated the 51. I had a 55 axle that had the 10" rear updated brakes. I have mounted them on the car. The hand brake cable will not come out of the old backing plates so I will use the one from the newer axle.



    That leaves the front StudeRich had some ideas on this also but thought I would throw out there. The original 11" front brakes are in good shape, however the pass side is missing the little tension spring for the guide. When I pulled the hub the guide fell out. Does the little spring need to be exact or can a similar spring work?Also have a very difficult time removing the top spring. Even trouble with my spring puller.


    Question though is whether to replace the original front brakes. I have a set of 54 10" front brakes, backing plates and drums, that are in great shape. Would those work on the commander model? I know they will bolt on. But with 10" in the rear now will the 10" in front be enough now?
    51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
    53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
    62 Volvo PV544 Sport



  12. #12
    Speedster Member lelshaddai's Avatar
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    Still looking for answers
    51 Studebaker Starlight State Commander Coupe
    53 Studebaker Starlight Regal Commander Coupe
    62 Volvo PV544 Sport



  13. #13
    President Member (S)'s Avatar
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    The car had 11 inch in the front so you should repair what is there or upgrade to 54 style 11 inches for proper balance and less fade.

  14. #14
    Golden Hawk Member rockne10's Avatar
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    10" front brakes would have come from a Champion; definitely not adequate for your V-8.

  15. #15
    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    If you put V-8 self energizing brakes on the rear, you should also put eleven inch V-8 self energizing brakes on the front.

    With the set up you have now, the rear wheels will lock up while you are trying to stop. You must make the front and rear brakes compatible, like Studebaker did when they built these cars.

    The Commanders always had bigger brakes than the Champions, but the biggest difference between the 53 and earlier brakes and the 54 and later brakes is the self energizing design. The self energizing design applies more braking pressure for the same pedal pressure than the non self-energizing design did.

    It's often OK to have more braking in the front than on the rear, but it's not OK to have more braking on the rear than on the front.
    Last edited by RadioRoy; 02-13-2018 at 08:48 PM.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

    17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
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