View Full Version : power brakes-an improvement?

bing kunzig
08-01-2005, 05:17 PM
Before I decide to have a power brake booster installed on my '57 Silver Hawk I would like to know how others like or dislike this arrangement on their own cars. I have had it on Edsels and it was great, but this is my first Studebaker and I'm not sure if it is the same.

Mike Van Veghten
08-01-2005, 05:46 PM
I removed the power brakes from my 59 Lark. Disc up front, drum in the back.
I put disc's all around in my Conestoga, with manual master cylinder, won't change to power.

My two cents.

08-01-2005, 06:45 PM
This seems to always be a topic with some controversy, but I've had two similar cars, one with and one without power brakes. ('56 Golden Hawk with, '55 Commander coupe without.) I far prefer *without* - the pedal effort is a bit stiff, but I find the Hydrovac difficult to modulate and overly sensitive, whereas the manual brakes have great pedal feel and aren't too "touchy."

OTOH, some people find the effort of the manual brakes too much for their liking, and don't seem to find the Hydrovac as annoying as I do. I guess what it really comes down to is, see if you can get some seat time in a car with a Hydrovac and see how you like it.

Keep in mind that if you convert to power, you may have to change the brake pedal as well to keep the brakes from being way too touchy. Some years had different pedals for power and non-power.

good luck,


55 Commander Starlight
62 Daytona hardtop

bing kunzig
08-01-2005, 09:59 PM
It does seem that the peddle effort is a bit much and I'm going to have it checked out tomorrow by a Studebaker expert to see if the system is functioning properly. Your idea of driving one that has power assist is a good one. Thanks.

08-01-2005, 10:27 PM
Having never driven a car with manual, non-assisted brakes I was very surprised at how little effort the brakes in my 54 require. They modulate easily, come on strong and have nice feel to them. I actually prefer them to power-assisted brakes.
I guess you hafta to try both and see which you prefer, especially really "getting into them hard."


"Oh That? It's a STUDEBAKER!!"

Dan White
08-02-2005, 08:23 PM
I personally have no problems with a Hydrovac equipped car. The previous owner of my Hawk removed the front disks and hydrovac. My wife did not like the hard pedal and I eventually put on a front disk kit and a rebuilt hydrovac. Once you get used to it there is no problem and it does stop "right now" if you need to. I am seriously considering adding a hydrovac to my '50 Hudson.

Dan White
64 R1 GT
64 R2 GT

08-03-2005, 03:40 AM
I have both. I like both.[8D] The nicest thing about the system Studebaker used is that when the power goes out one still has brakes.;) Same thing with the power steering. The engine went out on my Caddie and I needed Gov. Arnie's arms to steer and his legs to stop.[}:)]

Lotsa Larks!
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Studebaker!

08-03-2005, 08:31 AM
In response to SoCal54Champion if your car has the Stock drum brakes the pedal effort shouldn't be too much since drum brakes use the rotation force to assist brake application, which is why they were called self-energizing. Excluding 51's most Studebakers brakes were much better than the competition since Stude used the same size brakes that the Big 3 used and the Stude's weighted hundreds of pounds less.:D The manual drum brakes on my 49 Commander are 10 times better at repeated hard stops than the manual drums on a 66 Dodge Coronet we have since the Commander has the same size brakes and weights a bit less than the Dodge. Also the condition of the drums has a lot to do with their fade resistance. The ones on the Dodge are well rusted which reduces the ability to dissipate heat. With Disc brakes there is no mechanical assist so that is why power brakes became more popular as Disc brakes replaced the Drum type. I had an 88 Chevy S-10 pick-up with manual Disc brakes and it took considerable effort to hold the vehicle on a hill at a stoplight. If you plan on doing lots of town driving with disc brake you may want the power assist even though they are over boosted.[^]

Restore it, don't replace it.Keep the Studebaker reproduction industry going

08-04-2005, 06:27 PM
On my '53 hardtop I installed the finned drums from a '63 hawk as well as converted the master cylinder to swinging pedals and put it on the firewall. I was never happy with the pedel effort and stopping power until I installed a booster. For me it made a huge improvement in stopping. I am sure part of the issue is firewall flex so the force to the master was not as it should be. Another factor which I noticed as I used the car even before the booster install was the drums had been turned and I don't think the shoes were "worn in" for a while since it got better over time. I think I could even slide the tires now where before it was white knuckle if the guy 2 car lengths ahead in traffic stabbed their brakes.


'53 Champion Hardtop

bing kunzig
08-04-2005, 06:44 PM
Well, I had the brakes adjusted and I do notice an improvement. The peddle effort seems to be reduced somewhat.

I'll drive as it is for awhile before I make any changes.