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  • Brakes: Upgrading 53 Champions brakes

    Some of the guys in the local club have recommended that I upgrade the brakes on my 53 Champion hardtop. They mentioned using larger brakes from a V8 Commander and/or 54 and later. I didn't have a chance to follow up to understand the details.

    I've contacted a couple of local suppliers, hoping they could provide parts, but no luck.

    What's involved in this upgrade and who can supply the parts?

    -- Scott
    64 Avanti R1 R5529

  • #2
    If it was my car I wouldn't change.
    I know some people that think they have to even change to disc brakes.
    I just try to drive defensively and sensibly.
    I keep my distance from cars ahead, but unfortunately I can't do much about tailgaters, and that's a big problem these days.
    Last edited by TWChamp; 11-17-2016, 03:03 PM.

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    • #3
      Stopping is THE most important aspect of driving. Just because we drive safely and keep our distance, does not address the safety aspect of any emergency. A child, a stroller, a family or any other sort of "obstacle" which may instantly come into your path. Keeping your distance will not address the necessity of extremely good brakes when you desperately need them. And lets not forget the second part of the brakes... the tires. Locking up small Champion brakes on skinny old tires will not help whoever is in your cars' sights.
      Upgrade your brakes. At minimum, go to the larger Commander brakes for your car. But if you're going to be doing any regular driving with your car, go to disc brakes. Check out Turner Brakes. Its cheap insurance for your car, for you and for anyone who may choose to step into your path.
      If you're going to do the Commander swap, you simply need a V8 parts car with all the hard pieces intact. Brake shoes, hoses, wheel cylinders and master cylinders can all be bought at one of the Stude vendors. You'll need backing plates and good brake drums which can still be turned. All else will just swap over.
      The disc brake swap is all self contained with the Turner kit.
      Happy stopping. Especially when it counts.
      sals54

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      • #4
        I agree with Sal. There's no such thing as overkill on a brake system.

        To answer your question, the 54 and later V8 brakes were pretty good. You'll need everything that bolts to the spindle; backing plate, hardware, shoes, cylinder, drum, etc. The backing plates and all the other parts are a simple bolt on, no modification required. There's no need to buy a parts car, just post an ad here. There's enough people with spare parts that finding the stuff won't be too hard.

        I installed Turner front disc brakes with a dual master cylinder on a '52 pickup and that was the single best thing I did to that truck. Best stopping Studebaker I've had. http://turnerbrake.com/
        Last edited by mbstude; 11-16-2016, 05:04 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mbstude View Post
          I agree with Sal. There's no such thing as overkill on a brake system.

          To answer your question, the 54 and later V8 brakes were pretty good. You'll need everything that bolts to the spindle; backing plate, hardware, shoes, cylinder, drum, etc. The backing plates and all the other parts are a simple bolt on, no modification required. There's no need to buy a parts car, just post an ad here. There's enough people with spare parts that finding the stuff won't be too hard.

          I installed Turner front disc brakes with a dual master cylinder on a '52 pickup and that was the single best thing I did to that truck. Best stopping Studebaker I've had. http://turnerbrake.com/
          Yeah, sorry. No parts car needed. I'm still in the frame of mind on drivetrain swapping. You're in Northern CA, so parts will be easy to find and you won't have to go far at all to get this done. Call Bob Peterson. He's about an hour from you in Hayward. He probably has all the parts you need to make this happen. He's here on the forum as candbstudebaker.
          sals54

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          • #6
            Scott -

            As in your question, you answer for yourself...
            "The brake shoes are...larger". Both wider and larger in diameter.
            This puts more friction into the brake system, and friction is what stops any car.

            Mike

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            • #7
              Originally posted by mbstude View Post
              I agree with Sal. There's no such thing as overkill on a brake system.

              To answer your question, the 54 and later V8 brakes were pretty good. You'll need everything that bolts to the spindle; backing plate, hardware, shoes, cylinder, drum, etc. The backing plates and all the other parts are a simple bolt on, no modification required. There's no need to buy a parts car, just post an ad here. There's enough people with spare parts that finding the stuff won't be too hard.

              I installed Turner front disc brakes with a dual master cylinder on a '52 pickup and that was the single best thing I did to that truck. Best stopping Studebaker I've had. http://turnerbrake.com/
              Did you install some sort of a power booster also? Does the pedal feel like you have to step on it really hard? I've been toying with installing disks in the front of my 60 Lark V-8, but would like to test drive one first. Heard lots of opinions on how hard the pedal is.
              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
              10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
              10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
              4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
              5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
              56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
              60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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              • #8
                You may be able to contact Jim Turner on that problem. He may have an answer regarding a different master cylinder, compensating valve, or different rear brake cylinders to make the peddle correct without a booster.
                Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
                Did you install some sort of a power booster also? Does the pedal feel like you have to step on it really hard? I've been toying with installing disks in the front of my 60 Lark V-8, but would like to test drive one first. Heard lots of opinions on how hard the pedal is.
                sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
                1950 Champion Convertible
                1950 Champion 4Dr
                1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
                1957 Thunderbird

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by RadioRoy View Post
                  Did you install some sort of a power booster also? Does the pedal feel like you have to step on it really hard? I've been toying with installing disks in the front of my 60 Lark V-8, but would like to test drive one first. Heard lots of opinions on how hard the pedal is.
                  No booster. It took some foot pressure to stop, but not quiet as much as the stock drum setup.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mbstude View Post
                    No booster. It took some foot pressure to stop, but not quiet as much as the stock drum setup.
                    Ditto for me. I've run 12" rotors with large Chrysler calipers on my coupe for decades with no power booster. No trouble stopping at all. Never have brake fade. Even when coming down from Reno which is 7000 ft elevation drop in about a hundred miles. Or the 3000 ft fall from Gorman to Grapevine in about 15 miles. That one is fun. Try that with your Champion brakes when a Semi jackknifes on a 6% grade right in front of you, eh?
                    Last edited by sals54; 11-16-2016, 08:33 PM.
                    sals54

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                    • #11
                      Brakes and application are a science in themselves. Friction does stop the car but it is the friction between the road and the tires only. The fronts are the most important. Pedal pressure to create braking action may differ from one car to another. If the drums have been turned oversize and standard shoes are installed the efficiency may be affected, the shoes should be arced to fit the different diameter. The pedal may feel spongy because you are bending the shoe to fit the different arc. Dodge cars had adjustments for the shoes to fit the different arc. With the good quality shoe material and good fitting shoes the brakes should be more than adequate coupled with proper brake application. Decades ago when I first learned to drive I was instructed to snub the brakes to avoid over heating while decending a hill, however that was proven incorrect, steady pressure will reduce overheating as opposed to snubbing. Good quality hoses, non leaking cylinders and good fitting shoes to the drum is all you need.

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                      • #12
                        If you have ever done a Brake Job or complete Rebuild on the '47 to '53 Lockheed Style self adjusted Brakes with the Eccentric adjusters on each shoe AND the Late Bendix Type Wagner Brakes on the '54 to '66 Studes. you would understand that it is not Only the Sq. Inches of Lining Area that makes for good stopping Power, the design of the mechanism that Applies the Shoes makes a HUGE difference.

                        In 1954 when Wagner developed that setup for Studebaker, a '54 Commander could out stop most anything on the Road!
                        When you see how that "self energizing" system works you understand why.

                        So no, you can NEVER make that archaic '53 CHAMPION System Stop Like a '54 Commander, sorry.
                        StudeRich
                        Second Generation Stude Driver,
                        Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                        • #13
                          I had a 53 commander hard that had awful brakes I. Put drums shoes bearings and backing plates from a 56 or 57 sedan then it would stop.
                          Hawkowner

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                          • #14
                            I built my "53 around 1970. I installed V-8 brakes with metallic shoes. They worked great after the first few stops.(They needed heat in them to stop good) The great thing about the metallic shoes was no brake fade. Close to the Air Force Base I was stationed at was a road that dropped over 4300 feet in less than 20 miles. Absolutely no fade coming down that mountain. I do not suppose they are available for Studes any more.

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                            • #15
                              Nothing wrong with adequately sized drum brakes. I never understood the logic behind putting smaller brakes on six cylinder cars. They still have to stop a car that is almost as heavy.
                              I drove my 52 Champion with stock brakes for many years and only had a few close calls. The current 52 Commander with later V-8 brakes is fine. I would still put discs on it in the future, but the conversion has been pushed back on my to do list.
                              "In the heart of Arkansas."
                              Searcy, Arkansas
                              1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                              1952 2R pickup

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