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Power brakes for a '51 Champion?

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  • Brakes: Power brakes for a '51 Champion?

    I'm just curious whether anyone has devised a good way to adapt a power brake booster to a '51 Champion. I'm fairly new to this car, but I'm constantly surprised by the amount of pedal pressure the brakes need. Every stop is a bit of a thrill wondering if I started braking early enough and I'd like to lose that feeling. The disc brake conversion may be the way to go. My brakes are well adjusted, the pedal travel is short and the car stops very straight but it just takes a ton of leg pressure. Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

  • #2
    Contact Jim Turner at Turner Brakes. He specializes in Studebaker brake systems and has a lot of knowledge on the disc brake conversions as well as different master cylinders that can be used with systems. Perhaps a MC with a smaller bore would require less leg pressure to provide more PSI to the wheel cylinders. Jim could tell you more and provide solutions.
    sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
    1950 Champion Convertible
    1950 Champion 4Dr
    1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
    1957 Thunderbird


    • #3
      You can also install V-8 brakes from a 54-66 car. They are a bolt-on if you get all the parts. Takes the same master cylinder that is already on the car.
      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


      • #4
        What Roy said. Having both 52 and back cars and of course the newest cars I know the feeling. Takes a completely different way to drive. You feel like you are stepping on a rock and hold your breath if you don't start braking early. Upgrade all four brakes.

        Bob Miles


        • #5
          I'm sure grandma and grandpa were not scared of the car, so how about we figure out what is wrong with it before we start making major changes. No they won't feel like antilock discs but that is OK. I have made hundreds of trips around the Baltimore and the Washington beltways in drum brake cars and plan to make many more.

          First, make sure all eight pistons in your wheel cylinders are free to move. Those brakes are not self energizing (which was a sales feature by the way as they are less likely to pull) and it could easily be that the rear pistons might not be helping if the car sat for a while. Are the shoes glazed? Do they make reasonable contact with the drums or are they only hitting in spots? Are the rear shoes smeared with differential oil from leaky seals? Are the rear axle shoes sitting on their anchors as they should or has the handbrake cable been adjusted out so far to make it effective that the shoes can not sit properly? I encounter this very often on the later cars and Packards. It makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of the rear brakes. Lastly, what manor of lining is on the shoes? Metallic as a crazy example , is far too hard, but there are people who can rivet on a suitable lining for you. All of this will be much cheaper and easier than making a lot of changes and I think you will find the brakes quite serviceable.


          • #6
            Do you KNOW that all 14 or so pieces of Self Adjusting Hardware Parts are there and properly installed at each wheel?
            Second Generation Stude Driver,
            Proud '54 Starliner Owner


            • #7
              The brakes on those Champions always were underwhelming. I put later V-8 brakes on my '51 Commander and have found them to be quite adequate, even given the additional power of the V-8.
              Even after driving the car for three decades, the one upgrade I would like to do would be a dual master cylinder.
              "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",
              '56 Sky Hawk


              • #8
                Whoa!! These older cars did not have self energizing brakes; That is why you need Charles Altas legs to stop them. I realized that this just is not safe and replaced the brakes on 53 Champion with the brakes from a 62 Lark Daytona. The drums are larger and the newer brake system is self energizing or self actuating so only a fraction of the pedal pressure is required to stop. Easy and pretty cheap fix. ( Of course a lot of parts came out of may treasure tove of junk.)


                • #9
                  A couple of years ago I replaced the front brakes on a '52 Land Cruiser (larger drums than the Champion, but NOT self energizing) with finned front brakes from a Hawk. It made such a difference, that the owner not only drives the car places where she was literally afraid to drive it (Los Angeles rush hour traffic, for example as well as hills), she still tells people what a difference it made. A very easy and relatively inexpensive upgrade.
                  Howard - Los Angeles chapter SDC
                  '53 Commander Starliner (Finally running and driving, but still in process)
                  '56 Golden Hawk (3 speed/overdrive, Power steering - Running, but not yet driving)
                  '62 GT Hawk (4 speed, A/C, Power steering - running and DRIVING!)