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  • Brakes: Upgrading my 51 brakes

    Since my 51 sat for nearly two years while I repainted it, there have been a few things that fell apart while sitting.

    Little by little we are getting things all fixed up again. Last Sunday on one of my test drives the brakes started acting up. The master cylinder had sprung a leak while it was sitting, so I knew I was at least going to have to replace it. Now I had other issues popping up. By the time I made it home the brakes were virtually gone and fluid was gushing out of the rear left drum

    15 years ago when I got the car from my Grandfather I went through the brakes, so it was/is getting time to work on them again. Since the last brake job I parted out a 62 GT Hawk. I kept the brake drums and hardware from the Hawk.

    Now since I have never liked the 51 brakes I am going to swap to the later brakes. I did some searching and as near as I can tell this is a bolt on affair. My question is, will my original emergency brake cable work? Looking at it I am not convinced it will. If it will not, does anyone know what will work. The emergency brake cable from the Hawk is long gone, so I do not have it to compare.
    1962 Champ

    51 Commander 4 door

  • #2
    I believe that the rear parking brake cable is different between these models. I do not know the differences or if one could be made to work on the other.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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    • #3
      Kurt, do you have the stuff the upgrade the rears to match as well ? I've never experienced it but have heard scary tales about upgraded fronts with original not-as-good rears (and vise a versa) causing problems in sudden stop situations. Again, not speaking from past personal experience, just what I've heard and read. Anyone else had experience in this area? I've used front suspensions from one donor vehicle and rear axles from another several times in the past and always got lucky I guess in matching the braking capabilities up.
      I do believe that the master cylinder bore size needs to "match" the wheel cylinder size as they were from the factory. So upsizing wheel cylinders means bigger master cylinder. You probably already know this, but somebody reading and thinking about a similar upgrade might not.
      thom

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      • #4
        I replaced my (ex) 51 Comander's brakes with the later units, and it worked great! It was a bolt on affair as mentioned, but the e-brake cable I had to monkey with to get it to fit. (The swap resulted in the replacement of the stock 9" rear drum with the later 10".)

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        • #5
          Yes, I am doing all 4 wheels with 62 Hawk finned drums. 11 inch front and 10inch rear.
          1962 Champ

          51 Commander 4 door

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          • #6
            I've done it both ways (upgrading the rear brakes and not). Since the rear brakes don't do much of the braking, I haven't seen any problems with not upgrading them. That said, when I did upgrade them, the parking brake cables from the old (pre '54 brakes) do NOT work. I used the later cables which were a little too long (since the wheelbase on the newer cars is longer) and put some 'cable shorteners' in them. Worked fine.
            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!)

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            • #7
              I changed the front brakes on one of my 1953s to 1962 V8 brakes without changing the rears. I drove that car for thousands of miles without experiencing any problems due to this. I also knew of and was involved in this type of brake change on many other pre-1954 Studebakers.
              Gary L.
              Wappinger, NY

              SDC member since 1968
              Studebaker enthusiast much longer

              Comment


              • #8
                The Master Cylinders on all Stude. Cars and 1/2 Ton Trucks are 1 Inch except Disc. Brakes, so that will not be a problem.

                I think a rear E-Brake cable for a '54 to '58 W, F, J or D Body MAY to the closest length without being too short, and there are the after market Cable "shortener" gadgets to adjust shorter.

                It is always best to measure what you need to compare to what is available, but those years noted will at least hookup to the rear brake shoes.
                StudeRich
                Second Generation Stude Driver,
                Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                • #9
                  A friend of mine changed his ‘51 Commander to ‘54 and up brakes and he told me he just had to enlarge the area that clamped the emergency brake housing onto the backing plate, using a appropriately sized drill bit. Then the early cable would attach to the later backing plate. I was told this a long time ago and unfortunately this person is no longer with us, so I can’t supply specific details. He was a competent mechanic, though.

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                  • #10
                    It's been quite a while but, if my memory serves, the parking brake cable on my '51 was pressed in to the backing plates, and I had to pry them out. But the later backing plates had a little metal tab that screwed over top of the cable after it was installed. Other than that everything fit fine.
                    "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

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                    • #11
                      I changed the front off of a 60 hawk without changing the rear and drove it over 40000 miles with no problem.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by wayne View Post
                        I changed the front off of a 60 hawk without changing the rear and drove it over 40000 miles with no problem.
                        Your 1960 already had the later brakes front and rear. I do not see your point, unless you mean the brakes came off a 1960 Hawk and were used on something earlier than 1954, but it is a stretch to read that into your post.
                        Gary L.
                        Wappinger, NY

                        SDC member since 1968
                        Studebaker enthusiast much longer

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am sorry I put them on a 51 commander.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            No worries! The main thing is having a good braking system when you are finished. It is easy to leave out a word ....spell check is no help with that.
                            Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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