If you have ever owned a car from the '50s, then you are probably aware of its need for better acceleration and inherent lack of braking prowess. Most, if not all, cars from the '50s were equipped with bulky drum braking systems. They provided only the most basic function, to stop. Today, however, with more companies creating disc brake upgrades, the old drum system is neither popular or safe.
Classic Performance Products is one of the companies which specializes in drum-to-disc brake conversions. We called on them to help us with 12-volt leader Audiobahn's '55 Chevy Nomad, which was weighed down with a couple thousand pounds worth of stereo equipment. These cars are already heavy, but the extra weight made the drum braking system a safety hazard.
We took the car to Ballistic Motorsports in Mission Viejo, California, for the installation. Having feared that the install would be time consuming and confusing, we were delighted when, after only two hours, we were on our way.
The front braking system looked exactly like the rear: a big drum. This system is not exactly up to today's standards for braking power and safety.
The first step was to remove the drum cover. This piece is what protects the components responsible for your braking.
Next, the retaining clips which hold the drum pads in place needed to be removed as well. Using a set of needle nose pliers, we carefully removed the clips and discarded them. We would not require these items with the new components.
Once the retaining clips had been removed, the shoes were taken off and discarded. The cotter pin was slipped off, and the wheel adapter was pulled. All of these components need to be removed all the way down to the bare spindle.
The backing plate was held on with four bolts along with the attached steering arm. Both of these parts needed to removed.
The new bearings did not come pregreased. Therefore we had to use a high-temperature grease to ensure every piece was lubricated. If this step were avoided, the bearings would seize up and fall apart.