Chevy Nova Disc Brake Conversion - Beating The Drums

We Ditch The Outdated Drum Brakes On A '69 Nova And Install A CPP Disc Brake Conversion Kit

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CPP also includes the proper e-brake cables for the install. We mated it to the factory cable and then attached it to the caliper as shown. Once everything is done we will adjust the cable to the proper tension.

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In an effort to make this install something you could easily do in your garage, CPP includes these cool little brackets for the brake lines. By using the supplied band clamps, we didn't need to do any welding during the install. Sweet!

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With the brakes installed, we moved under the hood to tackle the power booster and master cylinder. The factory stuff worked OK, but the old master wasn't optimal for the new four-wheel disc arrangement. We also wanted to try our hand at installing a hydroboost unit. Our first step was to remove the booster and master from the firewall after disconnecting the rod from the brake pedal under the dash.

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With the old booster gone, the hydroboost unit simply attached to the firewall using the special long fasteners supplied in the kit.

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Plumbing the hydroboost unit into the power steering system wasn't rocket science, but it did take some work. The high-pressure line from the pump went to the hydroboost and then to the gearbox. There's also a low-pressure line from the hydroboost that joined with the low-pressure return line from the steering box (by an included T fitting) before going back to the power steering pump. All the various fittings and hoses needed were included in the kit. There were also adapters included if we were running a newer-style Saginaw 600 box and more adapters if we decide to run AN-style fittings on our return line. Remember that the hydroboost unit is dependent on your power steering pump, so if your pump is sketchy, toss on a new one.

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With the hydroboost unit plumbed, we then bolted on the CPP master cylinder. This billet beauty (PN CP31501-P, $189) is fully adjustable with all the valving built into it. This keeps the area uncluttered since there's no need for an external proportioning valve. With two simple adjustments and a couple of test runs, it's easy to get the brakes dialed in. We did need to cut and flare a couple of the factory lines for this install, so have a flare kit on hand.

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If you want to save a few bucks, or if you prefer a more OEM look, you can also go with this more traditional master cylinder (PN MCPVU-4, $149). It also comes with the right hard lines so that you don't have to cut and flare anything.

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The 2-inch drop and new rollers are just what this Nova needed for an updated look. Even though CPP recommends at least a 16-inch wheel for clearance, we opted for 17-inch Vintage Wheel Works wheels since it greatly increased our options for tires.

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The big question was how well our Nova would stop with all these new parts. Our first test on the original wheels was 197 feet. Just by swapping on the new tires that number dropped to 188 feet, but the drums were toast after only one hard stop. With the new hydroboost-assisted brakes and Nitto tires, we managed a best stopping distance of 128 feet! That's an improvement of 60 feet. More importantly, we made 10 max-effort stops over the course of only 7 minutes and didn't experience any brake fade. In fact, the last stop was better than the first. The peak deceleration g-force was .73 g with the old parts, .89 g with the new tires, and a whiplash-inducing 1.12 g with the new brakes and tires. The Nova also lost its tendency to randomly pull to the right or left during braking. The hydroboost has a different feel compared to a traditional booster, but after a few stops we were confidently slinging the Nova to a halt. The entire install, from start to finish, took us around 12 hours. Time well spent to bring our '60s Nova into the 21st century.


Vintage Wheel Works
La Mirada, CA 90638
Anaheim, CA 92801


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