New Shoes for Alice - Chevy Disk Brake Conversion

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New Shoes for Alice - Chevy Disk Brake Conversion

Post by johnl » Sat Sep 18, 2004 1:13 pm

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By Chuck Phlegm

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There comes a time when you just have to face facts. My 1975 Bronco (better known as Crazy Alice) was in dire need of brakes. I had seen the signs of fluid leaking for some time. In fact, I carried a quart of brake fluid in case the resevoir needed topping off. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to flaunt death by driving a car or truck with suspect brakes (much). Alice isn't a daily driver. With only three good wheels stopping her, she was pretty much retired to short trips within the neighborhood whenever I needed my Bronco fix.

I had begun the task of getting the parts together almost a year ago. Several other web sites detail the shopping list you need. Some even list the prices (which was helpful for me, but not very accurate). My own list began when I found a Chevy Truck guy who would sell me the spindles and backing plates from a '72 Blazer for $50. After that I scrounged a pair of hubs off a '79 Bronco and a really crappy pair of calipers to use as cores for a new set. I got all the bearings and a new set of rotors from various sources.

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So, here is what I got:
__ 1 pair of spindles from a 1972 (other years work as well) Chevy Blazer
__ 1 pair of backing plates from the same '72 Blazer
__ Hubs from a '79 Bronco
__ Rotors (new) to fit that '79 Bronco
__ Calipers (I got mine loaded with pads & everything else) for a '75 Blazer
__ Flexible brake lines for that same '75 Blazer (part #77028)
__Banjo bolts (7/16-20X1-1/16")
__ Inner and outer wheel bearings (BR35/BR37)
__Hub Seals for '79 Ford Bronco
__ New wheel studs



Pre-installation

I cleaned all the used parts. I even painted the Chevy parts Ford Blue so they wouldn't stand out. I took the hubs in to the local parts store. For $10 per hub they removed the old races and installed new ones. They also packed the wheel bearings for me. The old wheel bearings were pretty bad.

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Once you have the bearing surfaces all dealt with, you can attach the hub to the rotor. The wheel studs hold them together. Mine were separate. The parts guy said I should machine the hub and rotor mating surfaces. I declined. I could have also had the parts store press the wheel studs onto the rotor/hub assembly. Roger Bell recommended using the good old BFH to pound them on. The BFH worked beautifully.

I checked and rechecked the parts list to be sure I had everything. My Bronco has the dual resevoir master cylinder, so I didn't bother changing it out.


Brake Day

Max showed up about noon. We decided lunch first before tearing into the project at hand After we made oursleves ill on Mad Greek sandwiches, we could put it off no longer. Typical Oregon weather for that day, so surgery would take place in my garage. Alice was soon up on jackstands with wheels off.

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We removed everything until we got to axle stubs. Starting with the locking hub stuff. I had done a Warn hub replacement, so that's what I was dealing with. Keep all the parts in a place where you can remember how they go back on. Take a polaroid or digital pictures if you need to. After the locking hub stuff is gone you will need a spindle nut tool (basically a big socket, but you can find it at most parts stores or from any friend who has ever worked on his/her Bronco). There are 3 parts to the spindle nut. Remove the outer nut, and then there is a thinner ring that has holes at various places around its perimeter. You can pull this out by hand or with a pair of needle nose pliers. You will be reusing all of this, so be nice. After you get that part off, use the hub tool to remove another nut similar to the first (except it has a small indexing pin that sticks up). Remember that this is the inner nut when you go to reassembly. After these pieces come off, the brake drum and hub should just about pop off on its own. You won't be reusing these, so get them out of the way.

There are 6 bolts that hold the backing plate and all the drum brake parts together along with the spindle. Take all these off (you can reuse the bolts to attach the new spindle and backing plate). With the spindle off, the axlee stub should be sort of hanging out.

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The backing plate is still attached by the flexible brake line. Move it out of the way, but don't take it apart just yet. We aren't ready to get brake fluid all over the garage floor for a few more minutes.

The Chevy backing plate and spindle bolt right up. The reason this all works, of course, is because this front end was manufactured by Dana and Chevy., Ford and Jeep all used the same Dana 44 for their 4X4 trucks. Set your spindle right on the knuckle. The backing plate goes right on top. Use those 6 bolts to attach these parts to your knuckle.

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Next we install the hub/rotor assembly. First install the hub seal with a flat piece of wood and a few taps with a hammer. Then get your freshly packed wheel bearings ready. They are not the same size, so it should be obvious which goes where.

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Once the inner bearings are in place, slide the whole assembly over the spindle. Then you can install the outer bearing.

Now we come to the only opportunity you will have on this upgrade to do any real fab work. Your knuckle will not quite work with the disk brake caliper. What you need to do is grind off a bit of material on the knuckle and/or the caliper. The knuckle has a little more material to give up, but I decided to grind both surfaces. I had removed enough material when there was about 1/4" of space between the caliper and the knuckle.

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With that removed, the calipers bolted right on. Remember that the bleed screws should face UP.

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You can re-install all the locking hub stuff now too. There are 2 snap rings. The smaller of the two did not go back on due to the differences in the Chevy and Ford spindles. That is normal for this swap. the larger snap ring is sufficient to hold all the hub guts in.

You now have something that looks a lot like disk brakes on your Bronco. The only thing left is to run the flexible lines. I got a bucket out to catch the brake fluid that spilled when I removed the old line. A 3/8" flare tool is needed here. I ended up rounding off the old brake fittings anyway and used a pair of vice grips to finish the job. After the brake fluid was done leaking, I attached the new flexible lines right up to the hard lines.

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After that they kind of loop around and attach to the caliper. They only fit one way, so it should be obvious how it works. The lines are attached with banjo bolts. These were a little tough to find in the right size. Once they were snugged down, all that was left to do was bleed the brakes. Since then, I have paid attention to the brakes, checking every few days for signs of leakage. So far, so good!

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My perception of the quality of these brakes is a little colored. With the old leaky drum brakes, I had to pump several times to get ANY braking. The only good thing was that Alice only pulled in one direction instead of the "guess which way I'll go THIS time you hit the brakes." With the disks, that is all gone. The pedal feel is good. the Bronco brakes straight and sure every time. I could opt for power brakes at this time, but the manual disks feel pretty good, and since I am running 31X10.50 tires, I don't really see the need.


-Chuck Phlegm-

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Post by Daddy4zack » Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:44 pm

How much did all of this end up costing?
I am looking to do the same conversion. Thanks for the pics to go along with the install.
Aaron

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Post by TCheney » Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:36 am

I have developed the good/bad habit of not keeping a running total of what I spent on these projects. I'm pretty sure it was well under $400. Since I did my brakes, someone found a hub/rotor combo at NAPA/Autozone or one of those places for a ridiculously low price. Figure that $400 at the high end & be happy for any savings you manage. They can roll right into the next project!

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Post by Hazegray » Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:53 pm

I was lucky enough to find the hub/disk combo for $39.00 each at my local Autozone. I figured total cost was under $250 since I already had the backing plates/spindle from a dana 44 out of a 75 Blazer (freebie!).

Of note, the driver side axle from the chevy dana 44 was in great shape so I just slipped it right in. Perfect fit & it has the larger u-joint.

When I get around to it, I'll have the other chevy axle cut down to size for the passenger side....

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Prop. Valve?

Post by dan's73 » Thu Oct 21, 2004 1:57 pm

Excellent post....I've always thought so. Had a few ideas that might add some additional info to help those of us in the process of making this upgrade:

Your input regarding Proportioning Valves: Did you use one and if so was it the OEM style or like the Wilwood adjustable? If you didn't use one, have you noticed anything that might prompt you to add or think you need one?

Also, did you replace the MC and if so with what specifically? If not, how did you deal with the "residual valve" in the stock MC we've read about (pull it out w/ a screw, or leave it alone)?
'73 Ranger, 302, Edelbrock Performer cam, heads, intake, Duff's headers, CRAB cage, frt disks, BC Pwr Brakes, C4, WH 3.5" lift, 32" BFGs on Outlaw II's, SPC softtop, lot's more to come........

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Post by TCheney » Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:30 pm

Sorry for the delayed response. I never messed with the MC or the proportioning valve. It is still the original equipment that came with my '75. Max Wood helped me with this mod and he said it didn't require it. I have to agree. The brakes work as well as I had hoped. I know this topic has been dealth elsewhere. I suppose this post would be more complete if it covered the replacement of the master cylinder and the removal of the residual valve , but since I didn't encounter those issues, in my conversion, I didn't think to include them. I may yet... my neighbor is about ready to do this same conversion. He has an older Bronco ('69). It may require the master cylinder upgrade. I'll see what he has next time the hood is up.

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Post by KManuel » Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:16 pm

You said your neighbor has a 69 he is going to do disc brakes on, does he still have the origanal Dana 30 front end, and I can imagine this will cause some differences in the parts you used?

I have a 66 with the original Dana 30 and have put some thought into converting them into Disc brakes, but can't afford the the four figures most are asking, and have not been able to find the out what the parts I do need.
'66 with 3.5" Duff lift, Disc Brakes, Family roll cage, 4X4X2 power steering, T/A 470 and maybe OBA.

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Post by SaddleUp » Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:36 pm

KManuel wrote:You said your neighbor has a 69 he is going to do disc brakes on, does he still have the origanal Dana 30 front end, and I can imagine this will cause some differences in the parts you used?

I have a 66 with the original Dana 30 and have put some thought into converting them into Disc brakes, but can't afford the the four figures most are asking, and have not been able to find the out what the parts I do need.
It is my understanding that the Chevy conversion works for both the D44 and D30. Here is one of several articles on this swap. http://www.bronco.com/technical/upgrade ... akes.shtml

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Post by TCheney » Thu Jan 20, 2005 3:29 pm

That is my understanding as well.

BTW... I was over at the neighbor's yesterday to see his new Tom's Bronco Parts steering wheel.... very nice! While there, he popped the hood and I noticed that his '69 has the dual resevoir MC.

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Post by KManuel » Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:09 pm

I went to Bronco.com and in the 5th paragragh it states you should have a Dana 44, if not you should replace it anyways. Has anyone tried this this conversion on a Dana 30?
'66 with 3.5" Duff lift, Disc Brakes, Family roll cage, 4X4X2 power steering, T/A 470 and maybe OBA.

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Post by SaddleUp » Fri Jan 21, 2005 2:41 pm

KManuel wrote:I went to Bronco.com and in the 5th paragragh it states you should have a Dana 44, if not you should replace it anyways. Has anyone tried this this conversion on a Dana 30?
I don't know anyone personally but I have seen at least three posts by 3 different people that claim they have. I have never seen any that tried it that said it didn't work. You can probably search around a bit here and find previous posts to verify it.
Last edited by SaddleUp on Wed Jan 26, 2005 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by TCheney » Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:42 pm

I think that "you should replace it anyway" comment was more about the opinion of the author. Everything i have ever read indicates that the Chev conversion will work on a Dana 30.

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Post by KManuel » Tue Feb 15, 2005 9:22 am

Thanks, I'll probably upgade when the snow disappears around here, no garage and don't feel like sitting in the snow.

Any thought put into rear disc brakes?
'66 with 3.5" Duff lift, Disc Brakes, Family roll cage, 4X4X2 power steering, T/A 470 and maybe OBA.

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Post by SaddleUp » Tue Feb 15, 2005 12:56 pm

I put the Explorer rear disk brakes on mine. I think it requires changing the axles though so it might not be the best option for everyone. (It cost me the same because I was already having 35 spline axles made)

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Post by KManuel » Tue Feb 15, 2005 10:45 pm

Wifes out of work due to new baby......shoe string budget, the 9 is staying.
'66 with 3.5" Duff lift, Disc Brakes, Family roll cage, 4X4X2 power steering, T/A 470 and maybe OBA.

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Post by Scooter » Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:04 pm

Hi everyone. Great information. Does anyone know if the backing plate and spindle from an old CJ 7 with a dana 30 would work instead of a Chevy? I have one of those rotting in my back yard! I will be converting my 69 over to power brakes in a week or so. Id like to do this front disc conversion at teh same time if possible. Thanks,

Phil

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Post by KManuel » Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:16 pm

Well I went out and bought the parts for the conversion, but decided while i'm in there to replace all the brake lines. Does the chevy flex lines bolt right up, or does the fitting need to be changed?

Thinking of oredering a whole kit from Wild horses, but don't want to spend the money and have to "fix" them.

And if anyone cares the total for parts (including a new 77 m/c) was $298 plus $100 for the Dana 44 out of a 74 Blazer (the guy did not want to sell me just the backing plates and spindles, so for $100 I loaded it into my truck to take home).

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Post by SaddleUp » Mon Jul 11, 2005 2:23 pm

The lines should bolt right up but the housing brackets will need to be modified.
Check out the new Early Bronco Trail Covers at http://BroncoCovers.com

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brake spindles

Post by striperk » Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:12 am

hi all I have a 69 and want to put disc brakes does anybody know whats the latest year I can go up to in a chevy for spindles can't find anything in the 70s will anything from the 80s work vince

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Post by KManuel » Sun Dec 10, 2006 8:54 am

I've done the swap and double checked the front and back are fully bleed. The back locks up when the front just start to grab. Which proportioning valve works best for this, the adjustible or the a single unit that works both front and back?

Kevin
'66 with 3.5" Duff lift, Disc Brakes, Family roll cage, 4X4X2 power steering, T/A 470 and maybe OBA.

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Post by 68bank_bstr » Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:22 pm

I have a dana 30, did the swap with no problems.
I went to NAPA for the hub and rotor ($39each), autozone for the calipers ($18.99each), bearings, seals, and pads. i spent just under $250 and i upgraded the bake pads and got stainless braided brake hoses(ebay). I went to the junk yard and got the spindles and backing plates for $20.
The only issue i had was that my 15 inch wheel was a little too small and it rubbed the caliper mounting bracket. i grinded it down so it will work but it is still pretty tight.
if its running, i'm broke

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disc brakes

Post by striperk » Sat Jan 06, 2007 7:43 am

ya i got my hub and rotor from jbg all ready to go found some spindles out of a 85 blazer total was around 275.00 would have been a little cheaper but didn't have any calapers cores to return

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Post by Hyenuf » Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:31 pm

I realize this is an old thread but, It's new to me..... and I've now been inspired to do the chebby conversion ..... I'll keep ya posted.. I'm going to do it on a dana 30 (Oh man.. I can hear you laughing from here... creepy :mrgreen: )

Thanks for the great info here!!
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Post by efibroncoman » Tue Oct 02, 2007 5:46 pm

I have been trying to hunt down all the parts and I notice that a lot of people refer to the Chevy spindles as either big bearing or small bearing. What is the difference and which ones do I need to use 76-79 Ford hubs and rotors?
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302 w/Ford EFI, C4, Dana 20. With 26,000 original miles
Soon to be repainted bright red, with 5.5" lift and 35" Krawler tires with family rollcage and soft top.

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Post by PacifiQ » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:16 pm

great info but I can't manage to view the images in this thread. any help would be greatly appreciated

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Re: New Shoes for Alice - Chevy Disk Brake Conversion

Post by bradform » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:12 pm

I'm having the same issue as PacfiQ. Pictures won't show on this post for some reason. All it shows is an icon with the word "image". I've cleared cookies and ran incognito mode already. Also, it appears to be doing this in Chrome and Internet Explorer. Any ideas?

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