Front disk kit (with booster, dual master cylinder, proportioning valve) for 1966 B/C/E Body Buick (Wildcat, Electra, Riviera)?

I have a 1966 Wildcat (B-Body) with the original drum brakes and "death wish" single reservoir master cylinder. This is my daily driver -- every weekend I drive 2 hours up and down Oregon Cascade Range to go surfing. I don't want to die as of yet -- I need to upgrade the single-reservoir master cylinder. Since I am at it, I am thinking to also upgrade to front brakes to disk to get more consistent braking power.

This is where things get complicated. There are plenty of options for GM A-Body (Special, Skylark) but almost none for the GM B/C (and E)-Body. Basically: Performance Online, JAMCO and Scarebird. Wilwood Classic Series does not fit the 1966 and a custom solution (e.g. CTE/Todd) starts at $2,000 without the line, booster.... that's too much.

Would you please share your conversion kit experience and set up -- including brands and cost?

That would be extremely helpful.
 

exchaoordo

Active Member
With Scarebird you buy the plate and get a list of parts that will work. I priced it all out and bought instead a kit from Performance online because the price worked out about the same and I didn't want to deal with the shopping. I wouldn't recommend them: they not only sent wrong parts but were difficult to deal with, sold me things I didn't need, and, well... wish I had gone with Scarebird.
The thing I learned is that the only thing that you're actually getting that's special is the plate and fitment knowledge so the bearings for the top-hat discs work, etc. With a Wildcat, that shouldn't be hard.
 

oldfoneguy

Active Member
After a near death experience that would have involved an appeared and then suddenly stopped in my lane police crusier I sold my 67 Electra Convertible. I was invested way too deeply in the car already when the limitations of a 5000 pound car with front drum brakes and skinny tires made themselves terrifyingly apparent. So then I did the looking into also.

Quickly the expensive reality showed itself. I was looking at another $2300 (local prices) investment that I didn't want to make. Unless you absolutely love this car like no other and plan on keeping it forever it's just not worth the expense. I could have assembled the kit a little cheaper if I was willing to use junkyard parts but when you're doing a brake upgrade that makes no sense whatsoever.
 
Back in the day the Buick brakes were more than adequate to stop our 4500pd. + - vehicles IF the system is up to snuff to begin with.
As an older stock car racers we preferred the less unsprung weight of the Buick brakes over the discs, made the car handle better.
Go over your system & source QUALITY parts. Do some research. Install a dual master on your original booster & on & on.
One thing I would NOT recommend is Jamco. Did one for a customer & as far as I was concerned it was JUNK. Poorly engineered & NOTHING fit properly.
Just my opinion.

Tom T.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bob

oldfoneguy

Active Member
Back in the day the Buick brakes were more than adequate to stop our 4500pd. + - vehicles IF the system is up to snuff to begin with.
As an older stock car racers we preferred the less unsprung weight of the Buick brakes over the discs, made the car handle better.

Tom T.

Tom when I was a pup back in 1970 3 brothers on my street that I shadowed were hard-core drag racers running a BBC 68 Chevelle. They were of the opinion that disc brakes had drag and preferred the 12" aluminum drums from a big Buick up front because of their light weight good grab and free wheeling.

Sadly today is not 52 years ago. I live about 85 miles east of NYC in suburban sprawl. Driving here is considered a contact sport. When I was in that close call situation I was surrounded by tiny modern cars ALL with 4 wheel disc anti-lock brakes. What saved me is they all stopped so fast while I was 2 foot pumping and leaving skid dashs. I was able to swerve and avoid the officer thankfully. This was a freshly rebuilt brake system all except a recent m/c and original power booster. It was a wake up that this is no environment for driving a gorgeous antique Buick convertible in its original configuration. Sold the car to someone who lives 300+ miles from here. He's deeply in love with it. I now have the car in my avatar as a toy. Modern, safe and fast with amazing 4 wheel disc anti-lock brakes. It's great for dodging potholes and moronic drivers.
 

luckyd

Active Member
I went to Wilwood for my 56 Roadmaster.
Some of the loooonnnnnggg mountain hills we have in British
Columbia convinced me. They supplied the complete kit and
it all worked. Landed in Canada came to just under $1800.00
 

exchaoordo

Active Member
Tom's right except... the car in front of you will have disc brakes and short stopping distances. Scarebird will send you a list of parts. Also, seems to be like one guy, which I like. scarebird@outlook.com
 

Attachments

  • Scarebird KitBUI M12.pdf
    268.4 KB · Views: 3
ALSO, the newer, more modern car will have better, wider tires. Put the same type tires, wider, better on your old car with Buick 12" drum brakes & it WILL stop better with the exception of NO ABS, BUT IF you have any idea of how to drive this shouldn't be a major problem.
Thing is we are being so compulsive with the way newer vehicles drive most have forgotten about the basics.

Tom T.
 

luckyd

Active Member
I agree to a certain extent. We have mountain highways with 8 and 9 percent grade
that run for 15-20 miles. Modern cars have 5,6,8, speed transmissions to help
hold them back. A two speed tranny with a car weighing over 5000 lbs gets the
brakes pretty hot. I grew up driving these big heavy cars , the roads were not
always paved and the speed limits were lower.
The cars were also fairly new.....not 65years old.
 
Two things, slow down, you can also put it into low up to 50MPH. That will retard the speed gains. Read the owners/chassis manual.

Tom T.
 

oldfoneguy

Active Member
ALSO, the newer, more modern car will have better, wider tires. Put the same type tires, wider, better on your old car with Buick 12" drum brakes & it WILL stop better with the exception of NO ABS, BUT IF you have any idea of how to drive this shouldn't be a major problem.
Thing is we are being so compulsive with the way newer vehicles drive most have forgotten about the basics.

Tom I generally agree with you but this is one subject where we part ways. I feel you giving advice such as this is disingenuous. There isn't one automaker in the world that still uses drum brakes except for some offshore companies that put them in the rear on their absolutely smallest cheapest models. We currently live in a world of inattentive self absorbed phone screen staring text messaging morons who if they didn't have anti-lock brakes would wreck their cars daily. Everyone needs to be equipped to deal with the current life situation when stuck behind said morons. Going slower and leaving greater distance isn't an option when the fast and furious moron in a BMW cuts you off by inches and slams on his 4 wheel disc anti-lock brakes or what I hate worse is the lane starts braking and said moron zipps out of the lane without tapping the brake and suddenly you see everyone in front nose dive braking. Good luck with 4 wheel drums.

There's a very good reason for drums disappearing. Ever drive through a deep puddle with drums and realize that the brakes disappeared? Doesn't happen to any significant degree with discs. Drums overheat and fade quicker and easier. Drums need periodic adjustment discs don't. It's difficult to find high quality non-relined shoes. As you know relined shoes don't have as large of a contact patch as new shoes and as drums are cut even more contact area is lost. It's extremely rare to find metallic linings on drum shoes. Nobody can pump their foot as fast or effectively as an anti-lock brake pump can therefore the stopping distances just aren't comparable.
I would really like to see a honest side by side comparison with the same model 60's or 70's cars with the only difference being front discs to front drums.
My list continues but I'll leave it there. Unfortunately most of us don't live in the ideal conditions that you seem to think drums are advantageous in. I can understand being "old school hard-core" and keeping them original but it today's day and age if you can't literally stop on a dime like everyone around you does your suddenly in trouble. Major lesson that stuck my drivers ed teacher gave us some 45 years ago "it isn't how good of a driver you are it's how good everyone around you is."
Also if you recall Charles is talking about a 1966 LeSabre. You may also recall how extremely narrow the wheel wells are on that particular model. Any tire wider than a 70 series would require wheel well modification which is a non starter. By today's standards a 70 series tire is far from wide. Bill
 

MartyET

Member
We are looking for the best place to find a dual master cylinder for a 61 Buick LeSabre? Redoing engine and other things, and single master cylinder is not going to back in, as the reasons you all spoke of. Any suggestions where to look? Thanks for any suggestions
 

oldfoneguy

Active Member
1967 was the first year for dual master cylinder so that's a good place to start. LeSabre Wildcat and Electra should all use the same part number if your keeping the drums in front. You will have to upgrade the brake lines and metering block to be for a dual cylinder as well. You may/ may not have to replace the power booster it's hard to say without having it to look at. Good luck these conversions generally work well.
 

Al's 52

Active Member
Drive a 1999 -2005 Chevy Astrovan at 60mph and the engine quits.......steering in near impossible and with hydro boost power brakes well there is virtually none.
Your emergency brake is all you have.

I own an Astrovan and a 67 Wildcat without power brakes. ....in a given situation with the Astrovan or the Cat engine failure I will take the Wildcat.
 

oldfoneguy

Active Member
I own an Astrovan and a 67 Wildcat without power brakes. ....in a given situation with the Astrovan or the Cat engine failure I will take the Wildcat.

Very simple explanation for your scenario. The Wildcats 4 wheel drums are operated by 4 tiny under 1 inch diameter wheel cylinders. The Astros 2 front wheel discs or after 2003 4 wheel discs are operated by 2+ inch pistons at each wheel position which takes about 60% more pressure to operate. How strong is your leg, is it 60% stronger than when the power assist was working? Ever wonder why power brakes were no longer an opinion in vehicles over 3200 pounds after 1975 when the federal government mandated front disc brakes standard on all US built vehicles.
 

oldfoneguy

Active Member
2001 astro...front power disc drum rears. If you ever drive one you will reconsider your response

Drove a commerical 91 ASTRO as a work van for 3 years. I hated the thing and it damn near killed me twice. The absolutely worst disc/drum brake vehicle I ever drove. The only accidents I've ever been in were with that van and it's total inability to stop. On a clear dry day it was like trying to stop on buttered ice. Oh and a 91 was pre ABS.
 
To change over to a dual system the power brake booster will need to be replaced as part of the original booster is ALSO part of the master.

Tom T.
 
Top