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Thread: Aluminum Drum Upgrade on 55 Buick Special Need A lot of questions answered PLEASE

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    Aluminum Drum Upgrade on 55 Buick Special Need A lot of questions answered PLEASE

    I have a 55 Buick Special with Treadle Vac that needs the brake system worked on and upgraded. The car was absolutely terrifying to drive, I posted a few times and most guys recommended going with the big Aluminum drums. Now between this site and just searching on google Im only slightly confused. The biggest problem is some of the posts are so old guys were pulling these parts off of cars in the junkyard, unfortunately I don't have that luxury. I finally saved up some money to get this car built and I just found a set of 69-70 drums on eBay and bought them. I read on THE HAMB where another guy said he had to take the backing plates from the car he removed the aluminum drums from and drill holes in his 55 backing plate to let you install the self adjusters? But he said since he made all 4 wheels self adjust he has a higher and more responsive brake pedal. Do I have to buy these backing plates to use as a template? Ive read so many different things when it comes to the hubs and wheel bearings, can I reuse my hub in the new aluminum drums or do I have to use the later hub? If I do what wheel bearings do I use. What are the best shoes to get for the drums and where do I find them? Is it worth getting big aluminum drums on the rear also? I was thinking of putting the old cast front drums on the rear for wider shoes?

    The last part is something I stumbled on to and its an experiment I honestly dont know if it works. But I read the manual brake pedal is 6:1 ratio, a 7" dual diaphragm booster will fit under my car, and only needs 4:1. I ordered the Pedal yesterday from a junk yard in the midwest. Unfortunately the dont have the pivot for it, so Im hoping I can reuse mine. I also got a manual master just to look at and the rod has a loop like a normal power brake booster. Did I possibly figure out a way to get a modern power brake booster and master cylinder on this car?

    HERE ARE THE DRUMS I BOUGHT
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/182522250200...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT


    HERE IS THE SELF ADJUSTING KIT I WANT TO BUY IT LOOKS LIKE IT DOES ALL 4 WHEELS
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Buick-1963-7...3D171306347428

    NOT SURE ABOUT BACKING PLATES TO USE AS A TEMPLATE BUT HERE IS A PAIR
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1969-1970-Bu...ZUpB7H&vxp=mtr

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    It is not likely that those drums will work on a 55.
    Self adjusting is just a convenience; will not affect brake performance.
    Since the drum will not work, the backing plates won't either.

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    I've used aluminum drums on ALL four wheels of my '55 Special. I had manual brakes back then. They were SO much better I didn't feel a need for power. Of course back then I used the stock master as dual masters hadn't come out yet. So I KNOW it can be done because I did it & I DIDN'T Have to change backing plates & used the self adjusters from the donor car along with the used brake shoes.


    Tom T.
    Tom Telesco
    Classic and Muscle Automotive
    12 Cook St.
    Norwalk, CT 06853-1601
    Day Phone 203-324-6045 ET
    NailHead Mini-Starters '53-'66
    Adjustable Roller Tip Rocker Arms - All NailHeads
    Custom forged pistons
    Front & rear neoprene seals
    Many other "Nail" parts
    "If I can't get it, you don't need it!"

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    Thats great Tom thank you!! I think I actually got the idea from you originally. DO you remember what was involved in actually fitting the drums onto the car? DO I reuse the hubs that were on the 69 drums or do I reuse the hubs from my 55? Also do they still make the right bolts to bolt the hubs to the drums?

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    Quote Originally Posted by telriv View Post
    I've used aluminum drums on ALL four wheels of my '55 Special. I had manual brakes back then. They were SO much better I didn't feel a need for power. Of course back then I used the stock master as dual masters hadn't come out yet. So I KNOW it can be done because I did it & I DIDN'T Have to change backing plates & used the self adjusters from the donor car along with the used brake shoes.


    Tom T.
    Probably use 58 parts, not 69 (too much difference in the hub and spindle)

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    Aluminum Drum Upgrade on 55 Buick Special Need A lot of questions answered PLEASE

    From my experience, the master cylinders on these cars are by far the weakest link. I put all new drums and shoes on my 56, then front disc, then rear disc too, and only when I finally switched to a modern booster and master cylinder it stopped like it should. And I had a rebuilt factory power brake booster previously, but it just couldn't cut it. I can lock up my tires on the freeway now if I want to.

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    From everything I've read the only difference in the drum itself is just the fin count. I'm guessing they're 69 because the last year is 70, and the last couple years they increased the fin count.

    Anyway I've been reading and reading for days on end. It seems like all that has to be done is this.....

    Take the hubs out of the original cast drums and put the hubs in the aluminum drums. The catch is I need to make sure the bolt holes in the drums are the right size for the wheel bolts if not they have to be drilled out. Also there is no guide pin for putting the wheel on. One guy said he made his own and just drilled and mounted it. Another guy came up with an interesting idea that worked. He drilled the hubs out and pressed in studs. I'm not sure what the best idea would be. What do you guys think?

    Next only one guy had the problem but he said his hub was a hair to big to fit in the drum so he had it machined to fit. Seems simple enough.

    The groove in the back of the drum is slightly taller and rubs the backing plate so you need to trim that. I did that once on a brake lathe so I know it's not hard.

    Also the hub has to be bolted to the drum, that's the only thing I've never had to do before. What do you guys use?

    After that there is one hole that has to be added to allow you to use automatic brake adjusters. Use 58 and up shoes and hardware and it's good to go.

    If anyone has done it let me know if I missed something.

    The drums showed up last night and they look awesome! I'm pretty excited to do this. I'm probably going to tow the car to my house this week and start taking it apart.

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    I DIDN'T change the hubs at all. I used the aluminum drums as they were on the front. The inner bearing race, which is also the seal hub, needs to be cut to distance the drum out far enough for clearance & to give a sealing area for the front wheel grease seal. I used the newer roller bearings & NOT the '55 ball bearings. I used a piece of aluminum to space the original wheel cylinder out half the additional width of the newer, wider brake shoes. I believe was 1/8th. inch. for the fronts on my '55 Special. The ONLY machining done was the inner bearing race & cutting the extra hole in the original backing plate for the adjuster.
    If you use the aluminum drums & wider shoes in the rear it will take a 1/4 inch spacer.
    For the most part EVERYTHING was somewhat of a bolt-in.


    Tom T.
    Tom Telesco
    Classic and Muscle Automotive
    12 Cook St.
    Norwalk, CT 06853-1601
    Day Phone 203-324-6045 ET
    NailHead Mini-Starters '53-'66
    Adjustable Roller Tip Rocker Arms - All NailHeads
    Custom forged pistons
    Front & rear neoprene seals
    Many other "Nail" parts
    "If I can't get it, you don't need it!"

  9. #9
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    Before I waste $200 at the junk yard do I need Roadmaster backing plates to handle the 2 1/2 inch shoes? The brake area in my drum measures 2 3/4 so it should handle 2 1/2.

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