65 Fury Poor Drum Power Brakes

65furyous

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Got a 1965 Sport Fury with power brakes, 2 3/4" x 11" fronts, 2 1/2" x 11" rears. Just got the car, trying to make it road-safe. Runs fine (383, 4bbl, 3spd) but boy, oh boy, she doesn't wanna stop. I've flushed the brake fluids thru all 4 corners, bled the lines, and replaced front shoes/springs/hardware, all made almost zero difference. After about 10 minutes of driving (very curvy/hilly where I live, on the brakes quite a bit), the brakes totally fade. At a stop, on a downward hill, the car will literally creep forward, scary as hell. Front shoes from RockAuto, I'm sure all Chinese crap. Rears looks fine, left them alone. Not a drum brake guy, I have no idea where to start. Just disc swap and be done with it? Spend time trying to make the factory drums works? Any advice is extremely appreciated.
 

CBODY67

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In the mean time, what brand of brake shoes did you get? Sometimes, no matter of where the linings were made, some can be harder than others, as a friend in another forum discovered with his '55 Buick. One name brand didn't stop the car, but the other name brand did, was his experience.

Obviously, the power disc brake conversion is where you might end up, but just to get the car working well enough to reliably and safely drive, when those drum brakes were new, they'd lock-up all four wheels in a panic stop, by observation. But your deal is more fade than not, which is what "2" gear is for in hilly areas.

Is the power brake booster working well?

Just curious,
CBODY67
 

65furyous

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CENTRIC 11103370 Made almost zero difference to the "stock" configuration that scared the living baJesus outta me a month ago. Took her out for her maiden "longer" drive, about 12 miles, and scared the hell outta me. The new parts made almost no difference. No leaks, new fluid, good bleed. I put the pedal to the floor and nothing comes close to locking up. It's just been so long since I've worked on old iron, I'm confused. Am I just expecting a 56 y/o car with drums to work like a modern-day car? But, tell ya what, I need brakes to work way better than this.

No leaks, good steel lines, could it be the brake hoses? They're obviously rubber, could they be expanding under pressure, taking away the braking pressure to the wheel cylinder? That's about the only thing I can think of.

I am planning a full disc conversion, but wanted to wait till next winter, and just get her road-safe to enjoy this summer.
 
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68 4spd Fury

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If you're doing the disc swap I'd say just go ahead. You could be chasing this for awhile. Besides what you mentioned about the hoses, the drums could have been turned beyond the limits not allowing full contact, one or more wheel cylinder pistons could be stuck, possibly even the master, (I assume still the single?). Probably don't want to spend effort and money on parts that will end up being tossed when you do the disc conversion.
 

65furyous

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If you're doing the disc swap I'd say just go ahead. You could be chasing this for awhile. Besides what you mentioned about the hoses, the drums could have been turned beyond the limits not allowing full contact, one or more wheel cylinder pistons could be stuck, possibly even the master, (I assume still the single?). Probably don't want to spend effort and money on parts that will end up being tossed when you do the disc conversion.
That's exactly the conclusion I was coming to. I keep buying parts, chasing my tail, and nothing improves. I know I'm doing the disc conversion anyway, might as well pull the trigger. Was just hoping to replace a few simple parts, wham-bam, decent brakes, and learn something about drum brakes in the process. But I totally agree with you.
 

68 4spd Fury

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When I got my car it was a survivor and I wanted to keep it that way. It had manual drums and I ended up changing almost everything from the pedal on down, (the car had around 30k on it in the 40 years the previous owner had it, so allot of sitting was involved). If I had it to do again, I'd do the disc swap.
 

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That's exactly the conclusion I was coming to. I keep buying parts, chasing my tail, and nothing improves. I know I'm doing the disc conversion anyway, might as well pull the trigger. Was just hoping to replace a few simple parts, wham-bam, decent brakes, and learn something about drum brakes in the process. But I totally agree with you.
 

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Only other suggestion I would make is to make sure you properly adjust the brake shoes at all four corners. You should adjust them just to the point where the shoes are dragging a little against the drums.
 

Ross Wooldridge

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Your shoes may need to be arced to fit the drums - an old school practice that is often not even considered today. Your symptoms sound like the issue.

If the shoes are not properly fit to the drums, you may be operating on a contact area that is a small fraction of the required area. Arcing is a process where material is ground off the shoes to permit true full contact over the curve. Anything less and braking capability is greatly reduced, and fade is heightened.

Regardless, even properly fit drum brakes are known for bad fade after a few hard applications, so a disc upgrade is recommended.

In the mean time, or if you choose to stick with the drums, Craig @mobileparts will have the correct shoes.

Your booster needs to be up to the task too, so it's worth checking out.
 

65GUS

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i run 4 wheel drum brakes on my 65 also, can anybody recommend a high quality shoe manufacturer for a 4 drum non power brake set up ??
 

CBODY67

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As for the "modern car" performance expectations . . . you also have to remember that modern cars are not designed to lock-up the brakes, not just from an ABS situation, but from some other evolutionary design changes. Like more of a frontal bias in the brake pressures, as I recall. Lining composition is probably another.

Back in the 1960s era when just a toe was needed to stop the car, GMs tended to be more sensitive in that area than Chryslers usually were, but there was still enough power to lock the wheels, all four in many cases, although the road tests noted the rh rr wheel was mostly a Chrysler trait of the time, it seems.

Back then, the "best" brake job would include turning the drums to a smooth surface and then usually "grinding" the shoes to match (arcing them). Most of the name brand shoes stated they had enough "meat" to do that with their shoes. BUT we never had or needed to get that done on the many drum brake shoe replacements we had done back then (usually by the good mechanic at the Gulf Station where we bought gas for years. It was presumed that other locations did similar (no arcing). Nor did anybody really have the machine to do it, by observation. BUT we always knew to not get into a situation where we needed to make a panic stop a (good practice anyway) for several days. If there might have been some mis-match of the diameters, it all worked itself out before long, I suspected.

Granted, in N TX, there are not a lot of "tall hills", but a good number of curvy country roads, so constant brake use does not usually happen. It was easy to see who might be "riding the brakes" as the brake lights were always on, too. BUT, with a then-70mph speed limit, high-speed Interstates and some great state highways were the norm. A good driver could see what was coming and slow down before it happened, usually.

When we got out '69 Chevy pickup, when new, it had poorer brakes than the Chrysler did, by a long shot. I could fade them just by driving a bit more agressively in town, things the Chrysler would never had done. So driving the pickup "easier" was necessary. And this was unloaded! The pickup definitely needed "more brake" than the stock 11x2 power brakes (the seemingly standard size brakes on many larger GM vehicles back then). Can't forget the issue with drum brakes of driving through water, which would wipe-out the braking power of the GM drum brakes (power or not), as Chrylsers just needed a cautionary "ride the brakes lightly" just afterward, from my experiences. Going to front disc brakes was a big improvement in GM brake performance! Although they still had performance issues which the car magazines didn't mention, but I experienced with my then-new "77 Camaro LT.

Now, all of these experiences were BEFORE the feds got involved to put pedal pressure standards on vehicular brake systems and well before "disc brake dust" was an issue in the middle 1970s. Much less anti-lock stuff, which came later.

In the earlier 1960s, I had an aunt and uncle out in West TX that liked to go to Ruidosa, NM to the races. They traded a '59 Impala for a '63 Polara 2-dr hardtop on the recommendations of many of their friends . . . due to the fact you could put the TF in manual "2" and drive through the mountains without using nearly as much brake. Those earlier TFs had a "more direct" torque converter and it would use the engine to control speed rather than just the brakes. They loved the car for that.

Many generations later, now, we are in a disc brake world. Everything which seemed to come before that is now allegedly "junk", although when that was all we had, it was not "junk" by any means, but better than what the competition usually had. The earlier "Total Contact Brakes" was a complicated situation for Chrysler, although it was probably a better design in some aspects. Especially as it had an adjustment and wheel cylinder for EACH brake shoe.

Brake fade was an issue with drum brakes, but apparently not for the full-metallic police-spec brake shoes that Chrysler used back then. Read the article on the CHP tests in the "Squads" section of www.allpar.com, by "Curtis Redgap". But those full-metallic shoes needed heat to operate at their best. As most of the owners of the original '61 Impala SS 409 owners removed then so they could stage the car at drag races (with normal brake shoes).

There seemed to be brake shoe tests of the multitude of brands of brake shoes which were available back then. One test used a '60 Ford Galaxie for its test vehicle, with its 11x3 front brakes. Pictures and data. There was some very bad shoes, back then, as there were some very good ones, too. BTAIM

Sometimes, I wonder how we lived through that time. No seat belts, drum brakes, bias-ply tires, etc. With the only cup holders being on the inside of the glove box door! But many of us did it, so far.

I fully understand the benefits of power disc brakes . . . and have since the middle 1960s. I also understand the magnitude of the conversion process, too. Plus that spending a little bit to get things working well now with the drums can delay the conversion timeframe a bit. ONE thing is to ensure, repeat ENSURE, that the disc brake components are all matched to the vehicle (booster, master cyl, brake calipers, etc.) rather than a more universal-fit situation. A friend in our Mopar club had bought a booster/master cyl for his mid-60s B-body from a well-known speed shop, but now the brake pedal was very sensitive to input, unlike the OEM parts he replaced. He got a more universal pair than one specifically designed for his vehicle from an aftermarket supplier, as it turne out.

I have a friend in Oregon who was doing all of the upgrades to a '56 Buick he inherited, including doing the popular dual-circuit front disc brake upgrade. He got the recommended items, which had to be adapted, including the under-floor master cyl. After trying to make it work, for an extended period of time, he went to the salvage yard and got OEM drum brake parts and now everything works as it should. But that model of GM car has its own issues in many respects, too, which are not really conducive to such an upgrade. BTAIM One observation was that a college prof was mentoring him on the hydraulic issues of different sizes of pistons and such in the disc brake situation, which might have been a contributing factor in trying to get everything matched correctly?

Sorry for the length. Many thoughts and experiences,
CBODY67
 

Dsertdog

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I chased a series of issues that led me to satisfactory power drums.
When I first got our 66 Polara, my mechanic changed out the worn out brake drums and rear shoes and hardware.
The car stopped great but slowly got worse until it became unsafe. Hard pedal and no lockup.
The first issue ended up being a plugged rear brake hose. I could lock things up but stopping was still a challenge.
The 2nd was a combination of a leaking brake booster and a leaking single pot master cylinder, which was bleeding off pressure.
If you haven't changed out the deathtrap single master cylinder for a dual master, I'd highly recommend it. One for a '67 and up Fury is a bolt in. There are several threads in the forum on how to do it. I also recommend you add an adjustable proportioning valve to the rear brakes.
I sent my booster off to Prior Brake in Texas and got it back in a week. It isn't as perty as the ones that Booster Dewey does, but I couldn't wait 4-6 weeks for him to do it.
The car stops almost as good as my wife's '06 R/T, well maybe not that good, but closer than you might think.
 

Sixpactogo

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I suspect your booster is not up to the task. If you want to stay with power drum brakes, I would have the booster rebuilt, swap out the single pot master cylinder to a dual pot cylinder like Dsertdog mentioned. I have power drum brakes on my 65 Sport fury and they work great. Front discs are an improvement but if you do upgrade to discs, your booster will need to be upgraded as well since drum boosters do not provide enough boost for the discs.
 

65furyous

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I suspect your booster is not up to the task. If you want to stay with power drum brakes, I would have the booster rebuilt, swap out the single pot master cylinder to a dual pot cylinder like Dsertdog mentioned. I have power drum brakes on my 65 Sport fury and they work great. Front discs are an improvement but if you do upgrade to discs, your booster will need to be upgraded as well since drum boosters do not provide enough boost for the discs.
Thanks for the reply, very much appreciated. Yes, I suspect the booster also. I ordered a vacuum gauge from Amazon, gonna check the vacuum pressure. My understanding is sitting vacuum should be about 18. Will let you know. Thanks!
 

65furyous

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In the mean time, what brand of brake shoes did you get? Sometimes, no matter of where the linings were made, some can be harder than others, as a friend in another forum discovered with his '55 Buick. One name brand didn't stop the car, but the other name brand did, was his experience.

Obviously, the power disc brake conversion is where you might end up, but just to get the car working well enough to reliably and safely drive, when those drum brakes were new, they'd lock-up all four wheels in a panic stop, by observation. But your deal is more fade than not, which is what "2" gear is for in hilly areas.

Is the power brake booster working well?

Just curious,
CBODY67
I decided to just make the jump and do a full-on disk swap, with new booster, master, proportioning valve etc. for a number of reasons. Not only to upgrade a much more modern and better brake solution, but for looks too. I know some purists try to stick with what's original in the car, including drum brakes, but I'm going down a different path. Thanks!
 
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