There's "old-school engineering" as in the way trucks came equipped from the factory over 50 years ago, and then there's '80s old-school in the vein of classic trucks customized to conform to the latest in '80s technology trends. In the 21st century, the task of upgrading with the right products and getting them to work in the right way on a truck outfitted with '80s trends is not all that hard-provided one knows the right places to look.
A prime example to illustrate a classic '80s-style chassis configuration is the '56 Ford F-100 rolling chassis I picked up for $800 from a guy who had moved on to what I believe is the ultimate solution when it comes to upgrading a classic truck: buying a brand-new frame with 21st century technology from one of today's custom chassis builders.
That said, not everyone has the money or time to uproot their '53-56 F-100's body, pluck the frame out from underneath it, and then go to town. Returning the focus to my chassis, it's a good case in point because the modifications were all done in the '80s and then the truck was hardly driven. A quick glance at the suspension and brakes, and it's easy to find room for improvement in the way things were engineered back when whoever it was set it up. At the heart of the brake's hydraulics, the original '56 Ford single master cylinder is still in place, which presents two potential problems. The first is: If there is a failure in a single system, there will be a complete loss of hydraulic pressure-whereas a dual master cylinder will retain half of its braking capabilities. The second problem, and it can be equally disastrous when it comes to the truck's ability to stop, is that disc brakes require a greater storage capacity (more volume) for brake fluid than drum brakes. The fact that this is a four-wheel disc brake system makes the possibility of a brake fluid-related failure with this chassis' brake setup twice as likely.
Digging deeper into the braking setup on this particular chassis, another potential problem is the use of rear disc brake calipers of an almost equal size to the Volare disc brakes up front. The odds are good that the rears will lock up as soon as any kind of demand is placed on them, but that's a problem we'll deal with in an upcoming issue. In this first installment, our focus is on eliminating the stock, un-boosted single master cylinder with the stock clutch and brake pedal assembly, and replacing it with Classic Performance Products' dual master cylinder/power-brake booster kit, in conjunction with Classic Performance Products' '53-56 F-100 clutch-pedal eliminator kit.