Here’s the kit as it comes...
Here’s the kit as it comes straight from LMC Truck. Based on reproduction 1973-79 Ford pickup parts, it’s completely assembled and ready to mate to each axle.
There’s really no excuse to be driving around on today’s highways with 40-plus-year-old drum brakes. I’m sure the design worked fine driving around on the farm or around town at 35 mph, but the majority of our driving duties have changed over the years, as have those around us. In the mid ’60s, most of the cars on the road had drum brakes still and drivers drove their cars accordingly. Today, with most cars featuring advanced braking and suspension designs of some sort, to be the only vehicle on the road with antiquated braking has you at a significant disadvantage.
So then why do it? There are a number of excuses one can come up with when it comes to why they haven’t made the upgrade and you’re likely to hear a comment or two of how “it worked fine back then,” but things change. We don’t shoot rolls of film and type out these stories on typewriters even though that probably worked fine back then, too. Hop on any highway across the country and if you’re not maintaining the minimum speed limit, you’re likely to get run over by an 18-wheeler. Our trucks need to keep up with the changing environment just like everything else. And one of those changes comes by way of upgrades to the suspension and braking system. Safety should be at the forefront of the upgrades that we make. Brakes that fade during heavy use, are susceptible to failure in wet conditions, and have a tendency to pull, lock up, or otherwise react unreliably should be replaced before any aesthetic modifications are made.
And so, that was the logic when I contacted the gang over at LMC Truck to talk about brake upgrades for ’69 Ford trucks. Our buddy Danny Valenzuela’s been driving his ’69 Ford F-100 across the Los Angeles basin for the past year or so commuting to work, running errands, and picking up his daughter from school. We got to talking about some of the upgrades he wanted to make to his pickup and we both decided that the brakes should be the first on that list. With LMC Truck’s kit in hand, we got Danny to swing the ’69 by the shop so we could bring it up to speed.
To do so requires removing...
To do so requires removing the kingpin assembly for both axles and replacing them with new ones. Thankfully, LMC offers a kingpin kit that consists of new kingpins, bushings, bearings, dust caps, and locking bolts to handle this job.
The install went together pretty smoothly, but there are a few things that should be pointed out that I didn’t take into consideration beforehand. One, assume that the axles are going to need to be removed from the truck to press out the kingpins. Doing so requires, for all intents and purposes, the removal of the entire front suspension. Take the time and replace all the bushings while you’ve got these things disassembled. I didn’t and wish I had, although the truck will be getting lowered at some point in time, so we’ll be revisiting the components sooner than later. Two, check out the steering components as well so that you can replace those while you’re at it. Worn tie rods, whether on the center link, drag link, or the inner tie rod, should be replaced; now is the time. Lastly, if you’re truck is as greasy and grimy as Danny’s, do yourself a favor and hit it with some degreaser and a pressure washer, you’ll be thanking yourself later.
While the Ford twin I-beam design with its kingpins does involve a bit of extra labor when compared to a similar brake swap on a Chevy truck, we had the truck up and running, bled and all, in two days’ time. That makes for a perfect weekend upgrade to that daily driver you’ve been putting off.
A new dual master cylinder...
A new dual master cylinder is necessary when swapping from a fourwheel
drum brake system to facilitate the higher pressures required
from a disc brake application. For our setup, we’ll be using a manual,
non-boosted master cylinder.
A proportioning valve is also...
A proportioning valve is also necessary to maintain proper front to
rear brake bias when using disc brakes up front and drum brakes
out back. This controls the line pressure between the front and rear
brakes to prevent premature rear wheel lockup.
The stock drum brake,
The stock drum brake,
though fairly beefy with its
brake shoes, has a number
of drawbacks. Bad
susceptibility for brake
fade under heavy braking,
and unreliable stopping
power all make a drumbrake
system a good
candidate for an upgrade
Of course, the first step...
Of course, the first step in upgrading from drums to discs is to remove
the drum brake components themselves. Starting with the spindle
nut, first the drum is removed, followed by the four fasteners that
attach the backing plate to the spindle. The steering arm attaches to
the spindle using the lower two backing-plate fasteners so this can be
disconnected at this time as well.
Next, we’ll work on removing...
Next, we’ll work on removing the kingpins which hold the spindle to
each axle. First the dust caps are removed…
…followed by the locking bolt....
…followed by the locking bolt. The locking bolt serves two purposes.
One is to keep the kingpin from falling out the bottom of the axle boss.