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Brakes, Suspension & Steering Conversion questions & more.

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  #1  
Old Nov 3rd, 05, 8:55 PM
Derek69SS Derek69SS is offline
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Default Disc Brake Conversion basics

What's Stopping You? -Disc Brake Tech -by Derek Kiefer

The options are nearly endless for adapting disc brakes to the front of your Chevelle or El Camino. Much consideration must be given to your budget, your intentions for how you’ll use the car, and of course your safety when dealing with your brakes. Most of our Chevelles would have came from the factory with drum brakes, with the exception of some ‘67-72s that had optional discs and all ‘69-72 SS cars, which came standard with discs. Many of them have been converted, either using original parts, kits, or some of the other popular swaps. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully this information will help you decide which setup is right for your car. The most important part of this is choosing your spindles.

Stock Disc Spindles: GM was good at making things interchangeable, and the front spindles were no exception. There are several cars you can look for when searching for these spindles, and they are a direct swap onto any ’64-72 Chevelle. You can find them on 67-72 GM A-bodies (Chevelle, Monte Carlo, El Camino, Skylark, GS, LeMans, GTO, Cutlass, 442). They were also used on GM’s 67-69 F-body (Camaro, Firebird) and ‘68-74 X-body (Nova, Omega, Ventura, Apollo). 1967 was the first year for the factory disc brakes, and along with the ‘68s, they used the very rare four-piston calipers. These are very expensive to rebuild, and are worth much more to someone looking for “correct” 67-68 discs than to anyone just looking to stop well. For this reason, it is recommended to use the ‘69 and later single-piston calipers. The 11” discs are sufficient for stopping your Chevelle for ordinary type driving, but they will get hot and fade quickly if you do any road-course racing.

Stock Drum Spindles: These are good for more than just scrap iron, so don’t throw them out just yet. With a little machining, you can bolt the stock disc caliper brackets on them, and “convert” them to disc spindles for about $80 if you can do the machine-work yourself. The drum spindles are also very popular for modifying to fit 12” C4 and 13” C5 Corvette brakes. There is some minor machining to be done on the upper bolt boss, custom caliper brackets need to be fabricated, and the Corvette rotors slip on over the drum brake hubs. Access to a machine-shop is helpful, but there have been many “do-it-yourself’ers” who have made their own brackets using 5/16” thick flat steel.

S-10 and G-body Spindles: The brakes from 2-wheel-drive S-10s and S-15s and the G-bodies (Monte Carlo, Malibu, Regal, etc.) of the 80s are somewhat popular for converting drum brake Chevelles to discs. They are basically a direct swap, except for the lower ball-joint, which requires machining to fit the Chevelle lower A-arms. This swap is not recommended for heavy street-use, because the rotors are only 10” diameter. This is not sufficient to safely stop your heavy Chevelle in traffic. The drag racers like this swap, because the small rotors are light, and reduce rotating mass. Drag racing doesn’t require heavy braking, so this is fine for this purpose. The conversion is simple, as you simply use the ball-joints, calipers, rotors, and tie-rod ends from the donor-car.

“Tall” Spindles: This topic always creates controversy. Some guys love them, and others equate them to the anti-christ. There are positives and negatives, but overall it’s an affordable mild performance upgrade, with parts that are easy to find. The positive aspects of this spindle come from the option of upgrading to 12” rotors, and it’s height, which changes the geometry favorably by increasing negative camber gains in compression, giving the tires more bite to the pavement. The stock Chevelle spindles are 2” shorter, and actually create positive camber in compression, causing only the outer edge of the tire to bite the pavement. The negative effects from this spindle are spawned entirely from the steering arm location, which creates bump-steer issues much worse than the stock spindles. The length of the steering arm will also make your turning radius wider, and slow your turning ratio. These spindles will lower your car about 3/4” from stock, and widen your track-width, so larger backspacing wheels may be needed for fender clearance. Aftermarket upper control arms, or offset cross-shafts will be necessary for a proper alignment. The offset shafts are much cheaper, but some people have clearance issues with them, especially on big-block ‘64-67 Chevelles with headers.

The choices for donors of “tall” spindles are determined by what size brakes you want, 11” or 12”. The ‘73-77 Chevelles have a tall spindle that uses an 11” brake with a 4-3/4” bolt circle. ‘77-’90 Caprice (civilian) sedans also had 11” rotors and 4-3/4” bolt circle, however the ‘77-90 Caprice police-package cars and station wagons, and all ‘91-96 caprices used 12” rotors and a 5” bolt circle. To adapt to a 4-3/4” bolt-circle, you can use the 1LE police package ‘89 Camaro rotors. The ‘77 model year spindles will not work because the outer bearing was smaller, and will not fit with the 1LE rotors, and the late-95 and all 96 spindles have a 5/8” lower ball-joint rather than a 9/16”, so for this swap it is recommended that you use ‘78-94 Caprice 12” brake spindles. If you are doing this swap, it’s worth the extra money to upgrade to the 12” rotors because their larger size allows them to absorb more heat, the increased surface area helps to dissipate the heat more quickly, and the extra leverage allows more stopping power with less effort. The 12” B-body brakes are the largest brakes that will fit inside a 15” wheel. To adapt the B-body spindles, you use the B-body calipers, bearings, and ball-joints, G-body tie-rod ends, and the Camaro 1LE rotors. The lower ball joints need to be machined to fit the chevelle arms. The wheel studs are metric, so metric lug-nuts, or changing the studs will be necessary.

Aftermarket Spindles: There are several companies selling replacement OEM style spindles, and 2” drop spindles. There are also a few companies with better options in the works. Fatman Fabrications (www.fatmanfab.com) is working on a 2” drop “Tall” spindle that uses the stock Chevelle steering arms, so you get the advantages of both the stock steering geometry, and the improved camber-curve of the tall-spindles. ATS (www.t56kit.com) is making an aluminum spindle that uses C5 corvette hubs, with optimized geometry similar to the Fatman spindles. Both of these new spindles are currently in the engineering and testing phase, and have not been released for sale at this time. [They will be available very soon -DK 11/03/05]

Tall Ball-Joints: While using your short OEM spindles, adding Howe Precision “tall” ball-joints from Savitske Classic & Custom (www.scandc.com), will effectively add height to the spindle. You can run tall uppers for slight improvements, or tall upper and lowers for more dramatic improvements. You will achieve all the benefits of the tall spindles with none of the drawbacks, and your options for adapting larger Corvette brakes still apply. When using the lower tall ball joints, you will lower your car 3/4” and decrease bump-steer.

I’m no brake expert, most of this information was researched here while I changed my plan daily, and had to keep researching new options. I have officially decided to use OEM spindles, with stock 11” brakes, until my budget allows for 17” wheels to clear the C5 13” Corvette brakes I really want.
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  #2  
Old Dec 7th, 05, 3:51 PM
Derek69SS Derek69SS is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

12/10/05 - Fatman Fabrications Tall drop spindles are now available.
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  #3  
Old May 18th, 06, 2:51 PM
zman1969 zman1969 is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

ATS spindles are also available i have my set in my hands allready - nice quality too! and accept C5 12.7" brake rotors and calipers
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  #4  
Old Oct 13th, 06, 3:10 PM
66Malibooty 66Malibooty is offline
 
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

I've had Superior Spindle 2" drop spinddles on my 66 chevelle for a year or two, and am very happy with them. it's a nice heavy duty casting with mounting points cast in for wilwood 4 piston calipers. the machine work was very precise - i didn't need any of the adjustment shims for the calipers on either side. the only problem i had was with the spindle casting interfering with the brake pads. if you were to dry fit the caliper and try to slide the pads in, it's easy to see where the corner of the backing plate of the pad hits the spindle. probably the best thing to to would be to demel off a 16th of the spindle, but since the calipers were already loctited, torqued, saftey wired, and on the car, i just dremeled off the corner of the backing plate. of course, i'll have to do this every time i want to switch pads, so modifying the spindle is probably the better choice. anyway, i'm happy with their product, and no, i'm not affiliated with them.
http://www.superiorspindles.com/
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  #5  
Old Feb 8th, 07, 2:01 AM
TIRE FRYER TIRE FRYER is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

do you guys think the 2 piece construction of the ATS spindle may pose a flexing problem??
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  #6  
Old Feb 19th, 07, 5:27 PM
Thad Thad is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

Good post, I can see why it was given a sticky status.

I rebuilt the front suspention on my 68 Chevelle in 1998, using stock moog bits, and poly bushing new springs KYB gasadjust shocks, and larger sway bar.
Even had the A-arms powder coated.

But last year I spent most of my "Chevelle time" sorting out issues on my 72.
When I did get the 68 out of the garage I noticed the braking performace seems to have suffered the inactive time.

The front brakes consists of the factory 2 piston calipers, stock master cylinder, booster, stainless braded lines, and summit sourced cross drilled rotors.

So I'm currently thinking about a new brake system, and possibly stepping up to tubular uppers.

I'm really thinking about trying for well past stock capabilities, and trying to improve steering reponse as well.

The tall spindle set up above is appealing because it consists of what should be fairly readily available parts.

In my stash of future upgrades I've got a stock reman "quick ratio" powersteering box, that I hope to use.

Otherwise what specific parts are you using ?

As you can see in the sig pic I'm running 15" TTDs my wife got me for Christmas a few years ago, and wonder if the 12" disc will fit inside those, because I'd rather not replace them.

I've got a wife and two kids, so cost is aways an issue, and so is safety since they'll likely be in the car with me sometimes.
I don't want to spend money on wrong mods.

I can probably start collecting the pieces pretty soon, but want to be sure that I select A-arms that will complement the tall spindles, and not lessen what should be a much quicker ratio steering box than the stocker thats on there now.

Another point is I would want this to be a bolt together in a weekend deal.
I've had projects linger too long in the past, and want to minimize "down time".
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  #7  
Old Mar 7th, 07, 9:12 PM
Teetoe_Jones Teetoe_Jones is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

Quote:
Originally Posted by TIRE FRYER View Post
do you guys think the 2 piece construction of the ATS spindle may pose a flexing problem??
Our spindles are not 2 piece construction. They are a solid forging of 6061-T6 aluminum, and they are at least 30% stronger than the OEM C5/C6 Corvette pressure cast A356 aluminum spindles. Our spindles held 12x the load they were deisgned for, and have ZERO flex in them.

Tyler
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  #8  
Old Mar 16th, 07, 12:06 AM
Grumpy 427 Grumpy 427 is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

So it looks like 4 wheel power drum brakes. Too much hassle to change over to discs?
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  #9  
Old May 24th, 07, 11:31 PM
dryups dryups is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

So...if I Read Correctly, The 74 Camaro Spindles Wont Work On My 70 Chevelle?!
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  #10  
Old May 24th, 07, 11:47 PM
Derek69SS Derek69SS is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

Quote:
Originally Posted by dryups View Post
So...if I Read Correctly, The 74 Camaro Spindles Wont Work On My 70 Chevelle?!
Not directly, they fall under the "Tall Spindle" category... you'll need aftermarket (expensive) upper A-arms, and have bumpsteer problems with that swap.
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  #11  
Old May 24th, 07, 11:57 PM
dryups dryups is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

Hey thanx Derek. That saved me some time not having to mess with parts I dont need. Dennis
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  #12  
Old Aug 10th, 07, 5:24 PM
68TOM 68TOM is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

Hi Derek,

I have read that I can't use my stock 14" rims for my 68 if I convert to the disc brakes.
Is this true or is there another solution.

Thanks,

Tom
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  #13  
Old Aug 10th, 07, 5:32 PM
Derek69SS Derek69SS is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

That depends on the wheel, some 14s fit and some don't.

Do you know anybody local with disc-brake car you can test fit your wheel on?
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  #14  
Old Aug 11th, 07, 3:29 PM
68TOM 68TOM is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

I dont have any one I can try that with. The car does have the original rims on it.
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  #15  
Old Oct 3rd, 07, 8:14 PM
70300deluxe 70300deluxe is offline
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Default Re: Disc Brake Conversion basics

how about a 78 pontiac catalina( basically 78 impala?)
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