Owning a classic truck can be a dream; stopping a classic truck, on the other hand, can be a nightmare! The '61-71 Dodge sweptlines are no exception. Four-wheel manual drum brakes and panic stops do not make good bed mates; repeated stops and brake fade can make for an interesting commute. If you are driving your truck daily, chances are the thought of "what if" has crossed your mind more than once.
My project '67 D100 needed some serious help. When I purchased the truck, the left front metal brake line was cut in half and folded over to eliminate a wheel cylinder leak. I replaced the wheel cylinder and made a new brake line only to find out that a metal thumbtack had been placed inside the front brake line at the master cylinder to seal off the line. Yes, the truck only had rear brakes! Apparently, that's all you need on a Central California farm. Attending to that "quick fix", bleeding the brakes, and going on a test drive was less than thrilling-it was downright scary. I had to do something to make the truck safer. Dodge never offered disc brakes on the sweptline-era trucks, and up until recently, the only options were to either rebuild your drum brakes as best as possible or swap in an IFs frontend, neither of which I was ready to do.
Enter scarebird. I discovered them on my favorite sweptline Web site, www. sweptline.org. They have come up with a simple solution to swapping disc brakes onto the Dodge straight front axle and managed to keep the cost way down. The kit works on all '61-71 half-ton (5x4 1/2-inch bolt pattern) two-wheel-drive sweptlines and also '59-60 Power Giant era trucks. They even offer kits for other classic cars and trucks. using plentiful offthe- shelf late-model Ford and GM brake components (sorry Mopar purists!), some laser-cut brackets, simple handtools, and a little machine work, you can give your old sweptline some much needed stopping power in a weekend...or longer if you work like me!
There are five major components involved in doing this swap (along with some slight machine work): custom-made caliper brackets from scarebird, '95-97 Crown Victoria front rotors, '88-91 GMC 1500 front calipers and brake hose banjo, '79-82 Chevy G10 van front brake hoses, and a '72-74 Dodge D100 disc/drum truck master cylinder (see sidebar for part numbers). You will also need the hubs machined down to fit inside the rotors (and possibly the lower bracket holes enlarged) as well as re-drilling of the wheel stud holes depending on your choice of wheel studs. Plan on bringing all six of thoseitems (one per side) to the machine shop.
Word of caution! I highly recommend starting with an extra set of hubs and having all the machine work done before tearing the truck apart. The hubs and studs were the biggest challenge in my swap. If I were to do this all over again I would have found a complete front axle and brake assembly, rebuilt the kingpins, added the disc brakes, then swapped the whole shebang in to the truck. Also, make sure the wheels you are using will clear disc brakes-my American Torq-Thrust IIs cleared fine, but some older mag wheels may not. Follow along as we give this old Dodge new life in the brake department.
This is a Dodge. When was the last time you saw a tech article on one of these?
As the saying goes, don't always judge a book by its cover. While the wheels and tires did
...the crusty drum brakes concealed behind the Torq-Thrust IIs weren't up to par when it c