One of the least attractive things about old trucks is their brakes-or lack thereof. It's no secret either, but most of these trucks weren't designed to blast down the freeway with little Hondas piloted by clueless drivers stopping at will on a dime in front of them. They were made to haul stuff around the farm or jobsite, and they did that just fine for many years ... but it's time for a bit of evolution!
Many of us classic truckers don't have the big budgets the street rod and muscle car folks have, and we'd bet there are more than a few '55-59 Chevy truck owners out there with stock brakes and an I-beam under the nose of their favorite truck. Last month we showed you how to lower your '55-59 Chevy the budget-minded "low-tech" way with a dropped axle and without cutting your frame. This month we are following that up with a six-lug, 12-inch disc brake upgrade from Classic Performance Products (CPP) using your stock 1/2-ton 'beam spindles. This can be done with or without the dropped axle, but it should be done in conjunction with the installation of a dual-reservoir master cylinder that CPP can also provide-we just don't have enough space to outline that here.
To help keep costs down for you do-it-yourselfers, CPP's kit uses the stock hubs, which get some refurbishing before accepting the new 12-inch disc brake rotor. This would also be an ideal time to upgrade the antique wheel bearings in your hubs while they're apart, but why, you ask? The OEM wheel bearings were designed for bias-ply tires and lower speeds than we deal with today, plus we have the technology to build better bearings and seals. CPP had a new rubber lip seal made to include with the wheel bearing upgrade kit to replace the old-fashioned felt grease seal for the inner wheel bearing, which just makes sense. Replacing the wheel bearing races takes a bit of work and patience, but is well worth it.
The GM C-10-style full floating calipers provided in the kit are well suited for stopping any old Chevy, but they might interfere with early riveted steel wheels. Later-model 15- and 16-inch steel wheels with welded centers should be fine, but double-check with CPP when ordering. The kit also comes with all necessary hardware, rubber brake lines, caliper brackets, wheel lug studs, and 12-inch rotors that can also be ordered cross-drilled and slotted.
CPP also offers a similar six-lug kit for '47-54 Chevy trucks, and of course they have a knowledgeable staff and tech line should you need any additional help. Call CPP today and get set up to start stopping!
Here's the brunt of CPP's six-lug disc brake kit for '55-59 Chevy trucks using 1/2-ton spi
First things first, we gotta get the old brakes off starting with the drum/hub assembly. I
Now the backing plate can come off. There's no sense in dismantling the brakes before doin
Once the drum is removed from the hub, there are a few rivets that hold basically a dust/g
...These rivets need to be hit with a rubber-backed sanding disc to help show their positi
Using a round punch and a heavy hammer (or a hydraulic press), drive out the rivets. Make