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Disc brake conversion

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easyandy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote easyandy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Disc brake conversion
    Posted: Aug/03/2012 at 8:24pm
Hello out there in AMC land!

I own a 1965 Rambler American 440H. I am looking to put disc brakes on her. I have checked with APD and Galvins and they sell a kit for $800-$1000. I'm thinking I can order new spindles, rotors, calipers, for a later model AMC piecemeal and they should be much cheaper and bolt right up. Any advice for what year/model to look for? I was thinking later 70's Matador or Concord. Also, would I need a differant master cylinder? Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ramblinrev Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/03/2012 at 9:20pm
Search the Forum for "disc brake conversion" using the search box in the upper right of the Forum main page. Many folks have weighed in with good information and experience.

Basically, if you want to use AMC vs. aftermarket, look for the disc set-up from the 79-82 Bendix units from a Spirit or Concord (and perhaps avoid the smaller caliper, 4 cylinder Spirit type), or the Delco units from the '82-83 Concords and Spirits. Components for those two types are readily available and pretty affordable. Both use the same rotors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tomj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/03/2012 at 10:13pm
scarebird.com sells very nice adapters. I just put discs on a 63 American. They use late(r)-model (80s, 90s) parts and are pretty much bolt-on. The current adapter apparently clears lower trunnions (eg pre-64's) that I had to grind for.

The online instructions on scarebird.com suck, but the printed ones in the kit are fine.

Personally I'm finding the AMC stuff to be too hard to find, rotors especially.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jroemer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/05/2012 at 11:03am
Originally posted by tomj tomj wrote:

scarebird.com sells very nice adapters. I just put discs on a 63 American. They use late(r)-model (80s, 90s) parts and are pretty much bolt-on. The current adapter apparently clears lower trunnions (eg pre-64's) that I had to grind for.

The online instructions on scarebird.com suck, but the printed ones in the kit are fine.

Personally I'm finding the AMC stuff to be too hard to find, rotors especially.

Did you have to upgrade to 15" wheels with the scarebird kit ? Jon
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote idrambler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/05/2012 at 12:32pm
I have the Scarebird kit on the front of my 69 AMX running 14 X 7 inch wheels and 235/60-14 tires..
with no problems....I have about 6000 miles on the X since the install.....

I used  ford ranger rotors and gm calipers......
Jim.NAMDRA/AMCRC
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote easyandy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/05/2012 at 7:54pm
Thanks for all the advice everyone! I might just go the scarebird route.  I'm starting on the bodywork now, probably do the brakes in the fall. Will get some pics posted soon!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote javelinman74 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/06/2012 at 8:44am
One more is that we sold a set off the Gremlin to a guy putting them on a 64 Rambler and he confirmed no issues...
Good Luck!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote farna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/07/2012 at 12:28pm
The problem with buying the parts piecemeal is that you don't get the caliper adapter that bolts between the spindle and steering knuckle with AMC factory discs.

ALL of the AMC factory disc brakes will fit ALL AMC models back to the 1950 Nash Rambler (and 1952-57 Nash big cars, 55-57 Hudsons). Anything but the 79-83 disc brakes have rather expensive ($100+) rotors. Get a set with good rotors and you'll be fine -- until the rotors wear out and can't be turned any more. Prices aren't going down for hard to find parts! The last 79-83 rotor I bought cost me $55 about 1.5 years ago.

The current Scarebird kit is the easiest and cheapest way to go. Use your existing hubs and have them turned down to save money. The original drums can be remounted on the turned down rotors if you ever want to go back. The $225 kit has hubs that are ready to go. The hubs are turned down AMC rotors (rotors that were worn out).

----------------------------------

Scarebird has made three different kits:
Type 1 (original - 2006-2008?) - flat bracket that bolted between spindle and steering knuckle like the AMC factory discs. Used a Ford Ranger rotor and a Chevy S-10 truck caliper. A seal adapter was included and an early model Mustang seal was used. The problem with this is that AMC used at least two different spindle thicknesses for drum brakes, plus at least one more for disc.

This kit only bolted on with no mods to V-8 drum cars. Six drum spindles had a thinner base for narrower drums and spacers had to be used to center the caliper. Heck, I might have the spindle thicknesses backwards -- V-8 drum may have been thinner... In that case the spindle would have to be machined thinner. If converting anything but the old Bendix four piston discs (which I *think* used V-8 drum spindles) you'd have to test fit and either space or machine the spindles to center the caliper over the rotor. A big PITA for Scarebird as they would need accurate spindle measurements to make the kit work, and you'd need to measure your spindle before ordering for a direct bolt-on, which is what they would prefer.


Type 2 - (2009-2011?) - Bracket was changed to bolt to the FRONT of the spindle, not behind it. This required a welded bracket, but one kit would fit all. These used a Ranger rotor/Mustang seal/adapter as above, but substituted a Chevy Celebrity caliper for the S-10 caliper so that the caliper would easily center over the rotor.

The problem with this type is that the welds can break. It's rather rare, but some have. I haven't seen an actual AMC bracket break, but Scarebird makes this type for some other cars (Fords being one of them) and I HAVE seen photos on the web of one of them with a broken weld. It was on a big car, a mid 60s Galaxie. The heavier the car (and the harder it's driven) the more strain on a welded bracket.


Type 3 (current) -- Now Scarebird uses a flat bracket that mounts to the front of the spindle -- no welds to break! A 91-97 Toyota Previa van front rotor is used. It's a hat type rotor that slips over the wheel studs like a rear brake drum. The drum is removed from the original AMC hub and the outer diameter of the hub turned down slightly so the Previa rotor will slide over it. Chevy Celebrity calipers are still used. No seal adapters needed, use AMC seal and bearings. Or get teh kit with hubs, or have a set of worn out AMC rotors turned down yourself.

There is some concern over the Previa rotor being discontinued at some point, but they should be available for the next 10-15 years. Can't say that about even the 79-83 AMC rotors! Plus the Previa rotors are like $20 each -- buy some extras and store them if you're that concerned.

----------------------

When talking about the Scarebird setup you might want to ask about how the bracket is made and where it bolts up to get an idea of which one is being used. I used type numbers, but that is not an official Scarebird designation. Any of the three will work well on any AMC, but may require a little grinding (type 2 does, not sure about others) to fit lower trunnion models and may require some spacing or spindle machining (type 1) to fit. It's all very minor modifications, but if you're expecting a direct bolt-on with no mods the latest should fit the bill -- but even it might need some minor clearance grinding for lower trunnion cars.

I don't work for or sell Scarebird parts. I have been a fan and promoter of this conversion ever since it came out though. IMHO it's the best and cheapest way to get disc brakes on your front drum car, and is even a good substitute for factory discs with expensive rotors. To replace those you may need to turn the original rotor bracket around for clearance and leave it in place, or use spacers in place of the bracket, but the current Scarebird kit WILL work.


Edited by farna - Aug/07/2012 at 12:38pm
Frank Swygert

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FuzzFace2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/07/2012 at 5:15pm
Thak you for that post Frank at times reading about the kit I thought I was going crazy - I know some say I am there already Confused - because some of it did not make sense.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote weramble Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug/07/2012 at 8:18pm
The Scarebird version #3 mentioned above actually uses 1985-90 Cadillac Fleetwood calipers and pads now. Check out AMC Scarebird on E-bay. It always makes me laugh with everybody concerned about how long these parts will last. If you are like me, and only drive the car 3 or 4,000 miles a year, buy an extra set of rotors and a few sets of pads and store them when you have an extra few bucks laying around. They will last longer than me or my car is alive.
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