Hydraulic Brakes

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    We are helping a friend restore his 1934 model 840A. We want to install hydraulic brakes and stay with the stock wheels and tires. Has anyone done such a conversion and if so, can you share some tips on how you did it, humps you had to jump, etc??

    Our initial thought is to replace the rod operated brake “spreaders”” with modern hydraulic wheel brake cylinders mounted to the backing plate. This would entail some custom cutting at the bottom of the brake shoe to accommodate the hydraulic cylinder’s push rods. The issue of adjustability is still open!!”


    My advice is “Don’t do it”. Assuming that the original power brake mechanism is still part of the car, you already have the best brakes you can have. It’s only a matter of setting them up correctly. With these brakes you can easily lock up all four wheels.

    There are several service bulletins on how to adjust the brake unit.



    You’ll be sorry!My 1934 836A(5,000 lb. land yacht)out-stops my

    1937 Studebaker State President(4,000 lb Pierce-Arrow impersonator),

    by a mile.The Studebaker,a wonderful driving car(independent front

    suspension based on their Indy race car,stock overdrive,first year

    tubular shocks(like modern ones),variable -ratio steering for easier

    parking and a 90+ top speed(a ’39 Cad I had at 16 topped out at 82mph),

    has hydraulic brakes.They were completely gone through about 6 years

    ago at great expense.I’m always fighting moisture in the lines and a

    proper adjustment.The Pierce hasn’t been worked on for a decade or two.

    Works fine.I also have a ’35 that’s heavier and it brakes similar to

    the ’34.With mechanicals I always have brakes even if something goes




    I agree, don’t do it, I had a 1934 that I restored, and all I had to do was clean up the system and make sure all the linkages were free, and the brakes were fantastic. That said, the comment about “stay with the stock wheels and tires” has me thinking that maybe this is a hot rod in the making, and the original engine and transmission have been replaced with something new. In that case, you don’t have brakes, and some conversion is necessary. Also, in that case, you might not have full cooperation on this forum. All conjecture, so I’ll ask, why do you want to even consider changing what is, arguably, one of the best period braking systems available? David Coco


    You would be making a big mistake. The system you have is as good or better than most existing brakes today.Rebuild what you have correctly and you will be surprised. I emphasize CORRECTLY. The lining material for the power brake clutch is critical.


    Leo, I agree that the lining is critical, but the first thing that they need to determine is if the lining is bad at all. The ’34 sedan that I did long ago (early 80’s)was a fairly low mileage car (50K or so) that I fully restored, but the braking system only needed cleanup, the original lining was fine. And, as mentioned, it would stop the car incredibly fast. The only heart stopper is when the car is barely moving, and the lag between hitting the brake pedal and actuation gets interesting…best- David C.


    See the Dec 13 topic by Scott Dwyer titled “MECHANICAL BRAKES”.

    If you wanted to you could adjust these brakes to lock up at 60 mph!

    Fix them, don’t replace the system unless the car has already been ruined.

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