looking for advice

Tie rods, steering box, drag link, alignment.
What tires fit, brands, sizes, beadlocks, etc.

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bowe
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looking for advice

Post by bowe » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:03 pm

I just started my bronco project with a pretty rust free and machanicly sound 75. And was looking into the first of several upgrades. First power brake conversion kit and a power steering conversion kit. Is it worth it with stock drums or a waste of time? Also I was just planning on moving the shifter to the floor and keep the three speed how will the three speed hold up at 55? Thanks any input would help I seem to be on the fence.

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Post by DirtDonk » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:26 pm

Hey bowe, welcome. I've got a few ideas for you, but on my way out to take my dad to a doc visit, so will give you the condensed version and come back later.

The 3-speed is fine at any mph you're comfortable at in a Bronco. It's the same tranny used in lots of old Fords and is very reliable and smooth shifting. If lacking in resonable ratios that is. I hate the 3-speeds just because mine never had the right ratio for what I wanted. But it's a very good trans.
Just sold mine recently for $75 with 175k on the clock, with a rebuild (by me) about 35k or so ago. Not bad.

While I won't say that it's exactly a "waste" to do the power without the discs, I prefer doing the discs first, then power if you need it. It's just that the discs are so much more easy to service and reliable in their braking performance to ignore.
I NEVER had an issue with my drums under normal circumstances, but the one time I needed them going down a long downhill highway into Death Valley (appropriate name, eh?) and they failed me completely, I went disc and never looked back. And still running them in manual mode in fact.

So that's my recommendation. Unless your drums are brand new and you don't want to waste a perfectly good bunch of parts, go with the disc first, then the power. Even if the current stuff is new in fact, maybe sell it to someone who wants to do a resto or is not ready to do the disc swap, and then do the disc swap yourself.

Back in a bit.

Paul
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

bowe
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Post by bowe » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:22 pm

Thanks for the input. Any help is appreciated since this is my first bronco and it seems a lot of you guys really know your rigs.any thoughts on roll cages my bronco came with a hard top and no cage and was looking to put one in.

Stephen H. Hall
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Post by Stephen H. Hall » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:16 pm

I recently started to rebuild the front drums on my 71. After factoring in cost, effort and effectiveness I went ahead and started the disc conversion using a 79 bronco front end. Still don't know how it'll turn out but most new owners seem to do a disc brake upgrade before other mods and improvement. I'll let ya know how it turns out. :)

Heath

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Post by DirtDonk » Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:35 pm

My first words to first-time EB (early bronco) owners is usually: "You have no idea what you're getting yourself into!"
He says, smiling. More like no idea how much fun you're in for. But they are fun, and can be a challenge too. So the interpretation is entirely up to the owner.

Sounds like you've both got good starting points. Especially since you say yours is pretty rust-free bowe. That's a huge deal! And '75's are good years too. Lots of good stuff on them.
Back to the brakes, I'm still on the side of discs. Glad you decided to go that way Stephen. Like I said, the drums can work well. In my case I think it was because I'm a born tinkerer, and messed with them constantly. So they were always in good shape, always adjusted perfectly, always had good parts thrown at them. and always stopped well with a good pedal.
All it took was that one instance though, and I was on the disc-highway.

I went with the Ford stuff too. But the GM stuff is a good deal as well. It's what you find if you're into junkyard digging, and what we sell as kits through all the vendors usually. Both work well.

Between disc and power drum, bang for the buck is close to a toss-up I think. But performance-wise, it still goes all to the discs. More even stopping, self-adjusting, much less time to service, and just plane stronger when it comes to stopping in different conditions.
Most of us that have dealt with Broncos for all these years feel that the drums, though adequate, were slightly under-sized for their application. They worked, but ran out of steam too quickly.

So while power is good, discs are better. Then in the end, you can have both.
You'll benefit either way though bowe, so use your own best judgement. I just think the disc will be the better first choice.

Either one is a good excuse to re-pack and properly adjust your front wheel bearings. It's shocking how often even pros don't do it right. When I bought mine it looked like the bearing adjusting and lock nuts had been torqued with a screwdriver!
If you haven't done so already, both of you should have hub-nut wrenches/hub sockets/whatever you call it, in your tool box. And a torque wrench.

And sorry to go on so, but since you both are working on recently acquired Broncos (you too Stephen?) it's a good time to guarantee that all the fluids have been changed. Also shocking is how many PO's thought that gear oil never had to be changed, wheel bearings never had to be changed, and any number of other things didn't need regular maintenance.
Rear wheel bearings are only good for 90 to 100 thousand miles. Period.
If yours have more than 100k on them, or you don't know how many miles are on them, it's cheap insurance (expensive, but cheap insurance) to just change them now.
Better that than to see your rear wheel passing you on the freeway!

It's a very robust design, but it's a heavy truck too. And the stock ones were lubed-for-life so just need to be replaced, or at least checked, at usual intervals.
I'd never heard any of that, but when doing rear brakes one day noticed a funny sound coming from my axle when I wiggled it. Turns out that at about 90k miles, my rears were toast.
Generally speaking they don't fail until 120k or more, but they're often beyond their useful life by 100k. Mine were.
What a difference when I put the new ones in! I actually had to put my foot on the brakes at stop lights to keep from rolling. Before, they bearings were so stiff the truck didn't need to be held. If that tells you anything.

Anyway, enough of the preaching. I just like to do it anytime I hear the words "I just bought an EB" so that I don't hear any other horror stories.

Enjoy.

Paul
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

Stephen H. Hall
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Post by Stephen H. Hall » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:45 pm

I've had 2 for a couple of years but just got one running. My 74 has the paint and body done but I've not started anything on it yet. For some reason im drawn to my 71 rust bucket beauty and I just rebuilt the transmission and transfer case myself thanks to guys like you! Finally got it up and running, tagged it and drove it for the first time last week. Rode fine, shifted fine etc. she just didn't want to stop. :) So the brake saga began. So even though I've owned a cpl for a cpl years I'm still VERY green. All in all I've probably only logged 2 hours behind the wheel of a bronco. (2 hours of pure bliss). I bought the hub socket yesterday. :). Waiting on parts to finish out the brakes. So.... I say keep preaching. We'll keep listening! Thanks.

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Post by bowe » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:10 pm

Thanks for the input. I'm sure these are only the first of many questions. :)

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Post by lca'73 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:51 am

...I prefer doing the discs first, then power if you need it.
So after a new wire harness, brakes will be next on my list. I definitely plan on going disc (will most likely buy a kit) and was originally planning on doing power also, but I'm seeing here that you suggest disc first and power later. Also, a local previous EB owner said that he knew a few people who said the power made them too sensitive especially for a front heavy truck.

Opinions, likes/dislikes of power brakes?
Last edited by lca'73 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: looking for advice

Post by wesnjusa » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:22 am

bowe wrote:I just started my bronco project with a pretty rust free and machanicly sound 75. And was looking into the first of several upgrades. First power brake conversion kit and a power steering conversion kit. Is it worth it with stock drums or a waste of time? Also I was just planning on moving the shifter to the floor and keep the three speed how will the three speed hold up at 55? Thanks any input would help I seem to be on the fence.
I ran my drums for years before changing to disks. Check the caliper prices (Ford vs GM) at your local parts counter. I just swapped my GM ('70s Blazer) calipers for $16 each + core. The disks themselves don't cost much more. Custom brackets designs are easy to find on the web. Don't forget about the e-brake, I don't have one yet. The power brakes don't offer much peddle but I don't find it to sensitive.

The first time I changed the wheel bearings on my '68 they had leather seals. I also had to clean all of the gunk out of the axle housings. That took a bit of time and work.
'68 408 stroker, 4r70w, Atlas 4SP, 3.5"LT, 3" BL, ARB's F&R, D60 35spline, D44 30spline, 4:88, disk brakes F&R, 37" Goodyear MT/R

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Post by DirtDonk » Sat Aug 24, 2013 11:04 pm

I actually like the way the manual disc brakes feel lca. I don't ever intend to go power. At least not unless I have to for some reason.

One reason to do one first then the other is to just keep it simple and not have the Bronco down for longer than necessary. That's important on a daily driver, but not so much on a long-term project.
Another reason is to keep the number of possible issues to a minimum. It's amazing how many issues can crop up even with a "simple" brake system upgrade. Having fewer to check just makes it that much quicker to narrow down.
The last would be I guess the same thing that has kept me from making the system more complex than needed. You might actually like the manual brakes and think they have enough power without being twitchy.
I don't think that most power systems are that twitchy anyway, but like you've heard already, they "can be" to some.

So in many ways it makes sense to brake up the two categories and work with one at a time. But if you just want to get it done and think you're eventually going with power anyway, go ahead and do them both at the same time. If you were running larger tires, I'd say that power would be more important. But with modest size tires, you might be surprised at how well they work.
Not a ton more powerful than drums, but way more consistent and plenty strong for most.

Paul
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

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Post by lca'73 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:53 pm

DirtDonk wrote:One reason to do one first then the other is to just keep it simple and not have the Bronco down for longer than necessary.
That's a good point. While I do plan on putting some modern conveniences on the truck, like power doors and locks, I can still get in and drive it if those break. The brakes are a different story. Not to mention I may save myself some time and money by only doing disc. So that's where I'll start.

Thanks!

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Post by DirtDonk » Tue Aug 27, 2013 4:42 pm

I did the Ford brake swap (vs the more common GM swap) and even had a nice solid firm pedal feel after the swap. I was kind of surprised at that bit, but overall it's worked very well for me.
The only other change I made not long after that, was to add a slightly larger wheel slave cylinder to the rear brakes. I don't remember the size exactly, but it was just barely larger than stock.

My thinking was that I would more closely balance the fluid flow needs of the two systems. Given that a disc brake caliper's piston requires more fluid volume to move the same distance, I thought it made sense.
But it was probably totally unnecessary as the braking feel was already very good. I didn't notice any real difference, but I do like the way my rears lock up just a breath before the fronts. I know they say that the fronts should lock up first, but in my case I just happen to prefer the rears first. As long as they're not WAYYYYYY first!

Overall, the balance and power are fine. I'm sure that power would be nice, but it was never needed on my part. Now that I'm old and all weak-kneed though, maybe I'll go power someday.
But I sure do like having full braking power with the engine off!

Paul
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

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Post by mikee » Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:33 pm

I agree with the no power needed. I did the kit swap,didn't change the master,just pulled the residual valve(or what ever it's called). My drums stopped fine there was just that uneasy feeling they were going to pull to one side or the other when I hit them hard. With the discs it stops straight everytime.
I can't remember half the shit I've forgotten.

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Post by lca'73 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:02 am

mikee wrote: there was just that uneasy feeling they were going to pull to one side or the other when I hit them hard. With the discs it stops straight everytime.
Oh there's definitely no hard stopping in this truck. I've learned to stay way behind any car in front of me and simply take my foot off the gas to start slowing down well before I ever hit the brake. I hit the brakes pretty good the first time I drove it and learned very quickly to never do that again.

I would have done the brakes first if it hadn't been for the electrical issues. Brakes get done in October and I can't wait!

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Post by Stock 68 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:24 am

I have two pretty stock rigs with drums and it ain't that bad imo. Manual steering, on the other hand, can be a workout.
Y'all are a buncha modifiers

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Post by DirtDonk » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:02 pm

I'm pretty sure the only reason my drums stopped reasonably consistently was because I was tweaking their adjustment about every other week!
I was a total tinkerer (was lots of fun actually) back then and they almost always needed some tweakage to stop straight. And because I remembered the first time we hit the brakes hard.

I still have a vivid mental image of that first time. We were on our way to do the Rubicon with the three Broncos in the group (before I got mine) and heading up the last bit of Grant Line/White Rock roads outside of Sac and missed our turnoff to go to Hwy 50.
Every body realized it at the same time, got on the radios and said "STOP" and we had three EB's going in three different directions, in three different attitudes (pilots would call them "pitch", "yaw" and "roll" I think!) known as bob-and-weave and spin!
All the time with three sets of Armstrong Tru-Trac tires whomping their unique sound effects and leaving a cloud of smoke across road and field.

So like you lca, they learned quickly to NOT hit the brakes hard at 45 mph! Took us 5 minutes to stop laughing, pick up anything that flew out the door openings and get back on the road.
Too bad there was no such thing as a GoPro back then.

Paul
Last edited by DirtDonk on Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

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Post by Stan » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:25 pm

Sounds like good times Paul :) I remember similar events that included recent mud hole and river crossings - but sometimes the "Panic Stop" didn't work - you just kept on rolling. :lol:
Like DirtDonk ; my drum/drum brakes usually stopped straight - but I also tweaked/adjusted on mine frequently.
I went to disk fronts when I started towing my little travel trailer ; even though it has electric brakes.
No power assist on it or on our '76 - maybe some day but I doubt it - just my 2.5 cents - { minimum wage just went up :) }
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Post by Stock 68 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:52 pm

Gumby pulls under hard braking (I havent investigated yet). I've owned Pokey for about 6 years and done nothing to the brakes- no pull at all. Of course, Pokey is bone stock unmolested and Gumby's been messed with by some electrical wizard.

You would be amazed at how well a bone stock Bronco behaves on the road. Its fun as hell to drive.
Y'all are a buncha modifiers

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Post by DirtDonk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:18 pm

Stock 68 wrote:...You would be amazed at how well a bone stock Bronco behaves on the road. Its fun as hell to drive.
You've got that right! Man, I remember those days.
And the turning radius! Holy cow, it'd be enough to make you laugh out loud, (uh, I mean "LOL") every time you turned around a narrow street that would make motorcycle riders cringe.

To turn that wheel and have the truck just keep turning tighter and tighter. Boy, it's almost enough to make you want a stock Bronco.
Only thing more laughable was doing the same thing in a Bronco II. You'd swear it would just turn in on itself!

Enjoy that stock one for sure.

Paul
'71 Bronco - 302 4v
3.5" WH/Skyjacker Lift
33 x 11.50 x15 Thornbirds on 15x7 Enkei's
Kayline soft top
Hanson bumpers
Dual batteries, Large 1G alt.

WWW.WILDHORSES4X4.COM :mrgreen:

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Post by 73orangewhitebronco » Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:53 pm

As to the brake set up, my son's bronco has manual drum brakes. My former bronco had power disc brakes. My current bronco has power drum brakes. Of the three set ups, I prefer the power drum. It has a good feel and is easy to brake. The power disc brakes were very aggressive. A little brake went a long way. Manual disc brakes (which I haven't had) might be good too. I like to feel the braking rather than have it be too much. Just my two cents worth...

Don
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Post by lca'73 » Tue Sep 03, 2013 8:48 pm

Paul your story is too funny!! Just glad you walked away laughing!

Really appreciate all the input. Thanks, Don for the comparison. Helps to hear that.

Stock 68...you are SOOOO right about the power steering! My husband loves to laugh at me when we first get going and I'm using all of my weight to get turned in the right direction. No wonder my steering wheel is cracked! Between that and using it as leverage to pull against when I'm trying to stop, I'm shocked I even have a functioning steering wheel anymore. Oh and by the way...love your bronco names.

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