1965 Impala SS Front Disc Brake Conversion - Impala Tech
Brakes & Suspension Conversion Questions & more

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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-14-2013, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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1965 Impala SS Front Disc Brake Conversion

Hello,

I'm looking to have a front disc brake conversion kit installed on my 1965 Impala SS. I was looking into the Classic Performance Products (CPP) kit, but when I called and mentioned I had the factory drum brake wheels, I was told I would need to get different wheels. I called around to other manufacturers and was told the same. One told me that it's because the brake and caliper wouldn't clear the rim.
I want to retain the SS hubcaps that are on the current 14" wheel. I did some research and found that later models had disc brakes offered. Does anyone know of a 14" wheel that I can use to install disc brakes with and keep my SS hubcaps?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-14-2013, 02:51 PM
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I'm going the same route and in the end, I ended up purchasing different wheels/tires along with the brakes. I was unable to find anything for my 66 that would fit inside my 14" cragars. I made it count by going the big brake kit route, Good luck.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-14-2013, 04:40 PM
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Welcome to the Team Juan!

The only 14" inch wheels that will clear a stock single caliper GM caliper on an 11" rotor where used on a Nova, Camaro or a Chevelle. These are all steel 14 by 6 or 14 by 7 inch wheels with neutral back spacing and five lug on 4-3/4 inch bolt circles. These wheels are rare and expensive. They will also tear up your tires when they are being mounted by a tire machine operated by a minimum wage teen age temp worker as there isn't a bead well for the tire bead to drop into. Here is what the difference in the wheels looks like:

http://i51.photobucket.com/albums/f3...z/P1000912.jpg

All disc brake equipped big cars came with 15 inch wheels (usually Corvette Rally wheels) because the brakes that Chevrolet used on your car (1965-'70) from the factory came off of a Corvette and used a Girling four piston brake caliper.

If you want to use the CPP single piston GM caliper brakes off of a mid eighties A or G-body car (intermediate sized not designed for a full sized car) then you will need to find a 14 flat bottom steel wheel or a 14" Rally wheel for a disc brake Camaro or Chevelle from 1969-'74 that wasn't a Z/28 or SS as they all used 15 inch wheels starting in 1969.

If you don't want to spend the rest of your lkife looking on e-Bay for these wheels this company finds and resells them:

http://www.classicchambered.com/classic/wheels.html

Big Dave
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-14-2013, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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Thanks Big Dave!

What are your thoughts on using a wheel spacer to get the clearance for the brake and calipers?

I am only looking to get the front brakes upgraded, but would I still have to install the spacers on the back as well?

Here is an example of the spacer I am talking about. I'm not sure if it's the correct one for the wheels I have on, it's just for example. It would add 2" to the wheel spacing.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/5x4-75-to-5x...c7b56e&vxp=mtr
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-14-2013, 10:55 PM
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JJP92, I am willing to bet that the wheels advertised as being 14" wheels to fit disc brakes will NOT fit on a stock B body disc brake setup. They will fit Camaro, Chevelle and Nova which have smaller brakes. Make sure you get a "money cheerfully refunded if they don't fit guarantee" if you spend money buying wheels that are advertised as fitting on a disc brake Impala.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
 
 
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Darth, I looked into what you were talking about. Thanks for the heads up! Alot of the 14" disc brake wheels were for smaller vehicles. I was, however, able to find this wheel on Eckler's (link below). The only thing that I am noticing is that it is a 14x6 wheel whereas the factory wheels are 14X7.75 from the directories I have found online. On a tangent, how do hot rodders do routine tire maintenance (i.e. tire rotation) on cars that have different tire sizes in the front and back? This might be good for me to know in case I do end up with 14" wheels with different widths on the back and front.

http://www.lategreatchevy.com/full-s...1958-1972.html
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 02:03 AM Thread Starter
 
 
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As it stands, I see two options for keeping my factory hubcaps and original look.

1. Wheel spacer - but would I have to space all 4 wheels if I am only upgrading the front brakes?

2. 14" disc brake wheel like the one on Eckler's Late Great Chevy for Impalas. But, how do I maintain the tires (tire rotation) for a vehicle that has different sized tires in the back and front? Do I just swap the driver and passenger side tires on the front and rear?

This is all a long learning process! But assuming everything goes great, it will be helpful for any future projects after I finish college!

Thanks!
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 03:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJP92 View Post

What are your thoughts on using a wheel spacer to get the clearance for the brake and calipers?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/5x4-75-to-5x...c7b56e&vxp=mtr

I do not like wheel spacers (generally used to change the bolt pattern so that you can bolt on some killer wheels you like off of a brand of car that won't normally fit your car; example a set of Mopar Magnum or Ford Shelby wheels). The reason I do not like wheel spacers are two fold; but both reasons are based upon the fact that a wheel spacer changes the track (width) of the car's suspension.

First thing is the added stress placed upon wheel bearings and ball joints because you have increased the length of the lever arm that applies an additional torque on the parts.

The second thing is your steering handling and alignment will be affected by the added track, as you will now magnify any movement about the pivot point of the front end. This will make your steering twitchy wanting to dart one way or the other following every crack in the road.

As to having mismatched tire sizes hot rods have used big and littles since the fifties as a bigger rear tire has been required to obtain enough traction to accelerate the car without slipping the tire. Today's rubber compounds have all but eliminated that issue, but the tradition continues because everybody else is doing it (hearding instinct).

Big Dave
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 05:34 AM
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We usually don't put enough miles on a collector car to rotate the tires. Besides a lot of us run different size tires front to rear.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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Thanks for the help!

After calling around, I think the route I'll be going with is ordering the 14x6 wheels that Eckler's offers designed to clear for disc brakes and the CPP kit. The only thing is that the kit that CPP has that would fit the 14" wheel comes with a 2" drop spindle, which I know looks nice for a car with mag wheels, but I've never seen a car with the factory hubcaps get the front end lowered 2". I'm not sure if it'll look sharp or just outright weird.

What are your thoughts on the drop with factory hubcaps?

I'm also going with the American Classic Wide Whitewall radials (2 1/2") tires. It currently has the 2 1/2" Remington G-78 tires which are in pretty bad shape.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJP92 View Post
Darth, I looked into what you were talking about. Thanks for the heads up! Alot of the 14" disc brake wheels were for smaller vehicles. I was, however, able to find this wheel on Eckler's (link below). The only thing that I am noticing is that it is a 14x6 wheel whereas the factory wheels are 14X7.75 from the directories I have found online. On a tangent, how do hot rodders do routine tire maintenance (i.e. tire rotation) on cars that have different tire sizes in the front and back? This might be good for me to know in case I do end up with 14" wheels with different widths on the back and front.

http://www.lategreatchevy.com/full-s...1958-1972.html
Very cool, wish those would have been around years ago when I put a set of 4 piston disc brakes from a 68 on my 66.

I would still ask when you order to make sure they are stating they fit factory disc brakes, and not just later kits that may use a smaller brake setup. Might as well be safe.

Make sure you test one first thing on the car when you take it out of the box!

And would you report back here once you've done it?
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
 
 
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Darth, definitely will do. I asked them repeatedly about it fitting the kit, and they kept saying it should work as that's what it was designed for. They also said that if it didn't, I could return it within 30 days as long as its in "sellable" condition, i.e. no scratches or dents. I basically have to make sure everything clears without actually bolting it in.

Last edited by JJP92; 08-16-2013 at 01:35 PM.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-21-2013, 11:50 AM
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CPP's basic disc brake kit uses 11" rotors and single piston calipers from 69-72 Chevelle. I have it on my 65 SS. It works well for day to day driving. I upgraded to their slotted, drilled rotors too. I have overheated them running canyons in Malibu, CA. They are not up to snuff for road racing and such.

I thought these were supposed to work with 14 wheels. Oh yeah, the kit I have moved the front wheels 5/8" out on each side. But, they may have made changes since I bought my set up.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-22-2013, 08:49 AM
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-22-2013, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
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I installed their disc brake conversion on a friend's 58 Caddy. The spindle side works good, using 12" 1990 caddy stuff. But, the setup they had to replace the verticle Bendix Treadlevac brake booster/master was complicated and literally came apart three times. I finally made them tow the car there to fix the problems. They had to re-engineer their brackets and such to work correctly. But, the car's owner is still skittish about driving it now. I spent 18 months putting on all the trim, fixing the stock AC, and making it reliable enough to drive daily; but now he has second thoughts. We even talked about putting all the stock drum stuff back on.

In all honesty, I haven't been too happy with CPP lately either. I think their brake conversion is still good, but I would stay away from ball joints and tie rods from them. When I asked if they make their own I got, "Oh no, we use whatever our local supplier sends us." Not confidence inspiring.

I have CPP's tubular A arms up front, but had to replace the ball joints before I even got the car aligned. No complaints on their A arms though.
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 01:10 AM Thread Starter
 
 
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UPDATE:

I purchased the 14" disc brake wheels from Eckler's for the front end and had them powder coated along with the rear wheels to match the car. Got some new American Classic whitewall radials all around. Bought the disc brake conversion kit from CPP using the stock spindle. Not sure if you are familiar with Fast N Loud, but I had Phipps Automotive, sometimes shown on the show, install the brakes. The car stops beautifully!
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 09:03 PM
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I know this is an old thread but has anyone else here done this conversion on an Impala and used 14" stock steel rims?
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth View Post
I know this is an old thread but has anyone else here done this conversion on an Impala and used 14" stock steel rims?
There are no "stock" steel wheels that will clear a disc brake because the caliper will crash into the interior of the wheel. There are as mentioned 1969-'72 Steel wheels used on the Camaro, Nova, and the Chevelle equipped with optional disc brakes that will clear the caliper. The problem with these wheels is that they are rare making them expensive when you do find them. Additionally most people who ordered disc brakes did so on SS model cars which have rally wheels with trim rings or hub caps installed, or on the Chevelle SS five spoke steel wheels, not plane steel wheels, making a plain steel 14 inch disc brake wheel nearly impossible to find.

You could follow Jay leno's lead who had custom off sett billet aluminum 17 wheels made for his Torronado to look like the Torronado/El Dorado wheels used with big block TH400 front wheel drive. Or the 18" inch steel wheel with custom Buick full wheel covers made to up grade his aunt's Buick that he lived out of when he first came to L.A. If you want that stock look all it takes is a lot of money. just depends upon how bad you want that look.

Big Dave
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-15-2015, 11:27 PM
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Ok, I need to word that differently, is there anyone who has put on one of these kits and used it with stock steel wheels from a 14" disc brake equipped car, such as a Camaro, Nova or Chevelle?

I have a set of these disc brake steel wheels but I don't want to buy a kit only to find out it still won't work with my wheels. They will NOT clear the stock 67-69 Impala disc brake setups but I am hoping they will clear this aftermarket Impala disc brake setup.

I have no interest in anything but 14" stock steel wheels that allow me to run my stock wheel covers. Jay Leno and I have nothing in common.
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 07:43 AM
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The 1967-68 disc brake option used the four piston Girlling caliper off of the Corvette with a special one off wheel hub. From 1969-'71 the factory changed from the expensive Girlling brake system when they made a special set of calipers and thicker rotors that where larger than those used on the smaller cars because they didn't know if the bigger car would stop safely with the smaller caliper and were afraid to risk it. Once the single caliper disc brake system introduced across the GM line in 1969 had been out for a few years GM felt the risk to their profits would be low enough to substitute the smaller brake caliper and rotor used on their lighter cars on the Impala. It was done to reduce the number of parts in inventory to save money. By 1972 all of GM's sportier cars where using 15 inch wheels if they had disc brakes installed. My mom's 1968 Caprice came with disc brakes and 15 inch Corvette Rally style wheels.

Big Dave
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post #21 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 06:49 PM
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Years ago I had another 66 that I put a 68 disc setup onto and I was always sorry there was no 14" wheel that fit which would have allowed me to keep my car looking original.

I'm not making that mistake this time. I'll drive it with drum brakes before I convert to 15" wheels. I drove my 427 4 speed drum braked B body for almost 9 years in the 80's and somehow survived.
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post #22 of 26 (permalink) Old 10-16-2015, 07:53 PM
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Drum brakes are better than disc brakes. You don't need a power assist to hold your foot on the brake pedal as drum brakes are self activating. It takes a strong spring to pull them off the drum once they have stopped as the bind up.

The only problem with a drum brake is they are lighter than a disk brake. Sounds like a good thing with less un-sprung weight, but brakes work by friction converting mechanical energy into heat and with less mass they are not as good at absorbing heat as a big heavy rotor. If you look at a pick-up truck the disc brake caliper is basically the same, only the rotor is thicker by an eighth of an inch so there is more metal there to heat up. It is a disc brake's rotors ability to absorb a lot of heat as well as radiate that heat by way of a greater surface area that allows a disc brake car to stop repeatedly from a high speed without fading. After getting as thick as a truck brake, the Corvette started growing the rotor in diameter as well to include even more metal in the heat sink. So in brakes bigger is better.

The factory went to disc brakes not because they were better (they were originally sold with out power assist and did customers ever complain). They sold disc brakes on cars because they are cheaper to make and cheaper to install on the assembly line. The reason only the Corvette came with four wheel disc brakes for the longest time was because there has to be a tiny drum brake inside the rotor hub to allow for an emergency brake and a parking brake. Newer cars have a second mechanically operated caliper attached to the axle to act as an e-brake and parking brake, but because there is no power assist and they have to be constantly adjusted to account for wear they rarely ever work after the first 10,000 miles or so.

On my Camaros and Novas that I used to build as street cars that could compete in a drag race or a road race competitively I used the larger 11 inch rear drums in place of the factory supplied 9 inch drums. (GM rear axle flanges on cars all share the same bolt pattern so any car brake can be bolted on in place of any other). With the Impala the larger rear drums off of a pick-up truck won't work on an Impala because heavier trucks use a live axle (that big hub you see sticking out of the wheel on circle track race cars) and generally six or more wheel studs. So that trick won't work for you.

You can go wider if not larger in diameter so you can order the rear brakes off of a station wagon or cop car (that is why in parts books all parts have a disclaimer saying non-police or wagon because the parts are different on those vehicles). Also older cars before computer designed parts where built bigger because there was more of a safety factor built in. So old Buick brakes that had aluminum fined steel drums where wider than newer drums. But you have to buy the backing plates as well and I don't think they are reproduced.

Big Dave
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post #23 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2018, 10:32 AM
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Big Dave is correct. The drum brakes ARE better ...unless your Impala is a road race car, which it probably isn't.
I speak from experience. I did the front disc conversion from CPP on my '64 only to find out that each wheel was now moved out about 5/8". Not much? Wrong. The additional track width upset the steering geometry enough to significantly increase the turning radius AND tire scrub when making tighter turns AND the stopping itself wasn't one bit better. In fact, I noticed a slight increase in pedal pressure to get the same braking as with the OEM drums. The only advantage to converting to discs is that it is easier to replace disc brake pads than it is to replace drum brake shoes.
The whole experience was a total waste of money and time. After living with the conversion for a couple of years, I finally reinstalled the power drum brakes and was surprised(reminded) of how well they worked and how well the car(once again) tracked and steered.
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post #24 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2018, 03:06 PM
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From personal experience if you do any real world driving drum brakes are not better. on my 67 I installed CPP 0 offset disc brake conversion and the car stops MUCH better, also the brakes don't get hot and loose stopping power after you brake once. Trying to stop a behemoth of a car with drum brakes was ok once, but the drums would get hot especially going down hill, and it was scary cause drum brakes would barely grip.

To be able to run 14's and hubcaps I've bought G body 14" wheels for $50 each on ebay, 6mm spacer $19 for 2 and they clear just fine.

CPP 0 offset kit doesn't push the wheels out at all and it comes with longer studs so 6mm spacer is not a problem.



Last edited by 67SS; 05-31-2019 at 07:08 PM.
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post #25 of 26 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 01:14 PM
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Can you please post the part/kit numbers? I'd like to do the same setup


THX!
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