This submission comes from Mark Dinzebach, who once suffered the failure of his single reservoir brake system.
"If it happens once you won't want it to happen again. It happened in 1976 and it seems like yesterday. I had a rear wheel cylinder blow and didn't have time for the E-brake. I drove up on the curb and used a bench at a bus stop for brakes. It worked with minor damage, but I sure don't want to do it again. I've used a dual reservoir system since then. Luckily, no one was waiting for a bus at the time."
I have been told for years that to have power brakes in an early model Falcon, a single reservoir master cylinder had to be used. If I wanted a dual reservoir master cylinder for safety, I could not use a power booster. I could have one or the other, but not both on the same car.
I have came up with a way to have both without cutting the cowl brace or doing irreversible damage to the car. As an added benefit, this conversion does away with the troublesome pressure activated brake light switch on '60-'64 cars.
The secret is a Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift booster and master cylinder. These parts look remarkably similar to stock Falcon parts, fit well on a Falcon, and preform flawlessly. They are readably available, and they are cheap to buy.
Another benefit is that they use 3/16" brake line, the same size that is on the Falcon. I have put together a list of required parts and instructions for this conversion.
This swap can be done in an afternoon for under $50.00, and will make a dramatic difference it the way your brakes feel. I have Granada disks on my '64 Ranchero; the pedal effort required to stop my truck is now comparable to a new vehicle.
PARTS AND SUPPLIES
Brake booster/master cylinder from '89-'94 Geo Metro or Suzuki Swift.
Make sure to get the pin that attaches the booster to the pedal and the nuts that mount the booster to the fire wall. Also get the foam gasket that is on the fire wall. Trace this onto a piece of poster board to make a template for installing.
Auto Parts Store:
- (1) 3/16"x 2" cotter pin
- 2 feet of 3/8" vacuum hose
- (1) stop lamp switch ( Standard Ignition Part # SLS66)
- For '60-'64 cars: (1) male and one female "bullet style" wire connector
- For '65 cars: (2) male "spade" connectors
- (2) 3/8" x 1 1/4" bolts
- (12) 5/16" flat washers
- (1) 8" piece of 3/16" steel brake line
- (1) 3/16" brake line coupler
- 1 pint of brake fluid
- Disconnect battery.
I know, everything starts out this way and usually for no reason. This time there is a reason.
- Remove hood and left hood hinge. '60-'63 with prop rod may be able to leave hinge in place.
(Ed note: some have reported that hood removal is not necessary)
- Remove brake pedal. You probably needed to lube the pivot anyway.
- Disconnect brake lines from junction at master cylinder. Remove the master cylinder.
Install the two bolts that you bought in the holes where the master cylinder was. Loosen the two bolts that are above the master cylinder mounting holes. Give them a sharp rap with a hammer to loosen the spring clip type nuts that they are screwed into. Remove these bolts and the nuts that are inside of the car.
- '60-'64 connect the two green wires together that were on the brake light switch.
I cut and soldered them. '65 can disregard this step.
- Tape template to fire wall, upper holes in template line up with upper holes on fire wall.
Drill two 3/8" holes at bottom of template. Remove metal from fire wall that is in center hole of template. This should be about 3/4" of metal.
- Remove master cylinder from booster. Remove reservoir from master cylinder by pushing out rollpin.
- Hold booster up to fire wall. It should sit at a slight upward angle because of the two bolts that are in the old master cylinder holes.
Figure out how many 5/16" washers are needed on the lower studs to hold the booster off of these bolts. I used 6 on each lower stud, this will vary as it depends on the thickness of the washers that you bought.
On the inside of car, trim enough metal from the pedal support to allow the lower nuts to fit. When you get the spacing right, bolt the booster to the fire wall.
- While the Geo master cylinder is still off of the car, screw the piece
off 3/16" brake line into the front port that points up. Bend the line to
the right and then under the master cylinder so that it points to the left
side of the car. Attach the coupling to the free end of the line. Remove
the line and set aside for the moment. It is much easier to bend this line
while the master cylinder is still off of the car.
- Install the master cylinder to the booster. Attach the line that comes from the right front wheel of the car to the front, side port. There is enough line on the car to do this if you bend carefully.
Install the line you made and attach this to the line that comes from the left front wheel.
Attach the remaining line that runs to the rear of the car to the rear port in the master cylinder. Set the reservoir in place and use the 3/16" cotter pin to hold it in place. You may have to indent the edge of the cowl brace slightly with a hammer. It doesn't need to move very far and is not noticeable when you are done.
(Ed note: some have reported that denting is not necessary)
There are two wires that come out of the Geo reservoir that worked a low fluid light. They can be cut off or left on.
- Remove the pin on the brake pedal that the old push rod connected to. This can be easily done by grinding the back of the pin flush with the pedal, and using a drift punch to drive it out.
Remove the rubber bumper at the top of the pedal. Temporarily install the pedal. Mark the hole where the rod attaches.
Remove the pedal and drill a 7/16" hole in this location. The hole should be about 3/4" below the hole that the pin was removed from.
Install the pedal and connect the new push rod with the pin from the Geo.
- '60-'64 Reconnect the battery. The brake lamps should be on. Find the dark green wire where the wires exit the steering column. Disconnect this
wire and the brake lamps will go off.
Crimp the "bullet" connectors on the Ford truck pigtail. Plug the pigtail into the green wire that you disconnected. Plug the stop light switch into the pigtail. The lights should now be on.
Test the switch by pushing the button. The lights should go on and off. Install the switch into the hole that the rubber bumper was removed from. Adjust the two nuts until the lights are off.
On '65 crimp the "spade" connectors onto the pigtail. Plug these wires into the plug that was on the old brake light switch. Everything else installs the same as the early cars.
- Bleed the brake system now. It's a lot easier to do it with the hood off.
- Connect the vacuum hose to an unused port on the engine and to the booster. Reinstall the hood hinge and hood.
- Take it for a test drive.
This swap is such an improvement over the old system that it takes a little getting used to. The Falcon did not use a proportioning valve and I don't see the need to use one with this setup.
My car stops very evenly, when I try to lock the wheels they all lock at the same time. I have tested this on wet roads and snow and ice covered roads. I have no problem with premature wheel lockup.
This conversion may not be for every one, but anyone that drives their Falcon on a regular basis should consider it for safety reasons.
If you have ever had the old style single reservoir system fail, you know why I did this.
-- Mark Dinzebach
I have not performed this swap. Please direct all technical questions to Mark. Do not attempt this work unless you are 100% confident in your abilities. Several members of the FDG have performed this swap with great success and praise. If you have performed this swap and would like to have your name listed here, please contact me.