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Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:29 am
by DWDuck70
Has anyone changed over their drum brakes to disc. If so, how difficult is it. There are kits, which are readily available to do so just want to see the feelings of the group. This is an original car, but it will also be a driver. Along with that question, one more. The current engine is the 288 (8). If I wanted to upgrade to a 12 volt, the word on the street is that I could put a 55-56 V-8 in the car, with modifications for transmission and rear end for highway driving. Understand I don't want to destroy the character of the car just want to update for use other than shows. Thank you!

Re: Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:33 am
by Dave Czirr
The car as originally configured doesn't limit its use for show only; for use as a touring car, even long distances, none of the modifications are necessary and in fact many club members drive these cars in "as delivered" condition thousands of miles a year on tours. The original brakes, properly installed and maintained, are entirely competent, as it the 6-volt electrical system. Now if you want to install a V8 just to say you have done it, that's another proposition. As you may have already deduced, I'm a purist and once you have made the modifications you're considering, in my view and that of many others, you will own a "mongrel" without much inherent interest to the collector Packard hobby.

But it's your car and your money. I know of at least one person who installed a 55 V8 in a 1954 sedan, apparently it was successful but he has passed away and I don't know any of the details. But I'd suspect you're going to want to go with the beefier rear axle assembly from the V8 donor car.

Re: Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:35 am
by Howard56
There are some kits. I believe Kanter had one and I think Wilwood did too. ABS Power Brake may still offer theirs. ... et032.html.

You might also visit Craig's Panther site and check out his conversion on a 55. The disc brakes are listed under his Panther and then Packard Conversion articles. His was all done from scratch. Yours would be essentially the same process but without the torsion level suspension references. The specific items he listed would not be applicable because of the different size spindles etc on the junior cars but the work is the same.

Re: Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:07 pm
by DWDuck70
Thank you both for your input and ideas concerning these two issues. The car doesn't have power brakes, and has only 55K on the original set up. I am looking at all areas to maintain the car in the most original state that it left the factory. If in the future the brakes needed to be replaced I was going with two options. The original repaired/replaced with like parts ordered through The second option was to go to the newer set up. Frankly, I would rather keep the car as factory released as possible. I have heard stories that the car should not be driven on the interstates. It should not be driven over 60 miles an hour for any length of time without having a fan system in place to cool down the engine. I grew up sitting in the back of these cars as to what is correct or not, it is still an unknown to me. So any and all information as to the driving of the car, around town, on interstates, back roads would be most helpful. I plan on joining the Packard clubs in my state of FL and any other one that can aid me. I love these cars and would be in your debt for any information. As for the V8....I know that the 288 is the smallest engine produced, so again if needed do I rebuild to make it a 12 volt if needed, or replace with a Packard V8 or a straight 8 that has more power to the rear wheels.

Re: Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:38 pm
by Dave Czirr
Your car is not some fragile, primitive vehicle from the 1920s, in good condition it including its the cooling system is more than competent; remember they did have high speed turnpikes in the days of this car so these cars were quite competent for cruising at 60-65 mph and mechanically sound, the still are. Of course one should exercise some judgment driving a 60+ year-old car. Get the car in sound mechanical condition, and just get out and enjoy it and the hobby.

Go to the discussion group on Shows and Events and take a look at the Henry Joy and other driving tours, many of the cars that have participated and driven long distances are pre-war, yours should do the same without even breathing hard.

Re: Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:57 pm
by John Harley

I had a relatively low mileage '51 200 in the '90's for about 3 years. I probably should have kept it They are excellent freeway cars, they just really want to run. They are very light footed and responsive for an American car of the era.

I would take it out on the local interstate to exercise it at 55 mph and it would work itself up to 70 without my noticing it because it was so smooth. It was the speed it wanted to be at. I once drove form northern NewJersey to a car show in Fairfield Connecticut. I was in the left lane all the way up because it was less bother to let it run. I remember passing at least one Porsche that was in the right hand lane.

After I got there there was a self appointed expert explaining to his friend that no one should have an orphan 4 door sedan when one could spend a lot more money a 56 Chevy hardtop. I thought he was pretty hilarious

The seats are very comfortable, the whole experience is like sitting on your living room couch. The brakes when set up they are perfectly fine, you just can't do foolish things as some do with smaller cars with power assisted discs. Acceleration is a little deliberate until about 20 mph.

Attention to maintenance will give you a lovely car

Happy New Year

John Harley

Re: Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:43 am
by DWDuck70
Outstanding. I can't thank everyone enough for your inputs. I am now 100% solid on keeping the car in it's original state. I want to drive the car, have people know what a true car should look like and feel like in all aspect. These cars were the pride of their time and should be highly respected in our time for what they were and still are when driven on the fast pace roads of today. Thanks again!

Re: Replacing Front Brakes to Disc

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:38 am
by Adam
Hi again
I think you have received great advice from John and Dave above. Disc brakes would offer no real advantage over drums, other than the ability to dissipate heat faster. Is that really going to be necessary?

It would be much nicer, in my view, to enjoy the character of the car as the makers intended. Harking back to a bygone era and all that. But as the others have said, these are very capable cars and will mix it with modern traffic without difficulty. Clearly you must drive circumspectly, in deference to the 60 year old car, and the fact that ultimate grip and handling response levels will be less than a modern.

The key thing is to ensure that mechanically, the vehicle is returned to the specification that the makers intended. Particularly for steering , suspension and brakes. But I think you can rest assured that refurbishment of the standard parts will be cheaper and far less problematic than attempting to convert key systems. Please do post as many pictures as you can of the work as it progresses. We love pictures!

One last thing, I fail to see the connection between 12 volt electrics and the V8 engine. Surely it is possible to run the car at either voltage with either engine? But the standard set up is surely best.

Anyway, enough of my rant for now. Looking forward to hearing of your exploits with the car.

Kind regards