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© 1998-2008 Joe Weaver

 

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Several options for adding power brakes to our Falcons are available. On the low end (desirability low end--not cost low end) is a power booster that was originally offered on the car. It basically added a power booster to the single cylinder master that the cars originally came with. It was a rarely ordered option on Falcons, but provisions were made in the firewall and left shock tower for the large combination to fit. It mounted lower than the original master so as to clear the shock tower brace, and, as a result, the pushrod from the master to the brake pedal was mounted lower on the brake pedal arm. These boosters are available today from several sources. However, you are still left with only a single master cylinder, which, as the saying goes, puts all your eggs in one basket. In addition, quite a bit of modification is required to fit this booster.

When I originally wrote this edition there were only two dual master/power booster combinations that fit our Falcons. One is from a Geo Metro, and the other was offered by a gentleman named Todd Fields. Both these installations will be covered herein. My thanks to Mike Hansen in Illinois for his photos and explanation of the installation of the Geo Metro power booster & master. I installed Todd's setup on my '65 Hardtop. Todd's booster is custom made to fit our Falcons. The master, I understand is GM vintage. The combination seems to fit the '64 & '65 Falcons well.

 

Since this was originally written, I have run across a third booster that is offered by Auto Krafters. Their Part number is: PBCDISCKIT. The price is not cheap, $350. Other Falcon vendors may also carry it so check around. I have not physically handled this booster, but I understand no modifications to the car are necessary at all. However, make sure you check and ask specifically about “bolt-on” compatibility. Below is a photo of this booster from Auto Krafter’s site. As you can see, it looks almost identical to the one covered herein from Todd Fields, so installation should likely be very similar.

Here are my general conclusions (having installed Todd's and only seen the Geo installation in photos and read the instructions on the Falcon Discussion Group). The Geo Metro installation is cheaper if you get parts from a junk yard-type place (if I did this though, I'd at minimum want to put a kit in the master cylinder and overhaul it or get a rebuilt one). Todd's system is not cheap. However, if you get new or rebuilt Geo Metro parts instead of used out of a junk yard, the cost of these two setups would probably be about the same. The Geo Metro installation requires more work; cutting (or serious hammering on) the firewall to shock tower brace to accommodate the master brake fluid reservoir, drilling a new hole in the brake pedal arm for the pushrod to the booster, enlarging the firewall hole, and removing the lower two blind nuts on the brake & clutch pedal support bracket. Todd's installation is less work with no modification to the car except to remove the lower two blind nuts on the brake & clutch pedal support bracket (Todd's system originally required enlarging the hole in the firewall, but since then he has engineered the master so no modification is needed). The pushrod to Todd's booster mounts in the stock place on the brake pedal arm. After installation the Geo Metro setup is easier to service the brake fluid reservoir. Todd's Master is a bit more difficult to add brake fluid (a transmission funnel or a small funnel with some plastic tubing on the end is needed) since the front reservoir is mostly under the shock tower brace. Although it is VERY close, Todd's master clears the shock tower brace with no modification to it (Todd says he's installed 25 to 30 of these units in Falcons and the master varies clearing the brace by 1/8" to 1/4", mine cleared by about 1/8", and it is fairly easy to open the master for servicing). Both of Todd's reservoirs are the same size instead of one being larger for disc brake applications--this is okay, it just requires checking the brake fluid level a bit more often if you have disc brakes. The Geo system, although it is a true dual master cylinder, only has one reservoir. Todd's system has a "light touch" feel when braking (i.e. the brakes require very little foot pressure to stop the car--I like a light touch when it comes to brakes, some like a more firm feel). I've heard the Geo Metro system has a slightly more firm feel (although I've not driven a car with a Geo system in it). Other than removing the two blind nuts, Todd's system is true "bolt on" system, albeit a somewhat costly one. You can install Todd's system on a Saturday if you have the needed parts & tools ahead of time (nuts, bolts, washers, brake lines & fittings, brake fluid, double flaring tool, etc.). I'm not sure of the Geo installation time. The Geo systems has the plumbing outlets on the engine side of the master, I have seen two of Todd's systems, one had the outlets on the engine side, the other on the fender side of the master. All of Todd's masters are brand new now (rather than rebuilt) and I am not sure which side the outlets are on with the new masters. One last consideration is that Todd has an insurance policy on his booster/master combo so if it ever does fail there is insurance to cover repairs. Of course on a Geo Metro booster there would be no insurance. I understand that some insurance companies will not cover a car if it has been modified from original and failure of that modified system is what caused the accident.

The bottom line seems to be thus: The Geo system is less expensive (with used parts from a junk yard) but requires more work and modification (possibly irreversible) to the shock tower brace. Todd's system is more expensive but easier to install, and requires no modification to the car, and it is insured. Take a look below and decide which is the best system for you and your car's needs.

First let's look at the Geo Metro Installation.

(I will use Mike's narrative he sent with the pictures.)

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The Geo Booster/Master is a small but effective unit. It consists of three sections; the booster, the dual master with 13/16" bore, and the fluid reservoir. The brake failure warning light is inside the reservoir instead of the proportioning valve, that is why there is a plug coming off the unit. The stock Geo unit looks a bit different than the one pictured here. I prepped this unit by removing decals, sanding, painting, and clear coating the booster, along with cleaning the aluminum dual Master.

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The master next to the Geo unit is a 1967 Mustang dual master that I had on my car before this swap. The Geo booster is working with 1977 Ford Granada front discs and original five lug rear drums. The booster/master combo has been installed on a Ranchero with Granada front and rear discs, and has reported no problem of brake fade or premature lock-ups. My car will also sport this setup in time.

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After the holes for the booster have been drilled and enlarged, the reservoir will barely fit without hitting the shock tower brace. Instead of "massaging" the shock tower brace to make room, I opted to cut a semi-circle out of the last bend in the brace. I used a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade, and cleaned up the cut with a grinder and a hand file.

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Here's the unit installed without the plumbing. The plumbing was easy, with no impossible bends. I used a Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve in my setup and an happy with the results.

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Here's a close-up of the top of the unit. Notice the area where the reservoir and the brace meet. The trimwork is noticeable, but a small price to pay for power brakes.

Now we'll look at Todd's Booster/master installation.

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I removed the hood mostly to aid the videoing of the installation. However, I found that the installation went so much easier with it removed that I would strongly recommend removing it. Put an old blanket or something similar between the back of the hood and the cowl so that if the hood slips down after the bolts are removed, the paint won't be damaged. Anytime you are working with brake fluid, protect the painted areas as much as possible since brake fluid acts as a paint remover.

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This is the old dual master with the associated plumbing and adjustable proportioning valve. The black hoses are air conditioning lines.

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The left photo is after removal of the old master and re-routing the brake lines to the other side of the brace. The large hole in the firewall is where the old master was installed. With Todd's original system this needed to be enlarged to accommodate the power booster (as seen in the right photo) but this step is no longer required with Todd's new boosters (and I assume the same with Auto Krafters’). From the factory the brake/clutch pedal support bracket is mounted to the inside of the firewall with four bolts, the top two seen in the right photo (actually the small hole above and left of the grinding wheel is where one of the upper bolts has been removed, and the bolt to the right of the grinding wheel is the other upper bolt). The two lower bolts for the brake/clutch pedal support bracket also originally held on the single master cylinder. All four bolts mated to blind nuts on the brake/clutch pedal support bracket so the bolts could be installed from the engine compartment without need of installing and holding a nut from under the dash. With Todd's system installed, the two lower blind nuts on the brake/clutch pedal support bracket are removed since the booster has threaded studs that protrude through the firewall to which two nuts installed from the interior of the car under the dash.

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This photo shows one of the upper bolts for the brake/clutch pedal support bracket mentioned above. These bolts can be replaced with ones having smaller heads which will allow the booster to fit a bit closer to the firewall and aid clearance with the shock tower brace. I replaced the original bolts with Grade 8 bolts from the hardware store. You can see the difference in the height of the head of the bolts. Believe it or not, this makes a difference.

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This is the booster & master combination. I needed to separate the master from the booster because together I couldn't get the unit past the shock tower brace from the top, or from the bottom because the engine was in the way. Notice in the right photo the push rod coming out the front of the booster that goes into the master. It is adjustable in length. If you find that brake application starts too soon after the pedal is pushed, you can adjust the rod shorter which will allow pedal movement before the master starts engaging the brakes. Todd reported that in some instances the brakes actually drag with the rod at the shipped length. I would recommend adjusting the rod shorter before installation to lessen the possibility of needing to remove the master to adjust the rod after installation. (In my case, the brakes were dragging quite a bit with the rod at the shipped length. I finally ended up with this rod adjusted almost all the way in--shorter--to get the feel I desired on the brake pedal--I like about an inch or so of travel of the pedal before the brakes start engaging). As a side note, later in the process you may want to leave yourself some "give" in the brake lines so that if you need to undo the master from the booster to make this adjustment, you won't need to undo the brake lines and be forced to re-bleed the system.

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The left photo shows the brake/clutch pedal support that I have restored from my '64 Sprint. The '65 I installed this system in also has a clutch pedal (for now--the C4 is on my workbench). Note where my finger points in the left photo. Just to the left of my finger is the hole where the master bolt comes through the firewall. On the original master setup, there is a blind nut there so that a bolt can be inserted from the engine compartment through the master and into the blind nut. The blind nuts in the lower two holes must be removed since the booster has threaded studs (as seen in the right photo) that must have a nut screwed onto from under the dash (below is a photo of the blind nut). That silvery bracket my finger is pointing to in the left photo above is the upper stop for the clutch pedal. Unfortunately, the threaded stud from the booster on the left side is long enough that it hits this bracket. Therefore it must be shortened 1/4" to 3/8" as seen in the right photo. I used a hacksaw and then cleaned up the edge with a Dremmel tool and a file so the nut would go on easy. If you have an automatic transmission you can disregard this step (this assumes of course that it was a factory installed automatic, not a clutch car that later had an automatic installed and this bracket is still in place--if it is there with an automatic transmission installed, you can simply remove the bracket which will also make it easier to get the nut on the booster stud). Note also above my finger in the left photo is the upper hole where the new smaller head bolts mentioned above go, and just to the left of my finger is the blind nut that needs to be removed so the threaded studs on the booster can slide into place.

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This is one of the blind nuts removed from the lower two holes of the brake/clutch pedal support bracket. I removed mine by sticking an old screwdriver in the hole and hitting the screwdriver with a hammer. One blind nut broke completely free, the other broke free only on one side and needed to be grabbed with some pliers from under the dash and pulled the rest of the way off. This part was easy, two minutes max.

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The booster installed (note again the adjustable push rod from the booster to the master). Before tightening the nuts down on the passenger compartment side of the firewall, make sure to install the pushrod onto the brake pedal arm with the nylon bushing provided and the original clip you pulled off to remove the old master, then tighten the nuts. If you wait till the nuts are tight, there won't be enough play in the push rod to get it on the brake pedal arm. Note also that you will need to add a good size washer on the stud before the nut since there is a square hole where the blind nut was removed from and the nut alone will eventually push through the hole leaving you with no brakes. You should also install a lock washer between the washer and nut. The two nuts on the threaded studs of the booster are the only things holding the booster/master in place while you stomp on the brakes in a panic stop. Don't scrimp here! Do it right and make positive the booster is secure and tight!

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Before installing the master in the car it needs to be bench bled. If you've never done this before, you do this by putting the master in a vise. I got some short 3/16" tubing and bent it to fit in the reservoirs so that the ends in the reservoirs will be below the fluid level. Add clean brake fluid to above the ends of the tubing. Then insert a wooden dowel into the end of the master (where the pushrod from the booster will go) and SLOWLY and carefully push the dowel in and out repeatedly until no more bubbles are seen while pushing the dowel in. Use plenty of shop rags or paper towels around the master. If you accidentally push in too fast on the dowel, brake fluid will spurt out of the reservoir and make a mess. After bleeding the master, remove the tubing, fill the reservoirs, and replace the cover. (Note that there will be some slight dripping from the ports when the master is full and no lines are attached. You may want to get some plugs for the holes to prevent this while you move the master to the car, install it, and modify and install the lines. If you do not get plugs, use rags to prevent a mess.)

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The master is mated back with the booster. The vacuum line is also attached. The right photo is from the windshield area looking toward the front of the engine compartment at the fit of the master with the shock tower brace. You can't see the actual clearance but it is about 1/8". I must mention the scuffed state of the paint on this unit is my fault. When I got the unit it was in perfect appearance. I have had it for some months and have moved it here and there and the paint has suffered.

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This is how I hooked up the plumbing. I was in a rush and my only goal at this point was to get it installed and working so I could get this web site out as promised (I will be putting a new engine and C4 in the car in a few weeks and will re-do the plumbing then). As it is now, the lines would be a nuisance when changing spark plugs. When I re-do them I will try to minimize this. This master has 5/16" outlets, but the brake lines in the car are 3/16" so it must be bushed down as seen in the right photo. I put a "T" on the rear reservoir for the front brakes (I could have used either reservoir since they are the same size, but chose to stay with a more standard installation since most dual masters have the front brakes hooked to the rear reservoir). The bend in the tubing from the master to the "T" was made using a spring tubing bender and a small hammer and patience. The front reservoir goes to the proportioning valve that was on the previous installation, then to the rear wheels. Todd offers a bracket with proportioning valve and pre-bent stainless steel lines which would probably increase the ease of the plumbing portion of the installation.

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On a '64 Falcon the brake lights are activated through a hydraulic pressure switch in the brake system which closes the contacts when the brakes are applied (this switch was originally installed on the master cylinder). To accommodate Todd's system in my '64 Sprint, I needed to come up with suitable plumbing to accommodate the hydraulic pressure brake light switch. In the photo above is a fitting that has 5/16" flared holes in each end, and a 1/8' pipe thread hole in the top which is what is required for the stock pressure brake light switch (which is screwed into the hole in the top of the fitting). The switch is installed in-line with the rear hydraulic brake line, just before the proportioning valve.

On a '65 Falcon the brake light switch is on the brake pedal itself and is a physical pressure switch, sensing pressure between the brake pedal and the pushrod to the master or booster. When installing Todd's system in my '65 hardtop, the booster put enough backward pressure on the pedal that the brake lights were on all the time. Todd's boosters have a threaded adjustment on the pushrod from the brake pedal to the booster to adjust for some free play so this brake light switch functions properly.

This is the end of the

Adding Power Brakes Edition

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Feel free to save this page to your computer for your personal use and future reference--no other use is authorized without prior written permission from me. All illustrations from the 1964 or 1965 Falcon Shop Manuals used pursuant to permission granted by Ford Motor Company. Disclaimer: This site is not intended to instruct or teach anyone in proper or safe methods of working on or maintaining any type of vehicle or use of any tool and the author takes no responsibility for the use of the information contained herein.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at joe@joesfalcon.com

 

Adding

Power

Brakes

Overview

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