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From Drum to Disc Brakes

*** (Download this article as a Word Document) ***

[The complete assembly] [Almost every year Falcon can accept this swap!]

(Steve Sproulli's 1963 1/2 Ranchero)

One of the most basic and effective ways to improve your car's stopping power is to add disc brakes. Disc, compared to drum, gives more stopping power, along with better control over the car while braking at high speeds. This swap was first used to upgrade Mustang braking power. Since, for the most part, a 1964-1966 Mustang is a Falcon (suspension and drivetrain-wise), this swap is the same on a Falcon as it is on a Mustang.

Ford used the Falcon style suspension on many of its cars during and after the Falcon. The parts that I used were taken off of a 1978 Ford Granada V8 car. Other cars that I am sure can be used are 1964-1973 Mustangs and Mavericks. When I say "donor car", I mean the cars that share the Falcon-type suspension.

[All the parts for ONE side]

Here are all the parts (minus grease) needed to do one side of your car
.

My original idea for this section was to include pictures with these instructions. I might still do this in time, but for right now I don't see a need. However, if you still are lost with my instructions, please visit sites for this swap on Mustangs.  Their pictures, along with their respective instructions, are the parts that directly relate to this swap on our Falcons.

These pictures are of the Stainless Steel Brakes kit, but incorporate Granada parts. Stainless Steel Brakes also sells kits for our cars.

What do I need off the donor car?

To do this swap, you need to take the spindles and everything attached to them, the soft brake hose, and the outer tie rod ends. Try to get the hardline/softline connection bracket while you are there. It's much easier to use the donor car's than to modify the stock Falcon's.  Also, adapters will be needed to reduce the soft line connector size to mate with Falcon brake lines.  Rubber brake lines from a 76-80 Pinto (NAPA # 36743) remove the need for adapters.

In a nutshell, the swap consists of:

1.) Replacing the Falcon's spindle and drum brake with the donor car's spindle and disc brake.

2.) Removing the Falcon outer tie rod end, and threading the donor car's tie rod end in. This is necessary because the Granada spindles have larger holes for the outer tie rod ends, so the stock Falcon's outer tie rod ends will not tighten up to the new spindles.

3.) Relocating the hard brake line/soft brake line connection forward. This is necessary so undue stress isn't put on the soft hose when you turn the wheels.

The Biggest of the Million little things.......

1.) The Lincoln Versailles (Lincoln's Granada) uses the same parts as the Granada EXCEPT for the spindle. A Versailles spindle has larger holes for the ball joints, and won't work in this swap!!

2.) Others who have done this swap have warned that when the Granada outer tie rod ends are used to replace the stock units, they can't be threaded into the steering linkage enough to attain the correct front end alignment. From my experience, it can be done, but you also need to adjust the inner tie rod end as well.

3.) Remember to get your car to an alignment shop or check the alignment yourself shortly after the swap! Bad alignment can cause excessive wear and dangerous driving conditions.

4.) If you are using Granada parts, always look for a 1976-1979 V8 car.You want a V8 because these cars came with the 11" rotors, compared to the 10" rotors of their inline 6 counterparts. You want to stay within the confines of these years. By 1981 Granadas were built on the Fairmont platform, and they had a strut suspension, along with four lug wheels. The Granada rotors you want have five lugs.

5.)You need to have a V8 or V8 suspension and steering linkage in your car for this swap to work! Inline 6 powered cars have different, weaker parts in their suspension and steering. You will find that you can fit the new spindles, but the new tie rod ends won't thread into the inline 6 steering linkage.

6.) This swap can be done to any Falcon EXCEPT 1960-1962 cars! The reason is these early Falcons have different control arms and ball joints. To see if your car has a suspension that is incompatible with this swap, look at your upper ball joint. If three bolts hold it to the upper control arm, you can't perform this swap. If you have four bolts holding the upper ball joint, you're good to go. To do this swap on these three bolted numbers, you need to replace your upper and lower control arms with later model parts.

7.) Go to your local machine/brake shop and ask what the tolerances are on cutting the rotors you are going to get. With this info, you can bring a micrometer or a simple ruler to measure your junkyard rotors. This little step can save you from buying those new rotors!

8.) Certain tire rims will not fit this new setup. The Granada front discs have a larger "nose" on the rotor, so the stock Falcon rims WILL NOT WORK WITH THE NEW BRAKES!! I've seen that Maverick rims are a popular replacement part. As to questions of "will these rims fit?", 15" rims almost always seem to fit. Aftermarket 14" rims usually work, and 13" rims never work.

9.) If you have power steering on your car, you will find that you can use a Granada outer tie rod on the passenger's side, but not the driver's side. The power steering on a Falcon has a driver's side outer tie rod end that's unique to this setup. I managed to get the Falcon power steering tie rod to work in the Granada spindle. When I tightened the tie rod, it did not bottom out.

Some have argued that it does. Many companies like Mustangs Plus and Darkhorse Performance sell tie rod ends that will "work", but they are twice to four times as much as a regular tie rod end at an auto parts store.

10.) I used the Geo Metro master/booster combo on my installation, but this is not your only master cylinder choice by far. Ford Master cylinders can also be used. From the original "fruit jar" master to the four wheel disc masters, Ford uses the same "footprint" on all of their masters, so any Ford master, without the booster, will mate to the firewall the same as original equipment, and can be used in this swap. I suggest that if you do this swap, you should at LEAST change your original "fruit jar" single master with a dual master off of a disc brake equipped car. This not only adds safety, but it will have a larger reservoir for your new front disc brakes. There have also been reports of single "fruit jar" master cylinders having problems or failures running a Granada or donor car disc brake setup.

When selecting a master, you should keep two things in mind: the bore size of the master, and the side of the master the brake lines connect to. The bore size of a master cylinder is critical. The larger the bore size, the more fluid is acted upon to actuate the brakes. However, the idea of "bigger is better" should NOT be taken here. Too big of a bore size brings a harder brake pedal to push and brakes that grab too quickly. Too little and the pedal will be soft and the brakes will not lock in panic stop situations. You want to balance your master with the system it is running.

For the Granada 11" disc brake swap, I suggest you find a master cylinder that has a bore between 7/8" and 1". A very commonly used master is the 1976-1979 Granada master cylinder.

The side the brake lines attach to should also be figured into your choice. Try to find a master with passenger side brake line connections; this will make bending and installing brake lines into your master cylinder easier.

11.) Granada spindles are larger, more beefy units compared to the stock Falcon's. Some have complained that the new parts off the Granada raise the car's nose as much as an inch and a half from where it was when the stock parts were on their cars. I did not have this problem. Most blame the spindles, and it is true; the Granada spindles are about 3/16" taller, however:

[Spindle height]

Compare the Granada's spindle (left) to the Falcon's (right). The two are not perfectly lined up, but I did stand the two back-to-back and measured the 3/16" difference.

So What Did I Do?

1.) I went to the junkyard and found a 1976-1979 Ford Granada V8. Bought the spindles and everything attached, the soft hoses with the hardline connection attached, and skipped on the outer tie rod ends (figured I'd buy new).

2.) I Took my parts home, disassembled the brakes (they were still on the spindles), and checked the parts for wear. I decided to replace the calipers, hoses, outer tie rod ends, and seals.

3.) Took the rotors to my machine shop and had them cut and cleaned, along with the spindles, caliper bracket, dust shield, dust shield retainer ring, and the small bolts.

4.) I prepped the parts for installation. I primed and painted the spindle, dust shield, shield retaining ring, hard/softline connection black, painted the caliper and caliper mounting bracket gold, and put a coat of hi temp clearcoat on the "hat" of the rotor.

5.) Installed the parts as per Granada specs. (I used Granada torque specifications and installation instructions.)

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