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Converting a Manual Brake System - 1967 Chevelle

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Just like she came from the factory.

Originally, this car was intended to be a daily driver and weekend cruiser for my wife. Who hasn’t used that angle to drag home another project car, amirite? Literally, the first thing I bought for this car (after wheels and tires) was a power brake setup. Then after things started to get out of hand, I returned it for the version with a disc/disc proportioning valve.

Through the expansion of this project I’ve always, and still do, keep in mind the fact that I want Jenny to enjoy driving this car (or at least to stop hating it). I want it to be rental car reliable. I want it to start every time with no monkey business or setting the choke. I want it to cool well and be cool inside. I want it to have power steering and brakes and an automatic transmission. I drive a gear car daily, but she has no desire to learn a manual trans.

I say I want these things for my wife, but secretly I want this car to be all those things for my enjoyment too. I also want it to be quick and nimble. These are the things that I think she will appreciate once she drives it. If there are no other factors distracting you from how much fun it is to drive a car, I think that’s a true testament to a well-planned and executed build.

I was impressed by the completeness of this kit. Almost to a fault, since it included extra brackets that aren’t used when you employ a booster. I chalk that up to combining two or three “kits” into one, with each of the sub-assemblies available on their own as a product as well.

The Chevelle was originally a manual brake car but all the equipment inside the firewall is the same for both. The lower studs needed on the engine side of the firewall to mount the booster were there but were only employed to secure the pedal assembly. I simply removed the factory nuts from those and with the original master already removed when I stripped the firewall, I was ready to hang the booster.

Bench assembled, to ensure I was using the matched components.

I put the booster on without the master in place because there’s no need to fight the extra weight when starting the nuts on the studs. In my application, I was able to use the clevis and pushrod as-is out of the box to fasten to the pedal arm. On some that I’ve installed, the pushrod needed to be cut and tailored to fit. This one worked with the short extension supplied.

I painted the master cylinder with Eastwood’s “Brake Gray” paint. This finish is supposed to be more resistant to brake fluid. It perfectly replicated the natural cast iron color and finish. Nothing like waiting for paint to dry that you can’t even tell is there. As far as the durability of the paint, I’m still going to hedge my bets and use silicone DOT5 brake fluid in this system. It will not damage paint. Plus, it’s Speedway purple! What’s not to like about that?

That's a big old booster! Stamped with Delco markings, it's perfect for a resto-mod.

Stay tuned for where my folly in this whole plan ended up being. You big block guys already know.

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