New disc brakes and stock hubcaps
I have a 1962 Mercury Meteor with 14inch rims. Each drum to disc brake conversion kit I’ve found so far requires 15-inch or larger rims. My problem is that I would like to keep the car’s stock hubcaps. Are there 15-inch rims that will accommodate the stock hubcaps, or 14inch rims that will work with a disc brake conversion kit? If not, would the stock drum brakes with a power brake master cylinder be a safe option? How bad is an all-drum system? I had the brakes fail due to a failed wheel cylinder. I want to have the option to drive the car long distances.
There are various ways to solve the problems you’ve outlined. The easiest and least expensive is to stick with the original drum brake system. From a safety perspective, the only inherently weak link in your car’s original brake setup is the single reservoir master cylinder. As you discovered the hard way, when there’s a pressure loss anywhere in the system there’s pressure loss everywhere in the system. You can overcome this by installing a dual reservoir master cylinder, which creates two separate hydraulic circuits, one for the front brakes and another for the rear. If a wheel cylinder, hose or other part fails, you lose braking action in only half the system and can still bring the car to a stop.
If you still want to install disc brakes you can install 14-inch rims that are configured to work with disc brakes. You can also use 15-inch rims that have been converted to work with your original 14-inch hubcaps. Companies such as Stockton Wheel in Stockton, California, (www.stocktonwheel.com) can do this for you. If you have the requisite skills, you can do it yourself.
In a nutshell, you need four 14-inch rims that accept your original hubcaps and four 15-inch rims that work with your disc brake conversion kit. You cut out the outer portion of the 14-inch rims that the hubcaps mount to and weld these sections onto the disc-brake compatible rims.