Prepping The ‘57 Ford Ranch Wagon Rolling Chassis

The Del Rio Ranch Wagon Gets Plenty of Brake Performance

By Ron Ceridono   –   Photography by Tate Radford

We’ve been following along as Colin and Sue Radford’s ’57 Ford Ranch Wagon has been undergoing the transition from a mild-mannered grocery getter to a legitimate pavement pounder. So far Colin and his grandsons, Tate and Caden, have replaced the stock suspension with components from Art Morrison Enterprises (AME). Up front is an AME bikini clip with a Flaming River rack-and-pinion, in the rear is an AME axle housing and four-bar kit, and at all four corners are Strange Engineering coilovers. For motive power, Team Radford replaced the 292 Y-block and Ford-O-Matic transmission with a Ford Performance 5.0 Coyote backed by a Gearstar 4R70W transmission.

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02 the Ford frame undergoing a face lift with steam cleaning and sandblasting
The face-lift for the Ford frame began with a thorough steam cleaning followed by sandblasting with 50-grit quartz media.

It’s safe to say for most hot rodders who have a family and a full-time job time for projects can be scarce. But perseverance will pay off in the long run; as time allows, the culmination of many small bursts of effort will eventually produce big results. That continuing effort in the Radford garage resulted in the chassis for this project being completed and ready with a fresh coat of paint and Wilwood brakes all around.

03 Colin applying epoxy primer and single stage black urethane paint on the Ford frame
For a clean look and durability, Colin sprayed the frame with epoxy primer followed by single-stage black urethane paint.

During its construction the chassis and body of the wagon remained intact so the necessary modifications to the firewall could be made to accommodate the 5.0 Coyote V8 engine and sections of the floor could be altered for the rear suspension to fit. With those tasks completed the body was lifted off the frame and all the suspension components were removed. The frame rails were then sandblasted, primed, and painted gloss black. All the suspension components were prepped and shot with the same primer and paint. As this car will be driven, there will be no need for bling on the underside—clean and sanitary was the goal.

04 Art Morrison Enterprises front suspension with 2 inch dropped Wilwood ProSpindles
The Art Morrison Enterprises front suspension uses 2-inch dropped Wilwood ProSpindles (PN 830-9807) with bolt-on steering arms.

Read More: Coyote Swap with Vintage Air Front Runner

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Front Brake System

With the chassis painted, the suspension components were reinstalled. The AME front suspension uses Wilwood’s ProSpindles, specifically designed for fabricated A-arm suspensions. These spindles are available in stock height (Wilwood PN 830-10832) or 2-inch drop (PN 830-9807). To fit these spindles a Wilwood forged Dynalite Pro Series front brake kit, PN 140-9917-DR was selected. This kit combines 11-inch rotors with forged billet aluminum and four-piston Dynalite calipers that feature 1.75-inch stainless steel pistons. These calipers come with Wilwood’s BP-10 high-performance brake pads for longer wear and lower dust levels than standard pads. Dynalite calipers are available in 25 colors and can be used with some 14-inch wheels and most 15-inch wheels. FDLi Pro-Series brake kits can be used with either manual or power boost master cylinders.

05 the bolt on lug style caliper brackets from the Wilwood front disc brake kit
Included in the Wilwood front disc brake kit for the ProSpindles are a pair of bolt-on, “lug-style” caliper brackets.

Rear Brake System

In the rear, stopping power is provided by Wilwood’s Forged Dynapro Low-Profile, Pro-Series rear parking brake kit. This kit includes Dynapro low-profile calipers with four 1.38-inch stainless steel pistons. Like the front calipers, they are available in a variety of colors and come with BP-10 pads. But what makes this kit unique are the one-piece hat and rotor assemblies that combine disc brake rotors with drums for parking brakes. Inside the brake drums are unique internal expanding parking brake assemblies that are both clean-looking and effective. Like the front brakes, these rear kits will accommodate some 14- and most 15-inch wheels.

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06 how Wilwood s caliper brackets attach to the spindles
Wilwood’s caliper brackets attach to the spindles with the included hardware. The mounting ears, or lugs, on the calipers, attach to the two empty holes.

Read More: Art Morrison Enterprise Subframe Clip – Bikini Season

Brake Master Cylinder

When choosing a Wilwood master cylinder there are differences between those for manual and power brake applications. The popular compact tandem master cylinders for manual brakes are available in two bore sizes, from 7/8 and 15/16, and come with a captured pushrod. Master cylinders intended for power brakes don’t have a push rod and are available in two bores sizes, 1.00 or 1-1/8 inches. Compact master cylinders are available in two finishes, ball burnished or black e-coat. For this application, a Wilwood power brake master cylinder was used with a dual-diaphragm vacuum booster from Classic Performance Products.

07 the aluminum hubs and SRP drilled and slotted rotors from the Wilwood brake kit
Included in the Wilwood brake kit is a pair of aluminum hubs. The SRP drilled-and-slotted rotors have been treated to the optional black electro coat.

Brake Pedal Assembly

An important consideration when selecting brake components is the ratio of the pedal assembly. Consider this, 100 pounds of pedal effort on a 1-1/8 bore master cylinder with a 5 to 1 pedal ratio results in 505 psi of hydraulic pressure, with a 7 to 1 pedal hydraulic pressure increasing to 707 psi. By comparison, the numbers for a 7/8-inch master cylinder with the same pedal ratios are 833 psi and 1,167 psi. Smaller-bore master cylinders create more pressure but deliver a smaller volume of fluid, but larger-bore master cylinders that deliver a larger volume of fluid often require a booster to create the necessary hydraulic pressure. However, be aware that Wilwood “preaches” that 18 inches of manifold vacuum at idle is required for the proper operation of a power brake system.

08 the assembly of a hub and rotor hat with Grade 8 capscrews
Here a hub and rotor hat have been assembled. Grade 8 capscrews threaded into the hubs (secured with a locking compound) are used to attach the wheels.

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About a Ford 9 Inch Rear End

Choosing The Right Brake Fluid

A final consideration when selecting brake components is the fluid used. DOT 3, DOT 4, and DOT 5.1 glycol-based fluids are hygroscopic, meaning that they absorb moisture while DOT 5 silicone doesn’t. While it sounds like a bad thing, by absorbing water in the system glycol-based fluid won’t cause corrosion the way that water will in a system with DOT 5 silicone. The big advantage of silicone brake fluid is it won’t harm painted surfaces. If you choose silicone fluid it should be changed regularly, and the brake system thoroughly flushed to remove any moisture.

With the chassis completed the next step is to drop the body in place, then it will be time to make the wagon look as good on the top as it does on the bottom. Colin has the talent, and he has the perseverance to do it—and we’ll be following along as it happens. MR

09 back view of the hub highlighting the rotor attachment and lug bolt holes
Viewed from the back, the small five-hole pattern is where the rotor attaches. The five threaded holes in the outer diameter of the hub are for the lug bolts.
10 Wilwood s high quality wheel bearings and seal kits
Unlike some less-expensive, poor-quality wheel bearings on the market, Wilwood bearings and seal kits conform to strict manufacturing tolerances for long life.
11 the rotor and hub flange assembly for concentricity
For concentricity the rotors register on the raised portion of the hats, likewise, the hubs’ flanges fit into precise holes in the hats. Socket head screws with thread locker are used to secure the rotors to the hats and the hats to the rotors.
12 Wilwood’s four piston forged Dynalites in red powdercoat Photo showing the easy installation of brake pads in a Dynalite calip
The calipers for this application are Wilwood’s four-piston forged Dynalites (PN 120-13844-RD) in red powdercoat.
13 illustrating the caliper installation process over the rotor
Installing brake pads in a Dynalite caliper is simple. They drop in place and are then secured with a long cotter pin.
14 Wilwood’s Dynalite Pro Series front brake kit with dual bolt patterns
During installation the calipers are centered over the rotor by adding or subtracting the included spacers between the calipers and the mounting bracket.
15 the rear of Radford’s Ranch wagon featuring a Wilwood Dynapro Low Profile Parking Brake Kit
Wilwood’s Dynalite Pro Series front brake kit comes with hubs drilled for 5-on-4.5 (Ford) and 5-on-4.75 (Chevy, Mopar) bolt patterns
16 Wilwood’s unique disc brake parking brake kits with an integral drum
In the rear Radford’s Ranch wagon uses a Wilwood Dynapro Low-Profile Parking Brake Kit. Note the parking brake assembly at the bottom of the photo.
17 the precise centering of the rotors on the Strange axles using precision spacers
Wilwood’s disc brake/parking brake kits use a unique combination disc brake rotor and hat with an integral drum for the parking brakes.
18 Wilwood s rear brake kit with Dynapro low profile four piston calipers
To precisely center the rotors on the Strange axles a pair of precision spacers are used.
19 low profile rear brake kits with 11 inch rotors
Wilwood’s rear brake kit uses Dynapro low profile, four-piston calipers. Note the retainer to secure the brake pads.
20 SRP drilled slotted and black electro coated rotors with red powdercoat calipers
Low-profile rear brake kits all use 11-inch rotors that will accept some 14-inch wheels and most 15s. This example has plain steel rotors.
21 black electro coated rotors with red powdercoat calipers
For our application we opted for SRP drilled, slotted, and black electro-coated rotors. Calipers are red powdercoat. Note the two bleeders, top and bottom—this allows the calipers to be mounted on either side of the vehicle.
22 vintage Ford “Swift Sure” power brake pedal assembly from Colin s parts stash
Colin reached into his parts stash for a vintage Ford “Swift Sure” power brake pedal assembly. It has a substantial 7 to 1 ratio.
23 Wilwood s braided two stainless steel brake line kits
Wilwood supplied braided two stainless steel brake line kits with 14-inch hoses and hardware, PN 220-7056; they were used front and rear.
24 Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve installed in the brake system
To balance the front to the rear brake bias a Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve was plumbed into the system. Included with the valve is a hydraulic stoplight switch.
25 Wilwood’s glycol based DOT 5 1 570 Racing fluid
The two common types of brake fluid are glycol and silicone. We used Wilwood’s glycol-based DOT 5.1, 570 Racing fluid (PN 290-2210).
26 explaining the importance of brake pedal ratio
Brake pedal ratio is important as explained in the text: P is the pivot point, B is the distance from the pivot to the pushrod, F is the pedal pad, A is the distance from the pivot to the pedal pad. The ratio is determined by dividing distance A by distance B.
27 triangulated brace built by Colin to prevent firewall flexing
To keep the firewall from flexing when the brakes are applied, Colin built a triangulated brace that will tie to the firewall and steering column.
28 Wilwood master cylinder used on the wagon complete with a proportioning valve and plumbing components
The Wilwood master cylinder used on the wagon is PN 261-14964-BK for power brakes. It has a bore of 1-1/8 inches and comes with a proportioning valve, mounting bracket, and plumbing components.
29 opposite side of the master cylinder with two more outlets
A unique feature of Wilwood master cylinders is the dual outlets on each side; (this example is for a manual brake system as indicated by the pushrod).
30 Wilwood master cylinder prepped and ready
On the opposite side of the master cylinder are two more outlets. Wilwood supplies fittings for 3/16- and ¼-inch brake lines and plugs for the unused outlets.
31 Colin installing a vacuum booster from Classic Performance Products for power brakes
Colin opted for power brakes and installed a vacuum booster, PN 5772BB-8D for ’57-72 Fords, from Classic Performance Products.


Art Morrison Enterprises
(866) 808-4759

Classic Performance Products
(866) 882-6882

Flaming River Industries
(806) 648-8022

Ford Performance
(800) 367-3788

Gearstar Performance Transmissions
(330) 434-0104

Radford Automotive
(208) 745-1350

Strange Engineering
(800) 646-6718

(805) 388-1188
Click on this issue’s cover to see the enhanced digital version of More of the Ranch Wagon Redo—Perseverance march 2024

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