Installing Hanging Brake Pedals In a ’53 F100
By John Niolon
To go along with the new Chrysler front clip with disk brakes, we wanted power brakes. So, when we got the clip we asked for the power brake booster and the hanging pedal assembly from the same car. That way I was sure the brakes would work as ‘factory’ and not have to engineer a new brake system. I also didn’t like the under cab units with the pedal thru the floorboard.
The booster is pictured to the right. It’s reasonably generic and only requires a hole thru the firewall and it’s held in place by the pedal assembly inside the cab. The pedal assembly was almost a perfect fit… the mounting tabs that connected to the Chrysler dash were vertical and had to be removed. But, the unit was long enough to fit from the firewall to the brace under the dash, so after cutting the vertical tabs off we merely drilled mounting holes in the top face of the unit that match the steering column mounting holes in the dashboard brace. see pictures below
Before you can do much else you have to position the unit under the dash, level it front to back and center it left to right. When you have the assembly centered, the pedal will be on the left side of the steering column. That’s o.k. for now, cause we’re gonna move it later. When you have it in position, mark the mounting holes on the firewall. Next I drilled a pilot hole thru each marked area from inside the truck. Then (because drilling outside is easier) I enlarged the holes from the outside to fit the studs on the booster…. A little extra hole size doesn’t hurt when fitting this up later.
At this point you should have 4 holes in the firewall. I made a cardboard template from the booster with the four mounting holes and the center hole for the shaft that attaches the pedal to the booster to pass thru the firewall . Put this template on the outside of the firewall….mark your center hole and make your cut. I used a 2" Greenlee punch to cut the hole. These are nice die type punches that use a pilot hole thru the metal to be cut…a punch goes on one side and the die on the other and you turn the bolt that connects the two to punch through the wall. You could use a torch, saw or hole saw just as well. As you look at the pictures below you will see that the booster it right up against one of the rolled areas in the firewall.. this prevented it from sitting flat on the firewall. I cut out a plate to level things up from 1/4" plate. It pretty much matched up the template I used for the hole cutting with the outside dimensions matching the surface of the booster against the firewall. My torch cutting is a little rough but this piece doesn’t show…it’s only a shim.
With all the holes done and the pieces put together, you can mount the pedal assembly and the booster now. A helper is nice here to hold the booster while you’re bolting up the assembly under the dash. Without a helper, you can use a bungee cord under and around the booster and hooked above the window edge. Helpers are hard to find around my house. Connect the booster shaft to the pedal assembly with the clevis pin and a cotter pin. The pedal shaft connects to the actuator with a C-clip over/around the stud on the pedal shaft.
With the units snugged up you can see how things fit and if they fit to suit you. These pictures should look a lot like what you have now. But ignore the pedal placement in the second shot… that comes later.
Changing the pedal…
Now that you have it all together….let’s take it all apart. Or actually we’re gonna remove the pedal from the assembly. When mine was all bolted up the pedal came down on the left side of and about ï¿½" away from the steering column. This would have probably worked ok for two footed drivers. I’m from the old school having learned to drive a straight shift first and the left foot is the clutch foot only. Left foot braking feels awkward to me. So, I’m moving my pedal over to the other side. The pedal is held to the assembly with a pivot bolt through the top of the unit. Remove this bolt and the pedal will fall right out. First I tried just turning the pedal around 180 degrees. It now was on the right side of the column but the angle was backward and it was too close to the column also. So, out comes the torch. Visualize where you want your first bend above the column. Work on only one area at a time. It’s sometimes confusing looking under the dash and then looking after it’s in the vice, so don’t confuse yourself more by doing multiple bends. Another option is to remove the pedal and then make a pattern out of wire. Use this pattern to form your bends after heating the pedal shaft. The actual pedal piece is welded to the pedal shaft on three sides. With a side grinder you can remove the welds and save the pedal, or you can carefully wash the welds off with a torch. I opted to grind it off thinking I might reuse it. I later changed my mind due to the size of the pedal
Chuck the pedal shaft up in a good vice and heat it with your torch until soft enough to bend easily. My first move was to straighten the original bend and move it ‘out’ away from the pivot point about an inch. Cool it off and put it back in the assembly. NOTE: There are two plastic bushings in the pivot hole…. REMOVE THESE before heating the pedal metal… or…. Scrape them off when you are through. Always check your fit with the bushings in place. Repeat this procedure working each bend separately until you are happy with the look and feel of the pedal while sitting in your driving position. Be sure to give enough clearance to the neutral switch on the column. Check your separation between the brake pedal and the gas pedal.. You need adequate clearance between the two but not too far apart either. It’s a matter of personal preference and comfort.
I cut out a new pedal from 3/16" plate and welded it onto the shaft. The pedal shaft is a little shorter than original, but this worked out better for the relationship with the floor. The original was a little too long under the truck dash.
Bolt everything back together and snug it all down. Check your fit and feel. All that you need now is the plumbing from the booster to the brakes and you’re done.
There is one more item that needs to be done. The brake light switch is located on the inside of the pedal assembly on the left side. It sits in a slot on the left flange of the assembly. This switch (if you use it) needs to be moved over to the right side, and a new slot should be cut in the right flange. Or you could use another type of switch located somewhere else. So…there you go…. Hanging pedals in a ’53 F-100.