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Replacing obsolete/rare brakes, with something else?

2814 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  BWA
Is it feasible to replace brake technology with something completely different? And how would a person go about even attempting such a thing?


We have an antique mid-1970s electric CitiVan, which is a bizarre little thing that has a top road speed of about 35 mph / 55 kph.

It uses a type of miniature Bendix airplane wheel brakes which are now rare, and so the brake parts are hard to find and expensive.

Just replacing the rubber drum brake cylinder seals is around US$100 a wheel, which is very expensive:

CitiCar / CitiVan / ComutaCar brake parts:


It seems to me that we would be better off just dumping the weird old Bendix brakes and going with something more modern with cheaply available parts, such as ATV or snowmobile or golf cart hydraulic brakes.

Ideally, I would need to find a "brake spider" assembly that has the same axle bolt hole layout as the old Bendix brakes, as a bolt-on replacement.

I don't know if there is any sort of standardization of mounting bolt holes for brake spider assemblies.

I have no idea where to even begin here.


It would probably be possible to grind off or weld-fill the old mounting bolt plate on the axles, and drill new mounting holes for something completely different, but I am trying to not hack up the original car too much.
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Typical common and cheap drum brake systems don't use a cast alloy "spider" like that shown in the linked page for this car; they use a stamped steel brake backing plate (usually purchased as a "loaded" assembly complete with slave cylinder, shoes, springs, and other hardware bits.

The only thing close to "standardization" is that a small number of bolt hole patterns are used for common trailer axles. Most trailer brakes are electric (which are not sufficient for a motor vehicle), but hydraulic trailer brakes are readily available. If you are remarkably lucky, one of those trailer assemblies might fit. If you are just lucky, one of them might fit by drilling new mounting holes.

For better brakes, replace the "spider" with a bracket to hold a caliper... and fit a disk (instead of drum) to the hub. That could be a lot of work.
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