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Recently received my 550 from Special Edition. I am attempting to put 356B drum brakes on the car. Of course, the car came with ball joint front suspension with the VW front spindle. The spindle is not long enough to accept the 356 drum. Is there someone who had tried this before and if so, how did you do it? I can't seem to find a company that makes and adapter or a special order spindle. Thank you.
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Recently received my 550 from Special Edition. I am attempting to put 356B drum brakes on the car. Of course, the car came with ball joint front suspension with the VW front spindle. The spindle is not long enough to accept the 356 drum. Is there someone who had tried this before and if so, how did you do it? I can't seem to find a company that makes and adapter or a special order spindle. Thank you.
Robert -- you are not on alien ground. 356 drums on BJ spindles have been done many times before (but not by me). From what I understand the BJ spindle is the correct length, but the different taper of the BJ spindle doesn't fit the bearing in the 356 drum. There are methods of different bearings, machined races / shims, etc. that will accomplish the conversion painlessly (except for the breathtaking cost of the 356 drum set-up in the first place).

I seem to recall seeing an ad recently for store-bought link-pin spindles mounted on the BJ knuckle. I don't recall if it was a EMPI ad or a CB ad, or maybe it was just in a dream.

I suggest you contact Carey at Special Editions. I suspect they have crossed this bridge before and already have the pieces you need or at least know where to direct you for a quick solution.

I envy you -- 356 drums all around is ultra-bling!

Seal -- the debate between drums and discs comes up periodically. No one argues that discs are not better than drums. What the heck, nobody argues that discs with ABS and traction controls are not better than discs without. The disagreement usually comes when determining at what point the brakes are better than they have to be. I get a chuckle when I see someone strapping on a monster set of multi-puck Wilwoods to a 1400lb. spyder. What were they thinking?

Here's the physics: If you can lock up the wheels slamming the pedal against teensy little VW drums (which you can), then bigger, better, bragging rights brakes aren't going to stop you faster. Once the wheels are locked up you already have too much brakes!

Since the little VW drums provide all the brakes you would normally need for street driving (How many VW's on drums are there??), the question is how much brake do you need Abnormally -- sport driving? racing?

If abnormal driving is the target, then questions concerning brake fade and wet performance can legitimately enter the conversation, and often lead to the advantages of discs. However, before getting too goo-goo over the high tech advantages of discs, don't forget there were (and still are!) a lot of Porsches RACING on those same drums Robert is installing. And, RACING for 24 hours straight!! In short, they are proven to be well beyond adequate for service in the most abnormal use any replica owner is going to put them through. If I were Robert, I would fearlessly know I can lock up the wheels any time I want; in which case I have more brakes than I can use.
Hi Mark, You are right in all parts of your statement... personally; I am not in the position to invest money in a drum set up made for a Porsche...not for the lack of practical side set the direction... I invested in the Syder by improving the ignition, cooling, transmission, fuel delivery, etc...yes, this car has areas that are deficient.

There are more pluses in the updated technology of a disk brake....

nevertheless, you are correct, the drums will stop the car of the weight of the Spyder.... man, you are correct again in the fading under wet conditions.... you are right about the machining cost.. do not forget possible struggle for finding parts to maintain the unit on the road....

This type of car is for some, maintenance intensive. But we got to love it! Really, I love this critter...

Robert, one more thing, if the brakes are no calibrated with some regularity by someone that is old enough to understand the drum system... the old school brakes has the tendency to go right or left during hard braking... this condition is not only present in European cars... I just finished the restoration of a 66 mustang and got rid of the front drums because of the before mentioned physics....the mustang behaved like a stopping mule...predictably due to the brakes.... sorry if I sound a little negative, still I will be curious to follow this project.... it is a great challenge and adventure with unsurprising outcome.
For what it's worth, I have a Beck Speedster with front disks and rear drums, and I want to switch to rear disks so I don't have to worry about adjusting the drums any more. That is one particular mechanical skill that I don't seem to possess, and I am tired of brakes that pull one way or the other. Disks are very easy to maintain, and with a residual valve to maintain good pedal feel, it should be a fairly easy conversion.
For those who are interested, here is what is being undertaken. We are machining the drum and the backing plate. The backing plate will be machined to fit on the VW spindle. A spacer is going between the inboard race and the hub, which will keep the hub away from the backing plate. The front of the hub will be machined to allow the outboard race to set deeper in the hub. This will allow room for the thrust washer and nut. Will let you know if it works. Thanks for your help.
William -- if you have a complete 356 donor looking for a project, you might find a better home for it with a speedster shell rather than a spyder. The spyder is an entirely different car (tube frame vs. pan chassis 356, mid engined vs. rear engined 356, etc.).

The issue with the 356 drum brakes that initiated this thread comes from the deal that all spyder replicas are built with VW ball joint front suspensions. Earlier VW "link pin" front suspensions would be directly compatible with the 356 drums. So, in essence, an off-the-shelf new VW link-pin torsion beam assembly would do the job for a fraction of the cost of an authentic vintage 356 version of the same thing. In the 356 and VW, the torsion beam is a bolt-on component so conversion might seem relatively easy. In the spyder, however, the beam is a welded component of the tube frame -- so what you got is what you get.

If building from scratch, a link-pin torsion beam could be used when the frame is jigged. But few customers would want a link-pin torsion beam -- unless going to the big pu-bah cha-ching of 356 drums is the intent.

I'm finishing up my TR 550. I ordered it from Tom with the link pin front beam.  Used all Porsche 356 parts from the beam on out--e.g., trailing arms, link pins, spindles, brake backing plates, brakes, aluminum finned brake drums, KPZ wheels, 145-15 bias ply tires;  Renewed all perishable parts (rubber and bearings).  Runs good, looks great.  Happy with the correct look; for a more modern experience/look, I got a Cayman S.  One car is for one thing, the other is for another.  That's all.


As far as drum brakes go, only about a gazillion cars had them.  They work fine, unless 1) you're racing 2) they get wet 3) you don't how to adjust them 4) as a pro you can make more money with the speed and convenience of working on disc brakes.  I guess over the past sixty years of driving I have driven and worked on everything from Ferrari's to AMC Military 10-ton trucks.  I never had a problem stopping with drums.  For the record, I switched to period part disc brakes on my 1960 Bugeye Sprite and they're good; on the other hand, I restored the period disc brakes on my 1963 E-Type Jaguar and they still (and will always) suck.  It all depends, doesn't it?

Hey guys, I was cruzzzing thru your site and from my side of the fence (Speedsterowners) I saw this question posed.


I also wanted something a little different,  an off-road racing hub on my Ball Joint Front end. This used a combo racing axle stub. I had Mark at “Blind Chicken Racing” build me a set. He can make you a set using Ball joint backs and weld Link Pin axles on to them…, raised or lowered your choice. Here’s that link, enjoy!





David   /   dd-ardvark

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