1956 Chevrolet 3600: Brake Boost for the Farm Truck

Although the 1956 Chevy 3600 flat bed is going to be restored to “as original” for the most part, Lewie did insist on a few upgrades for safety and drivability. At the top of the list was adding a power booster system so that the four drum brakes could haul the 3/4 ton truck to a stop more effectively and with less effort.

CPP Brake booster kit for 1955 - 1959 Chevy trucks
The CPP 5559BBD kit and our original brake lever.

Classic Performance Products had the perfect product for the job – their frame mount brake booster kit for drum brakes (part number 5559BBD, accessible at classicperform.com). We purchased it through Summit Racing to take advantage of their pricing and free shipping.

Though we were a little concerned with the lack of documentation, it turned out that the installation was straightforward and simple. From start to finish it took us three hours to complete the installation. not including new brake lines, which haven’t been made up yet.

Relocation of hand brake pulley to make room for brake booster kit
The handbrake pulley had to be moved rearward a few inches to clear the diaphragm housing.

In addition to the brake line replacement, which shouldn’t take more than an hour to install, we had to make two other modifications. First, we had to move the handbrake cable pulley rearward on the frame a few inches to clear the large diaphragm housing. These were the only new holes in the frame, since the new master cylinder and booster utilize the same mounting holes as the original.

The second modification required for this kit is to create a new access hole in the floor of the cab, since the original master cylinder is several inches forward from the CPP unit.

Master cylinder access hole relocated for CPP 5559BBD brake booster
New master cylinder access on the cab floor.

We didn’t want to cut into the transverse rib on the cab floor, nor the strengthening grooves in the floor, so the access hole is not directly over the master cylinder reservoirs. But we made the access opening large enough to fit your hand through to remove the cap and perform fluid maintenance.

The CPP 5559BBD kit utilizes the original brake lever to operate the master cylinder
The original brake lever is used, and fit perfectly.

At around $300 plus the cost of new or modified brake lines, the kit is a bargain, especially when the ease of installation is factored into the equation. We will utilize braided stainless steel lines if we can get those made up economically, otherwise we will opt for hard lines like the original setup.

CPP 5559BBD brake booster installed
CPP 5559BBD installed except for new brake lines. The access hole drawn here above the MC would have cut through strength structures of the cab.

Summing it up, we’re very pleased with the CPP kit and we are looking forward to a little more stopping power. After all, Lewie, Lance, and I all live in Hidden Meadows in northeast San Diego county, and leaving the ‘hood requires dropping several hundred feet in elevation down a steep grade to access I-15 and the rest of the world. If this kit performs as well as it looks and installs, it will be making an appearance on the ’59 Apache soon.

 

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