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Introduction

Why?
Atfirstglance,itmayseemthatanarticleonbrakesisntaterriblysexyidea.Afterall,brakesdontmakeyou
gofaster,lookcoolerorsoundmeaner.But,fewthingsarelessenjoyablethandrivingarigwithlousybrakes.
Notonlycanitbestressfulandneedlesslyhardwork,itcanalsobedangerous.Goodbrakescanactually
improveyouroverallabilitiesbyallowingmuchbettercontroloftherigatalltimes.Finally,withtherecent
dramaticincreaseinthepopularityofracingformsofwheelingcompetition,goodbrakeshavebecomemuch
moreimportant.

What?
So,myaimwiththisarticleistohelpyoubetterunderstandbrakesystemsandthefactorsaffectingbrakeperformancetodispelthemanycommonmythsandmisconceptions,andtoaddressimportantoff
roadfactorsthatyouwontfindcoveredbyanyothersource.

BytheendIhopethatyouwillbeableto:

Understandhowyourbrakeswork,andwhytheyperformthewaytheydo.
Accuratelytroubleshoot/identifycausesofdissatisfactionwithyourbrakes.
Accuratelydescribetheperformance/feelofyourbrakesusingproperterminology.
Decidewhatmodifications/componentswillworkforyoutohelpyouachieveyourobjectives.
Selectappropriatecomponentsandunderstandhowtheyinterrelateandworktogether(andsometimeswhytheyworkagainstoneanother).
Beabletoidentifyandavoidcommonmisconceptionsandbadadvice

AttheendIwillalsoshowcaseakickassbrakesystemmodificationfromwhichvirtuallyanyrigwillbenefit.

Thatsaid,thisarticleisntabeginnersguidetobrakesitisassumedthatyouarealreadyfamiliarwiththebasiccomponents.Itsalsonotaimedatmaintenancehowtoreplacethebrakepadsonthisor
thatmodeltrucktherearemanyfactoryandaftermarketrepairmanualsthatcoverthetopicwell.Also,becausethisarticleisintendedforoffroadrigs,Iwontbecoveringaerodynamicbrakingordown
force.Finally,iffornootherreasonthanIdetestthedamnthings,Iwillnotbecoveringdrumbrakes,butinsteadfocusingondiscbrakesystems.

Actually,thereareanumberofgoodreasonswhydiscbrakesarefarsuperiortodrums,including:

Bettercoolinglesslikelytooverheatandfade
Lesssusceptibletocontaminationfrommudandwater
Lessmaintenance
Mucheasiermaintenance
Lighter
Morepadtorotorcontactarea

Soifyoustillhavedrumbrakesontherearofyourrig,theresplentyofgoodinformationinthisarticleofinteresttoyou,butIwontbecoveringdrumbrakeimprovementsyourefarbetterofftoconvertto
discs,whetheryoufabricateyourownoruseoneofthemanycommerciallyavailableconversionkits.WhatIwillcover,ishowtoadjusttherestofyoursystemtoaccommodatenewlyinstalleddiscsin
placeofdrumsbutnowImgettingaheadofmyself.

TableofContents
BasicBrakeComponents
HowBrakesWork
BrakeTorque
ClampingForce
CoefficientofFriction
ThermalCapacity
ThePedal
BrakeHydraulics
MasterCylinders
Valving
BrakeTubingandHoses
BrakeCallipers
Rotors
Pads
TheBrakingRequirementsofExtremeOffroadRigs
BrakePerformanceandLimits
BrakeFadeandothercomplaintsDesignTroubleshooting
BrakeSystemDesign
MaintenanceTroubleshooting
ReviewVANCOPowerBrakeSupplyHydroboostSystem

BasicBrakeComponents
Eachcomponentinaproperlyfunctioningbrakesystemmustworkinharmonywiththeothercomponentsforustoachievemaximumbrakingperformance.Wewillcovereachcomponentitsselection,
modification,andintegrationintothesystemasawhole.Fornow,thebasiccomponentsofa4wheeldiscbrakesystemare:

1.Apedalmechanismforthedrivertoactuatethebrakes.Alsoactsasaleverthatservestomultiplythedriversinputviathepedalratio.
2.Amastercylinder(MC)&reservoircontainshydraulicbrakefluidtoactuatethebrakecallipersandapistontomoveandpressurizethatfluid.
3.Hydrauliclinestoconveythebrakefluidtothebrakecallipers,andcontainthehydraulicfluid,allowingittobepressurized.
4.ValvesToimproveperformance,abrakesystemmaycontainsomeofthefollowingvalvesbetweentheMCandthecallipers:residualpressurevalve,meteringvalve,combinationvalve,
proportioningvalve,orpressurelimitingvalve.
5.BrakeCalliperslocatedateachwheel,thebrakecallipersarehydraulicallyactuatedclampsthatclampthebrakepadsagainsttherotors.
6.Brakepadslocatedinsidethecallipers,thepadsarethefrictionmaterialthatthecallipersclampagainsttherotors.
7.RotorsBoltedtotheaxlehub,therotorsslowandstoptherotationofthewheelswhenclampedbythecallipers.Theyalsoabsorbtheheatcreatedfromthefrictionofthepadsagainsttherotor.

HowBrakesWork
Itseemsprettysimplethedriverpressesonthepedalandtherigstops.Buttheresquiteabitgoingon,andunderstandingitmorefully(yes,includingalittlephysicsandmath,sorry!)canreallyhelpus
getthemostoutofourbrakesystem.

Hereswhatsgoingon:

Thedriverpressesonthebrakepedal,actuatingthepistoninthemastercylinder(MC).Thepistoninthemastercylinderdisplacesthehydraulicfluidinthebrakelines.Becausethesystemissealed,the
displacement(movement)ofthehydraulicfluidmovesthepiston(s)inthebrakecallipers.Themovingcallipersbringthebrakepadsintocontactwiththerotor.Atthispoint,becausethereisnomore
movementpossibleinthesystem,pressurebeginstobuild,andthepadsarepressedharderandharderagainsttherotor,creatingfriction,andstoppingtherig.

OPTIONALGEEKTECHMAYCONTAINMATHAND/ORPHYSICS

Whydoestherigstop?

ThereasontherigstopsisbecauseoftwoimportantlittlepiecesofphysicsNewtonsFirstLaw,andtheLawofConservationofEnergy.

Wha??

NewtonsFirstLaw,akatheLawofInertia,statesthat:

Anobjectwillremainatrest,orcontinuetomoveataconstantvelocity*,unlessacteduponbyanunbalancedforce.

(*velocityjustmeansthecombinationofspeedanddirection)

Thelawofconservationofenergystatesthat:
Energycanneitherbecreatednordestroyeditcanonlybechangedfromoneformtoanother.

Toseehowtheselawsofphysicsrelatetobrakes,letsexaminethemwithanexampledrivingabuggydowntheroadataconstantvelocity(constantspeedin
astraightline),andthenstopping.

Asweredrivingdowntheroadinastraightlineataconstantspeedthebuggyhasaconstantvelocity.Inordertostopit,wemustcreateanunbalancedforce
thatNewtonsFirstLaw.

Thebuggydrivingdowntheroadalsodevelopsenergyintheformofkineticenergy.(Energyistheabilitytodowork,andkineticenergyistheenergydeveloped
bymovingobjects.)Inorderforthebuggytostop,thiskineticenergymustbeconvertedtoanotherform(itcannotbedestroyed)thatstheLawofConservation
ofEnergy.

Inordertostopthebuggy,then,thebrakesmustapplyanunbalancedforcetothebuggyandconvertthebuggiesKineticenergytosomeotherform

Theunbalancedforcethatstopsthecaristheincreaseinfrictionbetweenthetiresandtheroadthatiscreatedasthebrakesslowtherotationofthewheels.
Whenthebrakesareapplied,thefrictionbetweenthepadsandrotorsalsocreatestremendousheatconvertingthekineticenergyofthebuggytoheat(andin
somecasesalittlenoiseifthetiresorbrakessqueal.)

Insummary,inordertostoparig,thebrakesmusthavethreeproperties.Theymust:

1.beabletoapplyaforcetotherotortodeceleratethewheelsrotationsothatfrictionisincreasedbetweentiresandroadandthevehicleslows/stopsthisabilityisdescribedas
thebrakesystemsBRAKETORQUE.
2.beabletocreateenoughfrictionbetweenthepadandrotorstoconvertthevehicleskineticenergytoheatthisiscalledCLAMPINGFORCEand
3.belargeandheavyenough(therotors)toabsorbthatheatwithoutdamagethisiscalledTHERMALCAPACITY.

BrakeTorque
Braketorqueininlbs(foreachwheel)istheeffectiverotorradiusininchestimesclampingforcetimesthecoefficientoffrictionofthepadagainsttherotor.Braketorqueistheforcethatactuallydecelerates
thewheelandtire.Therearetwocomponentshowhardthepadsclamptherotor(clampingforce)andhowfarthatclampingtakesplacefromthecenterofthewheelhub.Thelargertheeffectiverotor
radius,thefurthertheclampingtakesplacefromthewheelcenter,andthemoretorquegeneratedbythislongerlevereffect.Thisisverysimilartothemannerinwhichalongerhandleonaratchet
generatesmoretorquethanashorthandle(forthesameinput).Toincreasebraketorqueitisnecessarytoincreasethehydraulicpressure,thecalliperpistonarea,thecoefficientoffrictionbetweenpad&
rotor,ortheeffectiverotordiameter.

ClampingForce
Theclampingforcethatacalliperexerts,measuredinpounds,isthehydraulicpressure(inpsi)multipliedbythetotalpistonareaofthecalliper(inafixedcalliper)ortwotimesthetotalpistonarea(ina
floatingcalliper),insquareinches.Toincreasetheclampingforceitisnecessarytoeitherincreasethehydraulicpressureorthecalliperpistonarea.Increasingthecoefficientoffrictionwillnotincrease
clampingforce.

CoefficientofFriction
Thecoefficientoffrictionbetweenpad&rotorisanindicationoftheamountoffrictionbetweenthetwosurfaces.Thehigherthecoefficient,thegreaterthefriction.Typicalpassengercarpadcoefficientsare
intheneighbourhoodof0.3to0.4.Racingpadsareinthe0.5to0.6range.Hardpadshavealowercoefficientbutwearless,softpadshaveahighercoefficientbutcanwearquickly.Withmostpads,
thecoefficientistemperaturesensitivewhichiswhysometimesracersneedtowarmupthebrakesbeforetheyworkwell,andalsowhymostbrakeswillfadewhentheyoverheatthecoefficientof
frictionisreducedasthetemperaturerises.Formoreinfoincoefficientoffriction,seesectiononpads.

ThermalCapacity
Thebrakerotorsmustbecapableofabsorbingtheheatgeneratedbythebrakesastheyconvertthemovingcarskineticenergyintoheat.Theamountofkineticenergyacarhas(and,therefore,the
amountofheattherotorsmustbeabletoabsorb)dependsontheweightofthecarandthesquareofthespeedofthecar.Therotorsabilitytoabsorbthisheatdependsonitsmass(weight),andonhow
wellitcools.Exposedastheyaretocoolingairflow,thisisoneareawherediscsaresuperiortodrums.

OPTIONALGEEKTECHMAYCONTAINMATHAND/ORPHYSICS

Thefollowingequationsandexampleswillhelptoclarifytheconcepts:

BrakeTorque

BrakeTorqueRequirediscalculatedas:

TBr=FrictionForceonTirexRollingRadiusofTire

Where

TBr=BrakeTorqueRequired(in.lbs.)

FrictionForceonTire=VerticalForceonTirexGrip

Grip=coefficientoffrictionbetweenthetireandroad

Thetiresgripisdifficulttomeasure,andcanvaryfrom0.1onweticetoabout1.4foraracingslickonahot,drytrack.Ifyoudonthaveavalueforyourtires,
use1.0asanaveragevalue.

ThecalculationofFrictionForceonTireisdifferentforfrontandreartires,takesintoaccountweighttransfer,andrequiresthecalculationofverticalforceon
bothtiresfirst.

Front:
FF=Ff/2

Where:
FF=FrictionForceonFrontTire
=grip(use1.0)
Ff=VerticalForceonbothfronttires

and
Ff=Wc[1(Xcg/l)+(Ycg/l)]

Where:
Ff=VerticalForceonbothfronttires
Wc=Weightofcar(inlbs)
Xcg=Distancefromfrontaxletocarscenterofgravity(in)
l=wheelbase(in)
=grip(use1.0)
Ycg=heightabovegroundofcarscenterofgravity

Rear:
FR=Fr/2

Where:
FR=FrictionForceonRearTire
=grip(use1.0)
Fr=VerticalForceonbothreartires

And

Fr=WcFf

Where:
Fr=VerticalForceonbothreartires
Wc=Weightofcar(lbs)
Ff=VerticalForceonbothfronttires

Byexaminingtheaboveequationscarefully,wecanlearnsomevaluablethings.Forexample,notethattheequationforBrakeTorqueRequired:

doesnotinvolvevehiclespeedinanyway
willvaryfordifferenttiresandroad(ortrail)conditions
doesinvolvetire/wheelradiusanimportantpointforthoseofusrunninglargediametertires(doyouthinkthecarguys(whoprettymuchdevelopedallthe
brakingcomponentswewillchoosefrom)haveeverdonethecalculationsfora44,47,orgodforbid,a54tire?)
doesinvolvethevehiclesweight,height,andwheelbaseconfirmingwhatweknewfrominstinctthatalower,lightercarwillbeeasiertostop(andagain
importanttoussincewearegenerallymuchtallerandheavierthantheaveragecar)

Great,sowecancalculateatheoreticalvalueforhowmuchbraketorqueoursystemneedstobeabletodeliverbuthowdowedeterminewhatourbrakesare
capableof?

Imgladyouasked.

ClampingForceiscalculatedas:

CF=PMxAT

Where

CF=ClampingForce(lbs)

PM=Maximumhydraulicpressure(psi)

AT=Totaleffectiveareaofcalliperspistons(sq.in.)forfixedcallipersthisistheactualareaofthepistons,forfloatingcallipersthisisequalto2xthe
actualareaofthepistons

BrakeTorqueDevelopediscalculatedas:

TBd=CF(L)Re

Where

TBd=BrakeTorqueDeveloped(inlbs)

CF=ClampingForce(lbs)
L=Coefficientoffrictionbetweenbrakepadsandrotors(use0.3,manufacturersspecs,orestimatederivedfromthepad'sDOTedgecode(seesectionon
pads))
Re=Effectiverotorradius(in.)measuredfromthecenteroftherotortothecanterofthebrakepad.

Re=effectiverotorradius

Ahhanowweregettingtosomemorefamiliartermspressure,pistonsize,sizeofbrakes.Letsjustdigalittledeeper.

Themaximumhydraulicpressuredevelopedinyourbrakingsystemcaneitherbemeasuredwithaninlinepressuregauge,orcanbecalculatedas:

PM=Fp/Ap

Where:

PM=MaximumPressure(psi)

Fp=ForceonMasterCylinderpiston(lbs)
=PedalEffortxPedalRatio(i.e.howhardthedriverpushesthepedalmultipliedbythepedalratio.)

Ap=AreaoftheMCpiston(sq.in.)
=0.785xDp^2(Dp^2=theMCpistondiameter,ininches,squared)

Thisisaveryimportantequation.Notehowthemaximumpressuredeterminesthebraketorque,andthemaximumpressureistheforceappliedDIVIDEDbythe
areaoftheMCpiston.Thismeans,allotherthingsbeingequal,thebiggertheMCpiston,theLESSpressuredeveloped,andtheLESSbraketorquegenerated.
Thetradeoffis,thesmallertheMC,thelessfluidisdisplacedperinchoftravel,andthereforethegreaterthepedaltravelrequiredmoreonthislater.

ThermalCapacity
Aspreviouslydiscussed,thebrakerotorsmustbecapableofabsorbingtheheatgeneratedbythebrakesastheyconvertthemovingcarskineticenergyinto
heat.

TheformulafortheKineticEnergy(K)inthemovingcaris:

K=(W*S^2)/29.9

Where:

K=KineticEnergy(ft.lbs.)

W=Weightofcar(lbs.)

S=Speedofcar(mph)

(Note:TherootequationforkineticenergyisactuallyK=1/2mv^2,theaboveversionhasaconversionfactorincludedsowecanuseweightinsteadofmassand
sotheresultisgiveninforceunitsinsteadofenergyunits)

Nothingreallysurprisinghereweknowfrominstinctandexperiencethathowmuchbrakeyouneeddependsonhowheavythecarisandhowfastitsgoing.
Notethough,thatspeedissquaredintheequationmeaningthatasthespeedincreases,thekineticenergydevelopedgoesupbythesquareofthespeed
increaseforexample,ifspeeddoubles,kineticenergyincreasesbyafactorof4.Ifspeedtripleskineticenergygoesupbyafactorof(3^2)or9!!Thisisa
bitchforracecardriversbutnotsomuchtrailrigs.Howeverifyourebeginningtoraceyourrockcrawlingbuggybeawarethatyourbrakerequirementsare
goingtoincreaseexponentially!

OK,so,movingrighaskineticenergy,kineticenergymustbeturnedintoheat,rotorsmustabsorbsaidheat.Bigdeal,sowhat?

Well,theequationsthatfollowareusedtocalculatethetemperatureincreaseintherotorforagivenkineticenergy.Rememberingthatkineticenergydepends
onweightandspeed,theyalsoexplaininincontrovertibleterms(bigwordmeansyoucantbloodyarguewithmeaboutit!)exactlywhypinionbrakes,flatout
suck,andwhyPatooyeesrotorskeeptryingtomeltoff!RemembertoaddinsulttoinjurypinionbrakesareoftenusedonRockwellaxledrigswhicharebig
andheavy,andweightisamultiplyingfactorintheequationforKineticenergy.

[Asanasidethepreviousdiscussiononbraketorquealsoexplainswhysomefeelthatpinionbrakesworkwellatslowspeed.Itsbecausetherotorisplaced
beforetheaxledifferential,meaningthepinionbrakesbraketorqueiscalculatedasaboveandthenmultipliedbyafactorequaltotheaxleratio.Thismeans,
evenwithsmallcallipersandrotors,theycandeveloptremendousbraketorque.Butrememberwhatwesaidabouttherequirementsofabrakingsystemit
mustalsohavesufficientthermalcapacityandtheysimplydonot.Infact,theyredangerouslyinadequateinthisregard!]

Theformulafortemperatureriseis:

TR=Kc/77.8*Wb

Where:

TR=Temperaturerise(F)

Kc=Kineticenergychange(fromstartofbrakingtoendofbraking)(ft.lbs.)

Wb=weightofallrotors(lbs)

And:

Kc=Kineticenergychange(ft.lbs.)
=KbKa

where:

Kb=kineticenergybeforestop

Ka=Kineticenergyafterstop

Letsdoanexample,becausemathisfun!

ImagineImstoppingmy5000lbbuggyfrom40mphtoadeadstop.

First,letscalculatethechangeinkineticenergyfora5000lbbuggyfrom40mphto0mphthisremainsthesameregardlessofthebrakesystem.

Kb=Wc*S^2/29.9
=5000*(40)^2/29.9
=267559ftlbs

Ka=0

Kc=KbKa
=2675590
=267559

Now,withtontruckdiscbrakesateachwheel,eachrotorweighsabout21lbs,foratotalrotorweightof84lbs.

Inthisconfiguration,thetempriseoftherotorwillbe:

TR=Kc/77.8*Wb
=267559/(77.8*84)
=267559/6535
=41*F

Ifitwereahotday,afterthestopmyrotorscouldbeat141*F

Now,imagineIhavepinionbrakeswith2smallrotors,weight,say,12lbseach.

Now,

TR=Kc/77.8*Wb
=267559/(77.8*24)
=267559/1867
=143*F

Onthesamehotday,therotorsarenowat243*F!!

Makeafewmorestops,withinsufficienttimefortherotorstocoolfullybetweenthem,anditseasytoseehowyoucanseriouslyoverheatthesmall
pinionbrakerotors!

OK,somuchforphysicsandmath.Letsmoveonnowtothemorepracticalsideofhowthebrakingsystemworks.

Recallthatbrakesneedtobeabletodo3things:

1.Developenoughclampingforcetocreateenoughfrictionbetweenpadandrotortoconvertvehicleskineticenergytoheat.
2.Developenoughbraketorquetoreachthelimitoftraction(lockupthetires)inallconditions,and
3.Haveenoughmasstoabsorbtheconversionoftherigskineticenergytoheatwithoutboilingthefluid,warpingtherotors,cookingseals,etc.

Andtheymustdoallthreewithgoodandconsistentfeel!

Thefollowingflowchartpresentsastylizedsummaryofthebrakesystemanditsinterrelatedcomponents/factors.Followingit,wewillexamineeachcomponentinmoredetail:
ThePedal
Aswehavediscussed,inordertoapplythebrakesthedrivermustbeabletobothmoveandpressurizethehydraulicfluid.Thatis,themastercylinderpistonhasthejobofmovingthebrakefluidthrough
thelinesinordertobringthebrakepadsintocontactwiththerotor,andofpressurizingthatfluidcreateclampingforce.

Thejobofthepedalistoallowthedrivertoactuatethebrakes,andalsotomultiplythedriversinputthroughalevereffectcalledthepedalratio.Inotherwords,thepedaltransfersmovement&forcefrom
thedriversfoottothemastercylinderpiston.Thisisakeyconceptthatbrakesrequirebothmovementandforcetooperate,asthetwoarelargelyinverselyproportional(thatis:asonegoesupthe
othergoesdown,andviceversa)wewillreturntothisconceptmanytimessokeepitinmind.

Theforcethedriverappliestothepedalwhenbrakingiscalledthepedaleffort.Thisamountofforce,measuredinpounds,isusuallyinsufficienttooperatethebrakesvaluesrangingfrom50100lbsare
common.Assuch,pedalsaredesignedtooperatelikealever,multiplyingthisforcebeforeitisappliedtothemastercylinderpiston.Theamountbywhichanyparticularpedaldesigndoessoiscalledthe
pedalratio.

Thepedalratioiscalculatedasthedistancebetweenthepedalspivotpointandthecentreofthefootpad,dividedbythedistancebetweenthepivotpointandthemastercylinderpushrod,asshowninthe
followingdiagrams.

PedalRatio=A/B

Ascanbeseenfromthediagramthelongerthepedal,thehigherthepedalratio,andthegreaterthemechanicaladvantagemeaningthelowerthepedaleffortrequired.

However,therearetradeoffs.First,longerpedalsarehardertofitespeciallyincrampedbuggycockpits.Also,thelongerthepedal,thegreaterthepedalstrokerequiredtomovethemastercylinder
pistoni.e.thefurtherthedrivermustpressthepedal.Thebestdesignisatradeoffthatwilldependonmanyfactorsincludingdesiredpedaleffort,mastercylinderandcalliperpistondiameters,andthe
roomavailable.Asfaraspedaleffortisconcerned,75lbsiscommonforhighperformanceracecarbrakes,100lbsfeelshard,and50lbsiscommoninpowerassistedbrakes.Commonpedalratiosrange
from3or4:1forpowerbrakesupto6or7:1formanualbrakes.

Ofcourse,ifyouareusingastockpedal,youareprettymuchstuckwiththeratioithas,andmustdesigntherestofthesystemtoaccommodate.

Justrememberthelongerthepedal,thegreatertheratio,thelesslegforcerequiredbutthegreaterthepedaltravelrequired.Longerpedalstendtodeflectmoreunderharduse,whichcanleadtoa
spongyfeelingtothebrakes.Youshouldalwaysstrivetouseapedalthatwillgofromfullyretractedtofullyappliedinasshortadistanceaspossibleusuallylessthanaboutfourinches.Anymorethan
this,andtherewillnotbesufficienttravelinthedriverslegtofullyapplythebrakesunderemergencyconditionswheretravelissuddenlyincreasedsuchasduringbrakefadeorwhenthereisairinthe
fluid.

Keepinmindthattotalbrakepedaltravelincludesnotonlythestrokeofthemastercylinderpiston,butalsoincludesallslopanddeflectionofallpartsinthesystem.

Designingandfabricatingagoodpedalsetuprequiresengineeringfarbeyondthescopeofthisarticleespeciallysincethebrakesaresuchacriticalsafetysystemontherig.

Myadviceistoeitherincorporatearuggedstockpedalsystem,oruseoneoftheprefabsystemsavailable(inavarietyofratios)frommanyaftermarketvendors.Choosearatiothatwillworkwiththerest
ofyoursystemandyourpersonalpreferenceforhowthebrakeswillfeel.Commonratiosare3:1forpowerbrakesand5:1formanualbrakesbut,youmaydesireamorecustomratiolike7:1for
manualbrakesifusingalargediametermastercylinder.

Onefinalwordonpedaleffort:

Youcandesignabrakesystemforanyvalueofpedaleffort(valuesrangingfrom50100lbsarecommon),andthepedaleffortwilllargelydeterminehowthebrakesfeeltothedriver(exceptingproblems
likebrakefadeandfluidboil).Forthisreason,inthefollowingdiscussion,assume,unlessstatedotherwise,thatwearediscussingthebrakesystemwithaconsistentandacceptablepedaleffort.For
example,ifwesay,changingtoalargerboremastercylinder(allotherthingsremainingthesame)willdecreasepedaltravelbutreducebrakingpower,wemeanwiththesamepedaleffort.Nomatter
whatthesystem,ormod'swemaketoit,wealwayshavetheoptionofjustincreasingpedaleffort,butthisisrarelyexperiencedbythedriverasanacceptablesolution.i.e.onecoulddesignasystemwith
undersizecallipersandanoversizeMCthatcouldstillstoptherigeffectivelyifonlywewouldpushonthepedalwith300lbsbutclearlythiswouldnotbesuitable.

BrakeHydraulics
OK,nowweregettingtothegoodstuff.

Recallthatthebrakeshydraulicsystemmustsupplymovementandforce.Themovementmustbeenoughtotakeupallslop,clearance,anddeflectionofpartsaswellasmovethecalliperpistons
sufficientlytobringbrakepadsintofirmcontactwiththerotors.Theforcemustbeenoughtocreateenoughfrictionbetweenpadandrotortostopthecar.

Itisthepistonofthemastercylinderthatprovidesboththemovementandtheforce,andthebrakefluidthattransmitsbothtothecallipers.

Keepinmind,asyoureadthissection,thatthegoalistohaveasystemthatprovidesmaximumforcewithsmallmovementi.e.wewanttobeabletobrakehardwithoutexcessivepedaltravel.

ForceappliedtotheMCpistoncreatespressureinthebrakefluid.Thepressureistheforceapplied,DIVIDEDbytheareaofthepiston.Therefore,thesmallerthemastercylinderpiston,thegreaterthe
pressurecreated.

SystemPressure=Fp/Ap

Where:

Fp=Forceonthepiston(lbs.)

Ap=Areaofthepiston(sq.in.)

Example:CalculatesystempressureforbothadiameterMCanda1diameterMC,givenaninputof100lbs.

CaseoneMCpiston(d=0.5):

P=Fp/Ap
=100/pi*(d/2)^2
=100/3.14*(0.5/2)^2
=510psi

Case21MCpiston(d=1.0):

P=Fp/Ap
=100/pi*(d/2)^2
=100/3.14*(1.0/2)^2
=127psi

Recallingthatthepressurecreatedisadirectfactorinhowmuchclampingforceandthereforebraketorqueisdeveloped,itmayseemthatforthemostpowerfulbrakes,wewouldwanttouseasmallMC
piston.

But,thetradeoffistheothercomponentrequiredofthebrakesystemnamelymovement.Becausethefluidisincompressible,anymovementintheMCpistontranslatesintomovementofthecalliper
pistons(excludingexpansionofhosesandlines,whichshouldbeminimalinaproperlyworkingsystem).Thismovementinahydraulicsystemisknownasdisplacementandiscalculatedastheareaof
theMCpistonmultipliedbyitsstroke.Displacementisavolume,measuredincubicinches.Therefore,thesmallerthemastercylinderpiston,thelessdisplacementcreated.

Displacement(cubicinches)=Ap*Sp

Where:

Ap=Areaofthepiston(sq.in.)

Sp=Distancepistonmoves(stroke)(in.)

Example:CalculatedisplacementforbothadiameterMCanda1diameterMC,bothwithastrokeof2inches.

Case1MCpiston(d=0.5):

Displacement=Ap*Sp
=2*[pi*(d/2)^2]
=2*[3.14*(0.5/2)^2]
=0.39cu.in.

Case21MCpiston(d=1.0):

Displacement=Ap*Sp
=2*[pi*(d/2)^2]
=2*[3.14*(1.0/2)^2]
=1.57cu.in.

NowwecanclearlyseethatthereisatradeoffbetweenforceandmovementinselectingaMCpistonsize.Thesmallerthepiston,thegreaterthepressurecreatedbutthelessdisplacementproduced
(andthereforegreaterpedaltravelrequired.)

Sofar,wehaveconsideredonlytheeffectofthesizeoftheMCpiston,butofcourseinabrakesystemtherearetwopistonstheMCpistonandthecalliperpiston(forcalculations,thetotalareaofall
pistonsinamultipistoncalliperactthesameasasinglepistonofequivalentareainasinglepistoncalliper.)

Thereis,ofcourse,arelationshipbetweenthepistonsinthesystemthataffectsbothforceandmovement.

Becausethebrakehydraulicsystemisaclosed,sealedsystem,andbrakefluidcannotbecompressed,thereisalawofhydraulicsthatwemakeuseoftomultiplyforcethatis,toapplymoreforceatthe
callipersthanthedriverappliestotheMCpiston.Itisquitesimple,andquitepossiblythemostimportantconceptinthisentirearticle.Itisthis:

Inaclosedhydraulicsystem,pressureisequaloverallsurfacesofthecontainingsystem.

InourdiscussionofbrakesystemswewillrefertotheMCpistonastheinputpistonandthecalliperpistonastheoutputpiston.

Theabovelawmeansthatwhateverpressureiscreatedbytheinputpistonisappliedequallytotheoutputpiston.Becausetheoutput(calliper)pistonisofmuchlargerareathantheinput(MC)piston,this
hastheeffectofmultiplyingforceinthebrakesystem.

TheamountofforcemultiplicationthusachievedisknownasthebrakesHydraulicRatioHydraulicRatiocanbecalculatedorexpressedanumberofways.Itistheratiooffluiddisplacementbythe
mastercylindertofluiddisplacedinthecalliperpistons.ItisalsoequaltotheratioofforceappliedtotheMCpistontotheforcegeneratedbythecalliperpistons.Hydraulicratioisanimportantfactorinthe
pedaleffortequation,thehighertheratio,thelesspedaleffortisrequired(andthelongerthepedaltraveltoachieveagivenclampingforce).Thestifferthecalliperandthestifferthepad,thehigherthe
hydraulicratiothatcanbeemployed.

Forexample,supposeweapply100lbsofforcetoadiameterMCpiston,wedevelopapprox.500psi.This500psiactsevenlyonallothersurfacesinthesystem,includingthecalliperpistons.Suppose
thecalliperpistonhasadiameterof3inches.Multiplyingour500psibytheareaofthecalliperpiston(~7sq.in),wedevelopnearly3500poundsofclampingforceatthebrakepads.

Theequationforthisforcemultiplyingrelationshipis:

Fc=[Fmc*Ac]/Amc

Where:

Fc=Forceatcalliperpiston(output)(lbs)

Fmc=Forceonmastercylinderpiston(input)(lbs)

Ac=Areaofcalliperpiston(sq.in.)

Amc=Areaofmastercylinderpiston(sq.in.)

Brilliant!Fromtheequationwecanseethat,foragiveninputforce(pedaleffort),inordertoincreasetheforceatthecalliper(whatwereafter)wecaneitherincreasetheareaofthecalliperpiston(s)or
decreasetheareaofthemastercylinderpiston(orboth).

Ofcourse,nothingiseveraseasyasthat!Wecantforgettheotherfactormovement.Ofcourse,thereisonceagain,atradeoff.

Unfortunately,bothactionsthatincreaseforce(good!)alsoincreasepedaltravel(bad!).Thatis,ifwedecreasethesizeoftheMCpistonwedecreaseitsdisplacementrequiringustoincreaseitsstroketo
compensateincreasingpedaltravelrequired.Similarly,asweincreasethesizeofthecalliperpiston,weincreasetheclampingforce,butwealsoincreasethevolumeoffluid(thedisplacement)required
tomovethepistonagivendistancethedistanceitmustmovetobringthepadsintocontactwiththerotorthisalsodemandsanincreaseinpedaltravel.

Theequationforrelatingpistonmovementsis:

Mc=[Mmc*Amc]/Ac

Where:

Mc=Movementatcalliperpiston(in.)

Mmc=MovementofMCpiston(in.)

Amc=AreaofMCpiston(sq.in.)

Ac=Areaofcalliperpiston(sq.in.)

So,wecanseethat,inordertoincreasethemovementofthecalliperpistonwithoutaffectingpedaltravel(Mmc),wewouldhavetoeitherincreasethesizeoftheMCpiston,ordecreasethesizeofthe
calliperpistonbothactionsthatwilldecreaseforce!

Asimpleexamplewithwhichweareallintimatelyfamiliar,thatillustratestheconceptsofforceandmovementina2pistonhydraulicsystem,isthatof
thecommonfloorjack.

Considerthejackshandlepistonastheinputpiston(liketheMCpiston)andthepistonthatraisestheliftingsaddleastheoutputpiston(likethecalliper

piston).Lookattheirrelativesizesthehandlepistonistinycomparedtotheoutputpistonthatshowyoucanlifta5000lbcarbyapplyingonly50lbs
tothejackhandle(multiplied,ofcourse,bythelengthofthehandlejustlikepedalratioinabrakesystem.)Thetradeoff,ofcourse,ismovementyou
havetopumpthathandlealotoftimes(muchinputpistonmovement)toraisethecarevenjustalittle(outputpistonmovement).Justasinbrakes,
movementandforceareatradeoff.Toproducegreatforcewithoutgreatinput,youhavetotradetravel.

Itsmyconsideredopinionthatthisinterrelationshipbetweenforceandmovementsina2pistonhydraulicsystemsuchasbrakesisnotverywellunderstood.Considerasevidencethefollowingscenario
aguyswapsreardiscbrakesinplaceofdrumsontherearaxleofhisrig.Theresultingbrakeperformanceispredictablyinadequateobviouslythecalliperpistonsaremuchlargerthanthepreviousdrum
brakewheelcylinderpistonsmeaningthatmorefluidmustbedisplacedtoactuatethem.Thecommonadvicefoundistoswapinalargermastercylinder.Thatsgreatfromamovementperspective
thelargerMCpistonwilldisplacegraterfluid,movingthecalliperpistonsfurtherforagivenamountofpedaltravel.BUTwenowknowthattheresultwillALSObeadecreaseinforceatthecalliper
pistons(includingthefrontcallipers)thanwasachievedwiththesmallerMC.

So,whatarewetodo?Wereallyhaveonlytwooptionseithercarefulcompromiseorpowerassist.Thebeautyofpowerassististhatitallowsustosubstantiallyincreaseinputforcewhilemaintaining
pedaleffort.This,inturn,enablestheproductionofadequateforceatthecalliperswhileallowingtheuseoflargerMCpistonsandsmallercalliperpistons,decreasingpedaltravel.Thisisparticularly
importantwhenyouconsiderthatmostoften,asingleMCpistonmustactuatetwocallipers,(usuallyoneforeachofthefrontorrearwheels).ThatsingleMCpistonmustdisplaceenoughfluidtomovetwo
ormorelargediameterpistonsinthecallipers.Makingitlargeenoughtodosowithoutrequiringwaytoomuchpedaltravelmeanswecompromisetheforcemultiplicationinthehydraulicsystem.The
resultis,weeitheracceptsuboptimalforce(andresultingbraketorque),orwemustmakeupforthelackofhydraulicforcemultiplicationbyincreasinginputforce.Andtheonlywaytosignificantlyincrease
inputforcewithoutrequiringmuchgreaterpedaleffortistoincreasepedalratiooraddpowerassist.Giventhatcockpitspaceavailabilityplaceaveryrealupperlimitonhowmuchpedalratiowecan
practicallyachievetheanswerbecomespowerassist.

MasterCylinders
Themastercylinderistheheartofthebrakesystem.Actuatedbythepedal,itspistonprovidestheforceandthemovementrequiredtoapplythebrakes.Whenthepedalisreleased,aninternalreturn
springreturnsthepistontoitsrestingposition.

Initially,asthepedalispushed,thepistonmovesforwardandfluidvolumeisdisplaced,takingupallclearancesinthesystem.Thisfluidmovementactuatesthecalliperpistonswhichextendandbring
thebrakepadsintocontactwiththerotors.Becausethefluidisincompressible,oncethepadsareincontactwiththerotor,fluidmovementstopsandpressurerises.Theharderthepedalispushed,the
greaterthepressureachieved,themorebraketorqueisdeveloped.Howhardthedrivercanpushthepedal,andthereforehowmuchbrakingisachieved,isafunctionofinputforce(legstrength),
combinedwithpedalratioandanypowerassist.

Thecriticalspecsofamastercylinderareitsbore(diameterofthepiston)andstroke(howfarthepistoncantravelandthereforehowmuchfluiditcandisplacewhenapplied).Commonvaluesforbore
rangefrom5/8to11/2,andstrokefrom1to1.5.Matchingbothtotherequirementsofyoursystemisthekeytosatisfactoryperformance.Rememberthat,foragiveninput(pedaleffort)thesmallerthe
bore,themorepressureisgeneratedbutthelessfluiddisplaced.Similarly,thelongerthestrokethemorefluidisdisplaced,butthegreaterthepedaltravelrequired.Aswithmostthings,thebestresultis
achievedthroughcarefullyconsideredcompromise.

ThemostcommontypeofMCinusetodayisknownasadualtandemmastercylinder.Ithasseparatecircuits(pistons
andoutlets)forfrontandrearbrakes(dual),witheachcircuithavingitsownindependentreservoir.Thereasonforthisis
safetythetheoryis:ifonecircuit(frontorrearbrakes)shouldfail,thereremainstheotherseparate,independentcircuit.
Thetwopistonsarearrangedinlineinasinglebore(tandem).Thepistonclosesttothepedalistheprimarypiston,and
theotheristhesecondarypiston.Normally,theprimarypistonoperatesthefontbrakesandthesecondarypistontherear.
Fluidreservoirsmaybeintegratedorremote(attachedtothecylinderviahoses).Themostcommondesignhasthe
reservoirattacheddirectlytothecylinder.
Often,mastercylindersarelistedasbeingeitherfordisc/drumbrakesorfordisc/discbrakes(Imignoringolderdrum/drumsystems).Obviouslyadisc/discMCisdesignedtobeusedwith4wheel
discbrakes,andobviouslyadisc/drumMCwithdisc/drumbrakes.Assumingthatnobodyintheirrightmindwouldconvertdiscbrakestodrums,thatmeanstheonlyremainingissueofconcernwouldbe
usingadisc/drumMCwithdisc/discbrakes.Whenchoosingamastercylinder,traditionally,youmayhavebeentoldthattherearethreedifferencesbetweendisc/discanddisc/drummastersthatpreclude
theuseofadisc/drummasterwithdisc/discbrakes.Theyare:

1.Reservoirsize
2.Pistonsize(boreandstroke)
3.Builtinvalving.

Heresmytakeonthesethreeissues:

ReservoirSize
Discbrakereservoirsarelargerthanthosefordrumbrakes.Youwilloftenseetworeasonsgivenforthis:

1.First,becausethepistonsinadiscbrakecalliperareMUCHlargerthanthetinypistonsinadrumbrakewheelcylinder,discbrakesrequiremorefluidvolumetobedisplacedthandrumbrakes
requiringalargerreserveoffluidforoperation.
2.Secondly,asdiscbrakepadswear,discbrakecallipersareselfadjusting.Thatis,thecallipersonlyretractthepistonjustenoughtopreventpadtorotorcontact.Now,imagineyoustartwith
discbrakepadswiththickliningsandyouhavea4diametercalliperpiston.Everytimeyouapplythebrakesandthepadswearalittlebit,thecalliperretractsjustatinybitless.Bythetimethe
padswearto25%,or1/8thick,thepistonatrestwillbe.75furtheroutinitsstrokethanitwaswhenthepadswerenew.That.75behindthepistonmustbetakenupbyadditionalfluidandinthe
caseofa4diameterpiston,theadditionalvolumerequiredisgivenby(pi[d/2]^2*0.75)orabout8cubicinches.Multipliedbytwocallipers(oneforeachwheel)andthats16cubicinchesofextra
fluidreserverequiredtocompensateforpadwear.Thatsmuchhigherthantheamountrequiredtocompensatefordrumbrakeshoewear.Therefore,discbrakereservoirsarelargerthanfordrums
becauseOEMdesignersmustdesignareservoirfordiscbrakeslargeenoughthatthebrakeswillstillfunctionevenifJoePublicdoesntcheckthefluidoraddadropbetweennewpadsand
completelywornoutpads.

Itismyopinionthatthesecondreasonistheonlyrealpracticalreasonforthedifferenceinsizebetweendiscanddrumreservoirs.IsaythisbecauseIhaveneverseenadrumMCreservoirthatwasso
smallitdidntcontainenoughfluidtoactuallyapplydiscbrakeseventhoughdiscsrequiremorevolumethandrums.

Withthisinmind,wecanseethat,ifweroutinelycheckbrakefluidlevelsaspadswear,reservoirsizealoneshouldnotdisqualifyusfromusingadisc/drumMCwithdisc/discbrakesespeciallyifwere
usingalargeMCwithmoderateorsmallcallipers(e.g.1tonMCwithtoncallipers).

PistonSize
Itistruethatdiscbrakesrequirebothmorepressureandmoremovement(volume)tooperatethandrumbrakes.However,afterreadingthisarticle,withyournewencyclopedicknowledgeofpressureand
volume,youregoingtobeselectingaMCforyourbrakesbasedonitsspecsnotonwhatthecounterguysaystheOEapplicationwas.Thatistosaygiventherightboreandstroketomatchyour
system,theresnoparticularreasonthat,basedsolelyonpistonboreandstroke,anMCoriginallydesignedfordisc/drumscantbeusedsuccessfullyonadisc/discsetup.Thatsaid,youwillbynowalso
understandthatleavinginyourolddisc/drumMCafterconvertingthereartodiscswillnotworkwell.

BuiltinValving
Thisonecanbeadealkiller.IftheMCinquestionwasdesignedfordisc/drumsandhasabuiltinresidualpressurevalve,itwillnotbesuitablefordisc/discbrakes.Seesectionbelowonvalvingfor
descriptionofresidualpressurevalves.Fornow,thepointis,knowtheMCinquestionandwhetherornotithasbuiltinvalving(manydonot).Ifitdoes,youwouldhavetoeithermodifyitbyremovingthe
residualpressurevalvetomakeissuitableforusewithdiscbrakes,orchooseadifferentmastercylinder.

PowerorManual?
Again,youmayseemastercylindersmarketedasbeingformanualorpowerbrakes.Thisisbasedontwopotentialdifferences:

1.Pistonsize(bore)
2.Depthofpistonhole

CaseonemaybetrueifallyouaredoingisswappingMCs.Normally,manualbrakesusea1boreorlessMCandpowerbrakes1andup.Leavingeverythingelsethesame,andusingapowerMC
(largebore)withmanualbrakeswillnormallyresultinahardpedalthatis,thepedaleffortrequiredofthedriver,withoutpowerassist,becomestoogreat.However,wealreadyknowthatwecan
compensatebyusingagreaterpedalratioorlargerpistoncallipers.Therefore,whenoverallsystemdesignisconsidered,andifMCspecsareselectedcarefullytomatchthepedalratioandcalliperpiston
size,thereisnotechnicalreasonthatalargerpowerMCcouldntbeusedwithmanualbrakes.

Casetwoismoreofanissue.Thepistonholeisthearewheretheactuatingrod(fromthepedalorbooster)contactstheMCpiston.NormallyitwillbeashallowholeforapowerbrakeMCasthepower
boosterrodiscaptivebetweentheboosterandtheMC.Withmanualbrakes,theactuatingrodisattachedtothepedalwhichisobviouslyalever.InthiscasetheMCpistonholeisnormallydeeperto
preventtheactuatingrodfromfallingoutwhenthebrakesarereleasedaveryusefulfeature!However,ifyoumustuseashallowpistonholeMCwithmanualbrakesitmaybepossibletoovercomethe
problembyappropriatelylimitingpedaltravel(inthedirectionoppositetobrakeapplication)topreventactuatingrodfallout.

Summary
Therearenormallydifferencesbetweendiscanddrummastercylindersandbetweenpowerandmanualmastercylinders,asfollows:

1.DiscbrakeMCsnormallyhavealongerstrokeandlargerreservoirthanthosefordrums
2.DrumbrakeMCsmayhavebuiltinresidualpressurevalves
3.PowerbrakeMCsnormallyhavealargerboreandshallowerpistonholethanthoseformanualbrakes.

Normally,theeasiestrouteistouseanMCdesignedforthetypeofbrakesyouhave.However,whentotalsystemdesignisconsidered,aslongasthespecificspecsanddesignoftheMCinquestionare
wellunderstood,amuchgreaterrangeofinterchangepossibilitiesopensup.Thatsaid,thereareafewtimehonouredrulesofthumb:

Usea1"orsmallerboreMCformanualbrakes
Use1"orlargerboreMCforpowerbrakes
Manualbrakeswith1"MCuseapedalratioofapprox.6:1
Powerbrakeswitha11/8"MCuseapedalratioofapprox4:1
Discbrakesrequireaminimumpressureof8001000psi
Drumbrakesrequireaminimumpressureof400500psi

EffectsofPedalRatioandBoreSizeonHydraulicPressureOutput

PedalRatio MasterCylinderBoreSize(in.) InputForce(lbs) PressureDeveloped(psi)


6:1 11/8 75 453
6:1 1 75 573
6:1 7/8 75 748

5:1 11/8 75 377
5:1 1 75 477
5:1 7/8 75 623

4:1 11/8 75 302


4:1 1 75 382
4:1 7/8 75 499

Assumingapedalratioof5:1Notethatgoingfroma1"to7/8"MCboreincreasesthepressuretothecallipersbyalmost50%!!!

Valving
ResidualPressureValve
Aresidualpressurevalveisasimple,oneway,springloadedvalveinstalledeitherinthemastercylinder,orinlinebetweentheMCandthecallipers/wheelcylinders.Theyoperatebykeepingapre
determinedamountofpressureinthebrakelines,evenwiththebrakesreleased.Theinternalspringdeterminestheamountofresidualpressurekeptinthebrakelinesnormally2PSIor10PSI.There
aretwodistinctusesofresidualpressurevalves:

10PSI:Drumbrakesonly.Becausedrumbrakesdontusecallipersandarethereforenotselfadjustingtherearespringsinstalledtoretractthebrakeshoesawayfromthedrum.A10PSIresidual
pressurevalveisusedindrumbrakestokeepalittlepressureinthelinestobalancethereturnspringforcesothattheshoesaremaintainedincloseproximitytothedrums.Withouttheresidualpressure
valve,thereturnspringswouldretracttheshoessofarfromthedrumsthatexcessivepedaltravelwouldberequiredbeforethebrakesareapplied.

2PSI:Discbrakesonly.Inmanyracecarsandhotrods,themastercylinderisinstalledatalevelbelowthatofthecallipers.Assuch,gravitywilldrawthefluidfromthecallipers,causingittodrainback
intotheMC.Theresultisaspongyfeelingpedalandexcessivepedaltravel.A2PSIresidualpressurevalveisinstalledinthebrakelinebetweenMCandcallipertomaintainslightpressureintheline
andpreventfluiddrainback.Note:ThisvalveshouldonlybeneedediftheMCislowerthanthecallipers.

Ihaveoftenreadwherepeoplehaveadvisedtheuseofaresidualpressurevalvetocuresomeotherproblemspongypedalorexcessivepedaltravel(usuallycausedbyinsufficientvolumefromatoo
smallMC).Incaseslikethis,itmayfeelasiftheRPVhascuredtheproblem,butitisonlyabandaid,maskingtherealproblem.UseanRPVonlyfordrumbrakesorMClowerthancallipers.Donotuse
anRPVasabandaid.Findandfixtherealproblem!

Whenconvertingfromdrumstodiscs,youwillneedtoremoveanyRPVintherearcircuit.

MeteringValve
Becauseofthereturnspringspresent,drumbrakestakemoremovement(pressureandvolume)toinitiallyapplythandiscbrakeswhoseselfadjustingcalliperskeepthepadsalmostorlightlytouchingthe
rotors.Assuch,indisc/drumbrakes,ameteringvalveisusedtopreventapplicationofthefrontdiscbrakesbelowapresetpressureinthehydraulicsystemusuallyabout75150psitoallowtherear
drumbrakestocatchup.Thisallowsthefrontandrearbrakesinadisc/drumsetuptoworkmoreevenly.Ameteringvalveisalsoknownasaholdoffvalve.

Whenconvertingfromdrumstodiscs,youwillneedtoremoveanymeteringvalveinthecircuit.

ProportioningValve
Asacarbrakes,weightistransferredfromthereartothefront(ahhNewtonandhisLawofInertiaagain!).Becausebrakingforceshouldbeappliedtoeachwheelinproportiontotheweightonit(more
weightmorebrakingforceshouldbeapplied),thereisarequirementtobalancethebrakingforcestofrontandrearwheels.Failuretodosowillresultinprematurelockupoflightlyloaded
rearbrakesandresultingskidandlossofcontrol.Infact,inhardbrakingthefrontbrakesperformupto85%ofthebraking!Inproperlybalancedbrakes,neitherthefrontnorrearbreakswilllockupfirst
brakingforceisproportionedsothattheylockuptogether.
Aproportioningvalveisinstalledinlinebetweenthemastercylinderandtherearbrakes(betheydiscordrum)inordertoreducethepressureincreasetotherearasthebrakesareapplied.Thepressureto
therearisnotpreventedfromincreasingthevalvejustensuresthat,afteracertainpoint(thechangeoverpressure)itrisesatalowerratethanitdoestothefrontbrakes.Asthebrakesareapplied,full
pressureisallowedtotherearuptoacertainpoint.Beyondthatpoint,thepressuretotherearincreasesatareducedrate,preventingrearbrakelockup.Moststockproportioningvalvesarepresetbythe
OEMandareneitheradjustablenorserviceabletheyareofuseonlyontheoriginalvehicleforwhichtheyweredesigned.Aftermarketadjustableproportioningvalvesareavailableandareamustforany
custom,highperformancebrakesystem.Stockproportioningvalvesareoflittleuseinmodifiedvehicleswhetheritsthebrakesystemorsimplytheweightandbalance(incl.suspensionheight)thathave
beenmodified.

CombinationValve
AcombinationvalveisfoundinmanyOEMvehiclesandmaycombinethefunctionsofthemeteringvalve,theproportioningvalve,andabrakepressurewarninglightswitch.

PressureLimitingValve
Usedonsomedisc/drumvehicles,apressurelimitingvalveperformsasimilarfunctiontoaproportioningvalveexceptthatinsteadofreducingtherateatwhichpressuretotherearincreases,itsimply
limitsthemaximumpressureavailabletotherear.Thatmeans,unlikewithaproportioningvalve,onceyouachievethatmaximumpressure,nomatterhowhardyoupressthebrakepedal,nomorerear
brakingispossible.Inflexible,nonadjustable,andonlymarginallyusefulonverynoseheavyvehicles,theygenerallysuckandshouldbeavoided.

BrakeTubingandHoses
Illkeepthissectionshortandsweet.

Userigidhydraulicbraketubingasmuchaspossible,andflexiblehoseonlywherenecessary(toallowforsuspensionandsteeringmovement).Eventhebestflexiblehoseexpandsmoreunderpressure
thansteelhydraulictubing.Hoseexpansiongobblesupthatlimitedandvaluablepedalstroke.

StocktyperubberflexhosesareOKtouse,butTeflonlined,stainlesssteelbraidedhosesarebest.Theyswellandexpandless,givingafirmerpedal.Theyreavailableincustomlengthstoo.

Fortubing,useonlycopperlinedsteelhydraulicbraketubingconformingtoSAEJ524specs.Useofanythingelseinvitesfailure.Trustme!

Inadequatetubing,especiallyplastictubing,issubjecttoworkhardening,fatiguecracking,heatdamage,excessivecorrosion(especiallyinternally,whereyoucantseeit)andmechanicaldamage.

DONOTeverusecompressionfittingsorsingleflaresinrigidbraketubinguseonlyproperfittingsanddoubleflares(betheySAEorISOmatchedtoyourfittings,ofcourse).ANorJICfittingsof
appropriatequalityandratingandfromareputablesourcearesuitableforflexhosesandflexhosetorigidtubeconnections.

Mosttubetodayis3/16or.3/16isstiffer,lighter,andeasiertobend.Itanditsassociatedfittingsarealsothemostcommon.haslessinternalfriction(lessresistanttofluidflow)andiseasierto
handlewithoutdamaging.NotethatDOESNOTprovidemorevolumetoactuatethecallipersmorequicklyasIhavereadmoretimesthanIcaretoremember.TheMCpistonsboreandstroke
determinesthefluidvolumedisplacedandthereforethepedalstrokerequiredtoapplythebrakes.Thetubingissealedandfullitsdiameterhasnothingtodowithit(withinreason)andyoucertainlywont
noticethedifferencebetweenand3/16exceptmaybetheplaceboeffectcozyourbuddysaidso!Ipersonallyliketousesimplybecauseitseasiertohandleyoucangetawaywithalessthan
perfectbendthatyouwouldntbeabletowith3/16tube.

Securetubingtoframewithpropersizetubeclampstoavoidpossiblefracturesandtopreventfittingsfromlooseningandleaking.

Usegrommetsorsomeothermeanstoprotectbrakelinesthatpassthroughtheframeorbodypanels.

Makesurefittingsandconnectionsareingoodconditionandareproperlytightened.Checkregularly.

3/16hardlinefittingsare3/824thread,hardlinefittingsare7/1624thread.

BrakeCallipers
FixedorFloating
Callipersareeitheroffixedorfloatingdesign.Fixedcallipersaremountedrigidlytotheaxleandemployoneormorepistonsoneithersideofthecallipertopressthepadsagainsttherotor.Afloating
calliper,commononproductionvehicles,hasapistonorpistonsonlyontheinboardsideofthecalliper.Thefloatingcalliperismountedonpinsorslidessothatwhenthepistonextendsandpressesthe
inboardpadagainsttherotor,thewholebodyofthecalliperslidesonitspinsorguidesintheoppositedirection,bringingtheoutboardpadintocontactwiththerotor.Eachdesignhasitsadvantagesand
drawbacksasfollows:

Floatingcallipersaresmaller,lighter,andeasiertopackage.Theyarealsocheap,readilyavailable,andeasytomount.

Fixedcalliperisbiggerandheavierthanfloatingcalliper.Itwillalsooverheatlessreadilyandbemorerigidthanafloatingcalliper.
Floatingcalliperscoolbetterasthefluidandpistonareonlyontheinboardsideoftherotor.

Floatingcallipershavefewermovingpartsandsealstoleakorwearout.

Fixedcalliperstendtoapplythepadsmoreevenly,preventingunevenbrakepadwear

Floatingcalliperdesignmoreeasilyincorporatesacableoperatedparkingbrake.

OperationofaFloatingCalliper

Whenbrakesareapplied,pistononoutboardsideextendsindirectionofredarrowuntiloutboardpadcontactsrotor.Atthat
point,calliperslidesonpinsindirectionofbluearrowsuntilinboardsideofcalliperpressesinboardpadagainstrotor.

SingleorMultiPiston
Fixedcallipersare,bydefinition,multipiston,butfloatingcalliperscanalsohavemorethanonepiston.Inaddition,fixedcallipersmayhavemorethantwopistons.

Recallthat,becausepressureisequalonallsurfacesinsidethebrakehydraulicsystem,themorecalliperpistonareawehave,themoreforceisexertedforagiveninput.Inotherwordswewantthe
mostpistonsurfaceareapossible.Onemethodofachievingthisistousemultiplecallipersoneachrotorbutthisapproachpresentspackagingproblemsinsidethewheel.Theotheralternativeistouse
eitheraverylargesinglepiston,ormultiplepistons.Theproblemisthatusingaverylargesinglepistonnecessitatesahugecalliperbodyagainpresentingproblemswithpackaginginthewheel.Thus,
multipistoncalliperscanbeusedtoachievegreaterTOTALpistonareathanyoucouldfitwithasinglepiston.Thatsaidamultipistoncalliperisonlymorepowerfulifthetotalareaofitspistonsis
greaterthanthealternative.I.e.ifyourbuddyisbraggingabouthisblingmultipistoncallipers,buteachhasanareaofonlytwosquareinches,andyouhaveanoldtruckcalliperwithasinglehuge
pistonoffoursquareinchesarea,youcancomfortablelaughinhisface!Withfloatingcallipers,effectivepistonareaistheareaoftheactualpiston(s),multipliedbytwo,becauseoftheslidingaction
bringingtheothersideofthecalliperintocontact.

Anotheradvantageofthemultipistoncalliperisthatitcanmoreevenlypressthepadsagainsttherotor,achievingbetter,moreconsistentbreakingandmoreevenpadwear.

SealingandRetraction
CalliperpistonsarenormallysealedwithanOringthathasasquarecrosssection.ThisOringstretcheswhenthebrakesareappliedandthepistonextendstowardstherotor.Whenthepedalisreleased,
theOringrelaxesandretractsthepiston.Becausetherotorandbrakepadsurfacesareflatandaligned(oratleastshouldbe!)ittakesverylittlemovementtoobtainpadtorotorclearance.

Mounting
Apartfromissuesofclearance,protectionfromdebrisanddamage,andeaseofbleeding,thereisnoreasonyoucantmountabrakecalliperatanypositionaroundthecircumferenceoftherotor.The3o
clockand9oclockpositionsarethemostcommon(i.e.infrontof,orbehindtherotor),asthisaffordsgoodprotectionandallowsthecallipertobemountedwiththebleedscrewup(highlyrecommended),
foreaseofbleeding.Mountingat6oclockwouldalmostcertainlymakethecalliperfartoovulnerable,robgroundclearance,andimpartsnoparticularadvantage.However,theresnoreasonyoucant
mountthecalliperat12oclock,providedyouarepreparedtoremovethecalliper(toorientthebleederscrewup)tobleedthebrakes.Ifyoudo,besuretoinsertablockofwoodorotherspacerinthe
calliperwhilebleeding.

Rearcallipermountedhighat11'o'clockforclearancebutwithbleederscrewstillathighestpoint.

AgreatmanycallipermountingbracketsthatIsee,betheycommercialorhomebrew,(includingmyown,Imustadmit)aresimplytoothinandwithoutadequatestructuralshapestrengthtodothejob.Itis
essentialthatacallipermountingbracketnotflexwhenthebrakesareappliedotherwisewewillberobbedofourallimportantpedaltravel.Wewillalsoexperiencecallipertwistingleadingtounevenpad
wearandaspongypedal.Worsestill,wewillbeonourwaytofatiguefailureinthecalliperbracket!steelissimplyinadequateespeciallywhennotbentandreinforcedintoastructuralshapethat
impartsstrength.WhenIapplymyfrontbrakeshard,youcanactuallyseethealmostflatplatesteelbracketsflexingandtwisting!Checkyours.Andwontsomebodypleasemakesomedecent,heavy
dutycalliperbracketsfrom3/8asaminimumbutpreferablyfrom!!

Rotors
Rotorsmakemelaugh.Actually,thethingspeopledoto,andsayabout,rotorsmakesmelaugh.

Rotorsizeisspecifiedbydiameterandthickness(thethicknessbetweenthetwopadcontactsurfacesoneitherside).

Rotorscanbesolid,vented,crossdrilled,grooved,orsomecombinationthereof.Toomanypeopletocount,includingmanyexperts,donotunderstandthetruepurpose(andconsequences)ofeachof
thesedesignfactors.Allowmetoclarify.

Solidsmall,solidrotorsareadequateforsmall,light,orslowvehicles.

Ventedmanymediumtolargerotorsaremadewithradialcoolingpassagesinthemtoactasanairpumptocirculateairfromtherotorcentertotheoutsideoftherotor.Dependingondesign,vented
rotorsmaybedirectional.Iftheventpassagesarecurved,theywillbemoreefficientatcooling,butwillworkinonlyonedirection.Ifyouusecurvedventrotorsmakesureyouinstallhemonthecorrect
sideofthevehicle!

Crossdrilledandslottedrotorsthisisthebitthatmakesmelaugh.Waytoomanypeoplethinkthedrilledholesormachinedslotsareforcooling.Theyarenot.Inveryhighperformancebraking(i.e.race
car)hotgasandfrictionmaterialdustcanbuildupbetweenthepadsandrotorsasthebrakesareusedhard,heatandcoolrapidly,andthepadswearfast.Rotorscanbecrossdrilledorslottedtohelpthis
dustandgasescapeotherwiseitcanbuildupunderthepadsandreducefrictionbetweenpadandrotor,reducingbraking.Thesetechniquesarereallyonlyeffectiveinracingwherepadsarelargeand
wearquicklyandtemperaturesareveryhigh.
Unfortunately,thecrossdrilledlookatsomepointbecamesynonymouswithhighperformanceandeveryonewantedit.Inreality,unlessyoureracing,drillingtherotorsreallyonlyreducesthe
performanceofyourbrakesby:

Reducingtherotormass,therebyreducingitsthermalabsorptioncapacity(rememberTR=Kc/77.8*Wb??)

Increasingthechanceoffatigueandthermalinducedstresscracksintherotor
Reducingthecontactareabetweenpadandrotor,therebyreducingbraking.

Inallhonesty,crossdrilledrotorsonarockcrawlerareprettyfunnyunlessitsdonepurelyforweightsavingandwiththeknowledgethatitdoesnothingtoenhancebraking.

Ultimately,slottedrotorsworkwell,andjudiciouslydrilledrotorsdotoobutifyouseeaSwisscheeserotoritmostlikelymeansthedesigner/builderdoesntactuallyunderstandhowbrakeswork.

Simplesolidrotor.

Ventedrotor.

Ventedrotorwithcurved,directionalvanes.

Slottedrotor.

Slottedandcrossdrilledrotor.

Thismuchcrossdrillingisprobablyexcessive,unlessEXTREMEweightsavingsarerequired.Evenso,andespeciallywiththe
patternshown,thermalstresscrackingisalmostassured.

Pads
Itallcomestoaheadatthebrakepads.Padsneedtobeclean,even,andhaveahighcoefficientoffrictionagainsttherotorformaximumbrakingperformace.Discbrakepadsareavailableinadizzying
arrayofcompoundsallclaimingcertainbenefits.Onethingthatisconsistentisthatthepad'scompoundwillhaveadifferentcoefficientoffrictiondependingonwhetheritiscoldorhot.Racecarfolksare
familiarwiththisasitisoftenheardthatthebrakesmustbe"warmedup"beforetheyworkwell.Asageneralruleofthumb,thefollowingcompoundsexhibitthefollowingcoefficientsoffriction:

Organiccold0.44,hot0.48

Simimetalliccold0.38,hot0.40

Metalliccold0.25,hot0.35

Syntheticcold0.38,hot0.45

Thehigherthecoefficientoffriction,the"softer"thepadissaidtobe.Keepinmindthatthereareotherfactorstoconsiderwhenselectingpads,suchasnoiseandwear.Thesofterthepadis,themore
rapidlyitwillwear.

AllDOTlegalbrakepads(OEMandroadcaraftermarket)aremandatedbylawtobemarkedwithatwolettercode,calledthe"DOTEdgeCode"thatrepresentsthecoefficientoffrictionwhena1"square
pieceoffrictionmaterialissubjectedtovaryingconditionsofload,temperature,pressureandrubbingspeedonatestapparatusknownastheChasemachine.

Thefirstletterofthecode,sometimesknownasthe"cold"code,representsthenormalfrictioncoefficient.Thisisdefinedastheaverageoffourtestdatapointsmeasuredat200,250,300and400degrees
Farenheit.

Thesecondletterofthecode,sometimesknownasthe"hot"code,representsthehotfrictioncoefficientbasedonafadeandrecoverytest.Recoveryisbasicallytheperiodwherethebrakesaregradually
coolingoff.Thehotfrictioncoefficientisdefinedastheaverageofmultipledatapoints:450,500,550,600and650Fonthefirstrecoverycycleofthepadand500,400,and300Fonthesecondrecovery
cycle.

Therangeoffrictioncoefficientsassignedtoeachcodeletterareasfollows:C=lessthan0.15.D=0.15to0.25.E=0.25to0.35.F=0.35to0.45.G=0.45to0.55,andH=over0.55.

Eachlettergradespansarangeofcoefficients,butthecombinationofthetwolettersandtheorderinwhichtheycomecanbeausefulindicatorofpadperformanceasitdemonstratesthechangein
coefficientoffrictionforthatpadfromcoldtohot(andviceversa).Forexample,anFEpadwillgrabbetterwhencold(i.e.tendstofadewhenhot)wherasanEFpadwouldnotgrabwellwhencold(i.e.
wouldneedtobewarmedupformaxperformance).Notethatthecoefficientoffrictionofsteelonsteelis0.25,soEEpadsgrabonlymarginallybetterthannopadsatall!FFpadsareusuallyconsidered
theminimumforahighperformancebrakepad.

SomeexampleEdgeCode'sare:

OfficialD.O.T.EdgeCode NormalCoefficientofFriction HotCoefficientofFriction Notes


EE 0.25to0.35 0.25to0.35 025%fadeat600Fpossible
FE 0.35to0.45 0.25to0.35 2%to44%fadeat600Fpossible
EF 0.25to0.35 0.35to0.45 022%fadeat600Fpossible
GG 0.45to0.55 0.45to0.55 VeryRare
Carbon/Carbononly.
HH 0.55to0.65 0.55to0.65
O.K.upto3000Fwhereitglows

Anygoodaftermarketracingpadshouldbesoldwithaprecisecoefficientoffrictionidentifiedforbothcoldandwarmperformance,orevenacurveshowingcoefficientoffrictionvs.temperature.

Whicheverpadyouuse,thetypeoflining,edgecode,orexactspeccanbeusefulindeterminingthecoefficientoffrictiontousewhenmakingbrakesystemcalculations.

BeddinginBrakePads
Whennewbrakepadsareinstalled,theyshouldbe"beddedin".Beddinginbrakepadsisaprocessofbreakingtheminbeforesevereuse,similartothewayanengineorsetofgearsmustbebrokenin.

Toperformthebreakin,followthestepslistedbelow:

Step1:Make10stopsfrom30mph(50kph)downtoabout10mph(15kph)usingmoderatebrakingpressureandallowingapproximately30secondsbetweenstopsforcooling.Donotdragyourpads
duringthesestops.Afterthe10thstop,allow15minutesforyourbrakingsystemtocooldown.

Step2:Make5consecutivestopsfrom50mph(80kph)downto10mph(15kph).Afterthe5thstop,allowyourbrakingsystemtocoolforapproximately30minutes.

Thiscompletesthebreakinofthepadstotherotorsurface.Fullseatingofnewbrakepadsnormallyoccurswithin1000miles.

TheBrakingRequirementsofExtremeOffroadRigs
Aswithsomanythingsthatdeterminevehicleperformancefromtirestosuspensiontogearingweextremeoffroadersareonourown.TherehasbeenlittleseriousR&Dandengineeringresearchinto
ourneedsandtheirsolutions.Thesportjusthasntyetgrowntothatlevel.Thislackofpublishedresearchandengineering,whencombinedwiththespecificpeculiaritiesofourneeds(needsthatsimply
dontexistelsewhere),leavesusheavilyreliantononeanotherforanecdotaladviceandseatofthepantsexperience.

Thismeansthatdesigningasatisfactorysystem,orsolvingaparticularproblemdependsheavilyonourabilitytocommunicateourneedsandwants,aswellasourperceptionoftheproblem.

ThatswhyImnowgoingtodevotealittletimetoaddressingwhatIseeastheuniquerequirementsofanoffroadbrakingsystem,followedbysomediscussiononwhatconstitutesgoodbrakesandwhat
thelimitstobrakeperformanceare.

Peculiaritiesofoffroad
Recallthetwofunctionsofthebrakesbraketorque(clampingaction)andthermalcapacity.Therigorsofoffroadimpartuniquerequirementsinbothareas:

BrakeTorque

Carsspendmostoftheirtimeonrelativelyflatgroundtheirbraketorquerequirementsareconcernedmostlywithslowingthecarfromspeed.Incontrast,wecanoftenspendhourswiththefrontend60
degreesnoseupornosedownasituationinwhichovercomingtheforceofgravityasittriestomovetherigdownhillisfarmorepronouncedthaninanyroadcar.Notonlythat,butitisinpreciselythese
situations(aswellasothers,likenavigatinglargeboulders)wherewerequireprecisecontrolaninchortwomakesorbreakstheline(ortakesacone).

Nonormalcarcombinesalowstallspeedtorqueconverterwithsuperlowgearingquitelikeanextreme4x4can.Notevendragcars.Youoftenhearthosewithautotransmissions,lowstallconverters,and
lowgearscomplainingofnotbeingabletostoptherig,orofnotbeingabletokeepitstopped(drivingthroughthebrakesatidle).Ariglikethiswantstogoallthetimeandwerelyonourbrakestokeep
itincheckagain,ofteninsituationswhereinchesmeanthedifferencebetweenarolloverornot.

Manyrigsmakeuseofthebrakestoperformdigsorburnswhereinoneaxleisbrakedwhiletheotherisdriventocreateapivotingeffectforsharperturning.Tousethistechniquetomaxeffect,
greatbraketorquemustbegeneratedinthenondrivenaxle.Ifyouresending300hptotherearwheelsinafrontburn,youdbetterbeabletobrakethosefrontwheelswithsomeseriousbraketorque.

OK,yousay,soweneedalotofbraketorquebutsodoesa200mphracecar.Trueindeed,butthereareacoupleoffactorsthatmakeourrequirementsunique:
First,inaracecar,yourestrappedintight,backagainsttheseat,andareusuallyonthegasoronthebrakeshardandyoutransitionfromonetotheotherprettyaggressively.Inanoffroadrig,
wefindourselvesneedingtiptoecontrolofthebrakesasweworkahardline,oftentwofootdriving,whilewemoveaboutintheseattoseetheterrain.Thismakesitmuchlesscomfortabletohaveto
pressthepedalhard,comparedtothecardriverwhosalreadypressedbackintheseatandstaysthere.Inarockrig,youdontwanttobepressedbackintotheseat,legtrembling,tryingtoseetheline
whatweneedisprecise,lightcontrolofthebrakes(whilestillachievingBIGbraketorque),atallsortsofcambersandangles,oftenforlongperiodsoftime,withoutundueeffortandresultantfatigue
especiallysincewecanspendalldayinourrigs.

Energyconvertermode:

Incars,brakingismostimportantwhenthecarisatspeed.Eveninanautoequippedcaratastoplight,thecarsstallspeedandoverallgearingaresuchthatittakeslittleforcetopreventmovement.The
resultis,inacar,theenergyconverterfunctionofthebrakesisconcernedprimarilywiththekineticenergyofthecarinmotiontheinertiaofrotatingwheelsisnegligibleincomparison.Thisisobvious
thefasterthecar,thebetterthebrakesneedtobe.

Whatislessobviousisthedemandthevastlyheavierwheelsandtiresofa4x4placeonthebrakes.Inanoffroadrig,rotating,big,heavywheelsandtireshavemuchmoreinertiathantheircar
counterparts.Thismeansthatthecapabilityofthebrakestoconvertandabsorbenergyislessobvious,butnolessimportant.Itsobviousinafastcarcargoesfast,carbrakeshard,carbrakesgethot.
Butinanoffroadrigwithlarge,heavytires,evenatslowspeeds,thebrakesgethotbecausetheyhavetoconvertnotonlythekineticenergyoftheslowmovingvehicle,butalsokineticenergyofthe
heavytiresandwheels.Inotherwords,justbecauseyougoslow,doesntmeanyoudontneedgoodbrakes.

Allofwhichmeansproperbrakeperformanceisextremelyimportanttousforsafetyaswellasapleasant,nonfatiguingdrivingexperienceeventhoughwedontnormallyencounterveryhighspeeds
forverylong.

Andifyouraceyourrig(whichisbecomingmoreandmorepopular),wellbrakeperformancejustgetsmoreandmoreimportant.

Bottomlineyouprobablyneedmorebrakethanyouthink,andhowtheyfeelisgoingtohavealargeeffectonhowwellyoullbeabletodriveinextremeterrain,andhowpleasantandcomfortableitwill
be.

BrakePerformanceandLimits
Thereshouldbeonlyonelimittohowwellyourbrakesworktraction.Thetractionbetweentireandroadshouldalwaysbethelimitingfactortohowquicklyyoucanstop.Exceedingthetractionlimit
causesthetirestolockupandskid.Ifyoucandothisunderallconditions,withreasonableandcomfortablepedaleffort,thenyourbrakesareadequate.Ifnot,someotherfactorislimitingtheir
performance,andmaintenanceormodificationwillberequired.Theother,undesirable,limitingfactorsare:

ForceLimit
Atforcelimit,youpushashardaspossibleonthebrakesbutcantstopanyquicker.Ifyoucouldpushharder,thevehiclewouldstopquicker.Forcelimitcanbealteredbyreducingmastercylindersize,
usingdifferentbrakepads,addingorupgradingpowerassist,increasingpedalratio,increasingcalliperpistonarea,orincreasingeffectiverotordiameter.

DeflectionLimit
Atthedeflectionlimit,thepedalhitsthefloorortheMCpistonhitsitsinternalstopbeforemaxbrakeforceisgenerated.I.e.thecombinationofdesignedclearanceandunwanteddeflectioninthesystem
exceedstheavailabletravel.Clearanceisdeterminedbythevolumeoffluidrequiredtobedisplacedtobringthepadsintocontactwiththerotor,andischieflydeterminedbythesizeofthecalliper
piston(s).Unwanteddeflectioncancomefrompedalandpedalmountflex,MCmountflex,calliperbracketflex,calliperflex,hoseexpansion,trappedair,unevenlywornpadsorrotors,andotherworn
componentssuchaswheelbearings.Assumingallairisbledfromthesystemandallcomponentsareingoodworkingorder,deflectionlimitcanbealteredbyincreasingMCpistondiameter,decreasing
calliperpistondiameter,upgradingflexhoses,reducingthelengthofflexhoseused,orusingstiffercallipers,brackets,andpedals.

WearLimit
Thebrakeseffectivenesscanbelimitedbyworncomponents.Ifpadsorrotorsarewornexcessively,orifanyseal,tube,hose,bracket,orfittingisdamaged,worn,orleaking,areductioninperformance,or
worse,brakefailure,canresult.Thelikelihoodofreachingthewearlimitcanbereducedbyusingdifferent(higherquality)padsand/orrotors,usinglargercallipersandrotors,orincreasingbrakecooling.
Goodinspectionandmaintenancepracticescanpreventreachingthewearlimit.

TemperatureLimit
Whenbrakesoverheat,youreachoneoftheotherlimits(force,deflection,orwear)muchmorequickly.Thatis,hotbrakescancauselackofbrakingforce(commonlycalledbrakefade),increased
deflection(excessivepedaltravel),orrapidcomponentwearrangingfrompad/rotorweartoboilingfluidandcookingseals.Thekeystoavoidingatemperaturelimitare:

Usingsufficientlylarge/heavybrakes.

Sufficientbrakecooling.

Selectionofcomponentsdesignedforthetemperaturesencounteredincludingpads,rotors,callipers,andfluid.

BrakeFadeandothercomplaintsDesignTroubleshooting
TheprevioussectioncoveredthetechnicalaspectsofbrakelimitsbutevenIwouldntexpectyoutochatwithasupplierorfellowdriverandsayYea,thebrakesarentgreatIthinkIhaveadeflection
limitwithoccasionalintermittentforcelimit.Well,actually,ImightsaythatbutthenCharleywouldmockmeforhoursmuchtoeveryoneelsesamusement.

Toavoidthissituation,letsexaminethemostcommonbrakeperformancecomplaintsineverydaylanguage.(Iwasgoingtosayeverydayparlancebutthatwouldhavebeentooironic,Ithink!)

Thissectionisfocusedonproblemsthatoccuraftersystemmodificationsordesign.Thatis,ithelpsyoudiagnoseproblemsinyourbrakesystemdesign.Ifyourbrakesworkedsatisfactorilyatonepoint,
butnolongerdo,seethefollowingsectiontitledMaintenanceTroubleshooting.Inthefollowingtables,Ihaveincludedacolumnentitledcompromisesbecause,asweknow,changingoneaspectofa
systemoftenaffectstheothers.ForthesakeofbrevityIhaveincludedonlythecompromisesaffectingtheoperationofthebrakesitmaybeassumedthataddedcomplexity,cost,anddecreased
availabilityofpartsarealwayspossibleoutcomes.Forexample,ifthesolutiontoaparticularproblemistoinstallastiffercalliperthiswilllikelybemoreexpensive,complicatedandtimeconsumingifsuch
apartisevenavailablehowevertherearenodrawbacksorcompromisesintheoperationofthebrakesystemitselftousingstiffercallipersinthiscase,thecompromisescolumnwillbeblank.

BrakeFade
Brakefadegenerallyreferstoanylossofbrakingcausedbyoverheating.Infact,therearethreeverydistinctformsofbrakefade,anditisusefultodistinguishbetweenthem,astheirsymptoms
andsolutionsareentirelydifferent.

PadFade.

PadFadeiscausedbythetemperatureofthebrakesexceedingthemaximumtemperaturelimitofthebrakepadfrictionmaterial.Whenthemaximumtemperaturelimitisreached(andevenbefore,asitis
approached),brakepadscanexpelgaseswhenheated,gassesthatactasalubricantbetweenpadandrotor.Whenpadfadeoccurs,thepedalwillfeelnormal(highandfirm)buttherewillbeverylittle
stoppingpower.Pumpingthebrakeswillnothelp.Solutionstopadfadeare:

1.Touseamoretemperatureresistantbrakepad(hardercompound)
2.Toincreasethebrakesthermalcapacitybyincreasingthesize/weightoftherotor
3.Toimprovecoolingbyusingadifferentrotordesign(ventedvs.solid,ordirectionvs.straightvanes)
4.Toimprovebrakecoolingbyimprovingcoolingairflowtothebrakes.Inextremecircumstances,ifthevehiclehasairductsforbrakecooling,afinemistofwatercanbesprayedintotheairtocoolit
beforeithitstherotor,improvingtheairscoolingability.
5.Touseaslottedand/orcrossdrilledrotortoaidinexpellinghotgassesandpaddebris.NotethatthesedesignsDONOTaidincoolingbutsimplyallowtheoffendinggasorparticlestoberemoved
moreefficiently.

FluidBoil

Whenthetemperatureofthecalliperexceedstheboilingpointofthebrakefluid,tinybubblesareformedinthebrakefluid.Asaresult,thepedalgoessoftandperhapseventothefloorasthefluidisno
longerincompressible.Oncethishashappened,thefluidmustbereplaced.Overtimebrakefluidcanabsorbwatervapour,andthemorewatervapourinthefluid,thegreateritssusceptibilitytofluidboil.
Solutionstofluidboilinclude:flushandfillwithnewbrakefluid,useabrakefluidwithahigherboilingpoint,improvecoolingofthecalliper,oruseacalliperwithaninsulatedpiston.

GreenFade

Greenfadeoccursonlywithnewbrakepadsiftheyarenotbeddedinproperlyafterhavingbeeninstalled.Beddinginbrakepadsisaprocessofbreakingtheminbeforesevereuse,similartotheway
anengineorsetofgearsmustbebrokenin.Greenfadeiscausedbygasorliquidboilingofftheorganicpadliningoninitialheating.Thegasorliquidnotonlyactsasalubricantbetweenpadandrotor,
butcanalsoglazethesurfaceofthepadsbycoolingandresolidifyingintoahardslicksurfacewithaverylowcoefficientoffriction.Thesolutiontogreenfadeistobedinbrakepads.Todoso,followthe
stepsoutlinedin"Beddingin".

HardPedal
HardPedalisthetermusedtodescribebrakesthatrequireexcessivepedalefforti.e.thedrivermustpushtoohardonthepedalforthebrakestowork.Thisconditionfeelstothedriverlike
thebrakepedalisveryhard.

Complaint:Pedalfeelshard

Problem Cause Solution Compromises


Insufficientclampingforce Insufficientpressure Increasepedalratio Needroomtomountlongerpedal
(ForceLimit) Pedaltravelatfootpadincreases

DecreaseMCpistonarea PedaltravelincreasesbecauseMCdisplacesless
fluid

Addorupgradepowerassist Packaging

Insufficientcalliperpistonarea InstallcalliperswithlargerTOTALpistonarea Pedaltravelincreasesbecausecalliperpiston
movementrequiresmorefluidvolumebedisplaced
Insufficientbraketorque Smalleffectiverotorradius Installlargerdiameterrotor Packaging
(ForceLimit)
Lowcoefficientoffriction UseSofterBrakePads Fasterwear

LowPedal
LowPedalisthetermusedtorefertoabrakepedalthatrequiresanexcessivelylongstroketofullyapplythebrakes.Whatweareexperiencingwithlowpedalisadeflectionlimit.Insomecases,
thebrakesworkonlyafterbeingpumpedafewtimes.Whatshappeninghereisthatthedriverisabletodisplacemorefluidmorequicklythanthecallipersretract,andisthereforeabletoprovidethe
volumerequiredbypumpingthebrakes.Thisisusuallyasymptomofincorrectvalving,suchaslackofrequiredresidualpressurevalve.

Complaint:Pedaltravelstoofar/onlyworkswhenpumped

Problem Cause Solution Compromises


Insufficienthydraulicfluid MCpistonareatoosmall,displacingtoo IncreaseMCPistonarea MCpistongenerateslesspressure,thereforeless
displacement littlefluidperunitofstroke clampingforce
(DeflectionLimit)
Totalcalliperpistonareatoolarge InstallcalliperswithlessTOTALpistonarea Lesshydraulicforcemultiplication,thereforeless
clampingforce

Pedalratiotoohigh,requiringtoolongofa Decreasepedalratio Lessmechanicaladvantagefordriver,resultingin


stroketofullyactuateMCpiston harderpedalorlesspressure
Fluiddrainsbackfrom MCinstalledbelowCallipers Install2PSIresidualPressurevalve
CallipertoMC
(DeflectionLimit)
Drumbrakeshoesretracted Returnspringsretractshoesfromdrums Install10PSIresidualPressurevalve
toofar
(DeflectionLimit)
Excessiveunwanted Excessiveflexinmountings Installorfabricatestiffermounts/brackets Packaging
deflection Weight
(DeflectionLimit)
Excessiveplayinlinkages Reducelinkageplay Ensurebrakesstillreleasefully

CalliperFlex Installstiffercalliper

Airinfluid Bleedthoroughly

Flexhoseswellingunderpressure Installflexhosemoreresistanttoswelling

Excessiveuseofflexhose Reducelengthofflexhoseusedtominrequired
forsteering&suspensionmovement

BrakeFade FluidBoil Usehighertempfluid


(TempLimit)
Improvecallipercooling
WearLimit Worncomponents RepairorreplaceBrakepads,rotors,
&wheelbearings

SpongyPedal
Oftenpresentwith,butnottobeconfusedwith,lowpedalaspongypedalstartshighanddoesnttraveltoofarbutitdoesntfeelfirmandsolid.Instead,thebrakesfeelsoft,squishy,andspongywhen
applied.

Complaint:Pedalfeelsspongy

Problem Cause Solution Compromises


Excessiveunwanted Excessiveflexinmountings Installorfabricatestiffermounts/brackets Packaging
deflection Weight
(DeflectionLimit)
Excessiveplayinlinkages Reducelinkageplay Ensurebrakesstillreleasefully

CalliperFlex Installstiffercalliper

Airinfluid Bleedthoroughly

Flexhoseswellingunderpressure Installflexhosemoreresistanttoswelling

Excessiveuseofflexhose Reducelengthofflexhoseusedtominrequired
forsteering&suspensionmovement

BrakeFade FluidBoil Usehighertempfluid


(TempLimit)
Improvecallipercooling

Toomuchleveragefrom Pedalratiotoohigh Decreasepedalratio Lessmechanicaladvantagefordriver,resultingin
excessivepedalratio harderpedalorlesspressure
makesbrakesfeelspongy
todriver
Unevenlyortaperworn Unevenclamping Installmultipistoncallipers
pads
(WearLimit)

OverlySensitive
Brakesthatdevelopenormousclampingforce(usuallybygeneratinghighpressure)withverylittlepedaleffortwillfeeloverlysensitivetothedriver.Theyarehardtomodulate,particularlyformedtohigh
speedwork,andaregenerallyunpleasanttodrive.Exactlythepointatwhichthisoccurswillbeamatterofdriverpreferencecombinedwiththevehiclesuse.Personally,Ilikebrakesonthemoresensitive
sideasitallowstiptoecontrolinseriousverticalandoffcambersituationswhichcanbeveryuseful,particularlywhenthedriveisalsooccupiedwithmanagingselectablelockers,threetransfercase
levers,aclutch,andcuttingbrakes.
Complaint:Pedalfeelsoverlysensitive/brakeslockuptooeasily

Problem Cause Solution Compromises


Excessiveclampingforce Excessivepressure DecreasePedalratio Pedaltravelatfootpaddecreases

IncreaseMCPistonarea PedaltraveldecreasesbecauseMCdisplacesmore
fluid

Excessivecalliperpistonarea InstallcalliperswithsmallerTOTALpistonarea Pedaltraveldecreasesbecausecalliperpiston
movementrequireslessfluidvolumebedisplaced
Excessivebraketorque Highcoefficientoffriction UseHarderBrakePads

BrakeSystemDesign
Thefollowingaresomegeneralguidelinesfordesigningabrakesystemfromscratch.Althoughtheyarepresentedinaparticularorder,somejugglingmayberequired.Thatis,youmaycometoacertain
point(say,pedalratiodetermination)findoutthatyouarelimitedbysomeotherfactor(roomavailableforpedal)andhavetojugglebothpriorandremainingdecisions(calliperpistonsize,mastercylinder
size,powerboosterselection)toworkaroundthelimitation.

FollowingthediscussionIhaveincludedanExcelspreadsheet(.xls)thatwillaidinthecalculationsandcanbeusedtomoreeasilyseetheaffectsofplayingwiththedifferentvariables.

Step1:

Decideondiscbrakesordrums.Theanswerisdiscs.Goontostep2.

Step2:

Chooseandcheckrotor.

Whiletherotoryouuseisoftendeterminedbytheaxleyouhavechosen,ifyouhaveachoice:

Choosethelargestdiameterrotorthatwillfitinthewheel(tomakeroomforthecalliper,thisisusuallyabout3in.smallerthanthewheeldiameteri.e.12fora15wheel)

Ifpossible,alwayschooseaventedrotor

Ifyouplantousethebrakeshard,alot,(asinracing)considerdirectionalventedrotorsaswellasslottedand/orcrossdrilledrotors.Dontoverdothecrossdrillingforthesakeofappearances!

Step3:

Checkthermalcapacityofchosenrotor

Usingtheequationsinthisarticle,checkthateachrotorisatleastmassiveenoughtobeabletoabsorbthekineticenergyfromasinglestopfrommaximumspeedatmaximumweightwithoutexceeding
1000*F

Ifyouplantousethebrakeshard,alot,(asinracing)redotheabovecalculationassumingtherotorsinitialtemperatureis500*Fratherthanambienttemperature.

Step4:

Choosecalliper

Normally,thechoiceofrotorwilldictatethecalliperusedeitherfromthesamemake/modelofvehicleorasamatchedsetfromahighperformancecompany.However,ifchoiceisavailable:

Selectthestiffestcalliperavailable,withthehighestmaximumpressurerating.

Selectacalliperwiththelargesttotalpistonareapossible.

Ifwheel&suspensionclearanceandmountingbracketsallowconsiderusingafixedcallipermosthighperformancecallipersareoffixeddesign.

Consideruseofmultipistoncallipersdependingonavailabilityandtotalpistonarea(youmayfindthatonelargepistonaffordsmorearethantwosmall,dependingondesign)

Step5:

Determinebraketorquerequiredusingequationsgiveninthisarticle

TBr=FrictionForceonTirexRollingRadiusofTire

Step6:

Calculaterequiredhydraulicsystempressure:

Oncetherotorandcalliperarechosen,youhavealltheinformationrequiredtocalculatethehydraulicpressurerequiredtooperatethebrakesatmaximumcapacitythatis,thepressurerequiredto
achievemaximumbraketorque,ascalculatedaboveinstep5.

Theequationis:

PM=TBr/(LxATxRE)

Where

PM=Maximumhydraulicpressure(psi)

TBr=BrakeTorqueRequired(ftlbs)
L=Coefficientoffrictionbetweenbrakepadsandrotors(use0.3,manufacturersspecs,orestimatederivedfromthepad'sDOTedgecode)

AT=Totaleffectiveareaofcalliperspistons(sq.in.)

RE=Effectiverotorradius(in.)measuredfromthecenteroftherotortothecanterofthebrakepad.

TheanswerwillprobablyvaryfromseveralhundredtoperhapsasmuchasfifteenhundredPSI.Atthispoint,checkthatthecomponentsyouareusing,especiallythecallipers,areratedforthispressure.If
youcannotfindacalliperratedforthispressure,youhavethreechoices:

Useacalliperwithmoretotaleffectivepistonarea(largerand/ormorepistons)

Usealargerdiameterrotor(toincreaserotoreffectivediameter)heydidntIalreadytellyoutousethelargestdiameterrotorpossible!

Usemorethanonecalliperperwheel.Twoidenticalcallipersonthesamerotorwillhalvethepressure,butdoublethedisplacement,requiredtoachievemaxbraketorque.

Step7:

Decideondesiredpedaleffort

Pedaleffortdesiredtostopthevehicleatmaximumdecelerationisapersonalchoice.Inaracecaritmaybeasmuchas100lbswhichfeelslikeaprettyhardpush.Inroadcarsitisnormallyless.If
youarenotsure,75lbsisagoodstartingpoint.

Step8:

Decideonpowerormanualbrakes.

Unlessspaceorweightisatanextremepremium,Iwouldalwaysrecommendpowerbrakesespeciallyinabigorheavyrig,oronewithlargetires.Withoutpowerbrakes,youarefacedwithadirect
tradeoffofpressure(brakepower)vs.displacement(pedaltravel).ThebeautyofpowerbrakesisthattheyallowyoutouseapedalandMCcombinationthatislargeenoughtohaveanice,shorttravelbut
stilldeveloptherequiredpressurewithoutexcessivepedaleffortbecauseofthepowerassist.Exceptforalittleextraspacerequiredandminorexpense,itaddstoyourbrakesystemperformancewithout
anydrawbackorcompromise.
Step9:

Determinedesiredpedalratio,mastercylindersize(pistonarea),andpowerassisttoachievemaxbrakingwithdesiredpedaleffort.

Thethreefactorsofpedalratio,mastercylindersize,andanypowerassistmustbecalculatedandjuggledtogetherastheyallaffectoneanother.Whereonefactorisfixedorbeyondyourcontrol(e.g.
usingastockpedalassembly),adjustmentsorcompromiseintheotherfactorswillbenecessary.

Pedalratio:

Pedalratiosrangefrom3:1to7:1.Whenselectingapedalratio,considerthemountingspacerequired,notonlyforthelengthofpedal,butalsoforthestrokerequiredatthefootpad(willthepedalhitthe
floorbeforethefullmastercylinderstrokeisused?).Remembertoo,thatthegreaterthepedalratio,thelongerthepedal,andthemoresusceptibleitwillbetoflexortwist,introducingunwanteddeflection.
Evenwithoutflexing,alongerpedalcanfeelspongytothedriver.Also,thelongerthepedal,themorepedaltravelthedriverwillfeelasthefootpadswingsthroughalargerarc.Ifindoubt,startwith4:1
forpowerbrakesand6:1formanualbrakes.

CalculateMCpushrodforce

MultiplyyourdesiredpedaleffortbythepedalratiotoobtainthemanualforceontheMCpushrod.Ifpedalratiois5:1andpedaleffortis75lbs,theforceonthepushrodis5x75=375lbs.

SelectrequiredMCsize

Withthepushrodforceknown,wecannowcalculatetheMCpistonsizerequiredtoachievethedesiredhydraulicpressurepreviouslycalculated.Inordertodoso,dividethepushrodforcebythepressure
togettheareaoftheMCpiston,andthenconvertthatareatoadiameterusingtheformulafortheareaofacircle(A=pi(d/2)^2)ortheaccompanyingchart.Iftheexactareayouneedisnotavailable,you
willhavetousethenextclosestavailablesize,andrecalculatetheactualpressureachieved.Rememberthat,astheMCarea(diameter)getssmaller,pressure(andforce)goup,butsodoestravel
required.

TableofMasterCylinderSizesandtheirPistonAreas
MasterCylinderSize PistonDiameter(d)(in.) PistonArea(sq.in.)
(bore) (3.14(d/2)^2)
5/8in. 0.6250 0.3068
11/16in. 0.6875 0.3712
19mm 0.7480 0.4394
in. 0.7500 0.4418
20mm 0.7874 0.4869
13/16in. 0.8125 0.5185
21mm 0.8268 0.5369
22mm 0.8661 0.5892
22.2mm 0.8740 0.5999
7/8in. 0.8750 0.6013
23mm 0.9055 0.6440
29/32in. 0.9063 0.6451
15/16in. 0.9375 0.6903
24mm 0.9449 0.7012
25.4mm 1.0000 0.7854
1in 1.0000 0.7854
11/32in. 1.0313 0.8353
26.6mm 1.0472 0.8613
11/16in. 1.0625 0.8866
11/8in. 1.1250 0.9940
28.6mm 1.1260 0.9958
11/4in. 1.2500 1.2272
31.8mm 1.2520 1.2311
15/16in. 1.3125 1.3530
111/32in. 1.3438 1.4183
11/2in. 1.5000 1.7671
13/4in. 1.7500 2.4053

e.g.Ifwerequire1000psihydraulicpressure,andhavedecidedonapedaleffortof75lbsandapedalratioof5:1:

A=F/P

Where

A=Areaofmastercylinderpistonrequired
F=ForceonMCpushrod(lbs)
And
P=hydraulicpressurerequired(psi)

So

MCarea=375lbs/1000psi=0.375SquareInches.

Referringtothetable,wefindthatarentlikelyanymastercylindersavailablewiththisexactarea.Theclosestisan11/16diameterMCpiston,whichgivesanareaof0.3712sq.in.IfyoufindthattheMC
sizeyouwantisnotavailable,orisntavailableinaconfigurationyoudesire,youwillhavetousetheclosestsizeavailableandrecalculate.

Inthisexample,letsassumewecantfindan11/16MCwewanttouse,sowesettleonwhichhaanareaof0.4418Sq.in..CheckthehydraulicpressuregeneratedwiththisMCusingtheequation:

P=F/A

P=375lbs/0.4418sq.in.
=848psi.

ImmediatelywecanseethatusingaMCwillnotallowustogeneratesufficienthydraulicpressuretomaximallyapplythebrakes.Atthispoint,wehaveadecisiontomakeWecan:

Useapedalwithahigherpedalratio

Acceptanundesirablyhighpedaleffort

Reducethepressurerequiredbygoingallthewaybacktocalliper/rotorchoiceandeither

Increasingthediameteroftherotor,and/or

Increasingthesize/numberofcalliperpistons.

Option(1)maybeaviablealternative,butwhatifwehavelimitedspaceorarealreadysetonaparticularpedalassemblyanddontwanttofabricateorbuyacustompedal?Option(2)isreallyoutofthe
question,asitdefeatsthepurposeofthewholeexercise.Finally,option(3)isnotonlyunlikelytoyieldthemagnitudeofchangerequired,butitsverylikelythatwerealreadyusingthemaximumsizerotor
andcalliper.

Sowhatarewetodo?Thesolutionhereispowerbrakes.Byaddingpowerbrakes,wecandramaticallyincreasetheMCpushrodforcewithouthavingtoalteranyoftheothervariables.Notonlywillthislet
uschooseaMCinamorecommonlyavailablesize,butwillalsoallowustousealargerMCsoastokeeppedaltraveldown.

Calculatingtheexactfactorbywhichapowerbrakeboosterwillmultiplypushrodforceisdifficulttodoasmodernvacuumandhydraulicboostersarebothfairlycomplicatedindesignandoftennotsold
withanexactboostspecification.Boostfactorswilldependonthesizeanddesignoftheboosterandwillrangefromabout2to5ormore.Thismakesexactcalculationswithpowerbrakesmore
complicated,butexperiencehasshownthat,withpowerbrakes,oneshouldnormallyuseapedalratioofabout4:1andamastercylinderwithatleasta1diameter.

Step10:

Checkdisplacementoffluidwithchosencomponents,verifythatpedaltravelwillbeacceptable,andjuggle/recalculateasrequired.
Thefinalthingtoconsider,nowthatwehavechosenamastercylinder,istheeffecttheMCboresizewillhaveonpedaltravel.Unfortunately,precisecalculationsarecomplicated,asitisdifficulttoknow
theamountoftravelconsumedbyallthedeflections(bothdesignandunwanted)inthesystem.

WecancalculatethedisplacementoftheMCbymultiplyingtheareaofthepistonbyitsstroketoarriveatavalueincubicinches.(Goodaftermarketmastercylindersshouldalwaysspecifythestroke,but
withstockreplacementorOEMpartsitmaynotbeaseasytocomeby.Onefoolproofmethodistomeasurethestrokewiththemastercylinderoutofthevehiclevaluesfrom1to13/4inchesare
common.)

Intheory,wecouldthencomparethistothevolumerequiredbythecalliperpistons.Thevolumerequiredbythecalliperswouldbecalculatedastheareaofthepistonmultipliedbythetravelrequiredto
bringthepadsintocontactwiththerotor.Thislastvariableisdifficulttomeasureorcalculate.Notonlythat,buttheresultwouldonlybevalidformaximumstrokeofthepedal(andthereforemastercylinder
piston)andwesurelywantthebrakestoapplywellbeforetheendofthepedalstroke.

Ultimately,wemayhavetorelyonexperienceand/ortestingtoachievetherightbalancebetweenbrakingpower/pedaleffort,andpedaltravel.

Again,powerbrakeboostersareanenormousassethere,aswecanselectalargeboreMCthatwilldisplacealargevolumeoffluid(andthereforeminimizepedaltravel),andstillproducesufficient
pressure.

Asaruleofthumb,4wheeldiscbrakesrequireamastercylinderofatleast1bore,andfrequently11/8ormore.

Step11:

Withallcomponentsselected,calculateactualmaximumbraketorquedevelopedandcomparewithcalculationofbraketorquerequired.

Tohelpyouwiththecalculations,IcreatedanExcelspreadsheet(.xlsformat)withtheformulaealreadyentered.Simplyenterthevariablesinbluetextandobservetheresults.

CLICKHEREtoDOWNLOAD
Note:Asyouplaywiththevariables,keepinmindthatthecalculationsareforsystemperformanceatmaximumlimits.Forexample,ifyouenter75lbsforpedaleffortthisisatmax
braking.Also,asdiscussed,therearevariables,suchassystemdeflections,thatcannotbemeasuredandenteredintothespreadsheet.Assuch,youMUSTinterprettheresults
providedbythecalculationswithgreatcare.

MaintenanceTroubleshooting
Thissectionprovidestroubleshootingadviceforabrakesystemthatatonetimefunctionedacceptably,butnolongerdoes.Thatis,itisfocusedonmaintenanceproblems.Ifyouareexperiencingproblems
withanewlydesigned/modified/installedsystemrefertotheprevioussectiontitledBrakeFadeandothercomplaints.

Problem Cause
LowPedalimproveswithpumping Rotorrunout
Loosewheelbearing
Airinhydraulicsystem

LowPedalnoimprovementwithpumping Badcalliperseals
Badlywornpads
Rotorrunout
Leakinhydraulicsystem
Loosewheelbearing
Excessivefreeplayinbrakelinkage
Lowfluidinreservoir
Partialbrakesystemfailure
SpongyPedal Airinhydraulicsystem
Hoseswelling/Deterioratedflexhoses
Fluidboil
Badlywornpads
Unevenpadwear
Oldorcontaminatedbrakefluid
Faultymastercylinder
Callipernotsquaretorotor
MasterCylindermountingloose
Cloggedreservoircapventhole
Softorswollencalliperseals
Pedaldoesntreturn MCreservoirnotvented
NoclearanceinMCpushrod
Bindinginpedalpivotorpushrod
FrontorRearbrakeslockingprematurely Toomuchfrontorrearbrakebias
Defectivebrakevalving
Failureinoppositesystem
Excessivewearinoppositesystem
Worntires
Tirepressuretoohigh
Defectivemastercylinder
Defectivecalliper
Onebrakelocking/vehiclepullstooneside Calliperpistonseizing
Defective,damaged,oroilcontaminatedbrakepadononeside
Defectivecalliper
Scoredoroutofroundrotor
BadcalliperOring
Loosecallipermount
Mismatchedrotorsandpads
Incorrecttirepressures
Badfrontendalignment
Mismatchedtires/load
Damagedorcrimpedbrakeline/hose
Loosesuspensionparts
Loosecallipermountingbolts
Incorrectwheelbearingadjustment
Overlysensitivepedal Defectivepowerbooster
HardPedal Powerboosterfailure
Brakeswet
Glazedpads
Contaminatedpads(oilorfluid)
FluidBoil
PadFade
Excessivelywornpads
Calliperpistonseizedorsticking
Worn/defectivemastercylinder
VibratingPedal Excessiverotorrunoutorthicknessvariation
Wheelbearingdamaged,worn,oroutofadjustment
Crackedrotor
Bentaxle
Corrodedrotorventfins
Callipernotslidingproperly
NoPedal(pedalgoestofloor) Airinhydraulicsystem
Leakinhydraulicsystem
Taperedpadwear

Electriccurrentpassingthroughbrakefluid
Lackoffluidinreservoir

Brakesgrab Contaminatedpadlinings
Brakeswet
Badcombinationvalve
Brakesnotreleasing/Brakedrag Defectivemastercylinder
NoclearanceinMCpushrod
Bindinginpedalpivotorpushrod
Seizedcalliperpiston
Agedoroverheatedcalliperseals
Swollenseals(incorrectbrakefluid)
Calliperslides/pinscorroded/seized
Parkingbrakeonormaladjusted
Faultypowerbooster
Impropervalving(residualpressurevalve)
Callipernotsquaretorotor
Damagedorcrimpedbrakeline/hose
Cloggedbrakelines
Wheelbearingdamaged,worn,oroutofadjustment
Brakessqueal Wornpads
Brakeswet
Glazedorcontaminatedpads
Dirtyorscoredrotor
Bentcalliperbracket
Worn/missing/brokenantisquealshims
Worn/missingantisquealcompoundonbackofpads
Taperwearonpads
Rapidpadwear Brakesnotreleasing
Badsurfacefinishonrotor
Padstoosoft
Padfade(inadequatecooling)
Cracked/damaged/contaminatedrotor

ReviewVANCOPowerBrakeSupplyHydroboostSystem
Why?
Thebeautyofpowerassistbrakesisthattheyallowustodesignabrakesystemwherewedon'tneedto
compromisemovementforforce.Withoutpowerassist,weneedtouseasmallmastercylinderpistonto
developsufficientpressure,butthatsamesmallmastercylinderdisplaceslittlefluid,leavinguswith
unnecessarilylongpedalstroke.Thesituationisworsewhenwehaveswappedinreardiscbrakesthatrequire
morevolumethandrumstooperate.Withpowerassistwecanuseamastercylinderwithanicelargediameter
borethatwilldisplacealotoffluidandgiveusanice,shortpedalstrokethepowerboostermultipliesourinput
forcetocreatesufficientpressureevenwiththelargemastercylinderpiston.

Themostcommonformofpowerbrakeboosteristhevacuumbooster.Vacuumboosters,althoughcommoninOEMroadcars,haveseverallimitations.First,theymustbeverylargetoproducemuchboost,
makingthemhardtofitincrampedenginecompartmentsespeciallywiththatV8shoehornedinthere.Second,theyrelyonenginevacuumtoproduceboostpower.Troubleis,ifyouhaveadieselengine,
bigcam,forcedinduction(supercharger),orevencertainemissionscontrolsonyourmotoryouwon'thaveasteady,reliablesourceofvacuum.Thelastthingwewantisbrakeboostthatisweakand
unreliableespeciallywithamorepowerfulengine!

Fortunately,thereisanotheroptionhydraulicallyboostedbrakes.Ahydroboostbrakeboosterispoweredbyhydraulicfluidfromthepowersteeringpump.Itfitsbetweenthepedalandmastercylinderjust
asavacuumboosterdoes,butoffersseveraldistinctadvantages:

Size.Thehydroboostboosterismuchmorecompactthanavacuumbooster.Atonly14incheslongandapproximately4.5inchesindiameter,itcanfitintightspaces.Itcanevenbemountedupside
down!
Power.Thehydroboostisfarmorepowerfulthanavacuumbooster.Given"average"pedalratio'sandmastercylindersavacuumboostedbrakesystemmaydevelop10001500psi.Ahydroboost
systemiscapableofgenerating24003000psi!
Reliability.Insteadofrelyingonpotentiallyweakandfluctuatingenginevacuum,thehydroboostispoweredbythevehicle'spowersteeringpump.

Howitworks.
Thehydroboostunitisplumbedinlinewiththepowersteering.Thepowersteering
pumpprovidesaconstantflowofpressurizedhydraulicfluidtothebooster.
Whenbrakesareofffluidisbypassedoutthereturnportandbacktothepower
steeringreservoir.Whenbrakesareapplied,hydraulicflowpassingacrossthepower
(boost)pistonisrestricted.Thisrestrictioncreatesapressuredropacrosstheboostpiston.
Theresultingforceistransferredtothemastercylinderpiston.

Theboosterincorporatesanaccumulatorcontainingnitrogengas.Whentheengineis
running,hydraulicflowtotheboostercompressesthenitrogen,storingenergy(likea
spring).Shouldtheenginefail,thereissufficientenergystoredinthecompressednitrogen
toallowfor12powerassistedapplicationsofthebrakes.Afterthat,brakesoperate
normallybutwithoutpowerboost.

Compact,powerful,reliable,anddeadeasytoinstallhydroboostbrakesareanecksnappingupgradetoanyrigandparticularlyanywithlarge/heavytires(rememberhowradiusoftirefiguresinthe
equationforbraketorquerequired?)

FollowalongasIinstallahydroboostbrakingsystemfromVANCOPowerBrakeSupply

Vancoofferseparatecomponentsforhydroboostbrakesorcompletekits,includingnewpowersteeringpumps.

Inmycase,runningfullhydrosteering,Ialreadyhadapowerfulpump,soIorderedakitwithhydraulicbooster,newmastercylinder,and
allthelinesandfittingsrequired.

Everythinginsidetheboxwaswellprotectedduringshippingwithfoampackingmaterial.

Thekitcamecompletewitheverythingrequiredplussomedecentprintedinstructionsandsomecoolstickers.

Insidethebox.

Thecompletecontentsofmykit.

Vanincludesallthefittingsyouwillneed,aswellasgenerouslengthsofhosesothatyoucancustommakethelinesforexactfit.

Thesystemuses"fieldattachable"hydraulicfittings,whichnotonlymakeinstallationeasyandneat,butalsomakeanyfuturehose
repair/replacementdeadeasy.

Alsoincludedarethenecessaryadaptersforthebooster,pspump,andsteeringboxtoconverttheentiresystem'splumbingto6AN.
Thesefittingsarecommon,easytoworkwith,andareavailablewithswivelendsineitherstraightor90*configurations.Allofwhich
makestheplumbingasnap.

Boosterwithnewmastercylinderattached.Notehowcompacttheboosteris.

Inthissideviewyoucanclearlyseethegoldcanofthenitrogenaccumulator.Justaboveityoucanseethehighpressureinletport
(fluidinfrompspump).

Inthisshotoftheothersideofthebooster,youcanseetheoutletportsonthemastercylinderandontheboostertheportforthehigh
pressuresupplyline(tosteeringbox/valve)andthefittingforthelowpressurereturnline(topsreservoir).

FormyinstallationIspecifiedthemountingplatebeatrightangles(90*)tothebooster,andthat'swhatIgot.

OneofthebeautiesoftheVancokitisthecustomfitofthebooster.Boththemountingplateandpedalrod,seenhere,arecustommade
byVancoforyourbooster,toyourexactspecifications.

Thismakesinstallationinanyvehicle,whetheritpreviouslyhadhydroboost,vacuumboost,ormanualbrakesa"boltin"affair.

ThemountingplatecanbeinstalledbyVancoatanyangleyouspecifytomatchtheangleofyourfirewall/mountingbracket,sothatthe
boosterandmastercylindersitlevelwheninstalled.Itwillalsobemadewithwhateverboltholepatternyouspecify.

Also,virtuallyanypushrodlengthorconfigurationwillbecustommadetofityourpedal.Becauseofmy"reversemount"pedal,Ispec'da
shortpushrodwith1/2"holeforthepedalpin.

Variousmastercylinder'sareavailabletomatchyourbrakingsystem'sneeds.

Mykitcamewithamassive15/16"mastercylinderpiston,hugebuiltinreservoirs,andnovalvinginthemastercylinder.

Thelargemastercylinderpistondiameterwilldisplacealotoffluidperfectforactuatingmy3/4ton4wheeldiscbrakesquickly,and
withshortpedalstroke.

Thehydroboostboosterwillsupplythepowernecessarytoactuatesuchalargepistonwithoutexperiencingaveryhardpedal.

Installationbeginswiththeremovalofthemastercylinderfromtheboostersothatthemastercylindercanbethoroughlybenchbled
beforeinstallation.

Theoutputrodofthebooster.

Inputsideofthemastercylinderpiston.

Tobenchbleedthemastercylinder:

Clampthemountingflangesecurelyinavice,makingsurethemastercylinderislevel(notethecardboardtoprotectthesurfaceofthe
flange).Donotclampanyotherpartofthemastercylinder.

Installanoldfittingandashortlengthofbrakelineineachoutletport,androutethelinesbackintothemastercylinderreservoirs.
Tightenthefittings

Fillthereservoirswithnew,qualitybrakefluid.

Markawoodendowelorsimilartool(hereIamusingthehandleofahammer)withtwolinesonethatlinesupwiththeendofthe
cylinderwhenthepistonisfullyrelaxed,andanotheraninchfromthat.

Whenbenchbleeding,youwanttoavoidusingtheentirestrokeofthepistonotherwiseaircancreeppasttheendsofthecupsealsin
thepistonbore.

Generally,3/4ofthestrokeofthepistonissufficient.Withatotalstrokeof11/2"Iamusing1"forbenchbleeding.

Carefullydepressthepistoninslow,evenstrokestoexpelalltheairfromthemastercylinder.Duringtheprocessyouwillobservetheair
bubblingoutfromthebleederlines,ascanbeseenhere.

Oncealltheairhasbeenremoved,reinstallthemastercylindercover,removethebleedinglines,reinstalltheplugsintheoutletports,
andsetthemastercylinderaside.

Next,preparetheboosterforinstallationbyinstallingtheconversionfittingsincludedinthekit.

Startbycarefullypryingtheplugsfromtheports.

Theboosterconversionfittingsuseasmalloringfittingontheendthatthreadsintothebooster.Theotherendisamale6AN.

Twodifferentsizefittingsareusedone18mmfortheinletport,andone16mmfortheoutlet.Onlyonefittingwillfitineachport.

Lubricatetheoringswithcleanpowersteeringfluidandinstallthemontheendsofthefittings.

Threadthefittingsintoplaceinthebooster,andcarefullytightenuntiltheoringseats.Gentlytightenanother1/4turn.Donotexceed20
ftlbswhentighteningthefittingsordamagetotheoringwilloccur.

Thefittingontheaccumulatorsideoftheboosteristhe18mm"in"portfromthepspump.

Thefittingontheotherside(nexttothelongreturnportnipple)isthe16mm"out"portthatgoestothesteering.

Withthenewmastercylinderandboosterreadyforinstallation,removetheoriginalbooster/mastercylinder.

Itooktheopportunitytocleanupthemountingbracketabit.

Don'tworrythatoverspraywon'thurtanything.

Ifyoumeasuredthemountingboltpatterncarefullypriortoordering,thenewboosterwillboltrightinplace.

Looselybolttheboostertothebracket/firewall,andmountthenewmastercylinderonthebooster.

Donottightenthefastenersyet.

Withtheboostermountedloosely,sothatyouhavesomeplay,installthepushrodonthepedal.

Makesureyouinstallanyrequiredhardware,dependingonyourpedal.

Herethepushrodissecuredwithacotterpin.

Tightentheboostermountingfastenersto2530ftlbs.

Itisextremelyimportantatthisstagetocheckthatthepushrodisstraightandlevelfromthepedaltothebooster.Nomorethan5*of
misalignmentispermissible,otherwiseboosterwear/damagewillresult.

Itisalsoveryimportanttocheckthatthereisalittleplayor"jiggle"inthepedalwiththeboosterinstalled.Withoutalittleplay,the
hydroboostwillconstantlyengagethebrakes,leadingtorapidbrakewear.

Thisvideoclipshowswhattheproperamountofplaylookslikeatthepushrod.

Anothervideoclipshowingproperplayinthepedal.

Beforetighteningthenutsthatsecurethemastercylindertothebooster,reconnectthefrontandrearbrakelinesatthemastercylinder.

Havingalittleplaywiththemastercylinderloosecanaidinliningupthebrakelinesandgettingthefittingsstartedintheports.

Ifthemastercylinder'sreservoirsarenotequalinsize,connecttheoutletofthelargerreservoirtothefrontbrakes.

Withtheboostermountedsecurely,pedalconnected,andthebrakelinesreconnected,tightenthemastercylindermountingnutsto20
25ft/lbs.

Plumbing

Thefinalstepisplumbingthehydroboostinlinewiththepowersteeringcircuit.Alltheadapters,fittings,andlinesareincludedtoconvertthehydrauliccircuitto6ANwhichisaniceupgradeallbyitself.
Theplumbingcircuit,shownbelowisidenticalwhetheryouhavenormalpowersteeringor,asinmycase,fullhydraulicsteering.Forfullhydro,simplyreplacethesteeringgearboxinthediagramwiththe
hydraulicsteeringunit(oftenerroneouslycalledthe"orbitalvalve").
Fluidflowisasfollows:RESERVOIR>PUMP>BOOSTER>STEERING>COOLER>FILTER>RESERVOIR.

Technically,thecoolerandfilterare"optional"butIHIGHLYrecommendyouinstallthem.Iaddedasmallautotransmissioncoolerandmyreservoirhasabuiltinfilter.

Itgoeswithoutsayingthatyouneedagood,strongpspumpingoodcondition.Ifindoubt,replaceit.

Stepone,ifrequired,istoremovethestockoutletfittingfromyourpspumpandreplaceitwithoneofthesupplied6ANadapters.Inthe
caseofGMstylesaginawpumpslikemine,therearefouradaptersincluded:

Twoare"invertedflare"fittings(one5/8"&one11/16")forearly(to1977)pumps
Twoare"oring"fittings(one16mm&one18mm)forlater(1978+)pumps.

Hereyoucanseetheadapterfittinginthepspumpoutletport,andthehighpressuresupplylineconnected.

IfyouareusingatraditionalSaginawsteeringgearbox,youwillalsohavetoinstalloneofthesupplied6ANadapterfittingsintothe
highpressure"in"portofthesteeringbox(normallytheforward/enginesideport).

Withfullhydraulicsteering,mysteeringunitalreadyuses6ANfittings,asshownhere.

Withallfittingsconvertedto6An,youcanmakeandinstallthehoses.

Takeyourtimemeasuringforandmakingthehoses.Clearinstructionsareincludedforcuttingthehoseandinstallingtheendfittings
allthatisneededisahacksawandacoupleofwrenches.

Routethehosesasfollows,beingsuretoavoidsharpedges,heatsources,andexcessivelytightbends:

Installonehighpressurelinefromthepspumpoutlettotheboosterinlet(reservoirside)

Installtheotherhighpressurelinefromtheboosteroutlettothesteeringboxorhydraulicsteeringunit.

InstallthesuppliedTfittingintothereservoir'sreturnline,asshownhere.

Usingthesuppliedlowpressurehoseandahoseclamp,connectonesideoftheTtothebooster'sreturnlinefitting(thelongertube
stickingoutofthebooster).

LeavetheothersideoftheTopenfornow.

Runanotherlowpressurereturnlinefromthesteeringbox/unit'sreturnporttothecooler.

MakesurethelinefromthesteeringunitenterstheBOTTOMofthecoolerandexitsthetop(toavoidtrappingairinthecooler.)
Routetheuppercoolerportbackthroughafilter...

...andintotheothersideoftheT.

Securealllowpressurelinestotheirfittingswithhoseclamps.

Donotovertightenthehighpressure6ANswivelfittings.

Completedplumbingatbooster.

Onceinstallationiscomplete,bleedthebrakesfirst(engineoff)anthenproceedtobleedthehydroboostsystem.

Useahighqualitypowersteeringfluidforyourpowersteeringandhydroboost.DonotuseATFasitismoreeasilysubjecttoaeration,
frothing,andcavitation(leadingtopumpnoiseandfailure.)

Thefollowingismyprocedureforbleedingthehydroboost:

HydroboostBleeding

1.Fillpowersteeringreservoirwithpowersteeringfluidtoproperlevelandallowthefluidtoremainundisturbedfortwominutes.
2.Disconnectcoilwireandcrankenginetooperatepumpandflowfluidthroughentirecircuit.Crankinshortbursts.Whennomoreairappearstobubbleoutandfluidlevelremainsconstant,reconnect
coilwire.
3.Startengineandallowittorunfor10seconds.Stopengineandcheckfluidlevel.Addfluidifnecessary.Repeatuntilfluidlevelremainsconstantafterenginehasrun.
4.Raisefrontwheelsclearofground.Startengineandturnsteeringwheelfromstoptostoptwice.Stopengineandpumpbrakepedalfourorfivetimestorelieveaccumulatorpressure.
5.Checkfluidlevel,addifnecessary.
6.Startengineandrunatapproximately1,500RPM.Pumpbrakepedalseveraltimes.Turnsteeringwheelfromstoptostop,lightlycontactingwheelstops,severaltimes.
7.Stopengineandcheckfluidlevel.Iffluidisfoamy,letsituntilclearoffoam.Addfluidifnecessary.
8.Lowerfrontwheelstoground.Startengineandrunatapproximately1,500RPM.Pumpbrakepedalseveraltimeswhileturningsteeringwheelfromstoptostop,lightlycontactingwheelstops.
9.Stopengineandpumpbrakepedalfourorfivetimestorelieveaccumulatorpressure.Checkfluidlevel.Addfluidifnecessary.
10.Iffluidisextremelyfoamy,allowthevehicletostandforonehourwiththeengineoff,thenrepeatsteps1through10.

ThepresenceoftrappedairinthesystemwillcauseNoise(cavitation),fluidfoaming,andthefluidlevelinthereservoir(pump)torisewhentheengineisturnedoff.

Conclusion
IcanSTOP!FortoolongIsufferedwithmanualbrakes.Ihadoncetriedahydroboostconversionwithjunkyardpartsnotonlydidtheboosternotboostthebrakes,itplayedhavocwithmy
hydraulicsteering.NosuchworrieswiththiskitfromVanco.Whathastobeoneofthequickestandeasiestinstall'sI'vedonealsonettedgreatresults.NowIcanstoponadime,and,justasimportantly,
holdtheriginanyposition,foraslongasIlike,withverylittlelegeffortrequired.Thisisasuperbupgradeforsteepclimbsandbigbouldercrawling.Ifyou'venotdrivenhydroboostbrakesbefore,youwill
beamazedatthestoppingpoweryouwillhave.Asthisisessentiallythesamesystemasinmy2007Chevy3/4tontowrig(thathasGVWRof9200lbs!!)I'mwellsetnowforwhenIinstallthattorquey
newGenIVV8andlowstallautoI'vehadmyeyeon!

References:
"BrakeHandbook".FredPuhnHPBooks,1985
"EngineertoWin".CarrollSmithMotorbooksInternational,1985
"Nuts,Bolts,Fasteners,andPlumbingHandbook".CarrollSmithMotorbooksInternational,1990
1981LightDutyTruckServiceManual.GeneralMotorsCorporation,1980
VANCOPowerBrakeSupplyhttp://www.vancopbs.com

Sources:

VANCOPowerBrakeSupply
9738AtlanticAvenue
SouthGate,California,90280
(323)5631588/(800)2566295
http://www.vancopbs.com

vancopbs@aol.com