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Brake Dancing

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on May 1, 2006 Comment (0)
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The SSBC kits are all-inclusive and provide all the components and hardware needed to complete the install, sans brake fluid. In addition to these parts, the rear brake kit includes the Firm Feel master cylinder (not pictured), which we already installed in a previous story. In the lower right you can see SSBC's Sure Stop Brake Pressure Gauge Kit (PN A1704), which is awesome for an upgrade like this because it tells you how much pressure you're getting at each caliper. It includes six adapters to fit the most common brake fittings.

Right out of the box, our 1999 Chevy Tahoe never had very good brakes. Unfortunately, their performance degraded even further once we added 35-inch tires and a 6-inch suspension lift ("Miraculous Makeover," Sept. 2004). As a matter of fact, we felt they were totally unacceptable. In an effort to counter this problem, we installed a rear disc-brake kit and Firm Feel master cylinder from Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation ("Brake Dancing," Nov. 2004). The result was vastly improved pedal feel, but only marginally improved braking. Clearly, our Tahoe still needed help.

Since then, we've bolted on some serious new parts from SSBC. Up front, we replaced the single-piston stock calipers with SSBC's new Force 10 dual-piston Quick Change Aluminum Caliper Upgrade Kit (PN A186-1) and the stock rotors with SSBC's new rotors with the optional zinc-plating and turbo-slotting (PN S2345P). In the rear, we upgraded the SSBC disc brakes (PN A126-4) to the new Force 10 single-piston aluminum caliper disc-brake kit (PN A126-4R). In addition to the new calipers, our kit included new rotors with the optional zinc plating and turbo-slotting. The kit also includes a Firm Feel master cylinder that increases the brake pressure on the rotors and eliminates the spongy brake pedal feel, but we deleted it because we already had one installed. You can read about that install in the November 2004 issue.

Results? Well, the numbers tell the tale. Before the SSBC front and rear brake upgrade, our Tahoe averaged a scary 187 feet to stop from 60 mph. After the upgrade, it only took 166.5 feet to stop from 60 mph on average. This improvement of 20.5 feet makes us very happy, and our knuckles are starting to get their color back.

Installing the new front brakes was as easy as swapping calipers and rotors and bleeding the system. The new rotors have unidirectional (straight vane) venting, and the calipers have dual 54mm pistons that significantly improve clamping force.

If you're swapping discs for drums in the rear, you'll need to remove the axleshafts so you can access the stock backing-plate retaining nuts and bolts and the backing plates. With these out of the way, you can then install the new caliper mounting plates, mounting straps, and rotor splash shields. We already had the backing plates installed from our previous disc upgrade, so all we had to do was add a new strap to the existing plate.

This is how the rear brake assembly looks when completely installed. The calipers have a large 54mm piston and a built-in parking brake.


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