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Aftermarket Disc Brake Install
Decades before Jim Carrey's now famous "Somebody stop me" line was uttered in the comic movie "The Mask," many drivers were probably thinking the same thing when braking their early Pontiac musclecars. In fact, not until 1967 did Pontiac even offer a front disc-brake option. Rear discs were not an option until 1979, and then only with the WS6 package. In 1964, metallic drum brakes were available on the GTO, but suffered from a malady then known as "morning sickness." In other words, until you warmed up the brakes, the car was downright dangerous to drive in a must-stop scenario.
Factory disc brakes were quite an improvement. However, many racers still turned to the aftermarket for lighter brakes in order to improve their front-to-rear weight distribution. Unfortunately, most of these lightweight kits were not suited to street driving. In addition, some of these early conversions required a great deal of home engineering to install in certain vehicles. All that has mercifully changed.
When it came time to arm the re-created 1966 Pontiac GTO "GeeTO Tiger" with sufficient stopping power to match its superior horsepower, we called Stainless Steel Brakes in Clarence, NY, provider of a wide variety of conversion kits. For the front, we ordered the Super Duty A 123-6 Disc-Brake Kit. For the rear, however, we thought we might have a problem. The Moser 12-bolt rear end we obtained was assembled with Ford bearings and flanges. The Stainless Steel A 125 disc brake conversion kit was available for the traditional 12-bolt. Fortunately, Stainless provided us with special mounting brackets to accommodate our particular rear end.
Author: Dave Anderson
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Disc Brake Upgrade for GM 12-Bolt
Despite volumes written about the legendary prowess of '60s musclecars, the legends always seem to gloss over some serious engineering shortcomings of the era. Brake packages were often, in a word, terrifying. One good shot was most of what you got if you were lucky. After that it was white-knuckle time when it came to stopping fast and that was with a powerplant kicking out factory horsepower. Brake fade was the name of the game. Add a cam, some carb, headers and exhaust, and stopping becomes even more elusive. While drum brakes are great for stopping lumbering buses and dump trucks, they're no good for gas-huffing musclecars.
The good news is that it's never been easier to upgrade your '60s- or '70s-era GM musclecar to a disc brake package. Stepping up to serious stopping power with disc brakes on all four corners is as easy as picking up the phone, opening a box, and spending an afternoon under the car spinning wrenches. While upgrading the front brakes is usually a simple matter of a spindle swap, working out back requires removal of the rear axles in order to get down far enough to remove the drum backing plates. The perfect time to upgrade is when you have to service the bearings, axles, or rear gears. Pulling that brake drum off and discovering that gear oil has glazed over your brake shoes like a day old donut might be a good time to switch rather than fight.
Upgrading or reconfiguring any stock braking system requires a methodical system approach, and attention to detail. Bolting up a brake kit without taking into account the condition of the entire system from master cylinder to bleed screw may be the last mistake you ever make. Spanky new calipers and rotors won't help if connected to ancient brake lines, spent fluid, and a spongy master cylinder. When upgrading to discs on the corners, don't forget to inspect and replace lines if required. Adding an adjustable proportioning valve while the hydraulic system is apart is also a good idea, and will allow for tuning of the front to rear braking ratio after everything is buttoned up. Life absent of unexpected sideways braking is always a good thing.
Author: Mike Bumbeck
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