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Better Brake Performance
One area hot rodders, racers and custom car (and truck) builders tend to ignore is the brake master cylinder and, in particular, the actual brake pedal ratio. After all, it doesn’t make the car one bit quicker or faster, and if the thing eventually stops, why worry? Perhaps you should.
The critical component in the braking equation is the pedal ratio. In operation, the brake pedal acts as a lever to increase the force the driver applies to the master cylinder. In turn, the master cylinder forces fluid to the disc brake caliper pistons or drum brake wheel cylinders. If you examine a brake pedal, you'll see the pivot point (where the pedal swivels) and the mounting point for the master cylinder pushrod are usually different. By varying the length of the pedal, and/or the distance between the pushrod mount and the pivot, you can change how much force (from your leg) is required to energize the master cylinder. This is the "mechanical advantage" or pedal ratio. This formula will help you figure it out: Input Force x Pedal Ratio ÷ Brake Piston Area = PSI.
Mathematical babble? The arithmetic simply equates to the amount of force exerted by your leg times the pedal ratio divided by the area of the brake piston(s). FYI, the typical adult male can exert roughly 300 pounds of force (maximum) with one leg—and that’s a bunch. Something in the order of 1/3 or 1/2 that figure is obviously more comfortable, even in a hardcore racecar.
Author: Wayne Scraba
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