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Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you?
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oprn
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2022 4:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

You are not wrong Dave. Like you I drove tens of thousands of miles in the late '60s right through to the early '90s in Bugs, Busses and Wagons but that was a different time and under different conditions.

Today traffic is thick, heavy and FAST! Our 50+ year old VWs were never designed for today's speeds. The brakes were adequate back then when most highways had speed limits of 45 to 55 mph and traffic was pretty thin. Today on any major highway it's bumper to bumper at speeds of 75 to 85 mph. Our old cars don't stop like the modern ones do with their power disc brakes on all 4 corners.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2022 8:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

I've never had a problem with drum brakes in this re-application. They where designed to stop up to 2500 lb. The only issue I've had is balance. VW set it up for equal size tires and about 40% of the weight up front. With drastically difference diameter tires, and often little more than 30% of the weight over the front, the balance may need adjusting. With the available wheel cylinders you have some options to balance the brakes. For 40mm wide brakes ('58 up front, '68 up rear, Bug) the options I know of are 22mm front wheel cylinders, 17.5mm rear wheel cylinders, and 19mm wheel cylinders for early 924 non-turbo rear brakes. The comparison of the wheel cylinder area front to back IS the balance with the late Bug brakes, since both ends are the same size.

White knuckle with 9 inch drum brakes was hands down owned by Mopar. They seemed to think early to mid-60's A body cars could run 9 inch drum brakes. They made them wider, 2.5 inch up front. Slamming one of those nose heavy cars down from 70mph to 0 was scary. The required pedal effort to keep the rear locked up and the front working hard roughly doubled from about 40mph to 0. The brakes were not boosted and I quickly understood why there where broken seat springs in the back of the drivers seat. All that "good" braking in a car that was happy to go 80mph! Up against that learning experience I think Bug brakes are great.

In my current buggy I have the late dual circuit master cylinder and run '58-'64 brakes on all 4 corners. The rear are stock with 19mm wheel cylinders. The fronts are running '68-up Bug rear wheel cylinders, 17.5mm diameter. This thing has only seen a couple low speed neighborhood runs and seems fine. The idea is about a 50/50 braking balance considering tire size and brake width. A Berry Mini-T that is likely to have about a 30% front 70% rear weight distribution.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2022 8:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

To me it's about balancing the car as a package. If you are running a 40 HP 1200 then yes, go with the '59 to '65 stock brakes. The power/speed/braking is going to be nicely matched. Upgrade the engine to a 1600 DP and just maybe the brakes need to be '71 to '76 sized to match the performance of the engine and make it a well-rounded car.

BUT - these days - "Oh you need 150 to 200 HP to keep up with modern traffic!" Ya? then why aren't you upgrading the brakes to match then? You are going to be rooting on the gas pedal and doing speeds never imagined by the engineers of the car, don't you think it would be prudent to make it stop from those speeds at least as good as it gets there?

Everyone wants a car that goes from 0 - Mock Chicken in 6 seconds or less, why are we not comparing stopping times and distances like we do 1/4 mile times? Why is "performance" single dimensional? I see 3 sides to a performance car, power, road handling and braking. A package!

12 second 1/4s has yet to save a life but a quick stop from 70 mph sure as heck will!

This thread right here is awesome in that we are actually discussing this and some really good things are surfacing!
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 5:35 am    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

Sorry about the rant, I am having a hard time understanding the reluctance of some to consider brake upgrading as needed. Just taking the Porsche 924/944 series as an example, every time Porsche upgraded the power package the brakes got an upgrade at the same time. These cars were drivers not Curb Queens and Porsche knew that the increased power would be used and people would find themselves on roads and in places going faster than they ever had before.

Pretty simple really!

Carry on, don't let me throw a wet blanket on the discussion here, just needed to blow off some steam...
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 9:09 am    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

oprn wrote:
Sorry about the rant, I am having a hard time understanding the reluctance of some to consider brake upgrading as needed. [snip]

By lightening the vehicle we have upgraded our brakes. They where sized to stop a heavier car and we put those on our lighter car. I'm just running a stock 1600 single port so I don't know that I needed an upgrade, but it came free with the stylish new body. Cool
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 10:54 am    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

I'm not sure I have driven a drum brake vehicle since the 70's when... wait... my westy (90's ownership) was drum only if I recall.

Nobody has mentioned the ease of maintenance with disc brakes. I built my buggy with disc brakes front and back, because I don't want the aggravation of drum brakes. Disc brakes are self adjusting and you can clean road grime off with just a garden hose & the brakes don't care.

I couldn't imagine putting drums on purposely in 2022. Rolling Eyes Just mind boggling.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 1:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

EVfun wrote:
By lightening the vehicle we have upgraded our brakes. They where sized to stop a heavier car and we put those on our lighter car. I'm just running a stock 1600 single port so I don't know that I needed an upgrade, but it came free with the stylish new body. Cool

Yes that is true. Lighter stops better.

And I guess what is acceptable braking power is different for everyone. Stock engine, never leave the neighborhood or town, only take it out for ice cream, trailered to events out of town, trail riding only, short trips on Sundays. All good on stock brakes, 1/4 milers that do one stop from speed every couple hours, all legitimate ways to use our Buggies. I have a sand rail with all drum brakes, use it for trail riding rarely sees over 40 mph and will never run on the street.

Some of us could pass for old gone to seed linebackers, some weigh 90 pounds soaking wet so acceptable pedal pressure is not universal either.

My street Buggy however does need help so keep bringing on the ideas, keep posting what is working for you please!
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 1:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

I put my buggy on the road in 1973. Disc brakes weren't even an option then, especially for a 1961 chassis. I'm running 225/60-15 on the front (keeps my speedo correct) and 255/70-15 on the rear (keeps the revs down, 3,000 at 65mph). Some years back I updated to a dual master cylinder, and front wheel cylinders on the back 2 years ago. I've always found that it stops as well as any of my daily drivers that I've had. On a panic stop from highway speeds I can lock up the front end enough to chirp. Over the years I have noticed that tires make a HUGE difference. Goodyear Eagles will lock up the front end with light braking pressure in town with a light drizzle. The BFG TA's start to hydroplane at 65 MPH in VERY heavy rain, and overall stopping isn't noticeably worse on wet roads.

Years ago in shop class I remember something about braking capacity for on road vehicles. Seems to me that it was that the braking capacity was 5X the horsepower of the vehicle. That would account for larger brakes on the same vehicle but with a different size engine. Perhaps with a run away engine the brakes would always be able to overcome it, even in low gear and convertor stall?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 3:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

slayer61 wrote:
I'm not sure I have driven a drum brake vehicle since the 70's when... wait... my westy (90's ownership) was drum only if I recall.

Nobody has mentioned the ease of maintenance with disc brakes. I built my buggy with disc brakes front and back, because I don't want the aggravation of drum brakes. Disc brakes are self adjusting and you can clean road grime off with just a garden hose & the brakes don't care.

I couldn't imagine putting drums on purposely in 2022. Rolling Eyes Just mind boggling.


It's more 'maintain' than "put them on." They were included with the car for free. That said, disc brakes certainly have advantages as you mentioned. But, with stock drum brakes I can always get parts at any auto parts store... probably at some auto parts store anyway -- certainly ANY aircooled specialty shop. There are no factory rear disc brake options, just a lot of different kits produced over the years so that replacement parts may, or may not, be available.

Up front the late Ghia (and late Bugs in other parts of the world) disc brakes can be swapped onto any year Bug. The EMPI adapter bearings are the only odd replacement part (for king and link pin front suspension) and have been around long enough that particular odd part should remain available. With drop spindles for disc brakes they usually have the ball joint spindles.

I would be inclined, in a more modern looking build, to run late rear drums and Ghia discs (perhaps with Wilwood calipers for looks.) They can be drilled up in most normal patterns for a variety of custom looks. But I went with an old school hot rod look and a nod to the cars that ran the old Ford wide-5 pattern. I scaled it to buggy size with 14 inch Bus wheels and exposed old VW wide-5 drums. Functionally all Bug brakes from 1958 to 1977 (US sold) have roughly equal brakes. The rears got a little stronger in '68 and the dual circuit upgrade was in '67. I added that upgrade to my buggy.

I thought the thrust behind this thread was more about rebalancing to deal with the changes in weight distribution, and often drastically different tire sizes, compared to the stock Bug. I would be quite interested in hearing about adjusting balance with different disc brake options. I would also be interested in hearing about people using a proportioning valve in the FRONT brakes to delay premature lock up (something the manufacturers don't typically recommend.)
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 4:52 am    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

I would personally never put a proportioning valve on the FRONT of anything. The action of a proportioning valve (if you can find one that actually works) is to let full pressure through to the brakes up to a preset pressure then limit it from there on. So starting with a front biased system (that's why you put the valve in) the brake balance favors the front, then as the situation gets more urgent and more pressure is apply suddenly the valve kicks in and the bias shifts to the rear!

So in a panic situation the car starts out understeering and switches to oversteering as the rears lock up with the weight shifting forward off the rears toward the fronts which are now limited in their ability and can't stop the car! The progression then is the driver has to steer away from the obstacle in question but with the rears locked up any steering action WILL result in a spin out with the rear of the car trying to pass the front! Now you will slam sideways or backward into whatever you were trying to avoid.

You never want the brake pressure to increase on the wheels that are getting less and less weight on them, that is why no auto manufacturer in the world has ever used them on the front!

The proportioning valve is designed for the rear. Set up correctly on a rear biased car, the rears see full pressure until the point where they would start to lock up. Then the valve kicks in and does not let any more pressure through. Any increased urgency/brake pressure no goes to the front along with the normal shifting of vehicle weight. More weight shift = more braking on the wheels effected. Perfect!

As for my personal experience with a proportioning valve, only ever bought one. I put it on the rear on my sand rail and it TOTALLY eliminated the rear brakes. No pressure at all EVER came through it! I took it apart many times to clean it and to try and see how it worked - it doesn't! Total junk!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 10:03 am    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

oprn wrote:
... on a rear biased car, the rears see full pressure until the point where they would start to lock up. Then the valve kicks in and does not let any more pressure through. Any increased urgency/brake pressure no goes to the front along with the normal shifting of vehicle weight. More weight shift = more braking on the wheels effected. Perfect!

This is conceptually what I believe happens with my buggy in a hard panic stop, withOUT any proportioning valve; because of having stock 1965 Bug brakes (wider drums, shoes and cylinders on front) with much taller wheels on rear. So rear drums get hotter faster and fade, which transfers braking to fronts as needed.

EVfun wrote:
... I would be quite interested in hearing about adjusting balance ...

That's understandable for your buggy with front wheels way farther out in front than in my super short 70" wheelbase buggy.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 12:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

Open, I have no idea what kind of proportioning valve you are using but do know for a fact that using a Wilwood or good copy of the round knob adjustable one they sell work very well on buggies.
I have seen them in use on buggies and people that have them like how they work.
The one Wilwood makes with a lever for quick adjustment from street to off driving conditions works very well with keeping front brakes from locking up.
Yes they are made for racing and use in dirt track racing as track changes conditions.
And yes I have experience that started back in 1970 with making brake bias work on buggies with small front tires, big rear tires in street, play, and off road racing. So I have a good idea how brakes work.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 12:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

oprn wrote:
As for my personal experience with a proportioning valve, only ever bought one. I put it on the rear on my sand rail and it TOTALLY eliminated the rear brakes. No pressure at all EVER came through it! I took it apart many times to clean it and to try and see how it worked - it doesn't! Total junk!

You had a bad experience with one, but they are not all junk. They are commonly used by auto manufacturers and in the aftermarket performance world. Wilwood sells them, including one that can be used on our VWs without needing adapters (p/n 260-12627.) They have a technical article about how they work and adjusting them. I've seen them on the front of VW's but never tried that.

A lot of beach buggies need something to tone down the front brakes. With the smaller diameter tires and low front weight it can become real easy to lock the front tires without the rears helping much. I will be trying the wheel cylinder approach this time. With the '68-up Bug brakes the balance is the difference in area of the wheel cylinder pistons.

I went with smaller front wheel cylinders based on some back of the envelope brake pedal effort calculations. The pedal effort to stop with a 19mm bore dual circuit Beetle master cylinder and rear wheel cylinders all around should be slightly less than the effort to stop with a Bus master cylinder (22mm bore) and stock brakes. That Bus master cylinder with the built in reservoir used to be pretty much buggy standard until the dual circuit option with the Rabbit or Volvo reservoir took over for safety. My first buggy build used it.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 3:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

It doesn't say Wilwood on it so it must be a copy.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 3:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

In the article you provided a link to EVfun, it only talks about using the proportioning valve on the REAR brakes. No mention at all about using them on the front brakes!

It would be interesting to contact them and see what their reaction would be to using one on the front brakes!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 3:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

MrGoodtunes wrote:
oprn wrote:
... on a rear biased car, the rears see full pressure until the point where they would start to lock up. Then the valve kicks in and does not let any more pressure through. Any increased urgency/brake pressure no goes to the front along with the normal shifting of vehicle weight. More weight shift = more braking on the wheels effected. Perfect!

This is conceptually what I believe happens with my buggy in a hard panic stop, withOUT any proportioning valve; because of having stock 1965 Bug brakes (wider drums, shoes and cylinders on front) with much taller wheels on rear. So rear drums get hotter faster and fade, which transfers braking to fronts as needed.

EVfun wrote:
... I would be quite interested in hearing about adjusting balance ...

That's understandable for your buggy with front wheels way farther out in front than in my super short 70" wheelbase buggy.


I would add to the purportioning valve description, when they hit the kick in they don't prevent additional pressure to the rear, but rather switch from letting all through to letting a percentage of the additional system pressure through. With the Wilwood unit it appears to be about 43% after the kick in point. The kick in point is adjusted by the knob to be as low as 150 psi and up as the knob is screwed in. Kinda counterintuitive, the more you crank the adjustment down the less the thing does.

I find your rear brakes getting hot to be interesting. I wonder how shortening the wheelbase affects weight transfer when braking. I will say that my first Buggy had worse braking than the Mini-T when I initially put it on the road (both with stock '64 brakes at the wheels).

Then I pulled the buggy down to swap to the old school hot rod look, running 14's and a short axle transaxle to fit them under the fenders. It snowballed from there... engine, transaxle, front suspension, new brakes and switching to DOT5 silicone fluid, oh -- put the 12v battery up front and add a gas gauge too, it's all apart after all. Toss in some health issues (that addressing will slow me again for another month this fall) and I'm getting antsy to get this back on the road!
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 4:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

oprn wrote:
It doesn't say Wilwood on it so it must be a copy. [snip]


Thanks for those images (I cut 'cause they are already here.) That looks a bit different than the Wilwood pics, it also shows some parts that look like copies. Learning about quality of parts is great! I fought like hell with my first hydraulic clutch conversion. Turned out I was fighting a bad new clutch master cylinder. I swapped in a Wilwood unit and it bled out and worked great in a couple hours one afternoon.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 6:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

I have used a proportioning valve on my front brakes since I rebuilt the suspension and added disk brakes in 2009. Without it the front wheels lock up way too fast, with it I can stop so hard the car gets all squirely and you are literally hanging in your belts, but the wheels do not lock.

I can get them to lock if I REALLY try, so your argument that it kills too much pressure is not valid.

I also have one in my 57 race car that I built like a dragster for the same reason. The front is light and I need to restrict the pressure so the front wheels don't lock up even when most of the weight is transfered to the front. Lots of guys run them in buggies and cars with light front ends, the only cars I know of that run them in the rear are front engined race cars to keep the rear wheels from locking up when the weight transfers to the front.

I will never go back to drum brakes and I have tried all there is to do with drums on my cars. big bug and T3 rear drums, swapped front and rear wheel cylinders, arched shoes, metallic and organic shoes, you name it I did it. I could never get drums to bias correctly for racing or stop pulling to one side or not fade after a few hard stops, they sucked for my application and I couldn't wait to get rid of them.

Then there's the whole maintenance thing, there is none ...... My pads are 13 years old and have done a lot of hard stopping and lots of stop and go daily driving, they will last another 13 years at their current wear rate.

My 69 GMC truck had 4 wheel non power drums.....THEY SUCKED. I couldn't wait to put front disks on it just like the factory did. TO say our cars stopped fine with drums is true, but even VW started putting them on bugs in Europe for a reason, THEY WERE BETTER AND SAFER.

I have brake kits for my next 2 projects already sitting in the garage, for me and my driving style I would never go back to drums

Light cars CAN stop better IF they are properly set up, They can also stop a lot worse if the brakes are overly aggressive for the tires and the wheels lock up, or if the tires are too wide and do not exert enough weight on the contact patch for good traction. Everything has to balance to work
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2022 7:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

Open,
What you have is a POS most likely made in China.
No where near the quality of a Wilwood.
What I mean by copy of a Wilwood is a part made by Wilwood and sold under a different name.
Speedway Motors sells one that the color purple that is identical to a Wilwood.
I used parts from Speedway and all are of good quality.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2022 4:23 am    Post subject: Re: Brakes for our fiberglass buggies. What's worked for you? Reply with quote

As for putting a proportioning valve on the front brakes, I will wait until someone like Wilwood gives it the green flag for street use before I change my opinion. I just sent them an inquiry so we will see...
slalombuggy wrote:
Light cars CAN stop better IF they are properly set up, They can also stop a lot worse if the brakes are overly aggressive for the tires and the wheels lock up, or if the tires are too wide and do not exert enough weight on the contact patch for good traction. Everything has to balance to work

A light car should always be able to stop better just due to the fact that there is less weight to stop.

I totally agree that best stopping power is a balance of everything in the system. Tire contact patch and rubber compounds have not yet been discussed here. I expect there is an ideal vehicle weight/square inch spec for each tire compound out there somewhere. Is a softer compound like a mud and snow tire going to work better than a regular summer tire? Any thoughts or experience on that?
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