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**Update** OH.......MY.........GOSH!!!!! Brakes
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Christopher Schimke
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:42 pm    Post subject: **Update** OH.......MY.........GOSH!!!!! Brakes Reply with quote

Any of you who have been following the affordable disk brake thread
( http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1...highlight= ) know that there are a couple of us who have been working on a couple of different approaches to the problem of weak Vanagon brakes.

For those of you who have not been following along or don't want to read thru that incredible thread of knowledge, I've decided to create a new thread specifically dedicated to my approach.

When I set out to design a new braking system for my Vanagon, I had two main goals. The first was to build a system that was on par with the quality of todays braking standards (or better) and second, to do it relatively cheap. Some of the other reasons for the upgrade include more choices of brake pads (different compounds) and better looks. Yeah, I'm a bit vein when it comes to my car and I like things to look as good as they perform. I really like the look of huge rotors and quality calipers inside a set of custom wheels.

With the help of wbx (see the previous thread), I settled on using Ford Mustang Cobra front calipers and Ford Mustang GT rear calipers. The reason that the Mustang calipers were choosen was because of cost and availability as well as the fact that they have piston sizes that will match the stock Vanagon master cylinder, at least on paper that is.

I purchased a set of new Mustang Mach I front calipers with pads for $189. I had been told by a few different people that all Mustang Cobra's, Bullit's and Mach I's all used twin 38mm piston front calipers from '94 to '04 and that all of the calipers were interchangable. Well, these people where wrong about the piston sizes. It turns out that Mustang Cobra's from '94-98 used twin 38mm pistons but from '99 to '04, they all used 40.5mm pistons. Of course I found this out AFTER purchasing the Mach I calipers (40.5mm). Since I had been planning on using the 38mm pistoned calipers, I was a bit worried about the piston size difference and the affect it would have on the pedal feel. More on this later.

For rotors, I looked at hunderds of different OEM options before deciding on running two piece rotors and hats. None of the "off the shelf" rotors fit my self imposed requirement of having 332mm (13") vented rotors front and rear. I found some that would work but they were either too small in diameter or the rears weren't vented. I know that vented rears are not a necessity but I wanted them for the cool factor. So, two piece it was.

For the front hubs, I machined a set of stock Vanagon rotors down to produce a set of hubs. I was able to purchase a set of used Stop Tech rotor hats that were originally for an Audi S4. Between machining the hub and the hat, I was able to create a set-up that will work to mount the rotors into place.

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


I had the front rotors custom made by a company called Coleman Racing. The price for each custom front rotor was $134 apiece. Very reasonable I thought. Their size ended up being 332mmx28mm. The reason that I had to have them custom made was because most of the 332mm rotors out there are 32mm-35mm thick. I needed the rotors to fit the Cobra calipers which required a 28mm thick rotor. I did find some off the shelf 332mmx28mm rotors out there but they were hellasiously expensive. Here's shot of the entire front hub/hat/rotor assembly.

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


To hold the hat/rotor to the hub, I used a set of "adapter studs" which I threaded in from the backside and used the protruding ends to mount the hat/rotor on. The opposite end of the studs protrude out the face of the hub and act as wheels studs.

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

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



The next step was to build a bracket to adapt the Cobra calipers to the Vanagon uprights. These brackets were made out of 3/8" 1018 cold rolled steel. Spacers were welded to the brackets to make up for the offset difference between the bracket and the caliper carrier.

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

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


The assembled unit.

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


Oops, I just hit submit by accident. I'll continue on the next post.
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Last edited by Christopher Schimke on Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:42 pm; edited 11 times in total
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rs4-380
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice setup, but "relatively cheap" means something totally different to me and you Shocked
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Christopher Schimke
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The next step was to install the whole thing onto the van. This went pretty smooth except for one little issue. I have been concerned all along about having enough clearance between the inside body of the caliper an the suspension components when the wheels are are at full lock.

My fears became reality when I started to plumb up the new calipers. You can see in the next set of photos that the banjo bolt hits the lower control arm at full lock. DOH! When I first saw this, I had a moment of panic. The fix ended up being fairly easy though. It turns out that the banjo bolt was just barely hitting. After removing some material from the head of the bolt, I now have enough clrearance. Barely but it's enough.

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

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

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


The next thing to take care of was the mating of the new calipers to the existing Vanagon plumbing. I decided to leave the stock rubber brake hoses in place for now and just mate the hose end to the caliper via new hard lines. The Vanagon uses "bubble" flared fittings and the Cobra calipers use banjo fittings. To mate the two, I ordered banjo adapters (made by Brakequip) through Royal Brass and Hose along with the matching banjo bolts. ( http://www.royalbrassandhose.com/fittings.html ) Great people to work with.

The new hard line had to be made with two different ends on it. A European style fitting with a bubble flare was used to mate the stock rubber hose to the hard line. The banjo end of the hard line required the use of a Japanese style fitting with a 45 double flare.

I plan to upgrade to braided stainless covered Teflon flex line in the future. I don't know if there will be any difference in pedal feel (firmer?) or not but that's what I aim to find out.

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


It's hard to tell from this picture but I ended up having to shorted my wheel studs by about 5mm. Not a big deal but I'm still kicking myself for not measuring correctly the first time. Oh well!

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


Man, those big rotors look good behind those wheels,huh? Well, at least compared to stock.

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


I installed just the fronts for now so that I could have a very clear understanding of what upgrading the front only would be like. I will install the rears after I drive with the fronts only for a while.

Is the suspense killing you? So you want to know how the upgrade performs? After a proper bedding of the pads (which, by the way, I upgraded to Porterfield R4-S's from the stock Ford pads) I am pleased to say that...........................................................................................

THESE BRAKES ABSOLUTELY FRICKIN RULE!

Man oh man, if I had the money to send every Vanagon owner a set of these brakes for Christmas I would. These brakes are the most confidence inspiring modification that I have ever done to my Vanagon. The pedal is nice and firm. The concern about the pedal feeling mushy due to the larger 40.5mm pistons turned out to be unfounded. Modulating the brakes from a high speed stop is really easy. I've driven a few cars with big brakes that had a fine line between just the right amount of braking and locking up the tires. This is not the case with this set up. Oh sure it easy to lock up the front tires but it's just as easy to stop in a controlled manner.

I really wish that I had done some stopping distance recording of the stock system but I don't have the proper equipment to do so. I do know that stopping distances are WAY down from my original brake setup. How do I know? Well, I have no proof (other than the seat of my pants) but I know that I used to start braking quite a ways before turning onto my little gravel private road and now I can just drive right up to it, add a healthy dose of Cobra brakes and bring the van right down to the proper turning speed in a VERY short distance.

I wish you all could take a ride with me or better yet drive my van to appreciate just how much better the braking system is now. The difference is absolutely incredible.

I'll do a proper report of the rears when I get the chance to install them. Keep your fingers crossed that the rears will go just as smoothly as the fronts did.
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Last edited by Christopher Schimke on Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:38 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Christopher Schimke
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rs4-380 wrote:
nice setup, but "relatively cheap" means something totally different to me and you Shocked


Yeah, I got a little carried away with the big rotors.

Not including my time and since I did my own machining, I have a total of between $550 and $600 into the fronts. If I had gone with an OE rotor, I think that I could have done it for right around $450. That's pretty cheap for the quality of brakes that these ended up being.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Expensive, but not that bad compared to say SmallCar's disk kits, which are only 10.8" when you are done.

http://www.smallcar.com/brakekitft.htm
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All I have to say is:

Very cool! Very Happy

I'm glad you got everything hooked up for the fronts, although i am quite curious how things are going to feel (pedal wise) when you go with the big rear brakes. Stopping is going to be even more insane, then. Shocked I'm really glad it is working out for you, though. After the wrx engine you are putting in there... well, let's just say i'm jelous.

I'm on the prowl for my own cobra brake setup (c'mon ebay!)... One question, though - would that banjo interference issue be a bigger deal with smaller brakes? It looks like if the brake dropped an inch or so, it would have some pretty serious fitment issues with the shock mount there. Rotating the caliper should help alleviate that, right?

You are an inspiration to us all, Mr. LoogMeister!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AWESOME!!!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

loogy wrote:




Man, those big rotors look good behind those wheels,huh?
YEAH



Man oh man, if I had the money to send every Vanagon owner a set of these brakes for Christmas I would.

HEY! I appreciate that. Cool Let me send you my address just in case. hehe.
Very nice posting.
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Christopher Schimke
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wbx wrote:
I'm glad you got everything hooked up for the fronts, although i am quite curious how things are going to feel (pedal wise) when you go with the big rear brakes. Stopping is going to be even more insane, then. Shocked


Yes, it will be very interesting to see how the pedal feels when the rears are installed. This is precisely why I wanted to install the front only. I wanted to be able to evaluate which components were doing what and the affect of combining them. I truly have to say that if a person decided to do just the front conversion, they would be very impressed with the improvement. However, by the amount of nose dive that the van exhibits during HARD braking, it is obvious that the front brakes are doing the majority of the braking. This obviously keeps the brake balance well into the "safe"zone but it also taxes the front brakes more which means that they will go thru pads faster at the very least. If the upgraded rear system works as well as this front system does, hopefully it will allow the rear to do more braking which will make the system as a whole more efficient without adding too much rear bias (which I don't think is going to happen). The only real problems that I see happening while adding the upgraded rear system are the pedal feel going away and there is the slight possibility that the rear calpers won't have enough pressure to increase the rear braking to a point that takes the burden off the fronts. We'll have to wait and see on both of those issues.

wbx wrote:
One question, though - would that banjo interference issue be a bigger deal with smaller brakes? It looks like if the brake dropped an inch or so, it would have some pretty serious fitment issues with the shock mount there. Rotating the caliper should help alleviate that, right?


You know, I meant to make some mental notes during the install as to what kind of clearance issues might arise when installing smaller diameter rotors but of course getting caught up in it's own issues combined with the excitement of it all, I forgot. When I pull the wheels to checks for leaks and retorque all of the bolts, I'll do some figuring on that issue.

One thing that could drastically affect the clearance issue would be the rotor offset. It's probably hard to tell from the photos but there is a huge amount of clearance between the wheel and the caliper which means that running a rotor with a shallower offset would definately increase the clearance from the caliper to the suspension components. I just went out and measured and there is a minimum of 33mm clearance between the caliper and the wheel. Granted all wheels will be different, but you can see that there lots of room to move the caliper outboard of where mine sits.

Thanks for the compliments guys, I appreciate it.
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gears
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very impressive project and post, Loogy. Please keep us updated ...
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, work, story and follow up.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sweet deal, the rotor wheel pic is ahhhhhllllll.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AWESOME!!! over the top. Expensive yes, but not as expensive as a front end collision.
You are aware of my set up, I'll be installing it next month, I did discover on Saturday however during a trial mock up, my G-60 caliper is close to my 16 rim on the inside that my stick on weights get hit!!!! I will have to specify when I get the wheels rebalanced that there is some area that can not be used!
I'm still sourcing a flexible brake line, which is why I did a mock up of the assembly using my spare wheel, just to see where the brake line would fall in relation to the rim.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wellington wrote:
AWESOME!!! over the top. Expensive yes, but not as expensive as a front end collision.


That is SO true!

I can't wait to hear how your's performs.

I was looking at an ML320 the other day. the calipers on that are VERY close to the wheels. If you get the chance, could you measure the inside diameter of your wheels? I'm curious just how far off my set-up is from running 16" wheels. Because the Cobra calipers are fairly thin (height wise), I have plenty of room (right close to an inch) between the calipers and the wheels. 17" wheels would fit no problem but I highly doubt that 16" alloy wheels would fit but maybe 16" steel wheels might? I'd be very interested in finding out.

If you need any help with building any hard lines, I'd be happy to build you a set in any length that you need with any ends. I can even put some preliminary bends in for you as well if that would help you out.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hate to cross post, so I will add my real post to the other thread specfically dealing with the G60 setup.

BUT, "Dude" those brakes you got are "sick!"

I am real close the G60 setup now myself. So we will see.

Enjoy!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, here we go on the rear upgrade.

If you'll remember, I am using '94-'04 Ford Mustang GT rear calipers.
These calipers were choosen because they were cheap ($49.00 Pair), readily available and have an integrated parking brake mechanism. They also have a 38mm piston which should yield a good combination with the stock Vanagon master cylinder.

The rear rotors ar 332mm (13") vented units just like the fronts but they are 20.5mm (.81") thick. They came from Coleman Racing, just like the fronts and cost $72 apiece.

The stock Mustang GT rotors were solid, 14mm thick rotors. However, I discovered that the Mustang GT and Cobra used the same caliper with different carriers to accomodate different diameters of rotors. The Cobra rear rotor is also 18mm thick. The way that Ford get's away with using the same caliper for two different thicknesses of rotors is by using little tabs on the brake pad backing plate that keep the pad in place when it wears thin on the 14mm rotors. Pretty cool!

Anyway, the first order of business was to modify the carrier to accomodate the 20.5mm rotor. You can see in this photo that it didn't take much to get enough clearance for the rotor. Sorry, I don't have a photo of the clearanced carrier. Forgot to take one.

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


Ford also used two different thicknesses of pads. The GT uses a .660" thick pad and the Cobra uses a .585" thick pad (Thanks for that tip Damon). I calculated that the thin pad combined with the clearancing of the carrier would allow the use of a 20mm thick rear rotor that many of the Audi's used. The .5mm difference in the rotor that I chose did require the clearancing of the .585" pads by just a very tiny amount. Not really enough to shorten their life by any noticable amount though.

Now that I had the calipers fitting the rotor, I needed to make a set of hats to mount the rotor to. I machined a set out of 6061-T6 aluminum. They are machined to be hubcentric with the hub.

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

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


The next step was the caliper mounting adapter. These were made out of the same 3/8" 1018 cold rolled steel as the fronts. The brackets mount to the original backing plate mounting holes. Thin spacers center the caliper over the rotor.

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

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


It's pretty obvious from the above photos that I could have machined the rotor hats to offset the rotor eliminating the need for spacers on the adapter brackets. The reason that I didn't do that is because of the cost of thick aluminum plate. The aluminum plate that I started with cost me $30. If I had started with a piece thick enough to include the spacer difference, it would have cost me four times that. The spacers work just fine, thank you.

This next shot shows the intended routing of the parking brake cable. Although it looks like the cable housing is touching those two bolts, it's not, it's just the angle of the photo making it look that way. The stock Vanagon cable housing slips right into the Ford caliper and the cable end hooks neatly onto the actuator.

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


Here's the finished caliper bracket installed onto the van

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

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


Nothing really special about this photo, just showing the installed Caliper and rotor.

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


Here's a couple of crappy photos of the brake lines. The GT rear calipers use the same banjo fittings as the Cobra fronts and therefor required a banjo adapter and a new hard line with European bubble flare on one end and a Japanese style fitting with 45 inverted flare on the other. I don't like the fact that the rear calipers are hard lined to the rear trailing arm. This will make it somewhat difficult to change out the rear pads when the time comes. I really didn't have time to research it right now but in the future, I want to change this out to a system where the hard line comes to a mount and then a soft line extends to the caliper. I'll figure all this out and have it ready at the next pad change.

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

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


The stock Vanagon parking brake cables ended up being exactly the right length but I had to extend the parking brake cable housing out just a little bit. To do this I used a section of 3/8" threaded pipe that I put a slight bend into. The threaded end of the pipe was turned down just a hair in order to make it fit into the socket on the crossmember. You can see that the routing of the cable is fairly clean. The parking brake works really well too. You can also see that I had to change the location of the mounting clamp on the trailing arm.

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

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

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

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

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


And the last shot is what you see through the wheel. Cool, huh?

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


I know you all want to know how the addition of rear disks performs compared to just the front upgrade but I can't really give a decent report because it's raining something nasty right now. I did take it for a drive and the pedal feels really good and it does have good stopping power.
I'm going ot have wait until the weather clears up and I get a chance to bed in the rear pads to really give an accurate report.

This has been a really fun project and I'm really glad that I did it. I have already been in two situations where I was SO glad to have had better brakes. If anyone decides to take on this project and has any questions, please feel free to ask. I'd be happy to help in any way that I can.
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Last edited by Christopher Schimke on Sun Dec 23, 2007 9:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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wbx
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

loogy wrote:

And the last shot is what you see through the wheel. Cool, huh?

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You are my idol. Pray Applause
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked

to cool!!! Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great work all around; Awesome machine work! Could you give some spec (Size) on the raw material you started out with? I have a sheet of T6061 and it's really making me think! Hummm.....
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