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Old 02-08-2011, 12:32 AM
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Post 6 Piston Caliper Big Brake Kits

Swapping to 2006 axles yielded a welcome improvement in braking. My pedal has always felt soft and squishy but would at least lock up my large tires. My brakes finally need replacing after years of hard use. The truck alone weighs 10,500 lbs on a scale so it is very heavy and with 37" tires and lots of towing I am seeking an upgrade since I have never been satisfied with the performance. Any time I drive a gas powered car I accidentally slam the brakes because I'm used to have depress with such great pressure.

Today I was towing the lightest of the 3 trailers I regularly pull at around 4,000 lbs. At most I tend to gross near 30,000 lbs towing through the Rocky Mountains as far as roughly 4,000 miles like to Alaska. I have never had a lack of braking capability while towing heavy loads but this trailer has no brakes and when I did a brake test I could barely slow my rig. Very much proved I need an upgrade, the exhaust brake can only do so much.

I am very interested in the AP Racing 6 Piston Big Brake Kit Stillen offers for my 2006 4x4 Super Duty axles. My concerns regard fitment of their larger 15" rotors in my 17" wheels and the strength of their 2 piece rotor design.

STILLEN : AP Racing AP Racing 6-Piston Big Brake Kits

I am also interested in the offerings from SSBC. On their website I can only find one upgrade for calipers to a 6 piston design that uses only stock sized rotors. I know they make larger calipers like the Force 10 but they don't seem to have parts ready to bolt on to my axles.

SSBC :: A193-2

If I could afford anything I would go with Boss Brakes. TCE Performance has an impressive 16" rotor and 6 piston Wilwood caliper kit for front and rear that is also beyond budget reality. Stillen and SSBC kits only upgrade the front calipers. I would love to be able to upgrade with just a few hundred dollars but I like to get the right thing the first time so I'd rather spend now once if it's worthwhile.

I'm currently leaning toward the AP Racing kit because of the larger rotors combined with 6 piston calipers. From what I've read on FTE I'd like to use cryogenically treated rotors. I don't know if chamfered drilled and slotted rotors are durable enough for how hard I use my brakes with such heavy loads or if I should just go with slotted rotors. Sounds like Hawk pads are the way to go in the rear with whatever rotors I choose, perhaps Powerslots.

Is anyone out there running any of these big brake kits who can comment on the value of their braking improvement, quality, reliability, and durability? Does the master cylinder rod adjustment work on hydroboost systems to increase pedal firmness? I have a Vanco hydroboost. I've been told that upgrading to braided stainless steel brake lines will also greatly improve brake firmness and response by eliminating hose expansion. Has that proven true for Super Duty trucks?
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:11 AM
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I would love to have the AP Racing kit on my truck but the regular price is too much for me. However, keep you eye on their website. I've seen sale prices in the $1,500 to $1,800 range, which is not bad for that level of performance.

I'm using the EBC rotors and Hawk pads front and rear. Parts alone were $950 plus installation.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:04 PM
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I do not have experience with big brake kits on these trucks. However, the following generalities have prven themselves to me:

- You can trust name brands like AP racing. If they say the two piece will take it, they will.
- I have found cross drilled rotors in the low to moderately price range to be more prone to cracking. You're looking high end, so should be quite a bit less risk. Even so, I still prefer slotted.
- If you haven't upgraded to stainless braid covered teflon lines yet, you should. They will firm up the pedal quite a bit as they do not expand (swell) nearly as much under high pressure.
- Upping the number of pistons should result in much more power. It is a function of the total amount of surface area of the pistons compared to the master cylinder piston surface area. It provides hydraulic advantage. Any caliper with more totoal piston surface area than you have now will do the same - regardless of number of pistons. The downside is the brake pedal has to travel further - making stainless lines even more necessary.
- The compound used in the brake pads will make a HUGE difference in braking power. But there is always a trade off. The most powerful (highest friction) pads will wear much faster. But having to change pads every 10K miles would still be cheaper than a big brake kit.

If I was in your shoes, I would try one experiment using some "aggressive" pads in the front calipers using the existing calipers and rotors just to see how close you can get to what you want....
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:53 PM
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Heard back from Stillen about the AP Racing Big Brake Kit and they do not fit in the stock or other 17" diameter wheel as advertised. For now my attention will turn more toward the SSBC 6 Piston Calipers since they fit in the stock size wheel and use a stock size rotor.

That is interesting that having more pistons will require more pedal travel to be equally effective. That's new information I've never heard or imagined. I was hoping for the opposite effect, that less pedal effort would have stronger braking response.

Are those EBC rotors only dimpled and not drilled? I like that idea over drilling through holes. I don't imagine any issues with installing brakes myself except for servicing the parking brakes. Those things never had any bite and I've never given them any inspection, which I don't think is possible without pulling the rear rotors is it? I've never serviced these brakes since I put in these axles with near 80,000 miles I've put on them. I don't know how I managed to get so many miles out of stock brakes. I have high hopes for any upgrades.
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Old 02-08-2011, 09:24 PM
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You are correct... Those EBC rotors are dimpled, not drilled.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:12 PM
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>That is interesting that having more pistons will require more pedal travel to be equally >effective. That's new information I've never heard or imagined. I was hoping for the >opposite effect, that less pedal effort would have stronger braking response.

This is because the system now contains more fluid area on the 'back end' (wheel side of the hydraulics). More pistons moving means more fluid, and a lower pedal.

Unless you decrease the bore diameter of the master cylinder (which I don't recommend), you cannot otherwise increase the pressure (and hence reduce braking effort) to the wheels.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7.3 Ex View Post
That is interesting that having more pistons will require more pedal travel to be equally effective. That's new information I've never heard or imagined. I was hoping for the opposite effect, that less pedal effort would have stronger braking response.
Hydraulic leverage works just like mechanical leverage. And nearly perfectly linear.

With more piston area at the calipers, the pedal effort (force) will go down, but the total travel (distance) will go up.

If you currently have rubber lines, installing braided lines at same time as the bigger calipers will probably offset the difference in pedal travel.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:46 PM
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Comming from a road racing background I can tell you that the upgrades you're looking at should make a huge difference. Let me add my $0.02

There are several factors that contribute to braking effeciency.
1.The "swept area" of the pad is very important hence the larger diameter rotor
2. The size of the pads. If i'm not mistaken (and i may be) I think we only have a 2 piston calliper for our pads. Even jumping up to a 4 piston caliper and a more agressive pad would make a huge difference.
3. The type of rotor, i.e solid, slotted or drilled. Keep in mind that the rotor is basically a heat sink so the more mass it has the better it will work under heavy braking all else being equal. Drilled rotors are just bling. If you're worried about braking under wet conditions get slotted as they are the best (just look at any racecar) they also dissapate gasses that supposidely build up under braking but I'm not sold on that theory. In my race car I have goten the best performance with solid cryoed rotors...
4. The stainless brake lines do work.

Good luck and take some pictures of those bad boys!
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Old 02-23-2011, 09:58 PM
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Had an interesting conversation with SSBC today. I asked about what was posted earlier in regards to 6 piston calipers requiring more pedal travel to apply equal pressure to the rotors compared to our factory 2 piston calipers. They claim their kit will significantly improve pedal feel, that brake response will require less pedal travel, respond more quickly, and apply far greater force. The reason they gave is that the factory calipers are a floating style and theirs are fixed. I was told our floating calipers contribute to the soft pedal feel compared to the fixed calipers. Without looking at my brakes during the conversation and not being more familiar with braking parts I am limited in how technically versed my relaying the information is.

SSBC told me they use a unique metallurgical recipe in their drilled and slotted rotors that has eliminated the need to worry about durability related reliability. They told me about their Chevy Duramax with over 40,000 miles on it's brakes pulling a 40' 25,000 lb trailer and experiencing nothing but excellent performance and no sign of approaching the end of service from their brakes. That's heavier than I tow and decent mileage.

Big brake kits are out of my league for now. I was leaning toward EBC 3GD Rotors but can't find them locally with a 3-4 week order expectancy. I am also confused because they offer a 13.39", 13.64", and 13.66" diameter rotors and I don't know which I have. May have to pull one off or see if a shop has some massive calipers to measure for me.

Interestingly, SSBC seems to have only one size for their replacement rotors front part number 23579 and rear 23896. They didn't have the dimensions on hand but said they would call me back with those numbers. I like the simplicity and the sound of how they have spent years testing and improving their brakes and using a stronger metal formula. With one set in stock I'm leaning that way but they are the most expensive stock sized replacement rotors I've come across.

The conversation with SSBC made me question the direction I was planning to go regarding pads. I was pretty well set on EBC Yellowstuff Truck and SUV pads as they offer between performance than their Greenstuff pads. However, SSBC said they used to use EBC pads in their kits but experienced performance related issues and switched to Hawk pads. They said this was probably a good 8 years ago when EBC was a smaller company and they assumed they have no doubt improved their products. I'm just curious if there could be any reason certain pads might not work well with certain rotors. I was assuming for most performance stock replacement parts anything would be a significant improvement in braking performance.

Do drilled rotors really offer no performance advantage? No assist in cooling, cleaning, or assisting in gas evacuation? Since the holes do take out so much metal I realize they shave some unsprung weight, but it is obvious there is less friction surface to grab. Does that mean drilled rotors will actually decrease how quickly and powerfully the rotors can be stopped?
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:07 PM
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I'm also making progress on my search for braided stainless steel, teflon and kevlar lined brake hoses. Crown Performance makes multiple kits for this truck of varying lift heights. I have 2.5" Icon coils so I plan to go with about a 4" lift brake line kit so I've got plenty of travel if I ever modify my suspension again.

Crown Performance has a good price for a front and rear combined kit that supposedly comes with replacement brackets for a smooth install. However, over the phone they told me for the rear they only replace the main line and not the two lines that split from that juncture and go to the calipers. They said some folks have those custom made and there was something about some pins or something being the reason they don't include those lines in their regular kit. I was told they have all of the fittings sizes on file so they can fabricate them no problem. They also said even without replacing those several inches on each side that a few feet will be replaced throughout the truck and will still make a huge improvement in brake pedal response and firmness. They said it is the front that will be most helpful.

Skyjacker also offers a kit that has great reviews but seems to be only available for the front. Super Duty Headquarters also offers some good looking kits but so far Crown Performance has the prices beat.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:07 PM
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