Putting on the Brakes (Part Two)

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Photo courtesy of Portifino Blue

Photo courtesy of Portifino Blue

We’re going to go over the rest of the components of the typical brake system from brake pedal to caliper. So far we covered the pedal, booster, master cylinder and the lines.  Here are the rest of the parts you need to know about and how they work.

Calipers/Drums – Most modern Ford Trucks will have at least the front wheels as calipers and rotors. A few will have rear calipers but you’ll mostly see drums in the back.

Drums are cheap, fairly easy to work on if you have a good memory, and typically lighter but suffer when it comes to heat dissipation and brake fade along with being a pain to work on if your memory isn’t much good.

Calipers, on the other hand, can dissipate heat quickly and reduce brake fade and are usually easy to service. However, they are far more expensive and do weigh more for their size.

Calipers also come in two different types of flavors: Rigid Mount or Floating Mount. Floating mount calipers slide on their brackets and self-adjust as the pads wear. Rigid mount calipers do not move at all, but will not flex as much as the floating caliper for better brake performance.

Pads/Shoes – These parts that contain the friction materials used to help stop your truck. Pad and shoe backing plates are made of stamped steel in most instances while the friction material is made of a steel, organic, ceramic, or sometimes even carbon fiber.

The friction material is either riveted on or they use a high temperate adhesive. This adhesive is also a cause of brake fade as it does begin to break down during stopping and creates gasses that can act as an air bearing between the rotor/drum surface and friction material.

This is why you will see cross-drilled or slotted rotors, as those drill holes or slots remove those gasses along with swiping brake dust and debris away from friction material surface.

Brake Rotors/Drums – Brake rotors, also known as discs, are the large round parts of your brakes that you will also see your wheel studs sticking out of. That part on the rotor, where the studs come out, is known as the hat.

Drums are usually one-piece cast iron while rotors can be one-piece cast iron, two-piece cast iron, two-piece cast iron with an aluminum rotor hat, two-piece ceramic with aluminum hat, or two-piece carbon fiber with aluminum hat.

Caliper Mount Brackets – There are two different types of rigid brake caliper brackets: Lug Mount and Radial Mount. Lug mount caliper brackets are simple and cheaper to produce.

Radial mount calipers are far more rigid and come with the advantage of being easier to upgrade. If you upgrade your rotors to a larger diameter, all you would need is a longer stud and spacer. If you have a lug mount, you would need a new bracket.

Wheels and Tires – I know what you’re thinking, “why are wheels and tires in this ‘braking system brief’?” There are several reasons and first is weight. The more your wheel and tires weigh, the more rotational mass your brake system has to cope with.

So, that 22-inch wheel or that 40-inch mud tire are going to give your original brake system a hell of a time trying to whoa all that mass to a stop.

Second, your tire choice will also play a role in your stopping distance. A harder compound tire will last longer but your braking distance will increase because of it. Same thing with age, condition, and wear; it all plays a role in your stopping distance.

And that’s the brief on brakes. Hit your brakes in the forum.>>

In case you missed it, here’s the first part of Putting on the Brakes (Part One)

Justin Banner is a regular contributor to LS1Tech and JK Forum, among other auto sites.

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