Newton's third law states: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." This applies to our hot rods just like all the other laws of physics. The faster you go, the longer it takes to stop.
Right after we mounted our new Nitto NT555 tires ("Attitude Adjustment," Apr. '07), we took the Fairlane out to the test track to get some baseline numbers. Our best stopping distance from 60 mph was 194 feet, which isn't short by any stretch of the imagination. Since the goal with this car is to run around 11.70 in the quarter-mile, we expect a trap speed of around 120 mph. And at that speed, we weren't comfortable with how long it would take us to stop, since we estimated a distance of greater than two football fields. That's a bit far-even if we don't mind seeing Elvis at 1,000 feet.
We wanted strong brakes, but we also needed them to fit behind the 15-inch Summit Sport front runners and work with our $1,000 budget. After a few calls, we ended up talking with Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation (SSBC). In addition to their line of high-end big-brake systems, they also put out drum brake conversion packages that are better than your average "stock replacement" deal. Best of all, they had a kit to fit our Fairlane with a price that didn't give us sticker shock. So how did the SSBC brakes perform? We'll be going back to Fontana for more testing next month, when we'll also bring you the results of our suspension rebuild kit from Just Suspension. Don't forget to check out the July issue for all the stats.
Here's what comes in the SSBC...
Here's what comes in the SSBC drum-to-disc conversion kit (PN A133-2): pads, caliper mounting brackets, rubber brake hoses, master cylinder, bearings, seals, extra brake lines, and all the hardware needed for the install (available at Summit for $999.95). We opted to have the rotors upgraded with turbo-slotting and XtraLife plating for $150, which beats having to look at rusty rotors behind shiny new wheels.
The old drum brakes on the...
The old drum brakes on the Fairlane weren't in bad shape, and looked like they had been recently rebuilt. Still, stopping the 3,500-pound Ford took forever. Since we plan to get this car into the 11s, the upgrade was more for safety than aesthetics.
The old drum is held to the...
The old drum is held to the spindle by four bolts. Over the last 37 years, the nuts are almost welded themselves to the bolts, and it takes quite a bit of effort to free them. After letting them soak in Break-Free, we hit them with an impact gun. Some of the squared-off bolt-ends designed not to spin, spun. And so it became a two-person operation, as one worked the gun and the other kept the bolt from spinning with a pair of pliers. Don't worry about messing up the bolts, since SSBC supplies all new Grade 8 (or better) hardware.
Eventually, we got the old...
Eventually, we got the old junk off, and were ready to start installing the new. Our application didn't require a new spindle for the conversion, but SSBC will include one in the kit for cases that do.
Next, slide on the caliper...
Next, slide on the caliper bracket and rotor splash shield, then bolt them on using the supplied hardware. Make sure the mounting bracket bosses face toward the inside of the car, and then torque the bolts to 40 ft-lbs. Since the Ford is rear-steer, the calipers mount to the front-side of the rotors.
Now it's time to get the rotors...
Now it's time to get the rotors ready for installation. Pack the inner (larger) bearing with wheel bearing grease and insert it into the rotor, then install the grease seal. To get it in place, use a soft mallet or a piece of wood to avoid distorting its shape. We used this cone tool to get it right.
Stuff you'll need:
Jack and jackstands, or lift
Wheel bearing grease
Double flare kit
Hacksaw or cut-off wheel
Break-Free or WD-40