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Half-Ton Helper

Four-wheel disc brakes will help your hauler stop on a dime

Feb 11, 2004

Even though they are sometimes overlooked as performance vehicles, Chevy's ultra-popular half-ton trucks are just as sought after as early musclecars. Whether it's late-'60s or early-'90s iron, they're all being built to perform.

This familiar donor truck is no different. It is an '89 Chevy half-ton, which has received lots of goodies over the years. Some of those go-fast parts include the installation of a tuned-port small-block. As if that wasn't enough, the tuned-port engine was equipped with a Vortech supercharger, which we showed going on in these pages a few years ago.

Style was also incorporated into this truck, as it has received a custom interior, a custom sound system, and any other polished bolt-on item available. To say that this is not a ground-pounding performer would be an out and out lie.

The biggest problem this performance machine faced was a lack of whoa power. The original binders were more than adequate for the stock engine and suspension setup. But those days are long gone, and a little more stopping force was definitely a necessity.

The brake system that was chosen for this install is the latest high-tech offering from Stainless Steel Brake Corp. (SBBC). It is a four-wheel disc setup that uses a big Corvette-style 13-inch rotor, with four-piston calipers for the front. For the rear it uses a '94-96 Impala-style rotor and caliper combo. The caliper used for the rear has a single full-floating piston, with an 11-inch rotor. These brakes are almost enough to stop a tank; they should be more than enough for this pickup.

As with every caliper from SSBC, these feature stainless steel pistons. Making them from stainless steel will ensure that they'll never corrode, rust, or gall. They will last longer than the life of your ride.

These brakes definitely speak for themselves in the looks department, and the stopping performance is as good as it gets. (We weren't able to throw a computer on it for this story, but according to the truck's owner, it stops in half the distance of the stock binders.) As for the ease of installment, that was cool, too. The parts went together well, and the finished product came out awesome. The one thing we were not able to show was the reworking of the master cylinder. The piston assembly had to be removed from the front of the proportioning block. When you get it out, simply remove the spring and the plunger and reassemble it. This will give the correct amount of line pressure for the new rear discs.

These brakes made an awesome truck stand out even more than it already did, and to top it off, it will out-stop many "musclecars." Follow us and see how easy it can be for your half-ton hauler to stop like a race car.


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This is the complete package for the SSBC four-wheel discs. It comes complete with new rotors, calipers, spindles, brackets, and bolts. It even comes with new brake lines, both hard and rubber--everything you will need for a direct bolt-on. These brakes are strong enough to stop a tank, let alone a half-ton pickup.

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We started with the rear brakes. No specific reason, we just did. Once the truck is properly hoisted off the ground, start by removing the wheels, and then remove the brake drum.

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A quick tear-down of the drum brake assembly made things a little easier. You really don't need any special brake tools to rip the pads and springs off, but if have them, use them.

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You will have to remove the hard line fitting in the back of the wheel cylinder. You will also have to remove the emergency brake cable that will run through the bottom of the backing plate.

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To remove the axles you will have to remove the back cover. Notice that we pinched the rubber line in order not to lose too much brake fluid.

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With the cover off, remove the pin bolt and slide the pin out. With the pin out, push in on the axles so you can remove the C-clips. With the C-clips out you can pull the axles out and set them aside for now.

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When all the lines are off and the axles are out, the backing plate is all that is left. Remove the four nuts and bolts and it will slide right off.

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This is the flange bracket used for the rear. It will bolt directly onto the flange in place of the old backing plate.

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The new dust shield will bolt onto the new flange bracket. Just put the shield in place; DO NOT tighten it at this time.

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These short, curved brackets are the caliper brackets. They will bolt on using the same bolts as the dust shield. These brackets go between the shield and the nut. Again, DO NOT tighten them yet; just put them into place.

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This upper dust shield bolt is longer than the others for this reason: the emergency brake cable bracket will fasten off this corner also. Once the E-brake bracket is in place, you can now tighten and torque these bolts. With these steps done, you need to re-install the axles in the reverse order you took them out.

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With the axles back in the differential you may now put the rotors on. They have multiple patterns, so just rotate until they smoothly slide on.

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Once the rotor is in place, you may bolt the caliper in place. You need to slide it on, so the bolts can thread from behind the rotor into those short, curved brackets.

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This is the new hard line. It was shortened by just a bit and was bent by hand. There is also a new rubber line you can see in the corner. That is the new line for the caliper. Both lines fit quite nicely.

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With the rear all finished we moved to the front. You first need to remove the brake line to the caliper, as well as the caliper itself.

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You can leave the spindle full-loaded to remove it. Loosen the ball joint nuts, and a few taps with an air hammer will pop them loose.

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The shock was left in because it is can hold the spring in place. Push up the upper arm, and pull the spindle off the lower arm.

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Remove the front brake line completely. There is a small bracket on the upper arm; also remove it from the hard line up on the frame.

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This is the new spindle given with the brake system. Install it just like you removed the other spindle. You must use this spindle for these brakes. It has been specially machined to accept the large caliper and rotor.

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Here is the flat that has been machined onto the spindle. You need to bolt this caliper bracket into that little step. This bracket will sit flush with the rest of the spindle so as not to hit the rotor.

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This kit also comes with new wheel bearings and seal. Make sure to pack the bearings and don't hurt the seal when installing it.

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With the new bearings and seal installed put the rotor in place and tighten it down. Make sure you don't over-tighten and crush the bearing. Once tight, be sure to use a cotter pin.

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Once the rotor is in place, you can install the new four-piston caliper. It will bolt onto the bracket from the backside.

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When the caliper is in place, you need to slide the pads in and slip the pin through the top.

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This pin is what holds the pad in place, so make sure it gets installed.

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All that needs to be done to the front now is to add the new stainless lines. This will go from the caliper to the hard line at the top of the frame.

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Cool looks are only part of the story with these hot binders.

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Scrubbing off speed from a trick supercharged ride is the real benefit.


Stainless Steel Brakes
Clarence, NY

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