You open it up, so you better be able to lay it down with a force commensurate to the power. You're looking for a balance between that power, the way it translates to the road, and how it can be controlled. For two months we've been fortifying the suspension and upping the adhesion rate of the tires. This time we'll be increasing the brake-swept area as well as the amount of pressure applied to it.
All 1500 series Silverados built from '99 to the present are equipped with four-wheel disc brakes. The stock setup poses vented discs at both ends, 12.0x1.14 and 12.8x0.78, respectively. Dual-piston calipers squeeze the front discs and the rear has a single-piston arrangement, so you'd think there was room for a vast improvement in their ability to burn off speed. We instrumented the stock brakes, but cheated a little. With the lowered Hotchkis suspension and the sticky 295/45 F1 Goodyears, the best 60-0 stopping distance we recorded was 121 feet, with an average of 124 feet. After three repeated applications, the brakes began to fade. That 121 is pretty stout, though, equals the performance of a '05 Pontiac GTO or Mustang GT.
Granted, the OE braking is plenty for a one-time emergency halt, and with a stopping distance this good, we didn't expect to gain much more from the 14-inch-diameter Stainless Steel Force 10 Tri-Power upgrade. Such an application is mandatory for repeated hard braking, as in road course racing, but that will never stick on the Red Dog. Compared to the stock setup, Stainless claims a 36-percent increase in braking torque at the front calipers, and a whopping 62 percent over the single-piston rear caliper. An 18-inch wheel is mandatory. And just so we didn't get caught shallow, Stainless Steel's Ray Gorman sent a template of its Force Ten setup to Joel Kokoska at Weld Racing to gauge the backside clearance of the Axis 6 wheel.
For the installation, we returned to Big Frank's House of Pain, known by the highway sign as S&M2 Truck World. Curtis Sandifer slid the jack under the front end and was pumping it before we'd even cleared out of the truck. "I been on vacation for a week," he nearly shrieked. From the look in his eyes we knew it would be a sweaty, prickly day deep in the The Land of the Flowers. A few hours later, Curtis had installed the brakes, cleaned the rotors, and bled the system. The owner was ready for a little payback.
Swooping right out on Rt. 19, we throttled the motor hard to cross three lanes into the turn chute to switch directions. No hard case on the brakes. We eased into it and all that newfound swept area made itself immediately apparent...especially at the rear. Went to a stretch of road we call the Clandestine Dragstrip and ran the truck through a half-dozen forced stops (60-0) to bed the pads in. Then we cruised awhile to let the brakes cool off. These big brakes bite badass. Before the swap, it was like you knew that they were working but taking their own sweet time. Now, the brakes feel like grappling hooks grown in cement. On the timer, Whaley Junior grubbed its way down from 60-0 in an amazing 117 feet.
Do we need these big brakes? At this stage of the project, the stock all-wheel discs get the job done. Perhaps a caliper upgrade (to fit within the stock 16-inch wheel), at the very most. But a hundred or so more horsepower and just as many pound-feet of torque will be making things happen a lot quicker than they do now. Even mullet-heads (the fish, not the hair-do) like us go for the big upgrade. Nobody ever had too much brake.