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1984 Chevy Camaro Z28 Big Brake Kits - Short Stoppin' Z
Improving A Third-Gen 1984 Chevy Camaro Z28's Braking-Without Installing A Whole New System
Nov 1, 2008
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1984 Chevy Camaro Z28 Big Brake Kits - Short Stoppin' Z
This was the starting point: our '84 Z28's stock 10.5-inch rotors and Metric calipers, just like you'll find on the front of any F-body of the era, unless you were lucky enough to score a later 1LE car with its 12-inch rotors and PBR calipers. Obviously, the bigger rotors and upgraded calipers in such a setup will provide better braking performance. On the other hand, a few well-chosen improvements to the puny stock system can make it a stout performer in its own right.
We had a bit of an advantage when it came to extracting max braking performance from this Z28 since it came with factory rear disc brakes. The rotors measure the same as the fronts, 10.5 inches, and although the calipers are slightly different from the fronts, they take the same Hawk pads. Since a car's front brakes do most of the work, on the order of 70-80 percent, anything we get here is a bonus. That means if your car has rear drum brakes, there's still much to be gained by upgrading to Classic Tube's stainless braided hoses in the rear.
The third-gen Camaro's left rear hose actually comes off the frame hardline and intersects the axle hardline, which runs right into the driver-side caliper. It requires some contortion to get at, much less photograph. Note right off the bat that we're using a line wrench on all the fittings to ensure that we don't round off any edges. The frame distribution block, which we've already disconnected, is just out of view.
The right rear Camaro brake is set up a bit differently, as the hardline from the distribution block runs out along the axle, where it connects with a hose that connects to the front-mounted passenger-side caliper. As you can see, we've already removed the parking brake spring and are working on the bracket so we can get at the lower caliper pin. We won't keep you in suspense here-regardless of what the book says, the easiest way to get this pin out is to drop the lower control arm.
We don't intend to cover every single detail involved in this brake upgrade-if you've done a brake job, you can do this. We will, on the other hand, try to impart some useful details. For starters, we're sure you can get the front rotors off, and we'll discuss the bearings and seals later. At this point, we removed the caliper banjo bolt with the appropriate flare wrench. It makes an unavoidable mess, so you may want to put a pan underneath.
At the frame fitting-and this goes for installing the new hoses as well as removing the old-you'll first need to remove the H-clip, then hold the flexline fitting in place with a flare wrench as you loosen the frameline fitting. Again, unless you've let the system run dry before beginning (not recommended, as it will take a long time to get the air out of the lines), the result is a mess, so plan accordingly.
We chose Classic Tube's StopFlex SS DOT braided hose kit for '82-84 four-wheel disc Camaros to upgrade our ride. These hoses have a four-layer design that starts with a Teflon PTFE core, followed by a Kevlar core, an elastomer barrier, and then the outer stainless steel braid (which is finished with a clear coat of vinyl). The bottom line is that they're DOT-approved for use on the street, they have no volumetric expansion, and they're corrosion-resistant to boot. Kits are for just about any disc/disc or disc/drum combo found on third-gen Camaros, as well as a multitude of other Chevy models.
There are really only a few things to remember when installing braided hoses. The most important is to use new crush washers (included in the StopFlex kit) where indicated whenever changing lines, one on each side of the banjo fitting.
On the other end, it's simply a matter of placing the new hose through the frame fitting, then linking it up with the frameline. After we tightened everything down (using a flare wrench, of course), we clipped it back with one of the new H-clips included in the hose kit. The new hose should roughly follow the path of the original hose.
This is something to take note of: These hoses are constructed using a seat-to-seat seal at the juncture of the hose and the end fitting. The hose end can actually be unscrewed from the hose itself if need be; this could be an advantage during installation. In any case, once the hose is installed and routed, these areas must be tightened, checked for leaks, then tightened again if necessary. How tight is tight enough? Once the seat-to-seat seal has been achieved and you've got no leakage, you're good to go. Be sure to recheck this undercar-started, power-boosted pressure.
We decided on Power Slot rotors to continue the upgrade of our subject Camaro's front binders. These premium replacement rotors match OEM specs for plate thickness, cooling vane design, and number of cooling vanes. Although they measure the same small 10.5-inch diameter as the factory pieces, the Vac-U-Slot's design allows the heat and gases caused by the act of pad meeting rotor to be evacuated, which improves stopping power, reduces fade, and even helps keep the pad surface clean. The Vac-U-Slot also serves as a wear indicator-when you can't see the slot at the outside edge of the rotor, it's time for a replacement.
Though there are ways to improvise, we used a seal puller to remove the front rotor dust seals, then extracted the bearings. After thoroughly cleaning the bearings and ensuring that they were still serviceable, we regreased them and transplanted them into new rotors. Always be sure to use a new dust seal. Seating them with a seal installer makes for a proper-and easier-installation.
For our brake pads, we chose Hawk Performance's HPS (High Performance Street) series pads. HPS pads are intended for high-performance street use, which is perfect for what we have in mind for this Z28. Looking for something more aggressive? Because the GM Metric caliper is the spec caliper in many circle track series, pads are also available in the HP Plus, which work well on the street or track, all the way up to full race compounds, the DTC versions being the top of the hill. It all depends on how aggressively you want to stop, how much noise you can tolerate, and how long you want your pads to last.
Skipping ahead a bit here, we've installed our new rotors up front, and loaded the calipers up with the new pads, after coating the rears of the pads with antisqueal compound. Here's another tip for smooth brake operation: Notice that we've removed the corrosion on our caliper pins with a wire wheel and treated the threads with antiseize.
With the caliper in place as we tightened the caliper pins, it's easy to see the proper routing of the new stainless brakes hoses from the back side. Ideally, the hoses should follow the stock hoses' path as closely as possible, and they shouldn't rub against any other surfaces, whether flat or smooth. After this photo was taken, we went back and changed the lower ball joint cotter pin placement, just to eliminate any possible interference.
Here's a tip on the driver-side rear frameline. The hardlines on either side of the T-fitting will need to be bent slightly to line up with the new hose. It's much easier to mount the two hardlines to the T-fitting and then reattach the fitting to the rear axlehousing. There's less risk of tweaking the hardline that way.
All that's left then is to attach the other end of the new stainless hose to the frame fitting, tighten it into place, and reattach the upper end to the frame mount with one of the new H-clips included in the Classic Tube kit.
Removing the caliper on the passenger side is a headache, but the hose swap is a simple R&R affair. Don't forget to tighten the hose end to hose junctures (arrows) to ensure the factory seat-to-seat seal is leak-free.
The right rear disc was actually rusted to the axle flange. Once we excised it, we took a wire wheel to the flange, then coated the whole thing with antiseize before installing a set of OEM-replacement Centric rear rotors as a matter of maintenance. Also note that we cleaned up the caliper surfaces that the pad slides along and gave it a coat of antiseize as well (arrow).
Once we had thoroughly bled the brake system, we took the car out and bedded in the pads and rotors. First, the vehicle must be driven 10-20 miles of "normal" braking to wear away the corrosion-resistant silver cadmium plating from the contact area. Hawk then recommends performing 6 to 10 stops from 30-35 mph, followed by another 2 to 3 stops from 40-45 mph, which applies a layer of pad material onto the rotor surface. This transfer film creates adhesive friction, meaning the pad and rotor adhere to each other during stopping. This layer also acts as a buffer between the pad and rotor. Response, wear, and consistency are all improved-and we can testify to that.
Although we can't match the looks of a big set of four-piston calipers with our factory squeezers, we decided to dress up our upgraded stockers anyway with a Brake Caliper PaintSystem Set. The kit comes with a cleaning spray, self-leveling paint (basic black for us), a reactor, a stir stick, and an application brush. We also picked up wire brushes to aid our caliper prep, and Eastwood recommended we wear a respirator for the job. The calipers don't have to be off the car to do this, so we cleaned them thoroughly, masked them off, mixed the paint as indicated, and went to work. There's enough here to put three coats on four calipers. Two coats worked for us, and as you can see in our lead photo, our improved stopping power now comes with improved looks.
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