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Tri-Five Chevy Baer Disc Brake Conversion

Get rid of your braking system headaches with a quartet of Baer binders from Roadster Shop

Jim Smart Jun 24, 2019
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Braking technology has come such a long way when you consider the way things were just three decades ago. It used to be all you had to rely on were factory disc brakes copped from a salvage yard along with a caliper rebuild kit, rotors, and pads if you could afford them. Fast forward 30 years to the new age of Baer and a large cross section of braking systems for vintage and late-model rides alike.

Before you is a cool Roadster Shop Revo IFS chassis nestled beneath a pristine 1956 Chevy restomod body. This thing is ready for cruising except for one important detail: the brakes. What this high-tech chassis lacks is a killer set of binders. When you order a Roadster Shop Revo IFS chassis for your Tri-Five Chevy, you can go with virtually any kind of aftermarket or OEM disc brake imaginable.

Roadster Shop has provided us with Baer 11-inch SS4+ disc brakes (PN 4301535 front and PN 4262705 rear), which do the job well and will fit within even the smallest of wheels, down to 15-inches. The Baer SS4+ system features four-piston S4 calipers flanking one-piece 11-inch slotted and drilled zinc-plated rotors. Baer's S4 caliper has DOT-compliant dust and weather seals and uses the DR1 or HB100 pad.

The decision to go with the SS4+ 11-inch disc brakes was based on having a good street/strip brake that would accommodate a 15-inch wheel if the owner so chose. These are handsome disc brakes that look sharp through the spokes of any high-performance wheel out there. We like that Baer offers these four-piston calipers in a huge variety of colors for nearly any application. Calipers, brake pads, rotors, billet aluminum hubs with premium bearings, billet dust caps, brackets, stainless braided brake hoses, and mounting hardware are all included. CHP

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The Baer brake installation begins with the Roadster Shop 9-inch rear axle setup with 31-spline axles. Joel Rode of Hot Rod Specialties in Upland, California, tells us the 9-inch axle is prone to leaks, but it doesn't have to be this way. His approach is achieving perfect surfaces along with a thin bead of Permatex's The Right Stuff from Summit Racing Equipment applied as shown. Apply The Right Stuff to the studs as well.

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We've opted for the cast-iron Currie Sportsman N-case with 3.50:1 cogs. Currie's complete 9-inch differential cases are available in 28-, 31-, or 35-spline configurations and axle ratios from ARB, Currie, Eaton, and Wavetrac. Joel applies The Right Stuff to the studs and runs the locknuts down evenly until the case is seated, then torques the locknuts to 35 ft-lb in one-third values in a crisscross fashion.

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Roadster Shop provides axle seals, which have been driven into place with a seal driver. Joel has applied a thin film of The Right Stuff between the seal and housing. The seal lip should be bathed in wheel bearing grease to protect it from damage during axle installation and start-up.

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Joel carefully slides the axle into the housing without letting it touch the seal. If you drag the axleshaft across the seal it can damage the seal, causing leakage.

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All fasteners get Permatex's Red threadlocker prior to installation and tightening.

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The rear brake installation begins with the backing plate and parking brake assembly.

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The Baer parking brake assembly should look like this installed. Installation of the parking brake shoe can get tricky because you have to get it over the axle flange.

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Once the parking brake assembly is installed and connected, the brake rotor slips on the axle flange as shown.

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The rear brake caliper bracket is next, secured by two Grade 8 bolts dressed with Permatex Red threadlocker and tightened with a 3/4-inch box-end wrench.

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The brake caliper is installed next and secured with two Grade 8 bolts provided with the kit. Get the caliper centered on the rotor using shims provided in the kit. Sometimes, you get lucky and the caliper installs dead center. Most of the time you will need to shim the caliper until it is centered on the rotor.

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Here's the installed Baer brake caliper centered on the rotor as shown. There should be some clearance between the pads and rotor. Once you have applied brake pressure to the pads, they will naturally center on the rotor.

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Baer provides you with shims (washers) of various thicknesses to get the caliper centered.

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The arrow indicates where the caliper should be shimmed.

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Here's the parking brake cable bracket, which gets the cable positioned on the brake. The arrows indicate where the parking brake cable is installed.

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Baer provides flexible braided stainless steel brake hoses for each brake. Check both fitting mating surfaces for nicks, which could cause leaks.

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Your rear brake hoses should look like this, with the flexible loop shown. Copper washers should be located on both sides of the fitting at the caliper. We use copper washers due to the compressibility of copper. It conforms to the shape of the fitting for a tight seal under high pressure.

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The beauty of Baer brakes is how striking they look through wheel spokes. Proof of the pudding is how well they perform when it's time to get it on.

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Our Roadster Shop chassis is fitted with 2-inch drop spindles, which makes for an easy drop. Baer brake rotors slip right onto these spindles.

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A good rule to follow with wheel bearings is never to apply grease to the spindle. Bearings should sit on a dry surface to where the inner race does not turn. Bearings should be fully packed with high-temperature wheel bearing grease. Seals and races should be lubricated with wheel bearing grease. And finally, secure the cotter pin with a nice clean bend over the spindle.

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Joel has installed the caliper bracket as shown, torqueing the bolts to Baer's suggested specs in the instructions.

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We like these color-keyed Baer four-piston calipers, which match our '56 shoebox, which is silver and black. The front calipers are installed as shown, with red threadlocker on the bolt threads, torqued to specifications.

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As with the rear calipers, the front calipers are shimmed to get them centered on the rotor. You want sufficient clearance between the rotor and pads on both sides.

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The caliper bolts are torqued to 70 ft-lb. Here, we're snugging the bolts with a box-end wrench, then applying the specified torque in one-third values. Always go back and check your work once the bolts are torqued.

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Joel installs the Baer braided stainless brake hoses taking extra care to make sure they don't bind or get tangled in the steering components at full right and left.

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We ordered this Baer master cylinder brake line kit to complete the installation. We've opted for a 15/16-inch bore Baer master cylinder.

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Joel showed us another option for the Baer master cylinder. He fabricated these lines with banjo fittings for a more high-tech look, which is available from Hot Rod Specialties for its customers.

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Here's the Baer master cylinder installed. The chassis brake lines and hoses will be installed next and the system bled along with a brake check.

Sources:

Baer
602.233.1411
baer.com

Currie Enterprises
714.528.6957
currieenterprises.com

Hot Rod Specialties
909.215.5516
hotrodspecialties.net

Roadster Shop
847.949.7637
roadstershop.com

Summit Racing Equipment
800.230.3030
summitracing.com

 

Photos by Jim Smart and Joel Rode

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