Stainless Steel Brakes - Super Chevy Shop Tour

A Look Inside The Jonas Family's Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation

Barry Kluczyk Dec 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)
Sucp_0112_17_z Stainless_steel_brakes Iron_brakes 1/10

Stainless Steel Brakes' push into cast-aluminum calipers realizes some great weight savings. These Corvette calipers, for example, illustrate it best. The aluminum version (bottom) weighs 7.5 pounds less than the iron version. That's a significant 33 pounds of sprung weight taken off the axles of the car when installed.

Michael Jonas readily admits his '89 Corvette, which is powered by a 410hp small-block, has too much braking capability for a street car.

"It's a little excessive," he says. "They're too much for the street, but I usually use the car on a road course, anyway."

Indeed, a look through the wheels of the black Vette reveals nothing but four circular walls of brake rotor-thirteen-inchers all around on a car wearing 17-inch wheels.

"They're the first set of production Force 10 brakes we made," Jonas says proudly, adding with equal pride, " From 60, the car averages 93-ft stops. If I stand on them real quick, I'll beat the ABS."

Centering his performance expertise on a car's "whoa," rather than "go," has been in Jonas's blood for more than 25 years. That's when his father, George, began manufacturing upgraded replacement parts for Corvettes.

Sucp_0112_01_z Stainless_steel_brakes Corvette_enthusiast 2/10

A hands-on enthusiast, Michael Jonas's 410hp Corvette wears the first production set of Force 10 brakes, including an upgraded master cylinder and carbon fiber pads. The 13-inch rotors at each wheel provide, in Jonas's words, "way more brake than the car needs." (Jonas has been with the company founded by his father for more than 25 years.)

It was 1975, and George Jonas was at his wits' end trying to solve the fluid leak problems of his vintage Corvette's front caliper sleeves. Relying on his engineering experience and the personal know-how of a real enthusiast, Jonas designed and manufactured stainless steel replacement sleeves for the leaky brakes.

When other Corvette aficionados heard of Jonas's revolutionary fix, they beat a path to his door... And left little puddles of brake fluid once they reached it. More than 25 years later, Jonas's solution to fix his personal car has resulted in a multifaceted business that supplies brakes and brake accessories to enthusiasts of almost all makes and models.

Although George still has a hand in the business, the reigns of Stainless Steel Brakes have been turned over to Michael. And though it seems a symbolic shift to a newer generation, the change is manifested in the technological leaps the company is currently undertaking. On our recent visit to Stainless' Clarence, New York (near Buffalo), headquarters, for example, one of the engineers was getting his fingerprints all over the keyboard of the company's new computer-aided design terminal.

Sucp_0112_04_z Stainless_steel_brakes Computer_aided_design 3/10

A recent upgrade to computer-aided design allows Stainless engineers to design and simulate much of the testing of all-new components. The computer system also allows the new parts to be fitted together on-screen.

"We've just started to design new products with it," Michael Jonas says. "We're still learning, but already we're seeing that this investment is going lessen the time it takes to test and, ultimately, manufacture new parts."

The design program allows engineers to design and test rotors, calipers, and brake pads. An "exploded" view of the design even allows the parts to be assembled on-screen, which allows the engineers to check for fitment interference problems before someone starts cutting into real steel or aluminum.

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