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Stop Short

With Stainless Steel Brakes' Bolt-On Upgrade Kit

By Grant Peterson

One of the great things about owning Chevrolet cars and trucks is that they last forever--you just can't kill 'em. This is especially good for all us gearheads out there. We most likely have a few projects goin' on at all times, which means our attention and spending can get spread a little thin between them. The low machine on the totem pole is usually the ever faithful and often neglected daily driver. And let's face it, when we get home and want to work on something fun, that machine is not on the top of the list.

For many of us, the overlooked, but somehow still loyal, daily driver is a truck. Without it, how would we haul all those parts or cars home from the swap meet? Borrow one? I don't think so. Well, my '94 1/2-ton has gone above and beyond over the years and has more than paid for itself by now--because of that I just can't part with it. It still feels new to me. Granted, there have been many improvements over the last 11 years in the automotive industry, brakes being a big one, but I still can't part with it. Yet, when I think about all the crazy traffic out here in Southern California, and since it seems like everyone is driving something newer than I am, I might as well ensure I can stop.

Luckily for me, Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation has just introduced the perfect solution: their Quick Change Aluminum Caliper Upgrade Kit and Short Stop Slotted Rotors. The bolt-on replacement Force 10 Calipers feature two 54mm stainless steel pistons and high-performance pads. The new calipers are made of lightweight aircraft aluminum and are about half the weight of the stock calipers, which reduces unsprung weight. Having a two-piston caliper provides more constant pressure on the brake pad, in turn reducing pad deflection and increasing clamping pressure on the rotor. All of this leads to reducing the stopping distance. The stainless steel pistons in the calipers are corrosion-free, lightweight, and help to block heat transfer to the brake fluid. The calipers are also available in many colors with optional powdercoating or polishing. Mark Christiansen talked me into red, and boy they really look good. The Short Stop Slotted rotors are also a bolt-on replacement. The slots help cool the rotors, extending service life and you can also get them with the Xtra Life Plating that protects the unworn areas of the rotor from corrosion, keeping them looking like new. Stainless Steel's kit was designed to fit behind stock rims so you don't have to go spend a ton of cash on big wheels and tires to have better brakes.

The installation was fairly painless and can even be done without assistance. Round up some new brake fluid, wheel-bearing grease, silicone-based grease for the threads on the caliper mounting bolts, a can or two of Brake Clean, penetrating fluid, rags, and latex gloves ( I know I didn't have them on, but I wished I did!). The kit comes with all necessary parts to do the install, except new inner wheel-bearing seals, Timken part# 4739. If you need new wheel bearings, now would be a good time. Mine were still good, so I just cleaned and repacked them. Toolwise, make sure you have both metric and S.A.E. sizes in sockets and Allens, a jack and jackstands, a good torque wrench, rubber mallet, and a set of hose pinch-off pliers--a really handy tool to get. They are easy to use, help eliminate spills, and won't damage the hose. Everything is basically bolt-in, but in some cases you might need to clearance the casting on the spindle, check the photo, so make sure you have access to a right-angle grinder.

Before the install, I went out to California Speedway to test the stock brakes and came up with a best 60-0-mph stopping distance of 185.66 feet. With Stainless Steel's Quick Change Kit we ended up with 172.66 feet--exactly 13 feet shorter. That's about a whole car length! That could be the difference of life or death, or at least being able to walk away from an accident. Keep in mind as well that this was done with stock wheels and 235/75/R15 and 255/75/R15 tires. Unfortunately, I don't have a way to measure the around-town performance, but the 20-40-mph stops were noticeably quicker when needed. The other thing I like is that my pedal doesn't feel that much different from before.

There you have it, Stainless Steel Brakes' Quick Change Kit pulled through in the end and delivered positive results, with little time and money spent. They have kits to fit just about every make and model of car and truck, from stock replacements to big diameter rotors, and multi-piston calipers. Give them a call and or check out their comprehensive Web site.

SOURCES
Stainless Steel Brakes Corp.
11470 Main St.
Clarence
NY  14031
800-448-7722
www.stainlesssteelbrakes.com
By Grant Peterson
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