Sunday, June 26, 2011

Brake Upgrade Part 5 - Fastbrakes Front Wilwood Brake Kit Installed

I finally installed the Fastbrakes Wilwood front brake kit. Took quite some time (well, three months!) mostly because I was hunting around for a larger brake master cylinder. Also one of the supplied alloy centre hats had a long radial scratch on it. While the damage was purely cosmetic Fastbrakes to their credit replaced the hat for me though it took several weeks. In the end I decided to bite the bullet and install the brakes and see what happens. Brian from Fastbrakes assured me the pedal travel while longer that stock would not be that bad and that I would get used to it after a very short while.

I also took quite some time to source for spanners. And why can't the shop doing the installation supply the tools? Well Wilwood is American and everything there is non-metric and in British Imperial sizes. Go to this website for an excellent explanation of said spanner sizes. Picture below of the tools I bought from the local Ace hardware shop. Not cheap mind you.

1/4" (as in quarter inch) spanner is for the bleed nipple. 7/16" is for the base of the bleed nipple to tighten it when installed on the caliper body. Interestingly the best spanner to use for the bridge tube nut on the SL6R caliper is a metric M12 though the head of the spanner jaw needs to be grinded for it to clear the caliper enough to be able to tighten.

Another problem is trying to find some original Loctite branded thread lock sealant in Penang. This is required for the bolts that hold the rotor to its centre alloy hat/bell. I went to several hardware shops in Kimberley Street but could not find any Loctite and neither did the Ace hardware shop in Queensbay. In the end I bought Permatex which seemed to be widely available. I also got my reconfigured brake hose made that bolts directly to the brake line end on the Slowtra. Picture below of the new brake hose courtesy of G Spec Performance. I now have two spare front brake hoses. Any takers?

Also got some forged alloy 90 degree "L" shaped male AN -3 to male NPT 1/8 27 adapters but in the end I decided not to use that and went for the slightly heavier but stronger steel Wilwood adapters that came with the brake kit.

Installation was done @ Northern Garage in Penang. The installation was done by the boss himself Ah Loy or you can call him Eric :) I know Ah Loy from many many moons ago from the old Speedworks Penang days. Yes, that long so you can see how old I am :) First thing is remove the stock rotor and caliper. You can leave the stock caliper still connected with its brake hose to the car at this point. Here's how the stock rusty hub and knuckle (the Brits like to call it "upright") looks like with the alloy mount brackets installed. Itching to replace the M12 bolt, washer and nut with some Ti equivalents.

Holy Brake Dust Shield Batman! What happened to it? Well you have to ask TCM. I'm not sure if this is a couple hundred grammes weight savings for a better power to weight ratio or a manufacturing cost savings exercise? I want to say the first but I think it's probably the second. The N16 is the only car I have seen to date without a front dust shield for the brakes. I'm not sure if this is only my car or the entire series. Will investigate and report out in due time. Picture below of the USDM Sentra B15 FSM diagram indicates that they have dust shields there. I'm not complaining coz this saves time as I do not have to trim or remove the dust shield as it wouldn't have fitted anyway with the new substantially larger brake rotors.

Next up is to assemble the brake disc/rotor. Each disc is mounted to its alloy centre hat with eight grade eight hex head 5/16-18 bolts. I replaced the bolts with stainless steel equivalents. That's a US$25 premium. Make sure you use Loctite Blue or Permatex Blue on the bolt threads. Blue indicates medium strength while red is high strength. If you have only one type use it as its better and safer then not using. The last thing you want is for something so critical to come loose. You can also practice safety wiring as the bolts come pre-drilled for safety wiring. I choose to just rely on my Permatex Red :) ARP chromoly bolts for this application are also available but cost around three hundred smackers for 32 bolts. Please note that the bolts should never be reused as they are stretched during installation and are also subsequently heat cycle impacting their strength. Picture below of the assembled brake disc/rotor with alloy centre hat/bell.

You then mount the rotor on the hub. Make sure the rotor is perfectly flat on the hub. The rusty hub might need to be cleaned thoroughly. Once this is done you can bolt the caliper to its mounting bracket. Again use Loctite on the bolt to secure the caliper to its mounting bracket. Please also ensure all fittings on the caliper are fully tightened to prevent leaks. Make sure the caliper is centred over the rotor. If it does not use the supplied washers.

Once the caliper is properly aligned and centred over the brake rotor you can install the brake pads and the 90 degree brake line adapter. Make sure you use some good quality white teflon tape for the end with NPT fitting. AN fittings do not require tape. You can then install the brake hose. Here's how it looks like with the brake hose and adapter installed. The brake pads were test installed to check that it was at the edge of the rotor.

Here's how everything looks like prior to connecting the brake hose to the Slowtra.

Picture below of the brakes installed and being bled. 6 pot calipers are a b*tch to bleed compared to the stock single pot. Ah Loy used a powered bleeder to make the process easier and less strenous to the leg muscle :)

Once everything is checked and rechecked you can install back the rim/wheel. Then its time to repeat the install process for the other side. All in all the install took bout 6 hours including going out to buy some fasteners. Picture of the wheel in place.

On first drive it was apparent that the brake pedal travel is longer than stock but still manageable. Secondly was how easy it was to stop the car with minimal effort on the brake pedal. If I hit the brake pedal too enthusiastically the front of the car dives way too much. Stiffer suspension is really a must now. Third was the dust! The rotors are zinc plated to minimize corrosion but the entire rotor is plated hence the plating on the swept part of the rotor will have to be worn away via the brake pad from application of the brakes. I would say 70% of the brake dust is from this bedding-in process. Majority of the dust goes away after a couple days (100+ km or so of driving). In the meantime please ensure you fully bed in the pads to ensure their maximum braking performance. The procedure to bed in your Wilwood pads are listed on its website. Even after bed-in I would expect more dust than the stock Hitachi pads. These are track day pads after all.

After a couple days driving the brake pedal travel and feel improved resulting in less travel. I also noticed a metal on metal contact noise whenever the road had a sudden increased in elevation or height and there are plenty of these especially in Penang. Lying flat on my back in my car porch I noticed that the edge of the front lower arm where the ball joint resides was occasionally coming into contact with the inner surface of the brake rotor. Bummer! A quick visit to Ah Loy rectified this problem by grinding away the unused metal on the lower arm. Picture below of the front lower arm with part of its "foreskin" grinded away. Make sure you paint the grinded area to prevent rust and corrosion. Oh, and you need to do this for both sides.

So how does the brakes feel after a week or so? I still need to complete the last step of the bed-in procedure but these are by far the best brakes I've used. Significantly better than the 4 pot Dynapros I was using previously on the SP. Bro Mugil can attest to the peformance having used the same brakes recently during a track day. Oh and just yesterday I flat fully outbraked a Lancer 2.0 GT while bedding in my pads. The Slowtra might not be any faster but it can sure stop better than 99% of the cars on the road. I would say the tyres now are the limiting factor to better stopping peformance. Brake dust is about the same as my rear Stoptech 309s. The pads also work from cold and improves with warm up. They are pretty quiet and do not emit a race car squeal like the Wilwood Polymatrix E Compound brake pads I was using previously with the Dynapro. Still don't expect stock noise levels. These are race/track day oriented brakes after all. Also slotted brake rotors will emit a whirring noise when the brakes are applied. Especially noticeable if your windows are wind down. Closeup pix of the brakes.

Look at the weight reduction engineering. You can see the area of the rotor swept by the brake pad.

I used a bathroom scale to weight the Wilwoods and got the following:
  • 310mm X 28mm brake rotor + centre alloy hat + fasteners = ~6kg
  • Wilwood SL6R calipers + brake pads + alloy mounting bracket = ~3kg
  • Total = 9kg
 In comparison the stock brakes are:
  • 257mm X 22mm one piece brake rotor = 4 kg
  • Single piston cast iron caliper with pads worn almost to the backing plate = 4.5kg
  • Total = 8.5kg
I would say weight is the same give or take a couple hundred grammes. Couldn't resist it but here's beauty shots of the Slowtra. I like me new brakes very much!

If black is too understated perhaps you might be persuaded by red?

Will install my titanium brake pad heat shield shims in a bit. I guess this concludes my brake upgrades unless I'm persuaded towards a larger two-piece rear rotor. Who knows?


Eu Jin said...

You always have the most comprehensive and awesome brake upgrades bro. *thumbs up*

Andrew Saw said...

Thanks Bro!

Edison said...

Andrew, you work in Intel right?