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New Brakes for the Falcon, Part 1

High performance discs and pads

by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • Part 1 of a 2-part series
  • RDA grooved front discs
  • EBC 'reds' ceramic fibre front pads
  • Complete step-by-step fitting
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One of the first steps in modifying our six cylinder EF project Falcon was to improve the brakes. This was desperately needed for two reasons: (1) when the car was purchased, the brakes had really warped front discs, and (2) the brakes certainly didn’t inspire much confidence in their retardation. A third reason was with the expected increase in engine power, it made sense to have the brakes ahead of the rest of the package.

After looking around for big brake upgrades (there are a few but they’re mind-bogglingly expensive) we decided to stick with the standard sized discs and pads, but upgrade the quality of both.

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After having good experiences with our Prius with upgrade RDA discs and EBC ‘black’ Kevlar pads (see DIY Brake Upgrade, Part 1), we decided to select the same suppliers. (The only negative we’ve noticed with the EBC ‘blacks’ is that they shed a fair amount of dust.) The RDA grooved Falcon front discs retail at AUD$187 a pair while the high performance EBC ‘red’ ceramic fibre pads cost a substantial $242. At the rear the RDA grooved discs are $143 and the EBC ‘green’ pads come in at $126.50.

The fitting of the brakes was carried out by Simon’s Car Clinic of Tamborine, Queensland.

Fitting the Front Brakes

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The first step was to unbolt the caliper. With the caliper removed, the stub axle split pin, keeper nut and main nut could all be removed. The disc/hub assembly could then be removed, revealing the stub axle and....

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...the inner and outer bearings. The tapered roller bearings showed signs of previous overheating – the colour wasn’t even along the length of the rollers. Simon suggested they needed replacement, so a front bearing kit was ordered. This included front seals, which are needed when fitting the new discs. The front bearing kits cost $45 a pair.

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The stub axle itself looked fine – no scoring or signs of overheating.

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The next step was to thoroughly clean the new RDA discs. They come coated in protective oil and it’s vital that this coating is completely removed. Simon used a parts washer...

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...followed by the spray application of a specific, fast-evaporating brake cleaner.

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The next step was inspect the pins on which the caliper floats. The piston pushes on only the inner pad and the other pad comes into contact with the outer surface of the discs as the caliper ‘floats’ across on its sliding pins. Good braking performance requires that the pins are well lubricated and in good condition. Note the arrowed shiny parts of the pin where some wear has occurred.

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A special Dow Corning Molykote high temperature grease was used to lubricate the pins and also the bushes in which they float.

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The inner bearing seal was applied next. It was lubricated with a thin smear of bearing grease....

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... before being placed on the inner diameter of the hub.

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It was then inserted with an appropriately sized drift – in this case, a piece of square cut exhaust tube. Note that RDA suggest the seal should be pushed fully home, otherwise it may interfere with the seating of the wheel bearings.

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The old seal had torn, perhaps because of insufficient lubrication. Note the tone wheel for the ABS – when sourcing replacement front discs, make sure this wheel looks identical in the new disc!

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The new bearings are amongst the best brands around – Timken. Don’t use no-name bearings...

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Proper greasing of the bearings is vital – incorrect greasing is a probable cause of the wear seen on the previously fitted bearings. The grease must be forced through the bearing so it appears at the top gap, as shown here. This is easily achieved by cupping a generous portion of grease in one hand and rapidly and repeatedly pushing the bearing into it until the grease is forced right through the bearing.

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The inner bearing was then applied to the stub axle...

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...followed by the new disc/hub assembly.

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The outer bearing was then inserted....

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..followed by the retaining nut.

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The nut was torqued to seat the bearings, then backed off before being re-torqued to the correct value. Note that Simon normally does this by feel, however in this case he followed the provided instructions to the letter... only to find that there was still some movement in the wheel. He then went back to his own trusted technique, which torqued the nut up perfectly!

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The keeper nut and split pin could then be installed.

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The dust cap needed only a thin smear of grease inside it (the grease traps the dust)...

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...before a thin smear of silicone sealant was applied around its mating flange...

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...and it was pushed home.

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So that’s a front disc on – now what about the pads? Not having fitted this type of pad before, Simon carefully read the instructions, especially with regard to the use of anti-rattle shims, glue or anti-seize. In this case, none are required!

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A G-clamp was used to push the piston back into the caliper. (Simon made the point that he has the “right” tool for this job but with these calipers, the G-clamp was absolutely as effective and easy.)

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The ceramic pads are heavily chamfered.

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The pads could then be clipped into the calipers (they’re held in place by their springs)...

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...and the slides on which the pads move lubricated with Molykote...

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...before the caliper was then bolted back into place. Simon first placed a smear of Molykote grease on the bolts to protect them from corrosion.

So that’s the front brakes on – next week we’ll install the rear discs and pads... and be in for a helluva shock when we find a huge mechanical failing in the braking system!

Contacts:

www.rdabrakes.com.au

Simon’s Car Clinic - 07 5543 6155

Simon was paid at normal commercial rates. The discs and pads were supplied at trade prices.

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