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New Brakes for the Falcon, Part 2

High performance discs and pads

by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • Part 2 of a 2-part series
  • RDA grooved rear discs
  • EBC 'green' rear pads
  • New master cylinder
  • Complete step-by-step fitting
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Last week in New Brakes for the Falcon, Part 1 we showed the fitting of high performance RDA front discs and EBC ‘red’ ceramic front pads. That process went smoothly but we were in for a shock with the rear brakes! But before getting to that, let’s install the new rear discs and pads.

Again the job was performed by Simon’s Car Clinic of Tamborine, Queensland.

Fitting the Rear Brakes

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Simon firstly unbolted and put to one side the rear caliper (with its brake hose still connected) before...

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...unscrewing the single screw that holds the disc captive on the hub.

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The disc could then be pulled off. At this stage the handbrake internal drum brake shoes could be inspected – they were fine.

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Specialised fast evaporating brake cleaner was then sprayed over the assembly.

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Simon then scraped the front face of the hub clean. This was an important step because any corrosion or dirt build-up will cause the new disc to have run-out. That is, the disc won’t sit at right-angles to the axle.

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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, followed by the spray application of brake cleaner.

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The new discs could then be placed on the hub.

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The sliding caliper pins were lubricated with high temperature Molykote grease...

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...as were the parts of the new EBC ‘green’ pads which slide on the caliper shoulders.

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The EBC ‘greens’ come with a break-in coating on the face of the pads.

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The pads were then clipped into place and the caliper pins inserted. The caliper could then be bolted into place.

The Problem!

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With the front and rear brakes fitted, the next step was to change the brake fluid. Simon started by sucking out the original brake fluid...

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... and adding fresh fluid.

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But he soon ran into a major snag. No matter how hard the brake pedal was pushed, the fluid refused to flow out of the 'cracked' rear caliper bleed nipples. Incredibly, the rear brakes were not working!

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By 'cracking' various brake line junctions Simon was able to trace the non-flow of fluid back through the plumbing to the ABS unit, and then from there right back to the master cylinder. There was no fluid pressure coming out of the master cylinder for the rear brakes – a new master cylinder was needed.

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However, one of the advantages of the Falcon is its incredibly cheap parts prices, so just $150 later, a brand new master cylinder had arrived.

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The new master cylinder was quickly and easily installed. Simon then bled the master cylinder, followed by the rear brakes and then the front brakes. New fluid was added to the reservoir during this process and the brakes bled until new, clean fluid flowed from the bleed nipples. In this way the fluid was replaced.

But how could I have been driving the car and not been aware that the rear brakes were not working? Thinking back, there was only one situation where it was clear: that was, reversing slowly down my steep driveway. In this situation, the brakes seemed to lock-up (and then ABS) very easily – I now realise that was because the weight transfer to the rear caused the front wheels to be unloaded... and they were the only ones doing the braking.

In fact, I think it very likely that the rear brakes were not very effective even when the previous owner was in possession of the car. That would explain why the receipts he provided when I bought the car showed it had undergone many front disc replacements and machinings, and why the front discs were warped.

One easy way to see if the brakes are all working is to brake hard a few times and then feel the temperature of the wheels. Especially if they’re alloy, they will be warm to touch.

The Results

So what does the Falcon brake like now? Obviously, there’s no point in comparing ‘before’ and ‘after’ configurations – not when the front discs were warped and the rear brakes weren’t working!

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However, compared with generic big car brakes, the Falcon’s brakes are now very good. Interestingly, despite the high performance pads, the brake pedal is light and has excellent feel. In fact, despite most Falcons and Commodores having very good linearity and feel in their brakes, I’d suggest that the EBC pads and RDA discs give the Falcon better than standard brake pedal feel. That’s saying something, because most hi-po brake pads (especially when cold) need a good solid push to get things working.

Clearly with ABS and the same tyres, the maximum retardation is unchanged – you can’t get greater deceleration than ABS’ing! But you can now brake right up to that point with precision and control. The only downer is that I think the brake pedal travel is a bit long, but Simon suggested that it was nothing to be concerned about, implying that it is typical of the Falcon.

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With a retail cost of about $700 for the discs and pads, and a labour and parts bill from Simon of $447 (including the new master cylinder, front wheel bearings and seals), the exercise was not a cheap one. But the brakes now have more than enough capability to hold up under hard driving, even with potentially a fair amount more power available.

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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