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Brake System Parts Advice

H

Hijinx

Guest
Hello All, back again to pick your brains on my brake problem. Well after findiing out that I will need to rebuild at least two of my four calipers, I have decided to do a major rework of my brake system. Main plans include new or rebuilt calipers and new lines.

Almost everyone offers a "Kit" or "Package". I have decided to either buy from Vette Brakes & Products (VBP) or Zip. All of the kits offer the basics; 4 Stainless Sleeved Calipers, 4 Brake Hoses, 2 Trailing Arm Armored Brake Lines, Pads, Retaining Pins and such. VBP offers this for $389 and Zip for $369.

Here's the question.
- VBP offers a "Plus" kit that also includes a new Master Cylinder for $459.
- Zip offers a "Delux" kit that includes a new Master Cylinder and 4 new Rotors for $599.

My Master Cylinder is working fine. I have not had the rotors checked for turning, so I do not know if they will pass or not. So, do I spring for the extra $150 if I go with the Delux/Plus kit? I dont think I could touch 4 rotors anywhere else for $150. VBP wants $70 per rotor.

Thoughts?
 

Nut

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 15, 2000
Messages
890
Location
Bowie, MD
Corvette
Vette-less for now
Hijinx, have the rotors checked first to see if you have enough for another turning. If so, go with the VP kit. Vette Brakes has the best parts, service and delivery. They've never failed me before. However..... If you need the rotors, the Zip kit looks pretty hard to pass up. Good luck.

............. Nut

Btw........ I love the lights in the license plate block. I wish MD would ditch the antiquated need for a front plate.
 
S

Scott81

Guest
I'll agree with Nut, but you might be able to save some money by calling Art at Van Steel first. He can get you all the same parts and will probably give you a better deal. He did my trailing arms for me including new rotors and did a fantastic job. Tell him Scott recommended that you call.

BTW, I'm pretty sure all the parts houses get their brake kits from VB anyway.
 
B

Big Fish

Guest
If you are going to replace your calipers you might consider getting the newer O-ring design. They don't have the problem with air pumping due to rotor run-out. Maybe want to check to see if either kit you described includes those before making a final choice.
 

Nut

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 15, 2000
Messages
890
Location
Bowie, MD
Corvette
Vette-less for now
Amen on that Fish!!! That problem haunted me all last year until I switched them out. Not even a hint of fade since. Great suggestion.

............ Nut
 
H

Hijinx

Guest
Fish,
Glad you told me to check the O ring issue. Zip's "deal" does not include the newer O rings, and they are not available from them. Guess I'll be going with VBP. A few more of these and my Vette will be a rolling billboard for VBP. It already has their full suspension.
 
W

wolf_walker

Guest
Something else to note. The rotors are "suposed" to be matched to the wheel bearing, in the rear atleast, I can't remember about the front. The deal is, somehow or another, when the rotor is out of spec, and it's a tight spec, it will shimmy and "pump" the pistons in the caliper, therby introducing air into the system. I'm convinced this is the root of all those "all new parts and STILL no brakes" stories, and why many shop's will not do brakes on a c3.
The rebuilt wheel bearing's I got from VanSteel had matched and indexed rotors on them. You could possibly find someone with an on-car lathe and have the rotors turned while still mounted to the car, that should work. The 72 GM Manual I have goes into a bit of depth about this issue, I can't remember the runout specs, but it was tight.

Also, replace it all it once, and flush the crap out of the hard lines with denatured alcohol and compressed air, preferably dried and filtered air. Remove and replace/pull apart and clean the proportioning valve also, it holds old icky fluid. The goal is to have NO old fluid in there, and if you change it every year or two it will stay that way. I ran DOT4 German spec fluid, higher boiling point and suposidly less moisture absorbant.

C3 brakes are great, when they work right. I have things so happy on the 74 that with the wheels off the ground you can spin the front or rear pair over and slowly apply the brakes and both wheels stop at the exact same time! I've never had a car that precise, very proud of that. :)
 
H

Hijinx

Guest
Wolf, you bring up a lot of good points. I was told, when I had it in having the suspension rebuilt, that the hard lines needed replacing. With all you said, I may just need to do a full job. Replace everything and get her up to snuff all at once. Man, this could get really expensive! But I had heard recently of the close tolerances on the bearings. Some good food for thought. Got to noodle this one a bit more. Dont want to do more than I need, but would hate to do less than needed to save a few bucks. Than never works out.
 
W

wolf_walker

Guest
I know one thing from my experience, you don't want to have to do it twice. It's agrivating and depresing.


I think the O-ring calipers help alleviate the air pumping problem, but I don't know if they totally eleviate it. You should probibly call a few places and see what there official opinion is. Only reason I went with standard calipers from VB&P and not the O-ring's was the cost, and I figured I could get it working with stock parts. It's a woman's car anyway, so it will be fairly babied. On the hard lines, I didnt replace any of mine, they werent rusty, not bent or abused, and it was another bit of cash I could cut. The car's garaged and will never be driven in salty-road weather, so the chance of them rusting away is small. However if you have the money, slap new SS lines on it, one less thing to worry about later.

:)
 
M

mgms_1968

Guest
Funny that you mention Vette Brakes hardware etc.

Let me give you my experience with Vette Brakes.

I have a 1968 vette with a brake system that was basically shot. I had two calipers that where leaking and all the rotors where warped, heck the rotors where the original equipment, i.e. rotors are 34 years old.

After looking around for replacement components I looked at Stainless Steel Brakes Corp (www.ssbc.com) also looked at going with a complete Wilwood system (i.e. full race set-up) and Vette Brakes. After considering cost installation (I did not want to be fabricating a bunch of hardware to make everything work). I selected Vette Products X-treme duty o-ring calipers (where the calipers are brand new) and their Sport Rotor upgrade kit.

The Sport upgrade package include 4 rotors that are slotted for venting gases and they have been cryogenically treated, this make the rotor tougher and more resistant to heat induced warping of the rotor. Also with the kit are a set of performance brake pads, 4 stainless steel brake line and high temp brake fluid.

The calipers where great and they installed with out any problems.

The rotors on here great also but I had a problem with one rotor. Also the rotors are directional rotors after they have been slotted and therefore they only can be installed one way. When the rotors arrived their where NO instructions with the rotors.

As always it was the last rotor (front right hand side) that I was installing, I noticed that it would rub against the spindle. After measuring the rotor and comparing it to the original rotor and the new rotor from the left side I determined that the rotor was not manufactured correctly. This a quality control problem with the manufacture not so much as vette brakes themselves.

So I called Vette Products and told them what is happing, let me say that their customer service was excellent. After describing what happened etc, they decided to ship me a new front right hand rotor. Well a week later I get a rotor via UPS and guess what it is a left handed rotor, I needed a right handed rotor. So back on the phone and they said sorry and sent me a right handed rotor, this time 3-day delivery. When this one showed up it was the current rotor and it also fitted correctly.

One last thing worth mentioning was then when installing the rear caliper with the brake pads in place it was a pain in the a*&. I called vette brake again and they said to remove the shim plate that is glued to the brake pad, once I did that the brake pad slid right into place.

So my advice to anyone looking at the brake system for their car from vette brakes would be to have them fax you a copy of the installation instructions and also ask them if their is anything else you should know about for your particular year car.
It would have been nice to have received the correct rotor the first time and also a note about removing the shim plate from the brake pad prior to installation.

So far I have been pleased with my brake system, I just finished the job last weekend 4-28-02 and took the car for a spin around the block. This weekend I will be taking the car out for a long drive and really see how the brake work. I will post my results about that sometime next week.
 
H

Hijinx

Guest
Alright, I am definately going with the VBP stuff. My delima now is whether to go ahead and get new rotors and possibly new rear bearings. I know this will drive the cost up, but I would hate tear it all down and find out that the rotors dont have enough metal to turn down. Should probably go have them checked. I know my hard lines are rusted to hell. So, do I do just the caliper work or do I go for the full rebuild? Sure did want to get that TPI setup on before I did anything else. However, stopping is really good too!

Lets see;
- New Caliper kit $489
- New Sport Rotors $680
- New Hard Lines $100
- Total $1269

Do it my self - $pain
Have it done - $????
 

77-4speed

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2002
Messages
249
Location
Houston, TX
Corvette
1977 Black L-82 4-speed
Well,

I have been told that replacing the solid lines sometimes requires removing the body from the car. So, you might want to think about that. As far as doing it yourself, it isn't a difficult job. I just did mine about a month ago and it would have only taken about three hours except that I also had to replace some parking brake parts (not fun). I talked to a local Firestone and they said it would only cost me $100 to have the rotors turned and the calipers installed (no new rotors for me). After talking with Firestone I brought the car in to have the bearings and rotors checked out. Turns out they were fine so I decided to save the $100.

So, for $100 or less you could have the rotors turned and calipers installed, or the new rotors and calipers installed.

A word of advice, if you do it yourself, go to Oreilly's and pick up speed bleeders for your calipers. You can find out the size you need from speed bleeders web site. I have bled the brakes with my wife using the traditional method, I've bled them with the vacuum method. Using the speed bleeders was by far the easiest bleeding job I've done.

Oh, by the way, if you do replace the hard lines, you should probably disassemble the master cylinder and clean it very well. Then you could use silicone brake fluid.

Just my $0.02

Russ
 
W

wolf_walker

Guest
77-4speed, you are a brave, brave man to trust your baby's brakes and bearings to Firestone, unless there are confirmed "Vette guys's" of some sort working there.



Hijinx, I personally, and if finances permit, would do it all in one swoop and not have to worry about it again. Master cylinder, rotors, bearings, the whole sha-bang. I have also heard the body has to be raised to access some hard lines, sounds like a good time to replace the body bushings that are probibly worn out, especialy the one's in the inner rear finder. If you get the bearings done locally make SURE it's an experienced vette shop, they arent quite like plain old wheel bearings. You might also ask about the rotor matching to the bearing hub, your luck's probibly better than mine so you'll probibly not have any trouble, but...


I know the TPI would be nice, but I've found it really, really dosent pay to short-cut things on an older C3 in the long run.
If the T-arms are off during all this, replace the bushings with a poly one too. :)
 
W

wolf_walker

Guest
And if your mechenicaly inclined, I'd say do most of it yourself. Get a manual of some sort, it's not really hard, some parts are just a little frusterating. You can have the rear bearings farmed out, VanSteel had a nice package when I did mine, matched rotor and new bearing, cheaper than the entire T-Arm. Watch for bad/rusty weld's on those t-arms.

Parking break! Go ahead and replace the guts of the parking break with stainless steel hardware and new shoes, the stock steel seems to corode up pretty quickly. Check your cables for operation too. The parking break is a pain to install, but it's do-able.
 

77-4speed

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2002
Messages
249
Location
Houston, TX
Corvette
1977 Black L-82 4-speed
wolf walker,

The Firestone actually has a vette guy that does work on all older vettes. The shop also hosta a "muscle car" drive in every saturday night. The owner has a chevy coupe and a ford high-boy and everyone there are true car-nuts. The vette guy actually knew about balancing the rotor with the bearing. So, I would say they are trustworthy.

But that is a good point! I was only suggesting the approximate price that Hijinx might be looking at to repair/replace his rotors and install his calipers.

Russ
 
W

wolf_walker

Guest
God I'd kill for a knowledgable shop for vette's around here. The dealer is a joke, took it there for an alignment and inspection, it was a mess, should have known better when all there "tech's" are half the age of the car.. :(
 

77-4speed

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2002
Messages
249
Location
Houston, TX
Corvette
1977 Black L-82 4-speed
wolf walker,

It's only a Firestone though. I trust their work on the simple systems of brakes and suspension. In fact, the guy mentioned that the 77 would require a 4 wheel thrust alignment (which I knew but didn't disclose to him) and also mentioned that it is a long and sometimes difficult job. His comments made me feel comfortable that he had at least done it before and knew what to look for.

However, I still haven't found anyone with a corvetteforum approved reputation for engine work here in Houston. So the search goes on.
 
W

wolf_walker

Guest
I would think most any well thought of Chevy shop could handle the motor, it's only a 350 after all, not rocket science anymore than one in a Nova or such. If you have a drag strip in the area, you might go one night and ask around, see who people like.
 
H

Hijinx

Guest
OK, just got a full quote from the local Vette shop to have them do the work. I could do it from a mechanical standpoint. However, I do not know if I could get the run out set right or everything adjusted properly by my self. So, here is what I got.

Parts
- Brake Kit (Calipers, MC, Lines, Pads) $479
- Rotors ($85 for OE, $135 for Slotted) $540 on the high side
- Hard Lines ($104 OE, $159 SS) $104 no real need for SS
- Parking Brake ($120 Parts, $35 cable) $155
- Total for parts $1266

Labor
- Drill Rotors (if they have not been done) $140
- Install Brakes (rotors, calipers, such) $280
- Install MC & Lines (this is all hard lines) $630
- Parking brake (shoes, cable, parts) $175
- Total Labor $1225

Thoughts?
 

77-4speed

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 30, 2002
Messages
249
Location
Houston, TX
Corvette
1977 Black L-82 4-speed
I think it's up to you. Do you really need to drill the rotors? I don't know what you have planned so you may need to. Installing the MC and calipers can be done in about 6 hours at home in the garage. Parking brake is not fun but can also be done. The only thing that would be a real pain is the hard lines as you would have to remove the body. So, you could easily save yourself $455 by installing the brakes/parking brake and probably another hour or two of labor by doing the MC yourself. The hard lines, personally, if you have the money, I'd let them mess with it. If you REALLY need the rotors drilled, cool, otherwise save the $140.

By the way, vettebrakes O-ring kit with MC, rubber lines, fluid, pads, and rear trailing arm lines is $489 plus $200 core. If you have original calipers you would get full refund of $200 on the core charge. Just something to think about, as they are better quality than the local parts store brand. Although, the local parts store brand does come with a lifetime warranty and VB only has a 10 yr warranty.

So to sum it up, I'd install the MC, parking brake, and brake kit myself. Let them do the hard lines.

Just my $0.02

Russ

BTW the prices for parts sound about right. But labor seems a little high. $280 to install brakes? That's like 3.5 hrs at $80/hr. It would take YOU 3.5 hrs. They should be able to do it in 1 hr max.
 

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