October 2, 2009

Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation
Variety may well be the spice of life at SSBC, for the company that pioneered stainless steel sleeving of classic Corvette and Mustang calipers back in 1975, indeed has one of the broadest brake lineups in the industry.

Kits are available for a dizzying array of vehicles, including virtually all eras of Mustangs and popular classic Fords. From factory style single- and multiple-piston iron calipers, to modern billet aluminum calipers in a variety of configurations, SSBC will have something for everyone--including 14-inch/eight-piston "V8" front kits for the S197.

Sample pricing from National Parts Depot:
'65-'67 Mustang, Force 10 "Quick Change" kit, four-piston aluminum calipers for direct replacement of original iron calipers, $638.95
'65-'73 Mustang rear disc kit, Sport R1 single piston aluminum calipers with 11.25-inch slotted rotors, $1,195

Stainless Steel Brakes Corp
(800) 448-7722

Hydraulically Speaking Whether buying a "brake kit," or acquiring a parts list for a brake upgrade of your own, several important ancillary items will be required. Flexible brake lines are a part of some kits, but if they're not, we strongly advise upgrading to stainless steel braided lines which are available from a variety of specialists. Frankly, braided lines are considered one of the basics, and should be considered even on cars delivered with an otherwise competent factory braking system, i.e. '94-'04 Cobra Mustangs. While these lines' primary role is to provide improved abrasion resistance, a significant secondary benefit is their resistance to expansion under hydraulic pressure, resulting in a more consistent and responsive brake pedal.

Almost never included in a brake kit is the most basic item which makes a brake system function, the fluid. Brake fluid is classified by U.S. Department of Transportation standards, including DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, and DOT 5.1 varieties. Of great concern for performance enthusiasts, is the boiling point of each fluid. This is important since boiling fluid during hard brake use will cause a spongy pedal, and reduced effectiveness. The following is a breakdown of the DOT boiling points for the different brake fluids--actually the minimum temperatures for a fluid to qualify. Racing fluids often have boiling points that are far higher than the minimum number to achieve the rating, in fact sometimes as high as 550-600 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be noted that these particular numbers are for dry boiling points, in other words, fresh fluid that hasn't absorbed any moisture:

401° F446° F509° F509° F

So what's the difference between DOT 5, and DOT 5.1? The chemical composition of the fluid; brake fluids are usually glycol based, with the exception of the silicone based DOT 5. Since glycol is corrosive to paint while silicone is not, in some instances a DOT 5 may be appealing to the restoration crowd. The downside to DOT 5 fluids, and it's a big one, is the inherently spongy brake pedal that results. Consequently, DOT 5 should never be considered for any type of performance application despite the relatively high boiling point; rather, a DOT 3, DOT 4, or DOT 5.1 fluid should be used--dictated of course by how much abuse you and your vehicle can heap on. It should also be noted that glycol and silicone based brake fluids must not be mixed. If switching from one type of fluid to another, a complete brake system flush must be accomplished.