June 15, 2006

Step By Step

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Mmfs_060064_brakes_01_z 2002_ford_f350_truck Stainless_steel_brakes_quick_change_force_10_v8_braking_kit_installMmfs_060064_brakes_02_z 2002_ford_f350_truck Stainless_steel_brakes_quick_change_force_10_v8_braking_kit_install
Our '02 F-350 dualie is used mainly for towing our Motorsport 45-foot, fifth-wheel trailer. The chipped-up 7.3 Power Stroke provides plenty of pulling power, but for quicker, safer stops, we decided to upgrade the brakes with Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation's Quick Change Force 10 V-8 braking kit.
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The SSBC V-8 kit (PN A193-1) includes two eight-piston aluminum calipers that bolt directly to the stock location. The retail price is $1,695 for the clear anodized finish (shown), but polished or powdercoating is offered for a few extra bucks.
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With a pad slid out of the way, you can see the four stainless pistons (there are also four on the other side). Having four pistons per side allows for an even distribution of pressure to the pads. The extra length of the pads provides more contact area and better overall braking power.

In the last decade, the modern performance market has taken some amazing turns. Niche branches have grown from the proverbial "performance tree," and those branches have gone in some wild directions. The '80s brought us the late-model Mustang market, then came the import thing in the '90s, and more recently, high-performance trucks have become the hot topic.

Like their automobile brethren, truckers seek horsepower, and thanks to the aftermarket, it is easy to find computer tuners, power adders, exhaust systems, and even chassis and suspension kits to boost performance. Power seems to be the mainstay of the market, especially with diesel engines, but there are other important parts to consider--such as braking.

Bumping power or hauling more weight taxes the braking system, and insufficient braking can lead you down a dangerous road. Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation has addressed this important issue with the introduction of its Quick Change Force 10 V-8 brake calipers, designed to improve braking by simply bolting in place of existing calipers on any '99-'04 F-250 or F-350 (2WD or 4WD) Super Duty trucks.

"The best thing about those calipers are the lighter weight," says Bill Caito of SSBC. "They are about 11 pounds lighter per caliper, so steering is easier and more responsive. Also, there is more pad surface, about 1 inch more than the stock brakes, so you have more contact area. We've noticed that about 99 percent of people who purchase our kit have a trailer, and that's when you'll notice it the most. You will get shorter stopping distances when towing."

We were intrigued, so we ordered a set of SSBC's binders for our '02 F-350 dualie that tows a 45-foot race trailer. The trailer is equipped with a tri-axle arrangement with brakes on each wheel, and the combined weight is roughly 24,000 pounds. The truck stopped as well as was to be expected, but additional braking horsepower would be welcomed.

The robust-looking Quick Change SSBC calipers are cut from aluminum and house eight stainless steel 40mm pistons. There are dual-bleeders, and the calipers can be ordered with a clear anodized finish, polished or powdercoated. Powdercoat color choices are blue, black, yellow, orange, silver, or red. Retail price for the kit is $1,695 for the clear anodized. There is a $100 charge for powdercoating and a $150 charge for polished versions. Caito told us SSBC would soon offer a set of high-performance rotors, as well.

Our installation took about two hours, including the time to bleed the brakes, which is a critical step. We then set out and bedded in the pads with a series of stops from various speeds (without the trailer hooked up). The brakes performed excellently, hauling the black beast from speed with ease. With about 200 miles under our belt, we hooked up our 45-foot aluminum Motorsport trailer and hit the road for a real trial run.

The 7.3 diesel got us going in prime fashion, and we're glad to say the SSBC brakes performed better than we expected, even with the trailer hooked up. We found less pedal effort was needed to stop, and we were able to reduce the gain on the trailer brakes. Better braking instills confidence and that's important, whether driving in normal conditions or when towing.

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