Jim Smart
August 7, 2007

Hoses And Lines: What Type?
There are two basic types of brake hoses-rubber and braided. Reinforced rubber hoses are what you see from the factory. Braided hoses are super-reinforced hoses with braided stainless steel outer linings. Because they are stronger and don't give as much as reinforced rubber hoses, they make your brake pedal even harder. Unless you are hell-bent to have original-equipment- style, reinforced rubber hoses, we suggest the use of stainless-braided brake hoses for best results.

When it comes to brake lines, you have two options-galvanized steel and stainless steel. Galvanized lines are your best choice when it comes to ease of installation and an original-equipment look. They bend easily and are easy to seat when it's time to tighten everything. Flared line ends should be mated square on the fitting to achieve proper seating and a leak-tight union.

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What makes stainless tubing particularly challenging is its hardness-it's not easy to bend or seat. Even under the best of circumstances, with exceptional flaring and perfect fit, stainless tubing tends to leak. Seasoned car builders tell us to be patient with stainless tubing. When it does leak, loosen and retighten it, and make sure the flare is seated squarely in the fitting. Give it an extra twist for good measure. Often, a drop of brake fluid on the threads will aid in tightening the fitting by acting as a thread lubricant. Don't overtighten and then watch the fitting for leakage. Don't forget to bleed the brakes.

One area that is overlooked all too often is fitting integrity. Lines leak due to poor flares and damaged fittings-the microscopic stuff we rarely pay attention to. If either contact surface is damaged or nicked in any way, you will not achieve a good seal. The smallest nick in the wrong place will cause a leak regardless of how tight you make it.

There are bonded brake linings and there are riveted brake linings because rivets carry away heat better, which reduces fade.

Brake Types
Most classic Fords and Mercs came from the factory with four-wheel drum brakes. Fewer still were power assisted. This means braking effectiveness was less than adequate when our old Fords were new. As drum brakes go, Ford's were among the worst, even when they were new. Chrysler and General Motors had better drum brakes than Ford.

As the name implies, drum brakes are shaped like a drum, with linings (shoes) positioned inside to stop drum rotation. When you step on the brake pedal, the master cylinder applies hydraulic pressure to the wheel cylinders. Wheel cylinders move shoes outward into the spinning drums.Friction material contacts the drums' inside surface.

Drum-brake performance hinges on lining condition, drum surface, and proper hydraulic function. Glazed linings and mirrored drums are ineffective. They won't stop your Ford. Overheated drum brakes won't stop your Ford. Wet linings won't stop your Ford. Are you beginning to understand why drum-brake condition is so important to safety? Drum brakes aren't as tolerant as disc brakes. Overall, disc brakes do a better job.

Disc brakes are nothing new. They came along early in the 20th century. Fords didn't get optional disc brakes until the mid-'60s. Mustangs didn't get power disc brakes until 1967.

Ford has tried different approaches to disc brakes through the years. Early on, a four-piston design from Kelsey-Hayes was utilized-and effective-because it applied even pressure on both sides of the rotor. Beginning in 1968, Ford went to a single-piston, floating-caliper design used throughout the '70s and '80s. The four-piston design's main shortcoming was sticking pistons-a problem solved by Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation during the '80s, making four-piston disc brakes more user-friendly.

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Ford's decision to use a floating, single-piston caliper design was rooted in economics and quieter operation. Single-piston, Granada/Maverick-style disc brakes have been popular because they are so plentiful-with cheap, rebuildable cores out there for a song. Enthusiasts have looked to salvage yards for single-piston cores, making it easier to have front disc brakes.

The downside to single-piston front disc brakes is performance. They don't perform as well as the four-piston guys because there is a single pressure point, less fluid volume, and less pad. This is why Stainless Steel Brakes went to its own four-piston disc brake kit a few years ago. If you study the Force 10 disc brakes, an innovation from Stainless Steel Brakes, it's a simple, lightweight, four- or six-piston design to get you stopped. Other companies, like Baer, Wilwood, and JMC Motorsports, have time-proven four- and six-piston designs born of the need for serious braking efficiency in high-performance street and racing applications.