Muscle Mustangs & Fast FordsProject Vehicles
Project Build Your Own Boss - Part 4: Baer Brakes
Pit Boss—Baer puts the brakes on BYOB’s high-speed gambling
Well, the good news is, certain things in life are a constant. As proof to this, I can assure you that every morning the sun rises in the East, the tax man's unwanted visit comes every April 15, and the weak link on any Mustang has always been its brakes.
The big irony is that for many years, we've willingly admitted that they are merely adequate (with the exception of the factory performance models), yet it's the last thing we get around to upgrading on our Ponies.
Maybe it's more rewarding to add headers or a blower, or slap on a nitrous kit, but when it comes to getting the most bang-for-the-buck, the last thing we want to do is spend duckets on something that actually slows speed down.
It's an all-too-common phenomenon in our Mustang world, so it should come as no surprise that we are just as guilty. Like you, we bought a nice project car with a higher-end build in mind, made it look the way we wanted (wheels, graphics, and so on), and then added more power with a blower. Next was adding brakes, right?
Meh, we'll wait until next time. Instead, we decided to carry more speed into the corners with a full Kenny Brown suspension. Based on our last two late-night highway runs, I can assure you this wasn't a good idea.
Because our car started life as a GT with the standard two-piston, 13.2-inch-at-front and single-piston, 11.8-inch-at-rear brakes, performance wasn't terrible, even with the stock pads. On paper, we've seen instrumented tests with impressive braking distances, but in the real world, that doesn't matter as much when you're tackling those awesome back roads from turn to turn.
On top of that, our upcoming track day forays mean we need more braking balance and consistency at the pedal, since that's what ultimately wins races and creates confidence as you're barreling at a corner. After decades of racing Mustangs, we can tell you that the stock brakes usually create more dust and puckering in the denim than the actual shedding of speed.
Enter the Baer
Having expertly guided us in the past with several project cars for on-track and street performance, Baer was given the call and the team answered with its Extreme+ 6S Brake System. Utilizing a 14-inch, two-piece rotor and a six-piston caliper at each corner, it provides all the things you need from a performance brake system—abundant rotor mass for controlled heat dissipation, and a large caliper that can house larger pads to apply even pressure under the most extreme pressures.
The key point to these mono-block calipers is the truly interesting design. Machined from a single piece of 2618 forged aluminum, they benefit from six staggered pistons that are asymmetrically arranged in opposing pairs to provide even pad wear. Also, each piston features a dust seal, which is one of the most fundamental pieces in race-caliper designs that can be used on a daily driver. Mounting these calipers is a billet-aluminum radial mount. It is inherently lighter and more stable, and a feature that true race cars and high-performance motorcycles also share.
The Extreme+ 6S system for the front is a simple swap-in/swap-out affair; PN 4261064 carries an MSRP of $3,395. The matching rear kit is more complex, as it converts the factory parking brake to a dedicated setup with a new drum brake system; PN 4262153 lists for $3,795.
Now, before you start choking on your turkey leg and grasp for more beer, let's put things into perspective. Why is it that we don't even bat an eye but immediately ask for a credit line increase for $7,190 on a blower or a new stroker motor, but when it comes to saving your ride from a potential high-speed disaster or buying a potential insurance plan to save your own hide, we balk?
I get it. It's something you don't feel on the timeslip, but when you add more power, more grip, and ultimately more speed, you need more brake—pure and simple. This is why we didn't skimp. And Baer is a U.S. company, with all components made in good ol' 'Murica by your fellow countrymen in Phoenix—so that should be reason enough!
One important note on the technical side, with such massive braking components, you will need at least 18-inch aftermarket wheels with high-offset spokes to properly clear everything. On BYOB, we already added 19-inch AmericanMuscle.com alloys a few months back. As it turns out, they clear the Baer brakes without the need for machining or a spacer. In addition, the Kenny Brown front control arms accommodate big brakes without issue.
So as you see, we actually did some premeditated planning. We're not as dumb as you think we isn't (or is).
If you've ever been around the underchassis of a Mustang, then you know how to install these brakes. While the fronts are super-easy (like doing a normal brake job), things get complicated out back.
You will need to remove the rear axles shafts and backing plates. This is because Baer converts the original integrated parking brake from within the caliper to a dedicated assembly consisting of a small drum-brake setup. No special tools are needed beyond a good assortment of standard and metric sockets, and the ability to remove and replace the aforementioned axles. Total time spent on this was about six hours from the first pump of the jack to the last nut tightened, and another 30 minutes to properly bleed the brakes.
After installing the components, we went to work bedding in the pads and seasoning the rotors, which is a process in itself. The goal is to raise the brakes to temperature and back down again to seat all the components together.
You don't want to get too silly here—don't go out there and drag the brakes on the highway for 10 miles until the rotors are glowing. Instead, slowly progress with a few strong stops, and keep the car moving to cool them down after each heat cycle.
Once we spent a few days following the instructions that Baer provided and everything was settled in, we immediately noticed a huge improvement in pedal feel. While 50 percent of this improved sensation can be attributed to the braided stainless-steel lines, it's the actual braking action that is much more progressive when the middle pedal is called upon.
The car responds with very consistent braking, and in the real world, it provides incredible performance that will pay huge dividends on the track. Even better? The ABS functions perfectly, and the AdvanceTrac ESC (Electronic Stability Control) still saves our hide when hooning on the twisties. With these new Baer brakes, we're now ready to get silly, I tell you.
01. Baer’s zinc-coated rotors are both slotted and drilled to maintain effective gas ventilation on the surface of the pad for optimum performance, while the internal venting design moves a great amount of air to keep things cool. Note how the rotor is rigidly bolted to the billet aluminum hat.
02. The 6S calipers (powdercoated in gloss red) are of radial-mount design, which resists undesirable flexing and twisting of the caliper under extreme use. The mounting bracket (provided) is billet-aluminum and comes with top-notch hardware. High-performance street pads are pre-loaded and suitable for track day use as well.
03. Each caliper features six staggered pistons in different sizes. The larger pistons provide more mechanical force for the same given hydraulic pressure compared to that of the smaller pistons. This design effectively distributes pressure on the pad, where it is needed most to promote longer pad life.
04. Starting with the front of BYOB, we removed the front calipers with a 15mm socket as complete assemblies by taking out the two bolts connecting the retaining bracket to the spindle. We then disconnected the brake hose at the chassis end, used one of the provided caps to prevent fluid from dripping out, and slid the factory two-piston PBR calipers off the rotors. The rotors slide right off after you’ve removed the small retaining clip on one of the wheel studs.
05. The factory dust shields are removed with a 10mm socket, and the new caliper bracket is installed. Note that the factory wheel bearing and spindle assembly requires no modification at all.
06. Side by side, the stock brake rotor looks incredibly wimpy.
07. The Baer Extreme+ rotors are labeled for left and right, and are directional, so pay attention to that when installing them. Make note that you may have to center the caliper on the rotor. We had no issues with our kit—it was perfectly centered on the first go-around, so there was no need for any shims.
08. The braided stainless steel brake hoses bolt right into place with no adapters, and use a banjo fitting on the caliper end to securely handle the brake pressure. We routed the hose similar to that of the factory rubber piece and secured the ABS wire to it with a couple of magical zip-ties.
09. In back, things get more interesting. Because the 6S calipers don’t have an integrated parking brake assembly like the factory calipers, the parking brake is completely converted to a separate system with a small drum brake machined into the brake rotor. Like on the front end, remove the caliper assembly with a 15mm socket, disconnect the parking brake cable, and undo the brake hose. The rotor slides right off.
10. Time to get down and dirty. To remove the rear axles, the 8.8’s rear cover has to come off first, using a ½-inch socket. Drain and properly dispose of the old fluid and remove the differential’s crosspin retaining bolt with a 5/16-inch socket. Then, slide one axle in, use a magnet to fish out the C-clip that retains the axle, and pull the axle out. Repeat for the other side. 11) With the C-clips removed, slide the axles completely out, taking extra care to avoid contact between the sharp splines on the inner end of the shaft and the lip of the axle housing seal.
11. Time to get down and dirty. To remove the rear axles, the 8.8’s rear cover has to come off first, using a ½-inch socket. Drain and properly dispose of the old fluid and remove the differential’s crosspin retaining bolt with a 5/16-inch socket. Then, slide one axle in, use a magnet to fish out the C-clip that retains the axle, and pull the axle out. Repeat for the other side. 11) With the C-clips removed, slide the axles completely out, taking extra care to avoid contact between the sharp splines on the inner end of the shaft and the lip of the axle housing seal.
12. With the factory backing plates removed, reuse the original hardware, and with a 13mm socket, install the new Baer backing plates to the rear axle housing. Make note that the caliper mount faces the front of the car. This positioning is key to brake balance and leverage on the rear housing, as the rotors are the same size all around.
13. The factory parking brake cable is reused. Using the included hardware, it clips onto the lever to engage the internal drum brake.
14. With the new backing plates installed, you’re ready to reinstall the axles. Take the same care to avoid any contact with the lip of the axle’s seal, and gently insert each shaft and button up the rearend with fresh gear oil. We went with a full synthetic fluid designed for clutch-type limited-slip differentials like the 31-spline Traction-Lok in our Coyote Mustang.
15. The Baer 6S calipers are then secured to the mounts; the nuts are torqued to 75 lb-ft.
16. The ABS sensor is then installed into the rear of the backing plate with the factory bolt using an 8mm box-end wrench.
17. Once complete, we followed Baer’s very precise instructions on how to bed the brake pads and season the rotors for high-performance street and light track use. After a few days of breaking them in, we then tackled some serious canyon roads. We noticed no fade, and overall race-brake performance without the temperamental squealing, plumes of brake dust, or noticeable wear. Once we get BYOB on the track, we’ll share more about what we believe to be the most important mod we’ve done yet.