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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Spring is upon us and as I get ready for my first track event of the year, I just wanted to share some of the things I do to get ready.

First thing I always think about is my brakes. After all, it really sucks when they don't work. Here are some guidlines that might help:

1) Fresh fluid is a must. Most clubs require it, but it should be at the top of your list regardless. When I say fresh fluid, I mean a full flush, not just a bleed. When selecting brake fluid, look only at the dry boiling point. Since it will be fresh, wet means nothing. Consider 500F to be the absolute minimum you consider. This will give you margin of safety even if you never see those temps. I use the Ford Motorsport (formerly known as 'Blue Can' in track circles) as it has a 550F dry boiling point, is readily available and not very expensive. If you are running high temp pads and a two day event, a quick flush at the end of day one should be on your itinerary.

2) Brake pads are the number two concern. Selection of pads should be based on the same criteria as fluid: heat capability. However, unlike the fluid, higher temp is not always better. Be realistic about what your requirements are. If you do not need pads that are capabable of withstanding 1200F, then do not get them. Invariably, they will be poor at low temperature and harsh on rotors. For lapping days, my recommendation for most beginning and intermediate drivers is to select a pad that is designed for lighter cars, irrespective of the weight of your automobile. Usually, these will be easier to modulate and less agressive towards your rotors. Some advanced drivers and some tracks (CMP springs to mind) will require full race pads. Be prepared, as these pads can often take some getting used to. Once you have determined the basic type of pad you can use, experiment with different brands until you find one that has the modulation and bite characteristics you prefer.

3) When buying rotors, only buying high quality, name brand, standard style rotors. Slotting and drilling will not help significantly on track with modern brake pad technology. The risks of cracking and the accelerated pad wear make these items a bad idea from a budget standpoint too. Since your rotors are going to see some very high temperatures, when fitting them to the car, smear a thin coat of high temp anti-sieze on the hub face and snout. When it comes to change rotors, they will come off much easier. A thin smear on the front hat face will help with the inevitable tire rotation as well. For anti-sieze, I always use 1600F Mil-Spec as it has never failed me. While quite possibly massive overkill, I like the cushion.

4) At the track, you should thoroughly inspect your brakes after every day. Pull the wheels, and check for pad thickness first. If you came with new pads, and they are over half gone, it is safe to say that you won't make it through the second day! Be aware that in my experience, pad wear is not linear. The second half wears away much faster than the first. Also, the lack of mass will make them fade faster. Be aware of this, especially considering that you are (hopefully!) getting faster as the event wears on. After looking over the pads, check the rotors for scoring. They will not be mirror smooth, but there should be no major grooves in them. Uneven wear (one face or one side) could be indicative of a problem. Also, check the top lip for wear. A big step indicates a lot of wear and could be showing you that you need to modify your pad choice. Remember, pads outside their temp range are often very harsh on rotors. Next check the calipers for residue. If there is oil or sludge on them, check the connections at the brake line and the areas near the guide pins. The factory lube is pretty low temperature and will make a bit of a mess. Again, the Mil-Spec anti-sieze is put to use. Finally, look over your brake lines. Make sure that the connections are dry and that they are in all the factory clips. If you are running stock rubber lines, check for discoloration. A lightening of the color of the rubber can often indicate swelling. A failure could be in your near future. Replace it or park it.

5) My brake tool box includes:
Brake part cleaner
Anti-sieze
8mm wrench for rear bleeder
10mm wrench for front bleeders
Torx key for the guide pins
Flare head wrenches for the hose unions
1/4" ID 3/8" OD clear plastic tubing
6 bottles of Ford Motorsport fluid
Blanket to lay on
Turkey baster to remove old fluid from resevoir
A friend to pump the pedal
Yes, I still use the old tried and push the pedal method to flush and bleed my fluid. I have used both vacuum and pressure bleeders, and have found that nothing gives the consistency of the old fashioned way.

6) Don't forget the little things. Look at the brake pedal linkage and check it for wear. Look at the pedal pad too while your head is under the steering wheel checking the lever arm. Make sure that your fluid resevoir cap screws on easily and securely. Remember that hot brake fluid expands, so filling to the maximum level is not a good idea. You will quickly have a messy overflow. Be nice to your brakes and let them have a true cool down lap. Sitting in the pits with hot brakes is bad news, so use that last lap to get them a good supply of fresh air.

Preparation is the key. Oh, and spares never hurt anyone either...

[ 03-09-2003, 01:25 AM: Message edited by: MichaelXi ]
 

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Thanks Rich,

You just about read my mind as I was going to PM you with brake maintenance q's and I find this!!

Thanks again, and oh boy the new quaife is magical!!
 

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You make some super thorough posts! I think I learned more about brakes reading this post than I have ever known before.

I especially like the list of tools. Do you keep seperate tool boxes for different "areas" of the car?

EDIT
If you are going to post more in this "Track Prep" series, would you mind if I compiled it all into a nice web page for reference?

[ 04-06-2002: Message edited by: spankenstein ]</p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When I had a fully prepped car (actually still have it just not the time to run it) I kept all my frequently used tools in the top tray of my tool box. The brake tool kit I mentioned was part of it, along with Koni Key, allen wrenches to release coil over seat locks, wrenchs to adjust the sway bar end links and lug socket. The air pressure gauge never got put away but could have been there too. The pyrometer, since it was borrowed, was not allowed to live with the other tools and lived in its own padded case. I'll do another thread some other time on what to pack for a track trip. If someone gets indutrious maybe we could make a printable checklist for everyone to use.

As for a compilation, I was hoping to do that myself once some of the other track junkies weighed in with their experiences and put it on my website. However, since my time and HTML skills suck, I might be willing to take you up on your offer.

As for being thorough, thanks for seeing the glass as half full. Those who see it as half empty just call me long winded.

Murph, do me a favor and do a good write up on any changes you had to make to your driving techniques and setup becasue of the LSD. We touched on that before in another thread and am interested in what you have found, especially in reference to (fires up broken record) left foot braking.
 

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Stay tuned-- I see a great marriage of LSD and LFB coming (with lots of practice) and lots more SPEED!!
 

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I've gotten lucky so far - I haven't done any brake maintenance at all. Maybe my local track isn't all that demanding of brakes... I don't know, but I'm definitely going to follow your suggestions.

Thanks, and we're all waiting for the next snippet of track-day wisdom!
 

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Okay... I just got my AP Lockheed rotors and EBC pads, and I'm ready to go!

What is the name of the anti-seize compound that you (tDFL) prefer? I need to pick some up before I install my new toys.

Advice to all: Do NOT buy "lifetime" pads! I was stuck with a car needing new pads, and my only option was a set of Raybestos lifetime pads to get me around while I ordered the good stuff. They are good for about three corners before they fade, and I even made sure I bedded them in correctly.

If that isn't a case to carry a spare set of pads, I don't know what is!
 

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you talk about disks... but if we're driving a focus.. we have drums in the rear...

what kind of maintenance is needed on these?
 

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Can someone give a brief explanation of "bedding" in new brake pads? I think it's basically taking it easy on the brakes for the first couple days of use but I'm not certain.........

TIA
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Originally posted by sh0velman:
you talk about disks... but if we're driving a focus.. we have drums in the rear...

what kind of maintenance is needed on these?
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">Sorry it took so long for the answer. But first, you must understand the irony of your question. The school that I was about to head off to before I wrote this little piece destroyed my rear drums. So, at the time I wrote it, I wouldn't have given the same advice I give now.

The rear brakes, depending on your driving technique (or some would quip, number of feet), need either no attention or a lot. If you do not trail brake, left foot brake or doing anything other than straight line braking, the stock units will be just fine. Fresh fluid and go. Now, if you use the brake for purposes other than slowing down, they will need upgrading.

Drums hold heat. This is really bad as that means that once they start to get hot, they will cook themselves to death. How hot? Well, at the school I was getting ready for in this piece, I melted one of the plastic clips that holds the parking brake cable in the backing plate.

So how do you combat this? On the front, we slap on a good set of high temp pads, and on the rear the process is similar, but more complex. Shoe swaps are a lot more involved than pad swaps, so unless you have a lot of free time, you will have to run a compromise friction lining. I am currently doing quite well with Porterfield R4S linings, although I have to check them soon. They provide a much higher usable temperature than stock and offer some braking even when cold.

However, you should be aware that you will have other issues. The high temp shoes will expand, as will all other parts in the drum. This does goofy things to the self adjusters, and they just don't work right. You will have a nice firm pedal all session, let the car sit until your next run, and your pedal is mushy. Your first instinct will, of course, be that you did not let the brakes cool long enough and you boiled the fluid in the calipers while it sat. After a brief self-chastisement and quick bleed, you find the problem is still there. The only thing that gets them working right again is driving hard and having those rear shoes expand again.

The R4S shoes will also eat the drums a good bit faster than the stock linings. Not alarmingly so, and certainly not as fast as good race pads grind down rotors, but enough so that you will have to keep a better eye on the wear back there. The linings are much stonger than stock, and you will find that they will easily out last the originals.

The last issue is the hand brake. It may be related to the self adjusters, but after a weekend on track, it will be about useless. I'll go to the track with a 5 click hand brake and return with a 15 click unit. Coupled with the inevitable soft pedal, you will be playing with stuff for a couple of days after the event to get the car right.

The Porterfield shoes were $80. I am sure that a rear disc conversion would solve many of these issues, but at the current rates, I can keep myself in shoes for many years until the discs become a financially viable option.

As always, your mileage may vary. I might be harder or easier on brakes than you, so you will have to make these judgements for yourself. If you do have some of the problems I described, I hope I have saved you some head scratching.
 

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Topic Title Edited for the "Archive".

For all of you "Newbies"...
If you do a "Search" of THIS Forum w/ the Keywords "Vehicle Dynamics", you will find the "Golden Nuggets" of this Forum, MOST of which deal w/ "Driving Techniques".
Someday I will go through and do the same, under a Different heading, for various other topics of Interest if the thread was especially Classic and Informative.
In the Meantime, ENJOY and LEARN from the "Vehicle Dynamics" Threads.
 

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Rich,

thanks for the info man.

i just wish there were more oppertunities for track days where i live.

oh well.

thanks again.
 

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5) My brake tool box includes:
Brake part cleaner
Anti-sieze
8mm wrench for rear bleeder
10mm wrench for front bleeders
Torx key for the guide pins
Flare head wrenches for the hose unions
1/4" ID 3/8" OD clear plastic tubing
6 bottles of Ford Motorsport fluid
Blanket to lay on
Turkey baster to remove old fluid from resevoir
A friend to pump the pedal
Just reading through all this at work, killing some time, and I notice that you say anti-sieze. Am I mistaken, or hasn't brake grease become the standard now? (Or should I be running out to my car with a can of brake cleaner in one hand and a can of anti-sieze in the other?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It might be, but any opportunity to see Rich back is a good one.
Thanks Lorin. I figured that there are probably still a few people around here who care about having the best information possible. The way I look at it, there is no expiration date on good advice, so who cares how old it is?

I should be around a bit more. How you been? Still carrying the FJ banner at the SCCA Nationals and do all Focus owners proud? Who else from the good old days is still around here? I got a block with a hole in it and a passenger front corner that is half a foot back from where it should be that need attention. One of the struts is dead. Think I should get some Konis?
 
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