A2A9C143-6163-427E-9774-D964937C3321Anyone have ideas how/where I can get them upgraded, I’m in Palm Springs, CA. According to the build spec it has “front disc brakes”?

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Original Post

In what way do the brakes 'suck'?  Do they not stop you quickly enough; do the front wheels lock up under hard braking; do they heat up too much with repeated use?|

Some specifics would be helpful.  Most speedster replicas have front disk brakes and rear drum brakes, a common combination, and usually good enough for daily driving.

 

Looks like a VS.  Has it been sitting for a while?  Brake fluid is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture).  The brake fluid should be purged and replaced every few years with new.  The calipers/wheel cylinders will rust internally if not done. The front discs are self-adjusting (although calipers can "freeze" (rust) tight) but the rear drums need to be periodically adjusted to work properly.

Gary Mitchell posted:

First stop light I came to, they did not stop quickly enough and the front wheels locked up!

That's what brakes used to do, before anti-lock brakes came in.  These days, you rarely hear the screeching of brakes when cars make a quick stop, but that was common years ago.  The front wheels lock up, you lose the ability to steer, and you might even leave a deposit on the seat.

With cars as light as these, you need to develop a different approach to stopping.  Give yourself more time and distance on a controlled stop, and hold on tight during a panic stop.  In general, it's a good idea to always have a wider safe zone around these cars, not only when stopping.

I'd go thru the brake system to ensure components are up to snuff.  Replace the rubber lines with stainless steel cover Teflon lined if the rubber ones are old.  Adjust rear drum brakes and add some weight up front (60-80# bag of pea gravel may be enough).

Gary--I had the same braking problem with the brakes on my VS.  Yes, they are "good enough" for daily driving but once I had to make a panic stop outside of Nashville on Interstate 40 when I topped a hill going 75 to see a pileup of a dozen cars that had crashed into the pile up.  Skid marks, the smell of burning rubber and smoke everywhere. I hit the brakes and was very lucky to get stopped before I joined the pile up myself.  The car zigged and zagged and was pretty hard to control but it somehow managed to  stop in time.  I never want to repeat that again!  Shortly after that I swapped out the lousy rear drum brakes for discs and now the car stops quickly and straight ahead without any sign of locking up. 

I installed the CB Performance rear disc brake set up (p/n 4641, $619.95 Disc brake master cylinder (p/n 113-611-015 bdd , $31.95) and residual pressure valve, p/n 6609, $28.95.  This set up was all I hoped it would be for a couple of years until one of the wheels went bad by the inner steel hub part separating from the outer aluminum part allowing the inner part attached to the axle to spin without turning the outer part of the wheel.  I drove from Richmond, VA to Hot Springs AR with this issue.  I learned that this two-part wheel has experienced many failures within the SOC community and there are several posts about this issue.  Someone said the failure was from not torquing the components properly  but I can say mine were torqued according to the specs.  CB replaced that wheel twice for me and the same thing happened again so I ordered solid steel wheels from SoCal imports and these have performed flawlessly. They were $85.00 each  (p/n 113615601DNS) and were plug and play and fit exactly like the old CB wheels fit.  I understand that So Cal Imports offers a complete rear wheel kit featuring these steel wheels and if I ever had it to do over, I'd start with their kit.  They are a bit heavier I know but driving, I can't tell a bit of difference between the two types.

I have never had to do a panic stop since that one time but I'm confident that if I do it won't be as exciting as the last time!  These plastic cars are not the safest conveyance out there and I have done everything I was able to do to add to the safety and comfort of my Speedster.   Rear discs are a must for me.  

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

Last edited by Jack Crosby

With the lighweight of the front, don't be surprised if it does lock up,  so any extra help you can get from the rear is needed and you stll need to pay closer attention IMO to giving yourself more room to stop.

For the best braking performance, adjust the rear brakes frequently, and work at getting them as close as possible, as the less travel the shoes have the better they will work, and make sure that the adjustment is the same from side to side. After first adjusting them, get into the car and step on the brake pedal a few time to center the shoes in the drums. Now go back and adjust them again. Check them every 1,000 or so miles until you get a feel as to how far you should go between adjustments. With new shoes- they will 'wear in' to the drum diameter so the first 2 or 3 adjustments will be sooner. 

Rear discs will be a definite improvement. As well as better performance there's no periodic adjustments to do. If you never (and I mean never- not for a moment) take your car above legal highway speeds and never push your car anywhere close to it's limits (which is hard to not do- after all, as Stan says, it does say Speedster on the side!) then you will probably never need more than the Karmman Ghia discs and type 1 drums you have now. But all it takes is the occasional moment (and I mean literally just a moment), and you can find yourself in trouble. If you think you might (even occasionally) test your car's capabilities, maybe an upgrade is a good thing. It may even save your life.Brakes- drum vs disc swept area 

And yeah, give yourself more room and remember that this isn't a modern car with the newest technology. 

Hope this helps. Al

@Jack Crosby- in your post you mean brake hub, right?

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Last edited by ALB

I forgot to add- Greg's suggestion to add some weight to the front (I'm thinkin' maybe half of what Greg suggested) is a valid point as well. A little more weight on the front tires makes a difference in handling as well as braking...

Don't forget that ALL of your braking force is about friction, including the friction of your tires on the road. You can have a mega-buck, 4 piston, 4 wheel disc Wilwood set-up and if your tires are made of old linoleum you will slide through the intersection anyway.

Formula One cars don't have ABS.  The drivers a very good at threshold braking and the threshold is very high because those tires are so sticky you can practically drive up a wall with them.

Nothing beats good rubber when your setting up you rig.

Apocryphal SOC Common Knowledge:

  • Front discs/rear drums will be just fine.
  • A swing axle handles just fine.
  • 009 copies are just fine (see the trend here?). 
  • One should always shop for the cheapest insurance, parts, and gasoline, no matter the reputation of the company.
  • Nankang tires are as good as anything else you're gonna' find.
  • Type 1s are junk, and should be replaced with a Subaru in all instances.
  • Webers are junk and should be replaced with EFI in all instances.
  • 15 mpg is all you're ever going to get in one of these cars-- it's normal.
  • Everybody wants a coupe.

I'm sure there's more, but that's a good start.

Last edited by Stan Galat
Stan Galat posted:

Apocryphal SOC Common Knowledge:

  • Front discs/rear drums will be just fine.
  • A swing axle handles just fine.
  • 009 copies are just fine (see the trend here?). 
  • One should always shop for the cheapest insurance, parts, and gasoline, no matter the reputation of the company.
  • Nankang tires are as good as anything else you're gonna' find.
  • Type 1s are junk, and should be replaced with a Subaru in all instances.
  • Webers are junk and should be replaced with EFI in all instances.
  • 15 mpg is all you're ever going to get in one of these cars-- it's normal.
  • Everybody wants a coupe.

I'm sure there's more, but that's a good start.

You forgot "You can gear a 4-speed to be just as good as a 5-speed..."

Stan wrote:

"Front discs/rear drums will be just fine."

Stan, that was the combination that many of us on here started out with, and had for a number of years.  So, yes, they can be fine, when all is up to specification.  And all without anti-lock brakes.  We learned how to stop a car properly, before technology did it for us.

They ain't great, but they can suffice, with a driver who is used to them.

Last edited by Bob: IM S6

I agree with you Bob, unless you push it. If you push it, like me, you will find front disc/rear drum completely inadequate. Get the best alignment, brakes, and rubber you can find. Never the cheapest.

And Stan, you meant common knowledge is that Webers are junk and should be replaced with Dellortos PRONTO, right? EFI? Who does that?

Last edited by DannyP
ALB posted:

For the best braking performance, adjust the rear brakes frequently, and work at getting them as close as possible, as the less travel the shoes have the better they will work, and make sure that the adjustment is the same from side to side. After first adjusting them, get into the car and step on the brake pedal a few time to center the shoes in the drums. Now go back and adjust them again. Check them every 1,000 or so miles until you get a feel as to how far you should go between adjustments. With new shoes- they will 'wear in' to the drum diameter so the first 2 or 3 adjustments will be sooner. 

Rear discs will be a definite improvement. As well as better performance there's no periodic adjustments to do. If you never (and I mean never- not for a moment) take your car above legal highway speeds and never push your car anywhere close to it's limits (which is hard to not do- after all, as Stan says, it does say Speedster on the side!) then you will probably never need more than the Karmman Ghia discs and type 1 drums you have now. But all it takes is the occasional moment (and I mean literally just a moment), and you can find yourself in trouble. If you think you might (even occasionally) test your car's capabilities, maybe an upgrade is a good thing. It may even save your life.Brakes- drum vs disc swept area 

And yeah, give yourself more room and remember that this isn't a modern car with the newest technology. 

Hope this helps. Al

@Jack Crosby- in your post you mean brake hub, right?

Alb---hub---yes!  Hub is what was a 2-part thing and is what I replaced.  Thanks for clearing that up.  And your diagram was great!

Stan Galat posted:

Apocryphal SOC Common Knowledge:

  • Front discs/rear drums will be just fine.
  • A swing axle handles just fine.
  • 009 copies are just fine (see the trend here?). 
  • One should always shop for the cheapest insurance, parts, and gasoline, no matter the reputation of the company.
  • Nankang tires are as good as anything else you're gonna' find.
  • Type 1s are junk, and should be replaced with a Subaru in all instances.
  • Webers are junk and should be replaced with EFI in all instances.
  • 15 mpg is all you're ever going to get in one of these cars-- it's normal.
  • Everybody wants a coupe.

I'm sure there's more, but that's a good start.

    Stan---I loved your list---maybe add:                                                                                                       -   Oh sure, these cars can be made waterproof.                                                                      -   I don't need a spare tire, the can of stop a leak works good enough for me.                   -   I'm sure I can get back everything I have put into my Speedster. 

                                                                        

 

Terry Nuckels posted:
Stan Galat posted:

Apocryphal SOC Common Knowledge:

  • Front discs/rear drums will be just fine.
  • A swing axle handles just fine.
  • 009 copies are just fine (see the trend here?). 
  • One should always shop for the cheapest insurance, parts, and gasoline, no matter the reputation of the company.
  • Nankang tires are as good as anything else you're gonna' find.
  • Type 1s are junk, and should be replaced with a Subaru in all instances.
  • Webers are junk and should be replaced with EFI in all instances.
  • 15 mpg is all you're ever going to get in one of these cars-- it's normal.
  • Everybody wants a coupe.

I'm sure there's more, but that's a good start.

You forgot "You can gear a 4-speed to be just as good as a 5-speed..."

Of course you can- as long as you don't plan on hitting the highway at any more than 50 or 55 mph...

 

In a panic stop in our wunder cars, with front discs and rear drums, you will lock up the fronts and skid unpredictably.

The big advantage of four wheel discs is that you will lock up the front wheels and skid in a straight line.

OK, just joking. Sort of.

Not locking up the fronts requires that you learn to feel the road through the steering, recognize when they're starting to lock up, and ease up on the pedal to just keep the wheels rolling. In a modern car, you don't have to learn how to do that (the ABS does it for you), but welcome to the world of 1950s driving. Getting the hang of this in the Speedster makes you a better driver in all of your cars.

Part of driving any car well is to always know what each wheel is doing and when any wheel is getting near the limit. Watch one of those European rally drivers at work. They're sideways more than not, and able to get down the road quicker by using just the right amount of power, brake, and lock. They're always just on the edge of sliding into the weeds, but by learning where that edge is, they stay in control.

ABS, traction control, lane assist, and reactive cruise control are all inventions for folks who don't want to be bothered with paying attention and actually driving a car.

 

 

Last edited by Sacto Mitch

Another takeaway should be to learn your car and FEEL the point of lockup so next time it isn't a surprise when you "panic stop".

It is also important that the balance between front and rear brakes be set up properly.  In the case of my accident, it felt as if there was little rear braking action at all, due, I think, to a leaky axle seal and/or improper adjustment - both of which I take the blame for.

I'm (slowly) learning that nearly everybody tends to make decisions for one reason, then rationalize those decisions with something that sounds better. I do it a lot without even realizing it-- and if I do it long enough, I start to think I arrived at my decision because of the rationalized reason rather than the real one.

It's my suspicion that we (collectively) do that a lot, in regards to a lot of the "good enough" arguments we have here. Rear brakes are one of those things-- there's nobody anywhere that will argue that discs aren't better, but no shortage of arguments as to why drum brakes are "good enough".

Original 356s had drums on all 4 corners-- not because they were better, but because they embraced a proven 1950s technology. Nobody is arguing that we should do the same thing, because it's universally agreed that discs are better, and on the front it's a low-cost replacement. Everybody knows that the majority of braking force is in the front. In a normal vehicle, that's perfect, because the bulk of the weight is there as well. That's not the case with a speedster. These cars carry very little weight over the front axle, so the rear becomes a more important part of the equation. 

I know my car is a rolling anachronism, but driving it briskly is one of my great pleasures in life. Doing that with brakes that I'm not 100% sure about seems like rationalizing that Russian Roulette isn't really that dangerous, as there's only a 1 in 6 chance the chamber has a cartridge in it. I can understand skipping the big engine, or deciding that 4-lug wheels are good enough (they are).

But economizing on brakes is not something I'm ever going to think is a good idea, no matter how it gets dressed up for church.  

Last edited by Stan Galat

Something that no one has yet mentioned, Gary, but is pertinent to the discussion is that you mentioned that you started driving in 1980 so you probably have never driven a car without power brakes before the Speedster.  That makes a huge difference in foot effort required to stop your car.  None of our cars (except the SAS versions) have power braking so while going to disk brakes all around will certainly stop you straighter (and probably a bit shorter) they'll never stop you the same as if you had power brakes.

While it is possible to add a vacuum hydrovac brake booster to our cars, it remains a major PITA and I only know of two people world wide who have done it.  The point is, you can add disks to the rear of your Speedster, but you'll never get the softer, more positive brake pedal pressure you get on modern cars.

Now that "we've" talked Gary into rear disc brakes - be sure to warn him that many rear brake kits increase the rear track.  Some so much (VS common swing axel not so much but IRS for sure) that the rear tires may now rub the fender wells. Especially with offset of many 5.5" wheels. Also, ensure the kit has accommodations for the emergency/parking brake (many do not - so you have to carry a brick or two). I'd love rear disc brakes on my IRS CMC with IRS rear and 914 2L alloys - BUT no way it would fit as I have maybe a 1/4" now --- so even wider T3 rear drums would not work.  That leaves only costly work to the rear swing control arms (or dropping back to 4.5" wheels).

My first cars in the early 80’s were terrible with probably worse brakes than we’re discussing! Having said that it’s been many years since I’ve had to drive a vehicle without power brakes, ABS, etc!

Lane Anderson posted:

It is also important that the balance between front and rear brakes be set up properly.  In the case of my accident, it felt as if there was little rear braking action at all, due, I think, to a leaky axle seal and/or improper adjustment - both of which I take the blame for.

I know you (and others) know this, Lane, but for the benefit of those not familiar with the subject and/or are new here- if running drums, whether in combination with discs or drums all around, for your own safety you need to learn to adjust brakes and do it often. VW drum brakes are different from most regular drum brakes in that they are not self adjusting and it doesn't take much wear to greatly reduce their effectiveness. It's something you don't notice until you need them to be operating at their optimum and then it's too late. Even if you only put 3 or 4,000 miles on your car per season, spend a couple of mornings or evenings during that season checking and adjusting them. The car will be that much more fun when you know it will stop when you ask it to.

And for those with swingaxle cars, it doesn't take very long at all for an axle seal leak to start to contaminate the brake shoes and then only 1 side is working properly. Check the outsides of the backing plates often!   Al

Last edited by ALB

My 2004 IM had power brakes  I believe it was a Vw rabbit uniT.

Irs rear brake track may need a bit of machining and be a challenge but it can be done 

Gordon touched on a good point: we switch between our daily drivers with modern brakes and our "rolling anachronisms," and expect that we will adapt seamlessly, but that didn't happen in my case.  I normally drive a BMW with upgraded brakes for occasional track use, and going from that to the Speedster was a recipe for disaster.  I'm getting a significant brake upgrade to the Coupe, but I don't know if it will have a vacuum booster, so I will need to make sure that I am cognizant of any performance differences.

Be careful out there, guys.  My accident could have been a lot worse.

Last edited by Lane Anderson

Lane, I tried to get PB with my 911 build but there was no room for a dual circuit booster.  We could have used a remote location booster but it only had one line. Imagine having one circuit for brakes in today's world. 

Be careful out there, guys.  My accident could have been a lot worse.

Lane, I'd tell folks your nose was from a bar fight, and they ought to see the other 3 guys.

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