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Tech Questions Answered in CC's What's Your Problem?

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Brake Basics
Mark Miller, via CarCraft.com: I have a '70 Camaro and I am looking for a brake upgrade, specifically calipers using factory stock or junkyard parts. I already read the 12-inch article and I don't want to change my spindles. I've looked at aftermarket rotors and will probably use them, but aftermarket calipers seem very expensive. Are there any factory-caliper upgrades that will bolt to my stock spindles? Any help will be appreciated for a small budget. Thanks

Jeff Smith:
Since you're on a budget, Mark, then let's keep this simple, easy, and low-buck. My recommendation would be to retain the stock calipers and 11-inch rotors. These pieces are sufficient to adequately stop a 3,600-pound Camaro given the right components. The single-piston floating caliper is not ideal (pistons on both sides of the caliper are a better, but more expensive, solution). The first key is a quality pair of rotors. Raybestos offers not only a stock replacement rotor, but also a Brute Stop drilled rotor that we found for under $100 each on a Web site called rockauto.com. Or, Summit Racing offers a pair of slotted Stainless Steel Brakes rotors and pads for $189.95 (PN A2350001). Keep in mind that high-performance rotors tend to use a harder iron and are more durable than replacement rotors. The plan is to use the stock calipers but upgrade the pads. There are a bazillion pads (the industry standard reference for this pad is D52) for your Camaro from Performance Friction (PN 0052.20), Hawk (Stainless Steel Brakes' choice), Wilwood Polymatrix "D" (15D-4334KK) or "A" (15A-5737K) pads, SBS Pro Touring pads from Baer, or any one of dozens of other pad manufacturers. Porterfield (porterfield-brakes.com) is a source for most of these pads and can offer guidance in choosing the best kind.

Next, invest in all three braided-steel brake lines from either Russell (PN 692080, $71.88 at summitracing.com) or Earl's HyperFirm lines (PN 28A210ERL, $69.95 at summitracing.com) to firm up your brake pedal by reducing hose expansion. Buy a quart of quality brake fluid and completely purge your old fluid when replacing the lines. You should also update the rear drum brakes as well. We recommend eliminating the factory brake bias valve and installing an adjustable brake proportioning valve to allow you to custom tune the pressure to the rear brakes. Wilwood offers a great valve (PN 260-8419, $39.99, summitracing.com). Be sure to spend time "bedding-in" the brakes by following the manufacturer's recommendation and then enjoy your newfound brake performance.

One crucial point we've learned through hundreds of 60-to-0 and 100-to-0 brake tests is that high-quality front tires will make a huge improvement in stopping distance. It's all about footprint and traction, just like with drag slicks for acceleration. You can upgrade to monster Trans-Am-style brakes, but if your front tires are junk, the brake torque you can put to the ground will be minimal.

Shift Fix
James Feeley, Bend, OR: I'm in the process of installing a late-model overdrive automatic trans in an older Chevy pickup. The trans is a 4L80-E from a late '90s Suburban, and the truck it's going into is a '71 C10 pickup. I have the aftermarket controller for the trans and the harness, and I had the driveshaft modified appropriately, but I can't seem to get the shift linkage to work. I want to retain the stock column shifter even though it wasn't designed to control four forward gears. I know the indicator won't be accurate, but what can I do with the linkage to get it to smoothly shift the 4L80? Currently it's really hard to shift and feels like it's binding-do I need to visit a fabricator?

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