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Ten things you didn't know about brakes

Here are some things we bet many people don't know about brakes.  Did you?

  1. Anti-lock brake systems were first developed for aircraft use in 1929. Automobile manufacturers didn’t officially adopt the technology until 1970 (as an optional add-on to Lincoln Continentals).
  2. The brakes of a hybrid vehicle actually help charge the battery that powers the electric motor. Every time you step on the brakes, the energy that most cars waste is instead converted to electricity for the car to use later.
  3. The power generated by the braking system of even a modest family car can exceed 500bhp (375kW), outstripping the engine output of virtually everything on the road. Take a loaded Quantum for example: decelerating from 80Km/h at 8m/s^2 uses over 410KW of power
  4. Squealing brakes? That’s your brake pads telling you they need to be replaced. Most brake pads have built in metal tabs called ‘squealers’ that are designed to scrape the rotor when the brake pads are worn to minimum safety thickness.
  5. Early braking systems consisted of nothing more than a block of wood and a lever system. When the driver wanted to stop, he had to pull a lever located next to him and make the wooden block bear against the wheel. While this worked perfectly fine for old-school steel-rimmed wheels, the technology had to be revamped when rubber tires came into play.
  6. Brake fluid attracts water like magnets attract metal. Over time, the brake fluid absorbs water from the air, and all of the excess moisture gradually reduces its boiling point, increases its viscosity, and promotes rust and corrosion.
  7. In race use, 400 to 600º C is common on smaller cars. In touring cars and larger race cars temperatures shoot up to 800 - 900º C where the discs will glow red or orange.
  8. Car manufacturers are now developing autonomous braking systems, meaning the car can automatically apply the brakes in emergency situations. According to Thatcham Research, the UK’s motor insurers’ research centre, this technology is the biggest safety improvement since the seatbelt and could prevent 17,000 deaths and injuries every year if made compulsory.
  9. Louis Renault is largely credited with the development of the modern day drum brake in 1902. A pioneer of the automobile industry, Renault went on to invent many other technologies that are still in use today, including hydraulic shock absorbers, turbocharged engines, and “direct drive,” the industry’s first gearbox..
  10. The carbon ceramic discs in a McLaren P1 are coated in silicon carbide—one of the hardest materials on Earth. These specially designed discs can bring the car to a halt from 100 km/h (62 mph) in a distance of just 30.2 metres

Alcon O.E. Replacement Rotor Rings for both CBA and DBA Nissan R35 GTR

Alcon O.E. Replacement Rotor Rings for both CBA and DBA Nissan R35 GTR:

These discs use the stock center hats with the provided Alcon hardware. Motorsport grade casting discs with Alcon's signature Crescent grooves. These will last 2-3 times longer than the OEM units and offer better initial bite, less prone to crack, and they work well for both street/track performance built GTRs; These motorsports quality discs are a much better alternative than O.E. as a GTR maintenance product. Installation is approximate 2-3 hours with the provided installation guide.

CBA Frontalcon r35 disc 3

  • DKF2222X756C24R
  • 380x34mm Cresecent grooved 
  • $639.99 each MSRP
  • Shipping Dim/Weight: 18x18x6, 53 lbs / pair


DBA Front

  • DKF2222X758C24L/R
  • 390x32.8mm Cresecent grooved
  • $639.99 each MSRP
  • Shipping Dim/Weight: 18x18x6, 54 lbs / pair


CBA/DBA Rearalcon r35 disc 5

  • DKR2175X757C24L
  • 380x30mm Cresecent grooved  
  • $639.99 each MSRP
  • Shipping Dim/Weight: 18x18x6, 42 lbs / pair

 

Alcon vs. the rest

 

Why Alcon vs. "Those other guys?"

We get this question a lot.  "Why would I buy an Alcon brake kit vs. Brand X.  They offer 6 piston big brake kits too."  Yes... ...and you can drive a Minivan or a Porsche to work as well.  Only one will put a smile on your face.  So here is why Alcon!

True heat tempered brake discs from Alcon are the absolute best you can buy bar none.

While other companies will forge and machine a disc, very few use the extensive heat tempering process POST machining to relieve the internal stresses on the brake rotor that Alcon does.  Alcon heat treats their rotors for 24 hours after creation. This gives the rotors much more durability over time and longevity.  Our experience with Alcon rotors in the AlconKits GT3 Cup car last nearly 3 times longer over other rotor systems.

This translates into false savings by using cheaper rotors.  Saving 25% on a rotor that you have to replace 3x as often will cost much more money over even a few years.

 Alcon's solid monobloc calipers offer much more stiffness than any other caliper.    Solid caliper construction - Many calipers are limited simply by the fact that design engineers use Finite Element Analysis to determine caliper shape.  This is a manual process used to "Just try this and see what happens" to determine optimal shape and stiffness.  Alcon uses  OSCA which is an automatic set of structural optimization tools to assess all components of the caliper to determine the most optimal shape.   

The solid bridge design does not compromise stiffness for convenience.  Removable "bar" style bridges have a narrow contact point and do very little to add to the stiffness of a caliper.  They simply hold the pads from coming out.  Alcon uses a solid bridge across the caliper that increases the overall caliper stiffness tremendously.

Material usage on the Alcon kits is superior in many ways.  From the selection of the raw material to those used in the various components.  As one example, the Alcon brake caliper brackets are made of high quality steel vs. aluminum.  

We have seen a significant number of failures in the competitors aluminum brackets due to stress, design compromise, and galling of the material.  

   

 

 

AUDI Club Discount

For US Audi Club Members...  Good luck at Grattan this weekend.  Compliments of Alconkits.com we are offering you $100 off any brake kit and $25 off any STaSIS replacement rotors.    See flyer for details...

Read more: AUDI Club Discount

Drilled rotors and cracks

 It is a fair bet that virtually all drilled rotors will crack.  Eventually those cracks connect and the discs are done.  The process of drilling a rotors introduces starting points for fracture.  Most manufacturers will attempt to alleviate this somewhat by chamfering the holes to relieve the stress.  This only works a little. 

Porsche took it a step further and cast the discs with the holes in to have the metal formed around the hole rather than creating the stress risers.  It works better but still ends up with the same issue. 

The original reason for drilling rotors was to allow gasses to escape from organic pads for better braking, and secondarily to lighten the rotor itself.  With modern compounds there is no outgassing so no need for the holes.  Additionally the same rotor mass can be reduced by proper design.  This is why the Alcon slotted rotor is a much better design.  It allows shedding of water, pad waste, etc.. through the slot without causing stress in the rotor and dangerous cracking. 

Metallurgy also plays into the quality and life of a disc. You can see two discs that look and feel he same.  One will cost $100 and seem like a "bargain".  The Alcon rotor will stop better and last more than 3x longer in race conditions because of the quality of the design and the alloy used.

Stasis/Alcon BBK replacement parts

Today we opened up a new category for users of Stasis/Alcon BBK owners.  Based on the number of calls we receive we are starting to stock and document replacement rotor rings for the these kits so you can order them directly.

We'll still help you on the phone the best we can, but if you just want to order pads and rotor rings, check out the new Stasis/Alcon BBK replacements section.

When replacing your STaSIS(tm)/Alcon rotors, you should also replace the hardware at the same time.  Stasis had several versions of the hardware so you will need to identify which hardware you have in order to order the correct kit.  Hardware replacement is generally good practice for any brake system, street and especially track.  However, in the case of the STaSIS assemblies, the disc springs have a tendency to flatten with age.  The fine threads in the nut & bolt are often compromised upon removal due to corrosion.  See out Alcon Tech Tips section for more info.

Stop driving on the street? No really!

Stop Driving On The Street by Ross Bentley
Where do you spend the bulk of your time driving? On the street or on the track? Unfortunately, it’s on the street, right? And that's the problem with many track drivers' braking - the habits they’ve built while driving on the street.

 

  

  

  

  Photo: James Boone

When you brake to a stop at a traffic light, how do you apply the pressure? You probably squeeze the brakes, gently increasing the pedal pressure the closer you get to where you want to stop, before finally easing off just as your car stops moving.  So your brake pedal pressure starts relatively gently and then increases to its maximum near the end of the "brake zone."  That's the opposite of how you should brake on the track.

 

  

  

  

   Photo: Marcel Tauch

On the track, you want your initial braking application to be relatively hard, getting to maximum pedal pressure as quickly as possible. Then you want to maintain that pressure until you begin to release the pedal as you reach the turn-in point. So the pedal pressure goes from immediate maximum pressure to gently trailing off the pedal as you get to the end of the brake zone. 
Yep, the opposite of how you brake on the street.

 

  

  

  

  Photo: Dennis Noten

You’ve probably been given the advice to squeeze the brake pedal on, to be smooth. Hey, I wrote that in my Speed Secrets books! But in some ways I regret it.  Why? Because many drivers have taken this too literally – they’re too smooth with the initial application of the brakes. What I meant was to squeeze the brake pedal, but to do it really, really fast, ramping up to full pressure as immediately as possible. 
Applying hard initial pressure to the brake pedal can be done smoothly. But it might be a little more abrupt than you’re used to because of the way you drive on the street.  When I get to take someone for a ride around a race track – even an experienced track day driver or club racer – the comments afterward are predictable. “You’re very smooth! Well, except for when you first hit the brakes. I was surprised at how hard you braked – and how late.”
So if you want to be faster on the track, change the way you drive on the street to develop the habit of braking the right way. Sure, that might be a little harsh on your passengers, but you'll be giving them something to cheer about when they come watch you race. :)
For more of Ross' writing, along with articles by other famous and not-so-famous contributors, go to www.speedsecretsweekly.com. He can be reached at ross@speedsecretsweekly.com.

 

AlconKits sponsored cars

 

Take a look at some of the NASA drivers taking advantage of the Alcon contingency offered to NASA HPDE, TT, and Wheel-to-wheel drivers.

 

You asked! E36 M3 brake kit from Alcon


After we announced the Alcon Contingency I got a slew of requests for an E36 M3 brake kit that would fit under 17" wheels and I promised we'd work on it.

Yesterday we finalized the specs for the kit. Details are in the brochure below. Here's the important stuff...

We will need at least 2 orders before we will produce the kit. We will build a minimum of 3 at that time. If we get 4 orders I can look into preferential pricing if you do not have enough Alcon Points accumulated. You HAVE registered for the program right?! Details here: https://www.alconkits.com/NASA.html It will take 2 weeks to complete the engineering work one we have those orders, and 8 weeks to produce the kit.

We will not charge you untill the kit ships! We just need the confirmed order online to get rolling.

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