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Street Race Truck More... The Toolbox

Installing Wilwood Front Brakes - 1967 Chevelle

5/4/2020
For the record, I detest the look of these hubs. More on this later.

I was almost ready to bolt some wheels on and set this car on the ground after a year-and-a-half on jacks. Or, so I thought. My driving force behind making the Chevelle mobile again was actually two-fold.

  1. I really wanted to get the bottom side of the car completely wrapped up so I could turn the car around in the garage and get an engine in it.

  2. My two year old had even started giving me crap about it. Every day mentioning, “Daddy’s broken car doesn’t have any tires.”

Installing the Wilwood Front Disc Brake Kit was as pleasant a task as the rears were. Straightforward instructions and well-engineered and manufactured parts put these at the top of my list for parts I’d use again.

Since I’m not very good at remembering to go back and finish an undone task, I try to do all of these small, often interrupted tasks as completely as possible. This includes working in sequence and torquing all bolts and using Loctite where needed. This would prove to be problematic when I discovered that I needed to install different lug studs on my hubs later on.

At any rate, I’ll step you through a little bit of what I learned on this installation. As you probably already know from my front suspension article, I opted to go with the Speedway G-Comp spindle. With a raised upper ball joint location and a 2” drop, this is the perfect spindle to handle the work I plan to do with this car.

If you’ve never used a dropped spindle before on a car with bolt-on steering arms you’ll notice something right out of the gate. There are four bolt holes in the forging. Two of these are for your steering arm, which remains in the stock location. The other two (one gets used) are for brake attachment. On a stock, un-dropped disc brake spindle these jobs are handled by just one set of holes.

I also opted to install new steering arms. There was nothing wrong with the factory arms but I didn’t want to disassemble the old spindle and brake assemblies. I retained those as spare parts for the Sedan Delivery.

Parts like that are much easier to store intact. After I bolted on the arms, I began the caliper bracket assembly on the spindle. This was just as the directions said it would be. A tiny bit of shimming was needed just as they’d indicated in the instructions.

The brake rotors on this setup are three distinct parts. The hub, which houses the wheel bearings and races. The hat, which connects the hub to the rotor and the rotor itself. This gives you the ability to replace only the wear parts in the brake system. This part tripped me up. When I originally assembled these three pieces I had installed the rotor and hat up-side-down. Or inside-out when installed on the car. Read your instructions, folks. Normally, this wouldn’t be anything more than an inconvenience. A messy one at that, since I’d packed the bearings and buttoned up the hub installation when I noticed that there was no way the caliper would mount as I had it. I had also already Locktited all the bolts and torqued them. With red Loctite. Because, you know, I didn’t want them coming loose. That’s a treat to break loose on an awkward part you’re trying to keep pretty. It also never dawned on me to leave the assembly on the car to break them loose. Red Foreman had a name for people like me.

Anyway. Once I got things put together correctly, the setup and installation of the caliper was as-advertised. I used some of the shim washers supplied to center the caliper on the rotor. This is important for proper operation. These calipers don’t “float” and self-center like a stock GM arrangement. The inner and outer pistons (4 per wheel) need to extend the same distance to cause the pads to contact. If the caliper isn’t centered, it will cause uneven pressure inside to outside, resulting in weak braking power and lateral stress on the bracketry as it tried to equalize itself.

Not what you want to see when you need to bolt the caliper ears up to the inside of the bracket.
Like this...NOT like this.

Fortunately, the second side went much more smoothly. I got the rest of the parts assembled, greased and tightened just in time to stick the wheels and tires on before going to bed that night. I couldn’t wait to show Max that the “Broken Car” indeed had tires again.

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