Stopping is something that everyone seems to take for granted until that time you push the pedal to the floor and nothing happens. Normally, brakes are an afterthought in the off-road world, but larger tires and more weight has to be slowed somehow.
Our prerunner project will be hitting high speeds in the desert and having the ability to stop at a moment’s notice is important to us. With the recent additions of a Currie Enterprises F9 housing and front long travel suspension, it was time to make sure our fun would not be stopped by not being able to stop.
Wilwood started in the brake industry in 1977, but stumbled on the off-road market more than 25 years ago. Off-road racing teams looking for an advantage as the cars and drivers got faster began to look at other motorsports for ideas. The rest is history, since then Wilwood has refined what does and does not work. At the core of it all, they work with race teams to test and get input to help them continue to grow in the off-road market.
Are Off-Road Brakes Different?
It seems that in today’s automotive world, there is a product specific to every application out there, but after speaking with Michael Hamrick of Wilwood we learned otherwise. “In many instances, the brakes themselves are not much different,” Hamrick explained. “It’s the combination and installation of the brakes that make them different between a street car and an off-road car.”
Off-roading encompasses many different avenues and the type of brakes used will vary in each as well. “Depending on the application, brakes that are heavier and can take more temperature stop after stop work better in a Trophy Truck,” Hamrick said. “If we were more concerned with weight in a vehicle like a rock crawler and did not need to do repeated stops, but need more torque and clamping force to stay on the trail we would go a different route.”
“The points of interest we need to look at when deciding on the correct brake for the off-road vehicle are how much it weighs, how much brake can we put in the wheel, and what type of racing will the vehicle be used for,” Hamrick continued. “Most cases, it’s best to contact Wilwood directly when starting a project or trying to get one to perform better. We can look at all aspects of the system and give the best recommendations for the application.”
Knowing the differences and similarities we were able to turn our attention to our prerunner project and get the truck set up correctly.
Getting Storm Trooper To Stop On A Dime
With the recent additions, the weight of the truck has increased and we wanted to make sure that we would be able to stop. We looked at an option for all four corners of the vehicle and decided to go with the Dynapro 6A lug mounted (PN 120-134XX) for the front and the forged Dynalite rear parking brake kit (PN 140-7150) for the rear.
The rear brake kit we selected would have no issue mating up to our Currie housing as the kit is made specifically for that type of housing end. This kit was also factored in when we were getting the measurements for the housing. The fronts, on the other hand, were a whole different story.
There is a theory behind the brake selection that worked in our case. “With this application being a prerunner, used on the street and for off-road, we need more front braking and choose to run the six piston in the front and four piston in the rear,”Hamrick said. “If this was a dedicated off-road vehicle and not using the stock pedal and master cylinder assembly, we would install the same six piston caliper size for the rear.”
We wanted to do something unique with this build and be different. Doing that in some instances will make product availability low. This was the case for our 2005 GMC Canyon as the performance aftermarket support is low. With the help of Wilwood, we were able to narrow down the caliper we needed to use, but we needed to make our own dog bone adapter to get the caliper to mount on our long travel spindle.
Taking some measurements and spending time in our CAD program we were able to draw and plasma cut these mounts out of quarter-inch steel. We used two plates per side that we TIG welded together to make sure we would have no movement.
With everything installed and a proper bedding complete, we were able to see how big of a difference the new brakes made over the factory. Driving down the road or trail anytime the brakes were used we could feel them do their job and stop the vehicle.
The factory brakes were very soft, and it did take us some time to get used to the new stopping power. The truck stops a lot quicker all the way around. We do know that this has a lot to do with removing the factory drum brakes and going to disc brakes.
There can still be a lot of fine tuning to the system with a new master cylinder and brake pedal with a balance bar, but for what we have done the difference in braking is night and day. Between looks and performance, we know we are headed in the right direction.
Looking Further Than The Calipers
With the amount of customization in today’s automotive world and every application being different, it is important to make sure that the parts being used are correct. “Please remember that bigger is not always better,” Hamrick said. “Depending on what you are doing with the vehicle and what parts are being used the bigger component is not always your best choice. This comes up most of the time with master cylinder bore size selection.”
Bigger is not always better. – Michael Hamrick, Wilwood Disc Brakes
Brakes are a simple yet complex part of a vehicle whether on or off-road. The important part is to make sure that everything in the system works correctly together. For more information on Wilwood’s products be sure to check out its website and Facebook page for tons of pictures of different applications.