Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options – Part I

Click Here to Begin Slideshow Brakes on drag race cars and street-strip (and, of course, street only) cars are critical. No secret to anyone reading this, we’re sure. For performance applications (which for our purposes includes everything from fast street cars to all-out drag racers), there is plenty of choice when it comes to brakes. There are any number of lightweight drag race disc brake packages out there, and there are also a number of different dual-purpose brake kits. We’ve looked at several of the high quality drag race and dual-purpose options in the past. They’re great kits; in fact, the ones we’ve looked at are the best of the best. Fair enough. But in some situations, a drag-race-only front brake won’t work – for example, in a street-strip application. And there are some situations where an aftermarket dual-purpose brake doesn't actually fit within some wheels without resorting to wheel spacers (a good example is the stock steel wheel application shown in the accompanying photos). That’s not the end of it, either: Some aftermarket brake kits move the wheel outboard. That means the track width has changed. In turn, that changes everything from the wheel alignment to wheel/fender clearance (the fix usually means you have to buy a wheel with a larger backspace dimension). There are also some situations where you just can’t swing the $$$ for the buy-in on a complete system (brake kit, correct master cylinder, hard lines, hoses, line clamps and so on). Essentially, the laundry list of little things can add up. A relatively inexpensive $900 brake kit can quickly become $1500 or more in the blink of an eye. Finally, something that you have to consider is this: There are some brake kits out there that appear both complete and reasonably priced. The trouble is, once you do your homework, you’ll find that some of them (even some big name ones) have the majority of their components manufactured abroad. We won’t comment any further on that topic, but buyer beware. So what does a little-guy enthusiast with a street-strip car do? One really excellent option for the vintage GM crowd is the “J52 Manual Front Disc Brake Kit” from the folks at Heartbeat City Camaro (15081 Commercial Drive, Shelby Township, MI 48315-3933; PH: 586-226-8811; Website: http://www.heartbeatcitycamaro.com). The part number for this kit is BRK-1001A. The kit goes out the door for under $1100, and pretty much everything in it aside from the master cylinder and some smaller parts consists of high quality pieces that are made in the USA. Now, aside from price and component quality, what’s the big advantage with this stock style kit over anything else? One of the biggest bonuses is that the parts bolt on. There’s no modifying of anything to make it fit. The reason is the entire brake kit is fashioned using high quality new replacement stock (OEM) components. All of those parts are packaged into a kit and they install just like stock parts; in fact, it copies all assembly line components. This means if you have a (front) drum brake car, you can convert it over to disc brakes with simple hand tools. Exactly what is included? While it’s common to find “disc brake kits” in today’s aftermarket, it’s uncommon to find a kit that is so comprehensive. This kit includes everything you need except for brake fluid and wheel bearing grease. Let’s start at the top with the Heartbeat City J52 kit and work our way through it: The dual reservoir master cylinder is a reproduction GM disc brake job complete with dual bleeders, a gold zinc plated lid (correctly plated, by the way, for the matching numbers set), lid “cup” seal and dual bail wires along with mounting hardware. The master cylinder (available separately from Heartbeat City under part number BRK-1352) fits a large number of GM applications from 1967 and up (typically up to 1977). It replaces GM production line part number 5460309 with the casting number on the master cylinder body. Bore size of the cast iron master cylinder is 1.125-inch. There are no built-in residual valves. The master cylinder mount holes measure 3.375 inches on center while the pushrod hole is 1.75 inches deep (not counting the flange step). With this setup, the master bolts directly to the firewall and depending upon the car, you can use your manual drum brake pushrod. The front port has ½-inch X 20 threads; the rear port has 9/16-inch X 18 threads. In terms of overall size, this master cylinder is approximately 8 inches long by 4.25 inches wide by 5.25 inches tall. It’s compatible with DOT 3, 4 or 5 fluids. Hardware to mount the master cylinder to the firewall bracket studs is included. GM specifies a torque of 24 foot-pounds for the nuts. The disc brake “hold off” proportioning valve (or “metering valve”) included in the brake kit is identical to a stock GM number 3905525. Bendix manufactured these valves for GM, and they were used on a number of disc brake applications from 1967 up. These hold off valves are actually rebuildable; simply unscrew the large zinc dichromate nut on the end. Rebuild kits are available from several sources. It mounts on the driver side master cylinder stud by way of a correct design brake proportioning valve bracket (also included with the Heartbeat City brake kit). It is an exact fit for all models with front disc brakes and it comes gold zinc plated. Disc brake spindles differ from drum brake spindles. The top boss that holds the drum brake anchor pin is taller than a disc brake spindle by anywhere from approximately 0.480-inch to 0.610-inch, depending upon the vehicle (or whom you source for info). While it is possible to machine a drum brake spindle to fit, the kit from Heartbeat City includes a pair of high quality reproduction spindles. These forged steel spindles are exact duplicates of GM part number 3961151 and they too fit a wide range of F body, X body and A body applications. They will work with stock GM drum brake steering arms. The photos that follow in the slide show will give you a better look at the above components. In the following issue, we’ll dig deeper into the brake kit with a look at wheel bearings and other hardware. It’s an easy kit to assemble and it’s comprehensive. You won’t have a need to make regular trips to the auto parts store for more parts (aside from brake fluid and wheel bearing grease). Check it out:

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Brakes on drag race cars and street-strip (and, of course, street only) cars are critical. No secret to anyone reading this, we’re sure. For performance applications (which for our purposes includes everything from fast street cars to all-out drag racers), there is plenty of choice when it comes to brakes. There are any number of lightweight drag race disc brake packages out there, and there are also a number of different dual-purpose brake kits.

We’ve looked at several of the high quality drag race and dual-purpose options in the past. They’re great kits; in fact, the ones we’ve looked at are the best of the best. Fair enough. But in some situations, a drag-race-only front brake won’t work – for example, in a street-strip application. And there are some situations where an aftermarket dual-purpose brake doesn't actually fit within some wheels without resorting to wheel spacers (a good example is the stock steel wheel application shown in the accompanying photos).

That’s not the end of it, either: Some aftermarket brake kits move the wheel outboard. That means the track width has changed. In turn, that changes everything from the wheel alignment to wheel/fender clearance (the fix usually means you have to buy a wheel with a larger backspace dimension).

There are also some situations where you just can’t swing the $$$ for the buy-in on a complete system (brake kit, correct master cylinder, hard lines, hoses, line clamps and so on). Essentially, the laundry list of little things can add up. A relatively inexpensive $900 brake kit can quickly become $1500 or more in the blink of an eye.

Finally, something that you have to consider is this: There are some brake kits out there that appear both complete and reasonably priced. The trouble is, once you do your homework, you’ll find that some of them (even some big name ones) have the majority of their components manufactured abroad. We won’t comment any further on that topic, but buyer beware.

So what does a little-guy enthusiast with a street-strip car do? One really excellent option for the vintage GM crowd is the “J52 Manual Front Disc Brake Kit” from the folks at Heartbeat City Camaro (15081 Commercial Drive, Shelby Township, MI 48315-3933; PH: 586-226-8811; Website: http://www.heartbeatcitycamaro.com). The part number for this kit is BRK-1001A. The kit goes out the door for under $1100, and pretty much everything in it aside from the master cylinder and some smaller parts consists of high quality pieces that are made in the USA.

Now, aside from price and component quality, what’s the big advantage with this stock style kit over anything else? One of the biggest bonuses is that the parts bolt on. There’s no modifying of anything to make it fit. The reason is the entire brake kit is fashioned using high quality new replacement stock (OEM) components. All of those parts are packaged into a kit and they install just like stock parts; in fact, it copies all assembly line components. This means if you have a (front) drum brake car, you can convert it over to disc brakes with simple hand tools.

Exactly what is included? While it’s common to find “disc brake kits” in today’s aftermarket, it’s uncommon to find a kit that is so comprehensive. This kit includes everything you need except for brake fluid and wheel bearing grease. Let’s start at the top with the Heartbeat City J52 kit and work our way through it:

The dual reservoir master cylinder is a reproduction GM disc brake job complete with dual bleeders, a gold zinc plated lid (correctly plated, by the way, for the matching numbers set), lid “cup” seal and dual bail wires along with mounting hardware. The master cylinder (available separately from Heartbeat City under part number BRK-1352) fits a large number of GM applications from 1967 and up (typically up to 1977). It replaces GM production line part number 5460309 with the casting number on the master cylinder body. Bore size of the cast iron master cylinder is 1.125-inch. There are no built-in residual valves. The master cylinder mount holes measure 3.375 inches on center while the pushrod hole is 1.75 inches deep (not counting the flange step). With this setup, the master bolts directly to the firewall and depending upon the car, you can use your manual drum brake pushrod. The front port has ½-inch X 20 threads; the rear port has 9/16-inch X 18 threads. In terms of overall size, this master cylinder is approximately 8 inches long by 4.25 inches wide by 5.25 inches tall. It’s compatible with DOT 3, 4 or 5 fluids. Hardware to mount the master cylinder to the firewall bracket studs is included. GM specifies a torque of 24 foot-pounds for the nuts.


The disc brake “hold off” proportioning valve (or “metering valve”) included in the brake kit is identical to a stock GM number 3905525. Bendix manufactured these valves for GM, and they were used on a number of disc brake applications from 1967 up. These hold off valves are actually rebuildable; simply unscrew the large zinc dichromate nut on the end. Rebuild kits are available from several sources. It mounts on the driver side master cylinder stud by way of a correct design brake proportioning valve bracket (also included with the Heartbeat City brake kit). It is an exact fit for all models with front disc brakes and it comes gold zinc plated.

Disc brake spindles differ from drum brake spindles. The top boss that holds the drum brake anchor pin is taller than a disc brake spindle by anywhere from approximately 0.480-inch to 0.610-inch, depending upon the vehicle (or whom you source for info). While it is possible to machine a drum brake spindle to fit, the kit from Heartbeat City includes a pair of high quality reproduction spindles. These forged steel spindles are exact duplicates of GM part number 3961151 and they too fit a wide range of F body, X body and A body applications. They will work with stock GM drum brake steering arms.

The photos that follow in the slide show will give you a better look at the above components. In the following issue, we’ll dig deeper into the brake kit with a look at wheel bearings and other hardware. It’s an easy kit to assemble and it’s comprehensive. You won’t have a need to make regular trips to the auto parts store for more parts (aside from brake fluid and wheel bearing grease). Check it out:

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 1

Some aftermarket brakes simply cannot fit behind stock wheels such as this. If you have a stock wheel car or if you’re building a sleeper, then the Heartbeat City Camaro setup is for you.

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 2

The reason some of the brakes interfere is because of the way some wheels are made. The calipers touch in this area.

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 3

The master cylinder included in the Heartbeat City kit is a high quality (casting) reproduction of a GM 5460309.

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 4

The 309 master features a plated lid, plated bale wires and correct bleeders (some replacement master cylinders do not have bleeders).

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 5

The front outlet port has ½-inch X 20 threads while the rear outlet port is machined with 9/16-inch X 18 threads.

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 6

On the backside, you can see the master cylinder mount holes, which measure 3.375 inches on center, while the pushrod hole is 1.75 inches deep (not counting the mount flange step).

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 7

Heartbeat City includes the hardware necessary to mount the master cylinder to the firewall.

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 8

This is a look at the Bendix style “hold off valve” GM used on disc brake applications. It mounts on the driver side master cylinder bolt. Heartbeat City includes one in their brake kit.

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 9

Here’s a look at the spindle set included with the brake kit. The spindles are high quality forgings.

Taking Stock of Your Strip and Street Brake Options - Part I 10

Disc brake spindles used in these GM applications differ from drum spindles in this area. The boss (used for drum brake anchor bolt) is quite a bit longer in a drum brake application. See the text for more info.

Back to Post

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


Copyright © 2005-2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands
All Rights Reserved.