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

Click Here to Begin Slideshow In the last issue, we started to take a detailed look at the equally detailed disc brake kit offered by the folks from Heartbeat City Camaro (15081 Commercial Drive, Shelby Township, MI 48315-3933; PH: 586-226-8811; Website: http://www.heartbeatcitycamaro.com). To refresh your memory, the idea behind this kit is to provide a high quality OEM style manual disc brake conversion for a large number of Chevy and other GM applications. It’s primarily geared toward Camaros, Firebirds and Novas, but it will fit other applications as well. For this issue, we’ll start at something seemingly simple, and that’s the inner and outer wheel bearings. Check it out: Inner and outer wheel bearings are included with the kit. Heartbeat City incorporates top-of-line Timken bearings. While there has been some World Wide Web chatter about Timken bearings and their country of manufacture, the outer wheel bearings supplied with our kit were definitely manufactured in the USA, albeit with some parts sourced elsewhere. Meanwhile, the inner wheel bearings are also from Timken – this time manufactured in Canada. Grease seals are included with the kit, as are disc brake backing plate seals (often missing). Spindle castle nuts, correct OEM style keyed washers and cotter pins are included, along with OEM style dust caps (if you’re into “correct,” these things have the proper “nipple” in the center of the dust cap). Ditto with new black phosphate-coated steering arm bolts and correct silver zinc plated backing plate bolts. FYI, GM specifies the torque on the steering arm nuts as 65 to 85 foot-pounds, depending upon the application (for example, Nova X bodies at 65, Chevelle A bodies at 85). When making a swap from drums to disc brakes, you should always use high temperature wheel bearing grease. The reason for this is that disc brakes can generate considerably more heat than old-fashioned drums. This means more heat is transferred to the wheel bearings, increasing the need for a high temperature lubricant. The bearing should be packed with a non-fibrous, high temperature wheel bearing grease and the spindle should be lightly coated with the same grease. Do not over-do the grease job. It’s easy to fill the bearing and cup with grease, but if done correctly you don’t need much. See the photos for more on packing wheel bearings. We’re not quite done with wheel bearings. If the bearing adjustment is too tight, the wheel will drag and premature bearing wear can be expected. If the bearing is too loose, the wheel will wobble and bearing wear will again be the result. When setting up wheel bearings, how tight is tight enough? According to General Motors, bearings should be adjusted for 0.001-0.008-inch endplay. That’s not exactly easy to measure. In order to reach that point, tighten the spindle nut to no more than 12 foot-pounds while turning the wheel until the bearing is tight enough to cause the spinning wheel to slow down due to bearing drag. Loosen the nut and repeat the process several times. This will ensure there are no hidden burrs or nicks on either the spindle or the spindle nut. Repeat the process with the torque wrench in place and spin with approximately 12 foot-pounds of torque registered on the wrench. Back off the adjustment nut by one flat so that you can install the cotter pin. Finally, use a torque wrench to verify how tight the bearing has become. Preload can vary from car to car, but typically the wheel bearing adjustment preload torque eventually works out to 10-12 foot pounds on something like a first generation Camaro. When it comes to original production line brake rotors for first gen Camaros, ’68-’74 Novas, Chevelles and other similar GM cars, they were typically two piece construction. This means the cast-iron rotor bolts to the cast iron wheel hub by way of five Grade 8 bolts (technically, “capscrews”). Over time, the manufacturers came up with an easier, cheaper way to build rotors. They made them in one piece. The brake rotors in this kit are a two-piece design (that’s what was originally used on most early GM disc brake applications). Now, there are two different two-piece replacement rotors available today. One is manufactured in China. One is manufactured in the USA. The Heartbeat City kit with which we’re dealing features USA-made rotors. They’re far more expensive than the offshore rotors, but quality is exceptional. Inner and outer bearing races are installed and standard length (stock) wheel studs are included. If you need long wheel studs for a dedicated drag race application, they’re relatively easy to install on a two-piece rotor. But there is a definitive process: First the hub has to be marked – indexed – to ensure you assemble it properly (the hub and rotor are balanced as a set). Simply use an indexing punch mark at the hub and the rotor so they can be re-assembled exactly as they were manufactured and balanced. Then it can be separated from the rotor by way of the five grade eight capscrews mentioned above. At this point you can press out the wheel studs, press in new wheel studs and reassemble; it’s a good idea to use new lock washers under each capscrew. Chevy specifies the torque for the capscrews as 60 foot-pounds per fastener. Typically, we’d tighten these in a star-pattern, working our way up from 30 to 45 foot-pounds, then to 60 foot-pounds, and finally double check the torque value. When assembling the brake system, it’s a good idea to thoroughly clean the brake rotors. Just prior to installing the brake calipers (with pads), the rotors should have a final wash completed with soap and water (not brake cleaner) and then be completely hand dried. We’ll stop right here until next issue. With that issue, we’ll look at the balance of the Heartbeat City Camaro manual disc brake swap kit. You’ll easily see why this is one of the most complete systems available today. There are a lot of bits and pieces included. Watch for it and in the meantime, have a look at the accompanying slideshow:

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

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

In the last issue, we started to take a detailed look at the equally detailed disc brake kit offered by the folks from Heartbeat City Camaro (15081 Commercial Drive, Shelby Township, MI 48315-3933; PH: 586-226-8811; Website: http://www.heartbeatcitycamaro.com). To refresh your memory, the idea behind this kit is to provide a high quality OEM style manual disc brake conversion for a large number of Chevy and other GM applications. It’s primarily geared toward Camaros, Firebirds and Novas, but it will fit other applications as well.

For this issue, we’ll start at something seemingly simple, and that’s the inner and outer wheel bearings. Check it out:

Inner and outer wheel bearings are included with the kit. Heartbeat City incorporates top-of-line Timken bearings. While there has been some World Wide Web chatter about Timken bearings and their country of manufacture, the outer wheel bearings supplied with our kit were definitely manufactured in the USA, albeit with some parts sourced elsewhere. Meanwhile, the inner wheel bearings are also from Timken – this time manufactured in Canada. Grease seals are included with the kit, as are disc brake backing plate seals (often missing). Spindle castle nuts, correct OEM style keyed washers and cotter pins are included, along with OEM style dust caps (if you’re into “correct,” these things have the proper “nipple” in the center of the dust cap). Ditto with new black phosphate-coated steering arm bolts and correct silver zinc plated backing plate bolts. FYI, GM specifies the torque on the steering arm nuts as 65 to 85 foot-pounds, depending upon the application (for example, Nova X bodies at 65, Chevelle A bodies at 85).

When making a swap from drums to disc brakes, you should always use high temperature wheel bearing grease. The reason for this is that disc brakes can generate considerably more heat than old-fashioned drums. This means more heat is transferred to the wheel bearings, increasing the need for a high temperature lubricant. The bearing should be packed with a non-fibrous, high temperature wheel bearing grease and the spindle should be lightly coated with the same grease. Do not over-do the grease job. It’s easy to fill the bearing and cup with grease, but if done correctly you don’t need much. See the photos for more on packing wheel bearings.

We’re not quite done with wheel bearings. If the bearing adjustment is too tight, the wheel will drag and premature bearing wear can be expected. If the bearing is too loose, the wheel will wobble and bearing wear will again be the result. When setting up wheel bearings, how tight is tight enough? According to General Motors, bearings should be adjusted for 0.001-0.008-inch endplay. That’s not exactly easy to measure. In order to reach that point, tighten the spindle nut to no more than 12 foot-pounds while turning the wheel until the bearing is tight enough to cause the spinning wheel to slow down due to bearing drag. Loosen the nut and repeat the process several times. This will ensure there are no hidden burrs or nicks on either the spindle or the spindle nut. Repeat the process with the torque wrench in place and spin with approximately 12 foot-pounds of torque registered on the wrench. Back off the adjustment nut by one flat so that you can install the cotter pin. Finally, use a torque wrench to verify how tight the bearing has become. Preload can vary from car to car, but typically the wheel bearing adjustment preload torque eventually works out to 10-12 foot pounds on something like a first generation Camaro.

When it comes to original production line brake rotors for first gen Camaros, ’68-’74 Novas, Chevelles and other similar GM cars, they were typically two piece construction. This means the cast-iron rotor bolts to the cast iron wheel hub by way of five Grade 8 bolts (technically, “capscrews”). Over time, the manufacturers came up with an easier, cheaper way to build rotors. They made them in one piece. The brake rotors in this kit are a two-piece design (that’s what was originally used on most early GM disc brake applications). Now, there are two different two-piece replacement rotors available today. One is manufactured in China. One is manufactured in the USA. The Heartbeat City kit with which we’re dealing features USA-made rotors. They’re far more expensive than the offshore rotors, but quality is exceptional. Inner and outer bearing races are installed and standard length (stock) wheel studs are included.

If you need long wheel studs for a dedicated drag race application, they’re relatively easy to install on a two-piece rotor. But there is a definitive process: First the hub has to be marked – indexed – to ensure you assemble it properly (the hub and rotor are balanced as a set). Simply use an indexing punch mark at the hub and the rotor so they can be re-assembled exactly as they were manufactured and balanced. Then it can be separated from the rotor by way of the five grade eight capscrews mentioned above. At this point you can press out the wheel studs, press in new wheel studs and reassemble; it’s a good idea to use new lock washers under each capscrew. Chevy specifies the torque for the capscrews as 60 foot-pounds per fastener. Typically, we’d tighten these in a star-pattern, working our way up from 30 to 45 foot-pounds, then to 60 foot-pounds, and finally double check the torque value.

When assembling the brake system, it’s a good idea to thoroughly clean the brake rotors. Just prior to installing the brake calipers (with pads), the rotors should have a final wash completed with soap and water (not brake cleaner) and then be completely hand dried.

We’ll stop right here until next issue. With that issue, we’ll look at the balance of the Heartbeat City Camaro manual disc brake swap kit. You’ll easily see why this is one of the most complete systems available today. There are a lot of bits and pieces included. Watch for it and in the meantime, have a look at the accompanying slideshow:

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

Heartbeat City includes top-of-line inner and outer Timken wheel bearings with the kit.

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

Up close, you should be able to make out the “made in the USA” and “Canada” on the respective bearings.

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

When packing bearings, you can do it the old fashioned way by working the grease into and around the bearing “needles.” Or you can use a packing tool such the one shown here. Either method is effective.

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

The hub and rotor arrangement supplied with this kit is a high quality, made-in-the-USA setup.

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

The hubs and rotors are two-piece jobs that are identical to the hub and rotor assemblies found on something like a stock 1969 Camaro.

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

The hubs are fitted with stock length wheel studs. If you have to replace the studs with long examples, you’ll need to disassemble the rotors from the hubs.

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

As you can see in this photo, the rotors are attached to the hub by way of five grade 8 bolts. If, for some reason you chose to disassemble the pieces, see the text for info on indexing the pieces prior to disassembly and torque specs.

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

OEM style silver zinc plated wheel bearing dust caps are included.

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

Correct spindle nuts, OEM keyed washers and cotter pins are also part of the package. Cotter pins should always be replaced at every reassembly-assembly.

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