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Thread: Brake upgrades

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    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Question Brake upgrades

    We all know van brakes are a good upgrade for the cars it's based on. But what about the van? The brakes are shared with C and H platform cars, which aren't exactly performance vehicles. I haven't found anything that's a bolt-on improvement for C, H or U cars. I e-mailed ZZ Performance the other day, and they were decidedly unhelpful, simply remarking that they don't carry anything for the vans. Well duh, I knew that, since their site is essentially a W-body wank fest.

    Both myself and my wife have long complained about the brakes on the van. They feel... undersized. My mother-in-law drives it pretty regularly too, and she says they don't feel right, like they're trying to stop something much bigger than the van is. That may be due to a combination of factors, such as the fluid status, or the booster/master cylinder, but I really feel that the brakes are perhaps a hair under adequate for a top-heavy vehicle, despite weighing approximately the same as the cars the brakes came from. Anyone have any ideas? I was considering trying to crib ZZP's F-body kit, but it looks like it uses a different caliper and bracket, which probably requires a different... backing plate? Is that what it's called? Anyway, it's probably not a bolt-on affair.

    If I am successful in installing those brakes, I would probably need to get bigger wheels, no? What would the minimum be? I was thinking 16, since that's what base F cars use.
    Daniel
    Kaiser George IX: 1996 Buick Century Special wagon. 214-SFI. 201k miles. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. Transmission time, again. First documented LX9 swap in an A-body! Click here to read my build thread!
    Goldilocks: 1992 Buick Century Special sedan. 204-MFI. 132k miles. Current DD.
    Susana: 1993 Buick Century Custom wagon. 204-MFI. 121k miles. Garage ornament. Waiting for an LR4.



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    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    ...but I really feel that the brakes are perhaps a hair under adequate...
    1992 - Brakes were enlarged and anti-lock brakes (ABS) was added as standard equipment.

    PS: Imho, a waste of bucks...lots of bucks!

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    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 85_Ciera_Rebuild View Post
    1992 - Brakes were enlarged and anti-lock brakes (ABS) was added as standard equipment.
    I know, and my point still stands. Even with the '92 improvement, I still feel they're not quite enough.
    Daniel
    Kaiser George IX: 1996 Buick Century Special wagon. 214-SFI. 201k miles. Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. Transmission time, again. First documented LX9 swap in an A-body! Click here to read my build thread!
    Goldilocks: 1992 Buick Century Special sedan. 204-MFI. 132k miles. Current DD.
    Susana: 1993 Buick Century Custom wagon. 204-MFI. 121k miles. Garage ornament. Waiting for an LR4.

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    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    I still feel they're not quite enough.
    My brother and I, years ago, installed a larger brake booster from a Blazer on a small pickup truck...that made braking very sensitive...small amount of pressure translated into stronger braking force. Not good for inexperienced driver.

    Those front wheel calipers you gave an URL to stated in essence, double the applied braking force with same brake pressure. I have no idea how this would work with your ABS, or if your ABS is limiting how you apply brakes now. I've never researched how ABS works...have you been in another ABS equip'ed vehicle? Same response? Does it sense pedal pressure also?

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    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    Even with the '92 improvement
    I did some quick internet searching....

    1. On one diagram, it showed a brake pressure sensor feeding computer.

    2. Your system may be the Delco Moraine ABS VI, so I have no idea if this modification applies to you or not:

    It is commonly known that the Delco/Moraine ABS systems are pretty lame. There is a constant back force applied against your foot as you try to brake. It's somewhat like stepping on a brick (for me). These systems are in place on cars from the SE's thru the S4s.

    3. "Training Manual," but only table of contents, and applications are listed.

    4. Another training manual

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    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 85_Ciera_Rebuild View Post
    Those front wheel calipers you gave an URL to stated in essence, double the applied braking force with same brake pressure. I have no idea how this would work with your ABS, or if your ABS is limiting how you apply brakes now. I've never researched how ABS works...have you been in another ABS equip'ed vehicle? Same response? Does it sense pedal pressure also?
    I have not owned an ABS-equipped vehicle prior to this one. I know how to threshold brake, so I've never tripped the ABS. The pedal feels about the same as the A-bodies I had before.

    I like your bigger booster idea. Do you think it would fit under the hood of the van?

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    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    I like your bigger booster idea
    I just skimmed ABS info...it don't appear to operate like traditional brake systems. On DaimlerChrysler ABS-3 system and the Teves ABS both use a pressurized
    hydraulic accumulator. Which would defeat the purpose of putting a larger booster on vehicle. with these systems.

    I saw on ebay a manual for Delco Moraine ABS VI for seven bucks delivered to your door (oops, just sold, I bought it:-)....if this is the system used on your van, I would highly suggest buying a shop manual. I am not familiar with this system, so I don't know how a larger booster might affect it. On ABS system, I'm sure they matched up the components to work best.


    When we put on a larger brake booster on small pickup, GM used a different setup on Blazer, so we had to modify it.


    ABS is controlling the amount of applied pressure....and you can't "pump" ABS brakes....just press down more. That last item, number four, gives some tidbits on these systems, but getting GM's shop manual for your vehicle is best.

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    Senior Member SCREECH's Avatar
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    I've had several vehicles with the Delco ABS VI system now (my '92 Trans Sport van, '94 Century, '96 Regal) and have had great success with all of them. I'm actually installing that system on my '89 Ciera coupe project. Unless the EBCM (electronic brake control module, or ABS computer) detects wheel skid from one of the four wheels, the system does not interfere with normal braking operation. The pedal feel has been exactly like on a non-ABS equipped vehicle in my opinion. The problem comes when one of your wheel sensors starts to go and the ABS kicks in when it's not necessary or supposed to. That can increase stopping distances as the system pulses the brakes to the failing wheel, decreasing effective stopping power.

    As for brake upgrades, there was a thread on here a while back posted by a user that claimed to have made custom brackets to install larger Cadillac brakes on his A-body or U-van (I don't recall which at the moment). It was a number of months ago, perhaps even a year. That same user reported that he had completed an '05-'08 U-van rear disc upgrade as well. Ring a bell for anyone?
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    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Yeah, sounds familiar. He used CTS brakes, but that necessitated 17" wheels. I really don't want to go that large because 17" tires are expensive. That's why I linked to the Camaro brakes. Pretty sure you can use 16s with those.

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    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    ...don't want to go that large because 17" tires are expensive.
    Around here, when you want 19" tires, those are special order.

    Have you done a brake test at 55 mph, and compared results to OEM specs?

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    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Doing a brake test like that is a little difficult in a metropolitan area of 2.5 million people. I'll see what I can do though. I've been thinking since I posted this thread though—tires and suspension have a significant impact on braking performance. I know I need new tires, and I could probably do with new struts and shocks.

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    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    Doing a brake test like that is a little difficult....
    Kept in mind a fully loaded 18 wheeler takes about 300' at 55 mph, on level ground. Lifted from a site below:

    SUVs can't avoid accidents as well.

    Braking distance

    In addition to larger turning radius at a given speed (ie more likely to roll over), braking distances tend to be longer. Compare the braking distances from 60 mph to 0 in the following illustration. In a common accident scenario, imagine you've encountered a stopped semi truck while going around a blind curve. The semi is 142 feet in front of you. Which is the safest vehicle to be in?



    Porsche Boxster: 120 feet
    Oldsmobile Intrigue: 131 feet
    Dodge Caravan SE: 135 feet
    Pontiac Transport: 141 feet
    Chevrolet Suburban: 155 feet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    Doing a brake test .
    Will determine if your vehicle is "fit for duty."

    In the process, if done firm and hard, you may find out if everything is OK with your braking system.

    One time I was thinking about trading in a vehicle, and car salesman took it for a spin. Well, when he got back, the brake light was on...I had to fix the brakes.

    That's the downside, that light may come on...$$$

  14. #14
    Senior Member 85_Ciera_Rebuild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    brakes on the van
    Sidebar - I came across this site tonight, where someone might be "swapping out your old drum brake rear axle for a disc version," but on a traditional non ABS system.

    Here, one has to install a Proportioning Valve so that a balance can be struck between rear/front breaks.

    Myself, I'd stick with what came with vehicle

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    A few questions...

    1) What kind of brake pads are currently on the van?

    2) are the rear shoes adjusted up, and are the adjusters clean and lubed?

    3) Are the rear wheel cylinders dry?


    This system functions as a normal system until the EBTCM sees a wheel change speed( lock up ) then the ABS kicks in, until that point its a basic system, nothing like the old Bosch..


    As well,the van does use rotors from the C and H platform and iirc Camaro Firebird calipers, I think the 93 firebird would be the same...


    at current I have Bendix Titanium pads on the van, rear wheel cylinders were replaced with the shoes... Van stops extremely well, as good as my Bonneville does.. For pads I would use wagner quick stop, or bendix titanium, both of these seem to have good bite with minimal fade... Next thing that I will do is go to a slotted front rotor, beyond that I am happy with brake system..

    Also if its never been done, it may be time to bleed the system and get some fresh fluid in it, this also helped my van...

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