CH TOPPING & CO. Performance Brakes since 1931
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Street rod brake facts by Jerry Slattery

Simplifying the hydraulic brake system so most street rod builders can understand, and actually make changes to improve their systems is not an simple task. It takes years of on the job experience, an engineering degree or a little of both to make brakes look simple! After talking to Paul Priladi, the engineer for Total Cost Involved Engineering, Vince Bunting of C.H. Topping, Warren Gilliland  of the brake man and Ralph Lisena of Engineered Components, Inc. I began to compile  this information, which is about as simple as its going to get if anyone is ever going to be able to understand street rod brakes and how to make beneficial improvements.

Think of street rod brakes for a moment as a basic hydraulic system. In other words, a series of different diameter piston bores connected by hydraulic lines pressurized by your leg, or a vacuum booster to assist your leg. The emphasis here should be on the different diameter piston bores, since the bore sizes of the master cylinder, calipers, wheels cylinders, and brake pedal ratio will determine the amount of braking force applied by the brake system.

I see more street rodders buying components by brand name, instead of the correct piston-bore sizes, to fit the weight of their vehicle. Many builders buy brake components because they have a great performance reputation. when they should be concerned with bore diameters of the different components. total weight of their street rod, front-to-rear weight distribution (or bias), rear tire diameter, pedal ratio and much more. Understanding these parameters will help you determiner the caliper, wheel cylinder, and master cylinder bore diameters.

In this article, when we discuss increasing or decreasing master cylinder, wheel cylinder or caliper bore diameters, we are referring to 1/16 or 1/8-inch as a starting point. If you're not sure what the problem is or which way to go (increase or decrease), then go out to your car, measure and write down the bore diameters, and then call one of our sources listed to get the correct answer to your questions. Get familiar with the bore diameters you are using. Saying "I DON'T KNOW" won't save your life if you do have a brake problem!



C.H. Topping & Company
520 W. Esther St., Long Beach, CA 90813
(562) 432-0901