Wilwood Big Brake Installation and review by Fahaka:
A good thrill can come from many different sources. Perhaps your thrill may come from a fast roller coaster or riding horses or, as in my case, a fast car. In fact a fast car can be extra thrilling if it is a car that you have built yourself. In the case of the 240sx, we are often turning a cool looking poser into the capable sports car that many of us feel it should have been in the first place. In the process of making the 240sx faster we often raise the level of performance to the point where further modification to the suspension and brakes are necessary to keep the car safe.
Better brakes and suspension are usually the first modifications most of us make in anticipation of increasing power from under the hood. A fast rear wheel drive car with an overwhelmed suspension and brakes can be a recipe for disaster. Even with stock power, many new comers to the “S” chassis find themselves replacing multi-link suspension components, as their first modification, because they have under steered into a curb or over steered into an embankment.
After the suspension has been modified, more experienced drivers will testify that the stock 240sx brakes are a little undersized for continuous track duty or even spirited driving. Several options for brake upgrades are available for the 240sx, weather it be in the form of OEM products or after market upgrades that can improve brake performance.
Many people may have experienced the thrill of fast acceleration that you get from high horse power cars, but many may be surprised to feel the thrill you can get from extreme brakes. The ability to stop now, at any time from high speeds in surprisingly short distances can be exhilarating; in much the same way as acceleration can be thrilling.
Dave Epstein, a self proclaimed “Z” freak and owner of ArizonaZcar.com, has been involved in Nissan after market performance for more than twenty years, and has built a reputation for making Z cars go faster. Dave made a name for himself selling racing brakes for Z cars to make them more competitive on the track. Fortunately for us, many of the parts made for Z cars can also be used on the 240sx, specifically the brakes.
Upon meeting Dave and several of his close friends, I was promptly escorted to a 1971 240Z that was heavily modified and they all wanted me to feel how good its 13” wilwood brakes worked. We took a trip out to the local meet and left with a group of Corvettes, a Viper, and an R32 skyline. After repeatedly trouncing all comers with his super-fast turbocharged Z, Dave’s friend would stab the brakes, from speeds approaching 150mph, with mind altering results. I was immediately sold on these brakes and needed no further convincing.
Dave offers three different brake kits for the 240sx:
Kit # 1 includes:
12.2” rotors with Dave’s own aircraft grade billet aluminum rotor centers in both four and five lug patterns, Your choice of either forged or billet aluminum 44mm (for the front kit) or 35mm (for the rear kit) four piston calipers, Aircraft grade billet aluminum mounting brackets, Grade 8 zinc plated fasteners and hardware, Wilwood racing brake pads and stainless steel braided brake lines. This kit is available for either front or rear brake applications.
Cost = $795 per axle
Kit # 2 includes:
13” rotors with Dave’s own aircraft grade billet aluminum rotor centers in both four and five lug patterns, Your choice of either forged or billet aluminum 44mm four piston calipers, Aircraft grade billet aluminum mounting brackets, Grade 8 zinc plated fasteners and hardware, Wilwood racing brake pads and stainless steelbraided brake lines. This kit is available front brake applications only.
Cost = $1100 per axle
Kit # 3 includes:
13” rotors with Dave’s own aircraft grade billet aluminum rotor centers in both four and five lug patterns, billet aluminum 44mm six piston calipers, Aircraft grade billet aluminum mounting brackets, Grade 8 zinc plated fasteners and hardware, Wilwood racing brake pads and stainless steelbraided brake lines. This kit is available front brake applications only.
Cost = $1400 per axle
According to Dave these kits have been specifically designed to work with the stock master cylinder and no other modifications are necessary. Furthermore when front and rear brake kits are purchased Arizona Z car will include a brake proportioning valve (for the rear) and a line lock to replace the parking brake which is eliminated by this kit.
I chose to go with kit #1 for the rear and kit #2 for the front. Arizona Z Car stocks all of the kits and usually has them available for immediate shipment. I purchased the kits from Dave and helped him assemble the kits in his warehouse (He doesn’t usually do this). For all the Arizona people these kits can usually be picked up the same day from Dave’s warehouse in Mesa. Typical ship times are 1-2 weeks if the parts are in stock.
I installed this kit on my ’89 coupe, but the installation should be roughly the same for S13/S14/Z32/Q45…etc applications. After getting the kit home I first prepped the car for Installation. Since I had already decided to do the rear brakes first (as there is more work involved), I chocked the front wheels, broke the rear lugs loose and lifted the rear of the car at the differential and supported the car with jack stands at the pinch welds in front of the rear wheels.
1.Remove the rear wheels.
2.Remove the cotter pin from the axle castle nut and the retaining plate.
3.Loosen but do not remove the 36mm axle bolt (It is a pain if you don’t do it now).
4.Remove the caliper and disconnect the brake line (I used a plastic water bottle to catch the fluid that will drip out) and the parking brake cable.
5.Remove the brake rotor and the axle nut.
6.Remove the four bolts that hold the hub to the spindle (this is a great time to do a five lug swap), and remove the hub. I did this by disconnecting the upper control arms and pulling the axles out of the spindle, but this is not necessary.
7.Using a cutoff wheel, remove the factory caliper mounts from the spindle. The final result should look like this:
8.Remove the factory brake lines after they have stopped leaking and install the braided lines.
9.Reattach the hub, with the supplied fasteners and sandwich the new caliper mounting plate between the hub and spindle:
10.Mount new Rotors to the hub attach the brake lines to the calipers and mount the calipers.
11. Bleed the brakes (I used a $3 brake bleeding tool that I purchased to bleed the brakes I highly recommend them they work great).
12.Disconnect the parking brake cable from the cabin and the undercarriage and discard.
13.Put the wheels back on and torque them down. Note the 12.2” brakes clear S14 SE Alloys better than 300zx brakes.
At this point you can relax because the hard part is done. To complete the front brakes, break loose the front lugs and jack the car up at the radiator support and place jack stands to either side of the jack at the radiator support.
1.Remove the front wheels.
2.Remove the calipers and disconnect the brake lines.
3.Remove the rotors
4.Attach the “Dog Bone” Mounts to the factory caliper mounts with the supplied hardware, be careful to follow Dave’s instructions here, as a misplaced washer will require re-installation.
5.Mount the new rotors, attach braided brake lines to the calipers and mount the calipers.
6.Bleed the calipers.
7.Mount the wheels, and enjoy.
The results are spectacular. Pedal modulation is very precise. I have not yet installed the proportioning valve yet so the brakes are slightly biased towards the rear, but only lock slightly before the fronts. Threshold braking is easy because of the pedal feel, and repeated stops from high speed have resulted in no fade at all from these brakes.
I have had to be careful while driving on the freeway. Several times I have come up on stopped traffic in the high speed lanes and had to be careful not to out brake the cars behind me. I previously had a S14 with a set of 30mm 300zx brakes with hawk pads, braided brake lines and blue brake fluid and factory rear brakes with braided lines and hawk pads. I used the same tires and tire size as what I am using now (245/45/17 Falken RT-615’s) and there is no comparison in feel and capability. I hear many people say that factory or 300zx brakes is all that is necessary, but there is a reason they use these type of brakes on expensive exotic cars, to have awesome braking feel and ability.
Lastly I stopped by AZhitman’s place shortly after the install. The car was not really running right, but I wanted to show off the new brakes to Greg. I will let him testify to their worth, but while in the car he seemed to be very impressed.
Modified by Fahaka at 7:27 PM 8/28/2006