Street rod projects are truly a labor of love; seldom will the owner do anything more difficult in his or her life, and our Project Flat Out build is no different from the perspective of what’s involved. In this installment of our project build, we’ll detail the Baer brake system that’s topping off the chassis from TCI Engineering (stay tuned for the complete chassis build).
In previous installments, we laid out the general plan for the build – the 1936 Ford that Rod Authority Editor, Mike Alexander, found through the “buddy network” and quickly picked up to turn into his next custom victim seeking to top all previous builds. Image Street Rods & Customs joined the team to slice and dice the ’36 into the custom envisioned, and Alexander enlisted the help of artist Sven Simpson of Simpson Artistry to help put ideas to paper and create the unique vision for this build.
From there, the team was off and running with ideas and thoughts about how to best undertake a project that’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Currie Enterprises handled the custom 9-inch rearend, and now it’s time to show how we plan to bring the Coyote-powered machine to a halt.
Features and Benefits // The Parts
In any street rod project, bringing the vision of the owner to life is the most important piece of the puzzle, and Alexander had a picture of classic yet custom looks combined with modern performance burned into his brain from day one. With that in mind, the build team had to be on point and on the same page with the direction the ’36 would take. For the best in modern braking performance, we contacted the wizards over at Baer Brakes to get the project rolling and stopping – with a quickness.
Knowing that we wanted to keep a classic look with 15-inch Coker wheels and tires, their expert team helped us select an SS4+ front brake system [PN 4261360S] with a custom black Baer logo (they are normally shipped with red logos), along with a rear SS4+ system [PN 4262325S] designed to work perfectly with the Aluminum street rod Currie 9-inch rear.
The SS4+ system has a number of features that make a lot of sense for where we’re headed with this build, and since car owner and Rod Authority’s top brass, Mike Alexander’s vision includes regular performance driving, not just competing on the show grounds, we needed to beef up the machine with a modern brake system for both safety and performance.
Parts Rundown & Features
- Aluminum caliper utilizes four cross bolts for maximum stiffness
- Stainless pistons and abutments
- Dual seals to meet DOT specifications
- 11-inch directionally vaned two-piece rotor/hat assemblies
- Standard finishes are Red with Black logo, Black with Red logo, or Silver with Red logo – but custom colors are available for additional charge
- Available 13-inch rear kit features drum-in-hat park brake assembly and billet backing plate
The Specifics // Our System Explained
Baer’s own Rick Elam explained some of the finer points of the Baer SS4+ system to us. “The kit we’ve specified for Project Flat Out is designed specifically for the TCI spindle in the car – it bolts up to the spindle directly allowing our caliper mount to bolt right up. One of the main goals we have with the SS4+ is that it’s designed to work with a 15-inch wheel, but it’s designed like a modern brake setup with all the benefits, just like our larger brake systems. We look at the brake system as a heat sink, and the more ability we have to dissipate heat, the more accurate the brake system will be,” Elam explained.
Elam said, “The rotors in this system are 11 inches in diameter, and one of the most important features they have is that they are cast directionally – there are left and right rotors. If you look down the center of the rotor, between the outer faces where the pads ride, the internal vanes are curved. When the rotor spins, it acts as a centrifugal pump, which pulls air through the center of the rotor and pumps it out the edges to help the heat to dissipate.”
The SS4+ uses an aluminum caliper that really helps to get the heat out of the braking system to offer better braking performance. – Rick Elam, Baer
It costs Baer more to build the rotors this way, as they need to have more inventory on-hand, but it’s important to their company to be the best solution, not necessarily the least expensive. “The curved vane does add more mass to the rotor, helping to make it more stable, but most important is removing that heat. The more heat we can get out, the better the brakes will be,” he explained.
Our Coker artillery wheels will also help to remove heat through the windows found at the outer edge of the wheel center. The heat will come through the rotor and up and out of the tire and wheel assembly through these holes, helping our brake system to work perfectly as designed.
Getting started on the front assembly, TCI Engineering’s work stand made quick work of bolting our caliper mounting brackets to the spindle, assembling the hubs and sliding over the rotors. The entire “build” process, if you can even call it that, for the front kit took all of 15 minutes. Our SS4+ kit also uses a two-piece hat and rotor design, which has a number of reasons for its existence.
“One of the biggest reasons is cosmetics, people love the way the two-piece system looks behind the wheel. But an added benefit of casting the rotor to use the bolt-on hat is that it helps us to remove unsprung weight, as this design will typically remove about three pounds per rotor assembly. We’re able to leave the mass in the rotor itself to remove the heat, and take the weight back out through the design of the hat. And if the owner needs to replace a rotor, the hat doesn’t need to be replaced, he can change just the rotor itself,” explained Elam.
Each of Baer’s braking systems is designed to be as vehicle-specific (or spindle-specific) as possible, and assembled to a point which simplifies the installation process for the end-user. “The hub comes pre-assembled with bearing and races, and all of our kits user either SKF or Timken bearing sets, they come pre-packed with Redline synthetic grease, and the pads are pre-loaded into the calipers,” Elam shared.
This means that for you, Mr. End-User, should typically only have to install the system like you would any other brake rotor and caliper. It’s as simple as taking the items out of the package, hanging the hub and rotor onto the spindle, tightening down the castle nut, and installing the dust cap before installing the caliper and lines. Literally, it’s that easy to tremendously upgrade your stopping power.
If you’re not a mechanical wizard, you might wonder what the proportioning valve does. Put simply, it’s a valve that relies on a spring load to apply a reducing force so that the output pressure is reduced. “It limits the line pressure to the rear brakes and permits as much as 50 percent of the line pressure to the rear to be reduced, and since each car is different the customer needs to set this up. We can supply a recommended starting point, but since the brakes don’t work anywhere near their total output until 12-1500 miles in and everything is bedded, the customer will need to tailor it to their application. It’s done by feel, and there’s no real magic number,” Elam explains.
Extras // The Fine Points
Of course, during the installation process there are a couple of things you’ll need to work out. For example, a 9-inch Ford rearend typically uses a 2.5-inch brake offset, but there are times where a tolerance stack might affect that number by a couple of thousandths in one direction or the other. In that case, Baer provides shim washers so that you can install the caliper back into the correct range for proper brake operation.
Although it appears as though we’ve got the exact same brake system on the front and rear of Project Flat Out, there are in fact a few subtle differences that Elam pointed out to us. “We machine the SS4+ rear caliper specifically as a rear caliper. It uses four 1-3/8-inch pistons instead of the 1-3/4-inch pistons that the front kit uses, so even though cosmetically it appears the same it is in fact specifically designed for the rear application.”
This particular system also doesn’t use a parking brake, as it isn’t necessarily important in this application (since our floorboards will provide “emergency” brake duties while parked). Our rear system also uses a unique caliper mounting bracket that acts as the bearing retainer for the rear axle. In addition, Elam said, “We do offer systems that have parking brake assemblies if the customer is looking for a rear system with parking brake requirements.”
We have to state that we’re very impressed with the entire Baer kit from start to finish, along with the technical knowledge the Baer team displayed throughout the ordering process and subsequent installation which allowed us to quickly move our focus to other areas of the build. If you’ve got a minute, head over and check out their website – it’s worth the time if you’re in the market for a killer set of brakes for your rod or street car. With the brake system out of the way and bolted up, it’s almost time for our next installment of Project Flat Out – so stay tuned!