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Old 06-05-2002, 11:53 PM   #1
GarySheehan
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Default Stoptech Brake Upgrade Report

Well, we have been using the Stoptech WRX Brake Upgrade Kit since March of this year, and I think that we have learned enough about the system to be able to provide the i-club with some feedback regarding our experience with them so far.

We upgraded our braking system for one reason only. Thermal capacity. We had been racing with the stock WRX calipers and rotors (as per the USTCC rules to avoid a weight penalty) and a custom cut Performance Friction 93 compound pad. The braking performance of the car in race conditions was good. Pedal feel was decent and stopping power was good. With the 93 compound pad and Castrol SRF brake fluid, brake fade was never an issue. However, the extreme heat generated using the stock rotor/caliper configuration was causing serious reliability issues.

We consistently damaged brake pads with the high temperatures, causing about ľ of the pad to literally disintegrate at the trailing edge in only one weekendís worth of use. In addition, the heat was causing surface cracking in our stock rotors, at one point causing a major fracture in the rotor from the outer edge all the way to the hat. Also, we consistently had to replace outer steering tie rod joints and lower ball joints because the radiant heat would scorch the rubber boots, causing them to crack and puke grease. Worst of all was our axle bearing problems. We were consistently blowing seals or crunching bearings with 2-4 hours of use. This is with 4 145cfm bilge blower fans pumping air through 3Ē ducts directly to the rotors and calipers. We also used several types of bearing grease, including Dupont Krytox, which costs $145 per pound, and didnít help a whole lot. There was just too much heat for the stock system to deal with.

We upgraded our brakes prior to the first USTCC race of the season at Sears Point. We went with Stoptechís standard WRX upgrade kit, which consists of their ST-40 calipers, 328mm Aerorotor rotors, separate aluminum hat and Pagid RS-14 race pads. Based on Stoptechís advice, we kept the rear stock setup as their kit is sized to work properly with the stock proportioning valve, rear calipers and rear rotors. We continued to use custom cut Hawk HT-09 rear pads.

The first thing I noticed when driving the car with the new brakes is that pedal feel was much improved. We had stainless steel braided lines prior to the caliper upgrade, so the improved feel was directly attributable to the stiffer Stoptech caliper construction. Their claim that their patented bridge design makes for a very rigid caliper is right on the money. The brakes were also much easier to modulate at the limit of adhesion. Some of this is due to the lack of flex in the caliper, and some is due to the physics of a larger rotor. Better modulation made it easier for me to brake at the limit and brake more consistently.

At the first event at Sears Point I noticed pad knockback again. Pad knockback is a telltale sign for me that weíve lost another bearing. A deteriorating bearing will allow the hub and rotor to move around in relation to the knuckle. When cornering, the cornering forces on the tire can cause the whole wheel, rotor and hub assembly to move out of itís plane of rotation and force a brake pad and itís pistons to be pushed back into the caliper. When the car is out of the corner, the rotor goes back to its normal position, but the caliper pistons and brake pad donít come with it. So, when you get to your next braking point, it takes a lot of brake pedal travel to push the pistons back out to where the pad contacts the rotor. Sometimes the pedal can go all the way to the floor if the pistons have been pushed back far enough. Itís not fun. Therefore, the night before the race, Joel and I replaced all four hub assemblies just to be sure we were on fresh bearings. The old bearings lasted all the way through the 3-day season finale the previous year, so they had about 4 hours on them by that point.

During the race we had an engine malfunction, one of the tumble valve generators was stuck partially closed, and our car was low on power. The Hondas were out accelerating my WRX on the straight, which is unheard of. BUT, I was outbraking the Hondas in all the critical braking zones, even with some 700 pounds of additional weight! Up until this race, the WRXís braking was one of its weaker points since it weighs so much compared to the other cars we race against. But the new brakes really inspire confidence and I am consistently able to brake with, or out brake, lighter cars.

We had misfire problems at Portland International Raceway for our second race and only managed to qualify 8th. By race time weíd cleaned it up a bit, but the Hondas still had power on my WRX. I finished the race in 2nd place, just 1.6 seconds behind Gary Huttoís BMW. Every pass I made that race was under braking. We have the heaviest car in the field by far.

We just wrapped up the Open Track Challenge. Seven tracks in seven days. Nearly one and a half hours on each track at racing speeds. The one thing that didnít cause us any problems all week was our brakes. We just checked the amount of pad left and forgot about them. Considering our brakes had been our Achilles heel all last season, it was strange not to have to worry about them. We won the Unlimited 3 class and finished 5th overall out of 61 cars. Turns out our number two piston had two cracked ring lands all week and was 50% down on compression and 59% down on leak-down. Our brakes definitely helped us get to our top finishing position.

So, after two full USTCC race weekends and seven additional OTC track events, this is what weíve found. We still have over 50% pad remaining in the front brakes. And the remaining pad material is perfectly straight. There is no taper to the pad top to bottom or leading edge to trailing edge. We are getting perfect wear out of our front pads for two reasons. The first is that the front caliper is extremely stiff and isnít distorting, even under extreme brake pressure, which is what all of our braking is. The second is the two-piece rotor on hat design. Since the rotor floats on the hat, it is free to expand and contract through heat cycles and stays nice and flat. A one-piece rotor has the outer face of the rotor attached to the hat and it isnít allowed to expand as much as the inner surface of the rotor. The result is a cone shaped rotor at higher temps. Thatís why the stock system and other aftermarket systems that use a one-piece rotor will have excessive wear at the top of the outer pad and at the bottom of the inner pad. This effectively decreases the amount of usable material on the pad. We no longer have this problem with the Stoptech system.

Stoptechís claim that their system is designed to work with the stock rear braking system is accurate. This is critical to proper brake performance. Upgrade kits that are not engineered to work within a specific system will ultimately degrade braking performance, either by prematurely locking the fronts or prematurely locking the rears. Rotor diameter, piston size and fluid volume required to actuate the pistons must be properly sized to work together with the rear brakes. Although the USTCC will allow a rear brake upgrade with no weight penalty, there is no need for us to upgrade the rear brakes. Our brake balance is perfect and there is no evidence of rear fade or any other signs of heat related issues. The only issue I am aware of is the stock rear system uses a single piece rotor, which cones when heated, and we are seeing some taper in the rear pads. Other than that, the entire system performs extremely well.

Now, while all that sounds great, hereís the part Iím really excited about. It appears that these brakes have eliminated all heat related damage that our stock front brakes were causing. After all the racing this year, all of the ball joint and rod end boots are intact and soft. There are no surface cracks on the Stoptech rotors and the pad material, while worn almost 50%, looks perfect with no heat related deterioration. And finally, it looks like our bearing problem is gone. We have been on the same bearings through two race weekends and seven OTC track events without a bearing failure or pad knockback. We have reduced the number of fans to only two, and we occasionally forget to turn them on, but it doesnít seem to affect anything. These brakes obviously have a much higher ability to shed heat quickly without letting the heat get to vital components.

To say that we are happy with these brakes is an understatement. The repair costs and hours of labor that they have saved us make them worth it just from an economical standpoint. But the real payoff is the improved pedal feel and braking performance that these brakes provide at a decent price. I really feel more relaxed in the racecar now because I am no longer constantly worrying about the brakes. These brakes do everything Stoptech says they will do. They definitely know their stuff.

Gary
Sheehan Motor Racing
www.teamSMR.com
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Last edited by GarySheehan; 06-06-2002 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 06-06-2002, 12:39 AM   #2
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That's great news Gary!

Are you still using the Rota wheels? I am looking to the future when I upgrade the brakes, I want to make sure I get the right rims.
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Old 06-06-2002, 02:12 AM   #3
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Nice review.
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Old 06-06-2002, 08:58 AM   #4
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Wow....great review. So how much is Stoptech paying you Gary?

I have the Stoptech kit and have been mostly happy with them, but I have had a problem with vibrations. I talked to Matt Weiss and he said it sounds like I have "hot spotted" the rotors. I took his advice to clean off the rotors with an abrasive material (he actually recommended 180 coarse sandpaper ) using a wire brush mount for a drill. Also sanded off the pads slightly to get to some fresh material. Went out to bed the system in again, and through the first 5 60-10mph runs, everything was nice and smooth, but then after the 6th hard braking, (and now I could smell the hot pads), the vibration returned, and has stayed, although it doesn't seem to be as bad as before the cleaning procedure. Now...One thing that I do see as being a problem, and is completely my fault (or maybe just bad luck) was that shortly after the bedding procedure, I was forced to sit at a stoplight for a ~1 minute. I did not hold the brake down on the rotor, but I'm afraid this may have been a contributing factor. I am going to get a 180 coarse sanding wheel for my drill and try using that, and then do the bedding in procedure in an area where I know I won't have to come to a stop, and give everything plenty of time to cool down. We'll see what I get after that.

So.....any suggestions? Overall I LOVE the brakes and the pedal feel and performance is WAY better than stock, even with the vibration, but I don't want to go to the track with this problem, and I really don't want to have to get these almost brand new rotors "turned" or even worse, have to shell out for new ones.

Thanks,

Tim
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Old 06-06-2002, 08:59 AM   #5
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Wow Gary, that's an awesome review. Thanks so much for sharing your hard won knowledge with us all.

I see Stoptech in my future...

Scott
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Old 06-06-2002, 10:18 AM   #6
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Ye ha, My stoptechs will be in friday!!,, Can't wait. The stock brakes suck. I get this harable vabration and nose from 80 down to 60mph.

This is a must do mod!

Eric
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Old 06-06-2002, 11:39 AM   #7
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Hey Gary,

My Stoptech's are the single best modification I have made on the car. I too was having a lot of heat related issues with the stock brakes-all of which have been resolved. The ability of my Stoptech's to dissipate heat amazes me. After a hard session at T-Hill last week, I was actually able to touch the rotor with a finger (Don't try this at home kids!) upon pulling into the pits. I, of course did do a cool down lap. I'm still using the "spit on finger" method to determine if I need to drive around to cool my brakes after a session. Probably should not admit this.......
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Old 06-06-2002, 11:50 AM   #8
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Gary,

Is the key the two piece, oversized rotor?

(I cracked through a 1 piece dba the other week, my brake temps are crazy high.)

You have brake ducts, right? With fans?

I'm curious, if I'm currently running the Subaru 4-pots and dba slotted rotors, but still have rotor damaging heat, would you recommend ducting first, or upgrading (again) to the StopTechs? (Or both?!)

Thanks,

Garth
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Old 06-06-2002, 12:19 PM   #9
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Does the stoptech upgrade brake kit require 17in Rims..?.
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Old 06-06-2002, 12:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by WRX 2002
Does the stoptech upgrade brake kit require 17in Rims..?.
Yes. You cannot fit it under any 16" rim. The diameter of the rotor is too large.
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Old 06-06-2002, 12:48 PM   #11
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Yes...you MUST have 17" rims. Check this link....

http://www.i-club.com/forums/showthr...hreadid=179569
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Old 06-06-2002, 01:54 PM   #12
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ChrisW,

Yes, we're still using Rota Subzero wheels. They're just awesome. The only reason not to get these wheels is if you don't like how they look. I think they look great. They are light, strong and inexpensive. What more do you need?

mav1c,

During the initial installation when you were washing off the rotors with soap and water, are you absolutely sure that you got both sides of both rotors to rust? I think it's really important, otherwise there may be some surface protectant still on the rotor. One of our rotors didn't rust, but we put it on the car anyway. I felt a slight vibration, but hard braking burned through it and now they are as smooth as glass. Maybe a good track day is the best thing for them.

G-plus,

If you are running the same stock size rotors with the Subaru 4-pots, I don't think much is going to help you with the heat. We ducted the heck out of ours, but it didn't help very much. We still cracked our 1 piece rotors with 4 fans forcing cool air onto them. The two-piece rotor keeps the rotor flat as it heats up, which eliminates a lot of the stress that a one-piece rotor goes through as it cones. But the trick to reducing the heat problems is a much bigger, thicker rotor. The Aeroroter is very thick (close to an inch I think) and has huge vanes to flow a lot more air than the stockers do. The Stoptech caliper helps, too, because it's bridge is designed not to hinder airflow through the bridge. Ultimately it comes down to rotor diameter and thickness. If the heat is damaging components and affecting the reliability of your brakes (cracked rotor), I would recommend an upgrade. It never hurts to duct air to the brakes, so you should do it with any brake system you have if you are doing hard track days.

Gary
Sheehan Motor Racing
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Old 06-06-2002, 02:33 PM   #13
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Question ABS

Gary, Do you run with your ABS disabled?

Just curious.

Brian
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Old 06-06-2002, 02:42 PM   #14
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The 2 piece rotors are slightly thicker than stock at 25.4mm vs. 24mm but not larger in diameter. The rotors for the Stoptech are 28mm. So it will be some gain, but not much. The radius is going to be the largest factor as it increases swept area of the pads to give less exposure to heat as well as increasing surface area in the vanes for cooling. Thickness increases are only going to increase surface area inside.

As Gary says, it depends how hard on the brakes you are.

I'm in the same situation though. There's no way I'm giving up 16" wheels, so I'm just going to have to try to do as well as I can with the 2 piece rotors, 4 pots, and ducting.

Gary, are you still using the ducting with the Stoptechs?
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Old 06-06-2002, 02:43 PM   #15
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bbaerotek,

Yes. Last year ABS was optional, but came with a 100 pound weight penalty. This year ABS is not allowed at all. Thankfully. I don't think ABS should be allowed in autoracing in general.

Gary
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Old 06-06-2002, 02:49 PM   #16
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Thanks for the review, Gary. I've been looking at all the options, and this one might well be at the top now. Any system that can withstand the abuse of real racing can take the stuff I throw at it (I know the stock brakes can't).
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Old 06-06-2002, 03:01 PM   #17
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Marquis,

You brought up a good point that we don't really pay much attention to. The brakes perform extremely well on the track, yet they are completely streetable. They have dust seals on the pistons to keep out debris and all the hardware is corrosion resistant. Best of both worlds.

Gary
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Old 06-06-2002, 03:05 PM   #18
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Post Penalty for big brakes

What is the weight penalty you have to carry with the stop-techs? More than 100lbs? That seems excessive if it is!

Brian

PS When is the next race?
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Old 06-06-2002, 03:12 PM   #19
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Yeah...I thought maybe some "hard drving" would even the rotors out, but after some spirited driving on some local roads and REALLY using the brakes, the vibration actually seemed to get worse.

I'm worried that it's more than just the "hot spot".

Last edited by mav1c; 06-06-2002 at 04:18 PM.
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Old 06-06-2002, 03:50 PM   #20
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Thanks for the response, Gary. Sounds like I should do both.

Garth

P.S. Anyone interested in a pair of Subaru 4-pots? Only a few months old....
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Old 06-06-2002, 04:21 PM   #21
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Very good review Gary!

Have you tried these brakes with the Performance Friction PFC93 compound pads?

The PFC93 that you used on the standard setup are well known for producing massive, and i mean HUGE amounts of heat compared to other race pads, they are the best pads for an iron disk though. They also have a tendancy to crumble apart when you overheat them, the exact symptoms you had. Did you use any racing temperature paint on the disks to see what temps you were seeing?

The Pagids dont produce anything like as much heat. Stick a set of PFC93's in your new setup and see what you think and measure your temps, that will be a better comparison of like for like disk and caliper configs.

As to floating disks, i like these for track but they can be problamatic for road use as the road **** clogs the float joints over time. They arent needed on a road car really, it's far more reliable longer term to use Alloy bells and Iron Disks with solid bolting for road cars.

It's interesting your using Hawk HT9's on the rear, these are by far the most agresive torque curve pad you can buy, they come on very quickly and are hard to modulate. If you ever feel the rears are grabbing a little or changing the grip charicteristics as the corner entry aproaches i would suggest this is where you first start to look, a slightly less agresive pad may improve matters for you. PFC90 compound may be a good choice there as thats a nicer pad for the rears. I used to use Hawk HT9's up front and they were awesome, but they take a lot of skill to get the most out of and i wouldnt use them on the rear due to the tendancy to snatch.

The standard Subaru 4 pots are very bad for heat retention, you did amazingly well to use those at all with PFC93 compound pads. When we first went to these pads on the Esprit we had huge problems with heat. PFC made us some ceramic inserts that we fitted between the pad and the pistons but these just fell apart after a while. We then made our own water cooling system for the calipers until we had time to make some new stainless steel pistons, that sort of fixed the problems but like yourself we basically had to go bigger on disk diameter to sort the issues once and for all.

I'd be interested in you doing some back to back Pagid/PFC comparisons on the new setup, i think you would be amazed at how good te PFC perform now! If you do this, get two sets of disks and bed the disk and pad on both sets otherwise you wont get a proper test.

Sounds like your doing an awesome job so far Gary!

P.S Do these calipers use anti knockoff springs? Have you tried that yet?
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Old 06-06-2002, 05:51 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by johnfelstead
The standard Subaru 4 pots are very bad for heat retention, you did amazingly well to use those at all with PFC93 compound pads.
He wasn't, he was using the standard Subaru 2 pots. That's right, a sliding caliper. You forget, in the US, we get worse brakes than everyone else in the world.

We buy the brakes you guys take off and it's an upgrade!

As to whether the 2 pots are any better or worse for heat retention I doubt it's much different either way, they're still cast iron, but may have SLIGHTLY better cooling for the pad. However it is a testament to Gary's ability that he could do so well on sliding calipers.
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Old 06-06-2002, 06:11 PM   #23
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Yikes

Your right, i forgot that! Price you pay for having a cheep WRX i supose.

The new brakes are gonna be a huge step forward on those 2 pots.
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Old 06-06-2002, 10:15 PM   #24
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I am thing of going to the STI 4 pots for track days but I have to go back to stock for SoloII STS class cause bigger brakes are not allowed.
Does anyone make a 2 peice rotor for the STI 4 pots?

Pat Lipsinic
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Old 06-06-2002, 10:32 PM   #25
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DBA5000 is a two piece rotor for 4 pots, and only for 4 pots. It doesn't clear the caliper bracket for the stock caliper.

I got mine from precision brakes (www.precisionbrakescompany.com) But if you're going to go through the hassle of changing brakes and rotors exclusively for track days, you may as well get something with a larger rotor so you have fewer heat issues.
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