Tech Articles

Stop That Shark: Brake Upgrades for '68-'82s

Brake upgrades for '68-'82 Corvettes



How do you improve on perfection? Like most things, there is always room for improvement, and Corvettes are no exception. For Corvette fans, there are some things C4s and C5s can do much better than sharks ('68-'82). Luckily, the folks at Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation have a solution for the braking blues.

If you've been paying close attention, you've witnessed a number of upgrades to our '72 Corvette. Thus far, we've converted our differential to 3.73:1 gears, installed a rack-and-pinion steering kit, offset trailing arms, and a complete Vette Brakes & Products rear suspension and traverse spring front suspension.

Now it's time to turn our attention to the braking system. After lots of research, we selected the Stainless Steel Brakes Force 10 system. In addition to the SSBC parts, Classic Tube supplied the brake lines.

Our install hit a few snags along the way due to previous modifications. If you remember from an earlier article, we installed offset trailing arms from Van Steel. At that time, Van Steel required we supply the old trailing arms to utilize the spindles for the offset trailing arms. The company also needed the front hubs plus all four disc-brake rotors from SSBC to set them up for correct runout. SSBC did us a favor by shipping the rotors, while we shipped the front hubs and trailing arms to Van Steel for this procedure.

Follow along as we guide you through the installation of these parts and improve our shark's stopping power.


Here's our new brake-line kit waiting to be installed. We removed the old lines, saving the line clip bolts, but we trashed the old brake-line clips and ordered new ones. The easiest way to remove the old lines is to loosen the ends, cut the old lines, and remove the smaller pieces.


Regardless of what everyone says, it is possible to install new brake lines without removing the body from the frame. To install the front-to-rear line we simply dropped the transmission crossmember enough to slip the line into position. Once all the main lines were in position, we tightened our connections at the main distribution block just below the master cylinder.


Next, we located the two master-cylinder lines and fitted them between the master cylinder and main distribution block. You may need to tweak them a little to get a nice, clean fit.


We started with the front brakes by installing the slotted rotors, aligning the mark on the rotor with the mark on the hub made at Van Steel. We secured them to the hub using a couple of lug nuts.




Stop That Shark: Brake Upgrades for '68-'82s (cont.)

We attached the included braided brake lines to the brake-line bracket with the new horseshoe clips. Then, we screwed the stainless-line flare fitting into the braided brake-line end.

This is one of our front-brake calipers. You can identify the left and right by the bleeder-valve location. When installed, the bleeder should be pointing up, not toward the ground.

We positioned the new pads, returned the pins to their locked position, and secured them with the clips. Make sure to install the brake pads with the low- pad-warning indicators on the inside and the pad with no indicators on the outside.

Here are the pads with the warning indicators. Notice that SSBC uses Green Stuff EBC pads in this brake kit. These are considered some of the best performing brakes available today.

SSBC gave us a few things to check. We measured the distance from the backside of the brake rotor to the outside surface of the caliper bracket on both the driver and passenger sides to make sure the brackets were not bent.

SSBC provided new caliper-mounting bolts for the installation. SSBC's technical department told us the centering of the caliper could vary up to 0.010 inch with no effect on performance. We used a set of feeler gauges to set the distance between the brake pads and rotor surfaces on each side. Torque each caliper-mounting bolt to 50 lb-ft.

Connecting our braided brake lines will complete the front brake installation. To secure the front brake lines, place a copper washer on both sides of the banjo fitting and secure with the banjo bolt (torque bolt to 12 lb-ft). Make sure there is no twist in the brake line. The banjo should fit against the caliper without twisting the line. You can remove line twist by adjusting the connection at the line-mounting bracket. Tighten the fitting on the caliper first. Use a wrench to hold the braided-line fitting in place at the mounting bracket and tighten the flair fitting on the hard line until tight.

Our rear brake installation almost follows the same procedure as the front. When our trailing arms arrived from Van Steel, our rotors were already mounted along with new stainless steel parking-brake hardware.

In order to adjust our parking brake, we had to connect the parking-brake cable. Our offset trailing arms have relocated parking-brake-cable mounting points.
















Stop That Shark: Brake Upgrades for '68-'82s (cont.)

Position the cable through the nylon guide as shown, with the spring locking it into position. Push the parking-brake lever forward and slip the cable ball into the lever position. To set the parking brake correctly, loosen the main cable under the car until the brake lever is completely released, with minimal tension on the cables. Then use a screwdriver to turn the parking-brake expander until the brake pads grab the rotor and the rotor doesn't turn. After that, back the expander off until very light drag is felt. Pull the main parking-brake lever and both sides should hold tightly.

This is what the rear-brake calipers look like when they're ready to install. Notice there are two bleeders on these calipers. Remember to install the pad with the warning indicators on the inside.

To install the rear stainless hard lines, loosely assemble the banjo fitting, banjo bolt, and the two copper washers as shown. It's much easier to get everything into position and you can tweak the hard line until you get a good fit.


There is one set of braided lines for the rear that must be installed before the hard lines can be installed in the rear. The braided lines can be tightened into the rear distribution blocks, then secured to the trailing arms with the provided horseshoe clips. Once they're in place, the hard lines can be secured into position.

Here are the hard lines installed. Again, there is a copper washer that should be installed on the head side of the banjo bolt and another that goes between the banjo block and caliper.

A new master cylinder is the last major piece of our brake system to be installed. We found one at Auto Zone that looked just like the one that came on the C3. It has a lifetime guarantee, and is only $14.99 after the core trade-in.


Our new master cylinder came with all the materials for bench-bleeding. We installed the two hose fittings and attached the supplied hose. Using a piece of duct tape and the provided hose clamps, we secured each bleed hose in its reservoir.

We used Earl's Hypertemp 421 racing brake fluid for our system.

Bench-bleeding is a simple process. We filled the two reservoirs, then used a Phillips screwdriver to push the piston in and out until no more air bleeds were visible during the pumping process.


After the bench-bleeding, remove the hoses, cap the fittings with the rubber caps, attach the master-cylinder cap, then bolt it to the brake booster. Torque the nuts to 30 lb-ft.

The final step is to bleed the entire system. Use the technique you deem safest, but make certain the brake lines are properly bled. Safety is the key here--if they are not right, they can be dead wrong.