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The Grim Reaper

1LE 12" Brake Upgrade

Page was last updated: 05/19/99

This is a post that I sent to the Original Monte Mailing list

Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 12:48:27 -0800

Parts list used:

Front upper control arm:.....Hotchkis (1101)
Master Cylinder:.................86'Caprice/Impala - Raybestos (39328)
Calipers:.............................86'Caprice/Impala - Raybestos (RC4123-R, RC4124-L)
Rotors:...............................F-body 1LE - Raybestos (5994)
Outer bearings:............... ...(A3)
Inner bearings:....................(A6)
Inner bearing seals:.............(8871)
Spindles & Back plates:......86'Impala - Salvage yard cores
Brake hoses:.......................Russell DOT S/S braided hoses
Front coil Springs:...............3rd Gen F-body - TRW (CS5662) (706 ft/lbs)

Last weekend I finally got around to doing the 12" brake conversion on the Grim Reaper. It was pretty much a straight forward R/R procedure.

Yes, I went with the Hotchkis upper control arms instead of the Global West arms. As Brian said in his post about paint shops, go with your instincts. Bottom line is that GW wasn't up front with me with their schedule and lost my business. Since I don't do auto crosses, or any serious canyon carving, the Hotchkis arms fit my requirements just fine.

I had purchased the Spindle/backing plate/rotor/caliper assembly from the salvage yard a few months ago. The only thing that I didn't use were the rotors, because they had the 5 on 5 pattern. Since my sister works for the caliper manufacturing division of Raybestos, the calipers were rebuilt for free. The Impala/Caprice calipers are huge single piston calipers, in comparison to the stock single piston Monte Carlo calipers. I also got the 1LE rotors, and the Impala/Caprice master cylinder from my sister, so the prices quoted on my web bio, are about 1/4 of retail cost. I originally was going to go with the 1LE calipers, and master cylinder, but the mounting of the Dual piston 1LE calipers required the spindles from a 1LE equipped F-body, so it wouldn't work with the Impala/Caprice spindles that I already had. The master cylinder also was different, the brake fittings were inboard, instead of outboard, and were different sizes.

I had painted the all of the parts prior to installation the weekend prior so all I had to do was the R/R last weekend. Taking my time, the whole R/R took most of the day. Total work time was around 4 hours, but quizzical neighbors and a few parts store runs, made it a day project. ;-)

I had to R/R the coil springs twice because the car didn't sit at the ride height that I wanted. I initially just cut half a turn off of the replacement coils, which wasn't enough, so I cut a total of 1 turn off. Total R/R just for taking off the coils, cutting them, and reinstalling was 1 hr. (this is with air tools) The front end, from the ground to the top of the fender is 26" (27.25" rear, w/bell tech 5100 coils, 1 coil cut off).

The guys at the alignment shop were totally oogling over the Reaper.. ;-) In fact I thought that I would never get out of there. The toe-in will be totally off when you install the new spindles, so eyeball them as close as you can and then get the car aligned as soon as you complete the R/R. My eye balls were 2 degrees out on both sides of the car.. 8-)

Hopefully the pictures that I took of the R/R turn out. It was kinda getting over cast when I was doing the upgrade, so I don't know if there was sufficient lighting. I will post them as soon as I can get them back and scanned.

Handling/ Braking impressions:

I am thoroughly impressed with this upgrade. The braking is awesome in comparison with the stock setup. The stock setup was good, but for those of you that have added more ponies to your cars, I highly recommend getting your brakes upgraded also. I still haven't installed the new master cylinder, and I'm really impressed with the braking of the upgrade. I don't what the differences are between the old master cylinder, and the
new master cylinder, but I will post my findings, if any as soon as I get the new one in.

I thought that the stiffer spring rate was going to be a little to stiff, but it isn't any more stiffer than an F-body with stock suspension. It's firm, but not unbearable. The stiffer coils, the negative camber characteristics of the Hotchkis tubular upper arms, after market anti-sway bars, and the comfortable valving of the Monroe shocks, have made, IMHO, an awesome handling car that's very comfortable on city streets.

The Reaper may not be able to hang the corners with Dave's and Jenni's Intimidator, but I know that I wouldn't be *too* far behind.. ;-)

If you want your car to handle better, but don't really want to go with a higher spring rate, I would recommend going with a replacement spring from an S-series Chevy pickup (TRW-5660) (639 ft/lbs). According to the How-To Section steering/suspension, on Mike Donovans web site, by Steve Orlin, the S-series spring will lower the vehicle somewhere between stock ride height and 1" from stock.

I don't know what the braking differences would be between the Baer system and my upgrade, but dollar for dollar, the 12" Impala/Caprice conversion is a winner! Especially for a daily driven street car... ;-)

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