5 votes

What did you do this weekend?

As part of a weekly series, these topics are a place for users to casually discuss the things they did — or didn't do — during their weekend. Did you make any plans? Take a trip? Do nothing at all? Tell us about it!

1 comment

  1. AugustusFerdinand
    Saturday: If there's one thing that nearly every shadetree (and most of the "professionals") ignore when upgrading their vehicle, it's the brakes. It make sense. Horsepower, quarter mile, lap...

    Saturday: If there's one thing that nearly every shadetree (and most of the "professionals") ignore when upgrading their vehicle, it's the brakes. It make sense. Horsepower, quarter mile, lap times, etc. all make for easy, attention grabbing headlines. "I can stop so much more consistently now" does not.
    Now, the Tercel isn't exactly a finely tuned racing machine that'll embarrass anyone that dares rev in its general direction at a stoplight, but there's no getting around the fact that the new engine is going to nearly triple the 63 horsepower that was under the hood when it rolled off the assembly line in 1983. So while it'll now have the power to get out of its own way on the road, it'd be nice for it to have a little more oomph in the braking department to go with it. Plus, upgraded brakes will be a good thing should I decide to do a little weekend rallycross from time to time.

    If you've been following along so far, you'll probably guess that this means there is no "I'd like to upgrade my brakes please" kit for this car. So off to the parts bin to see what we can find!

    First, bleed the brakes. Spray some penetrant on the caliper nipple because you don't know what nearly 40 years of road grime, dirt, and salt has done to try to prevent you from loosening it, then be pleasantly surprised when it breaks free quite easily upon testing. Tighten it back to finger tight and since no one else wants to be in your still uninsulated and unairconditioned workshop (because the city's permit department is dragging more ass than an Epicyon haydeni with worms in a carpet factory) when it's 95°F outside grab the terribly named vacuum brake bleeder so you can bleed the brakes alone. Attach hose to nipple (quit giggling ya pervert) and turn to loosen, squeeze handle on bleeder and watch the wonders of modern technology suck almost all the brake fluid out in one go.

    Remove the two bolts holding the brake caliper to the brake caliper bracket and hang the caliper up for a moment so you don't damage the rubber brake line that you should (and I am) also replace. Remove the two bolts holding the caliper bracket to the front suspension upright. Look down your nose at the pathetic solid brake rotor that'll soon be headed to the recycler and give it a light tap with a hammer to remove it from the hub. While you're at it, go ahead and remove the front axle you didn't remove when you pulled the old engine and transmission out because you didn't have the correct socket to do so by pulling out the cotter pin, retaining nut, and 30mm nut holding it in place. Make sure you get the hardened washer off the hub or you'll forget about it and wonder why installation of new axles isn't going well and make a note to clean up all the grime later and repack the bearings with grease.

    Compare old solid rotor with new vended rotor off a VW Golf. New rotor is thicker, vented, and has a greater diameter. All things that add up to better braking performance through better thermal management and larger surface area for the calipers to grip (more on that later). What the new rotor doesn't have is the correct hub diameter to fit a car made a decade and a half earlier and 5,600 miles away. Not being centered on the hub means it'll be resting on the studs, create an imbalance, likely wear through the studs, and make you lose a wheel while driving down the highway. These are not good things. So you get hub centric rings to make the rotor center itself properly, after all brakes don't work very well if there's no wheel there. The rings sit a little proud of the rotor and interfere with the wheels, so they'll be ground flat with the rotor to resolve the issue. They'd be milled flat if I had my mill up and running, but that is also waiting for local government deworming.

    Now, larger rotors alone won't help you brake better. You need calipers with a greater surface area to press the brake pads into the rotors. A known option is to get the calipers off the 1987-89 AW11 Toyota MR2. Problem is, these aren't easy to find, cannot be found new or refurbished, and tend to be unnecessarily expensive even when they're just junkyard take-offs. So digging was done to see what other platforms either get upgrades from the MR2 or are upgrades to the MR2. An option that had promise was the late 80's 4th generation Toyota Celica which have a caliper piston diameter slightly larger than the MR2 and I found refurbished calipers on clearance. So crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
    Good news was the caliper bracket hub mounting bolts lined up.
    Bad news was they weren't far enough out from the hub to clear my new larger brake rotors.
    Good news is the calipers are still good to go and I should be able to mate these calipers to the brackets from the 1987 MR2 caliper set I picked up after buying these and ultimately it'll still be less than if I bought the MR2 calipers first and had them rebuilt. Will find out later this week/next weekend when they arrive.

    Sunday: I didn't do a damn thing and was happy about it. Played some video games. Watched a movie. And just spent some quality time with my wife not doing anything because we both just needed a mental health day to switch off.

    3 votes