Our F-Body Camaro Gets Wilwood Drag Brakes

Our Casper white 2000 F-Body Camaro,  will eventually be powered by a naturally aspirated World Products LS7 Warhawk 802 horsepower leviathan, got some much needed stopping power with a new Wilwood brake system. While we intend to reign over the other carb engine cars on the track, we know that having the brawn to stop is essential to a good safe run. For this Herculean task, we hand-picked the Wilwood Brakes Dynalite drag race rear axle kit and the newly released Dynapro big brake front hat kit.

There’s little doubt that many race teams on Southern California’s drag strips favor Wilwood Brake systems. Wilwood Engineering’s brake systems have been used in hundreds of Championship winning drag cars, and were an easy choice as our primary stopping force for our Camaro.

Wilwood Brakes, located in Camarillo, California offers a line of brake components for anything on or off the road.

Our F-Body Camaro Project Car "All-Air".

The Brake System

Choosing the rear brake system was an effortless decision. Wilwood’s distinguished Dynalite drag brake series for Ford Big Bearing axle flanges was readily available off the shelf. We chose the 11.44 diameter solid rotor kit with a 2.36 offset (part number 140-0261-B), that would work perfectly with our Moser fabricated M9 rear end with Torino style bearings.

Deciding on the front brakes offered more of a challenge. Because we wanted to use an 11.75 diameter rotor, the choices were limited. Fortunately, Wilwood has just engineered a caliper mounting block for the F-Body Camaros that can adapt the caliper mounting for 1998 through 2002 model year spindles to accept Wilwood series calipers.

Wilwood Technical Consultant Michael Hamrick explained that the new caliper mounting block “is a fresh release, and LSX Magazine has the first production block off of the line.” Michael further explained: “If you have a 1993 through 1997 model year Camaro with floating style single piston calipers, there is still good news. Changing to the later model spindles will allow you to use this kit and take advantage of mounting the Wilwood Dynapro Radial calipers and rotors”.

Hamrick went on to tell us that, “Radial mount calipers and brackets offer a much more rigid mounting system than a lug mount design. The radial design also allows for rotor diameter changes with a simple spacer rather than a whole new bracket. If a customer with a 13” rotor kit wanted to upgrade to a 14” rotor, he would only need longer studs and spacers rather than a complete new taller bracket.”

Specs on the Dynapro Big Brake Front Hat Kit:
Application: Drag Race
Radial mount Calipers
4 Piston calipers
Piston area: 4.8 sq. in.
Ultralite Curved vane rotor.
Number of vanes: 32
Rotor surface: Plain face.
Rotor Material: Iron
Rotor Diameter: 11.75″
Rotor Width: 0.81″
Minimum Wheel Diameter: 15″
Brake Pads: Value priced Race only. Medium to Very High heat range.

The installation of the Dynapro big brake front hat (part number 140-10787) is painless and trouble free.

Wilwood Engineering's DynaLite Drag Brake Kit.

Prepping the Car for Installation

Although Wilwood brake systems are fairly easy to install, it is highly recommended that someone experienced in brake installation and brake system operations perform the installation. Prior to attempting to install any brake system kit, the components of the kit should be inspected for completeness. Wilwood provides a wheel clearance diagram with every set of instructions and it is important to verify the minimum required clearances for inside wheel diameter and radius.

Removing the front caliper from the stock brake system.

Removing the original equipment brakes is the starting place in prepping the car for assembly of the new system. Our team put the Camaro on the two-post lift and removed the tires, then we turned our attention to the calipers and hubs.

Because we also planned on upgrading the front suspension with a VariShock Front coilover conversion, removing the spindle and upper shock mount assembly was in the cards as well. The VariShock Coilover conversion requires reusing the stock spindle so we took this opportunity to clean and degrease the OEM spindle on the car.

Pulling the stock rotor off.

After we removed the stock front brake calipers, rotors, and spindles, we focused on prepping for the coilover conversion. We removed the upper shock mount and disconnected the sway bar from the lower A arm. The shock, spring and upper shock mount came out of the shock tower as one assembly. We needed to reuse the upper shock mount as the foundation for the coilover conversion, so we removed it from the shock assembly and cleaned it up.

Removing the stock spindle for cleaning.

Suspension Installation

Because we already had everything apart to do the brakes, we decided it would be a good time to also switch out the suspension.

VariShock’s coilover mounting bracket attaches to the stock mount in the shock tower. It’s simply a matter of installing four 3/8” bolts with washers and nylock nuts to the OEM mount and torquing to 35 ft lbs. The shocks included in the VariShock coilover conversion are the VAS 16X2F-824. These are threaded body shocks with a total travel of 4.25 inches. The shocks feature dual adjustment knobs to control bump and rebound independently. Both ends of the shock incorporate urethane bushings, which must be installed along with mounting studs and crossbars that mount to the lower A Arm.

Chris Alston's ChassisWorks VariShocks.

With the shock mounting components installed, we moved on to installing the coilovers. Because the shocks are threaded, installing the spring seats is uncomplicated. Simply apply a little anti-seize to the inside of the spring seat, and screw it down onto the shock body as far as it will go without hitting the adjustment knobs.

The VariShock Coilovers come with a unique thrust bearing that installs on top of the spring seat, allowing for easy adjustment of the ride height with the coil spring installed. The coil spring slides down the shock body and sits on the thrust bearing. The upper spring seat can then be inserted between the spring and the top mount eye, completing the assembly.

Assembling the VariShock Coilover conversion kit.

The finished shock / coilover assembly was then mounted in the shock tower of the chassis by first attaching it to the upper mount. We took a quick check to make sure that the adjustment knobs were pointing to the inside of the car, then we attached the shock assembly to the lower A arm. Once both coilovers were installed, we reattached the sway bar and reinstalled the spindle. Finally, we were ready to start installing our front brakes.

Attaching the VariShock coilover to the upper mount.

Front Brake Installation

The front brake installation is straightforward as long as you follow the procedure in the instructions. Wilwood provides very accurate instructions, complete with pictures for those of us who need visual guidance.

Our team stayed with the printed instructions and completed the installation in record time. There are not that many components and they are manufactured to only go on one way. We’ve heard of installers making the task more difficult by over thinking the installation. This has gotten them into trouble, so save yourself the headache and go by the instructions.

The front brakes are installed by attaching the mount bracket assembly to the spindle. This is where a lot of installers get in trouble: the bracket must mount squarely against the inboard side of the caliper mount bosses on the spindle. If the spindle bosses have any road grime crud, metal shavings, casting irregularities, machining ridges, or are dinged up, the Wilwood caliper will not properly align to the rotor. It pays to make sure that the mounting bosses have a clean flat surface to mount the block to.

The two bolts mounting the block in place only need to be tightened at this point. Later, when the calipers and rotors have been installed, the alignment is checked and any shims that need to be added will require the removal of these two bolts.

Installing the mounting block to the spindle.

Now the rotor can be bolted to the rotor hat and safety wired. The bolts need to be coated with red thread sealer and torqued to 65 ft lbs. While you can safety wire the bolts by hand, we strongly recommend using a pair of lock wire pliers to make the job easier and more secure. Remember to safety wire the bolt heads so that the wire is pulling the bolts in a tightening direction.

Wilwood Engineering provides a data sheet on the proper safety wire technique on their website which can be viewed here.

Safety wiring the rotor to rotor hat mount bolts.

With the rotor bolted and safety wired to the rotor hat, the assembly can be installed on the hub. We checked the hub over to make sure that there were no stress cracks, rust or road debris on the mating surface, then we secured the rotor assembly to the hub using a couple of lug nuts to hold it squarely in place.Keeping the rotor assembly tightly in place is critical for the next operation – installing the calipers and checking rotor alignment.

Checking the rotor alignment in the caliper.

Once the rotor assembly was held firmly in place by the lug nuts, we installed the caliper onto the mounting block. We checked the rotor to ensure that it was centered by examining the assembly, first from the top of the caliper, then from the bottom. If the rotor is not centered, a shim or two will need to be inserted between the mounting block and the spindle. Fortunately, ours was centered on the first shot so adding shims was not required.

Next we installed the brake pads, then checked to make sure that the pads were flush with the outside radius of the rotor. Again, we were on target the first time with no adjustment needed.

No adjustment needed this time.

Now it was a simple matter of taking the lug nuts off that we had used to hold the rotor flush to the hub, reinstalling the wheels, and tightening all of the lug nuts down to secure the wheel to the hub.

After changing out the stock brake lines to the Wilwood braided flex lines, we were finished with the front brake assembly until it was time to bleed them.

The Rear Brakes

The Dynalite Drag Brake Kit is designed for drag racing applications up to 2800 lbs and are true bolt on kits. Originally built for sportsman applications, the dynalite kits have become popular in many drag racing classes.

Specs on the Dynalite Rear Drag Race Brake Kit:
Application: Drag Race
Forged 4-piston Calipers
Piston area: 4.8 sq. in.
Solid Steel Rotor.
Rotor surface: Plain face.
Rotor Diameter: 11.44″
Rotor Width: 0.35″
Minimum Wheel Diameter: 15″
Brake Pads: Value priced Race only. Medium to Very High heat range.

Installing the rear Dynalite Drag brakes was even easier than the front brakes because there were no stock OEM brakes to remove. We had just completed an upgrade to a Moser Fabricated M9 rear end, so we moved right into the installation using the same procedure as the front brakes. The caliper mounting bracket also acts as the axle bearing retainer plate, so it was installed as part of the axle upgrade.

All that was left for us to do was bolt the rotor and rotor hat assembly together exactly as we had done with the front brakes, and install the rotor assembly onto the axle hub securing it with a couple of lug nuts. Then we installed the caliper onto the caliper mount and checked the alignment of the rotor in the caliper. Both sides were centered on the first attempt and no shims needed to be added. We chalked this up to working with brand new rear end components that had not been tweaked or distorted by driving several thousand miles. Giving thanks for the bonus of working with new parts, we installed the brake pads into the calipers.

Super stopping power in under one hour.

After the clearances had been checked, we removed the lug nuts that temporarily held the rotor assembly on, reinstalled the wheels, and changed the brake lines. The system was ready to be bled and put on the road.

Michael Hamrick gave us some technical advice about bleeding the Wilwood brake systems: “Obviously, you want to start at the caliper farthest from the master cylinder, which would be the right rear. Our calipers have bleed ports on the outside caliper and the inside caliper. Start with the outside caliper first, then move to the inside caliper. Because of the internal passages between the two calipers, we’ve found that going back to the outside caliper and doing a second bleeding before moving on to the next wheel is a good procedure to remove all of the air that was trapped between the calipers.”

He also gave us the heads-up on which brake fluid to use: “Wilwood Hi- Temp is the maximum performance DOT 3 fluid at cost effective price. If you want to go all out, Wilwood EXP DOT 4 fluid is the highest temperature, highest performance, lowest compressibility brake fluid you can buy.”

Our Camaro was still undergoing some other upgrades, so putting her on the street would have to wait. When we do finally takeher to the track, one thing is certain: we have the stopping power worthy of our monster motor. There’s a feeling of confidence that comes with knowing you have the added level of safety that a superior braking system provides. We have that confidence in our F-Body Camaro with the Wilwood Engineering brake system.

With the rear tire mounted, there is plenty of clearance and we're ready for the street.

Article Sources

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
Read My Articles

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