Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

XR4Ti / Sierra / Sierra Cosworth Discussions - Questions, problem resolution, general talk, technical tips and modifications.
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DecalService
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Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by DecalService » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:25 am

Hello all!

It's been forever!!! I own 12 cars, and since my xr4ti needed minimal things, it sat tucked away in a garage for 3 years, only starting and driving every couple weeks for a few miles.

This car was Andrew Sarkozi's old car which he sold to me. 49k, It's an as-original-as-it-gets, lightly modded 1986 with a lot of the Rapido goodies of the time, IC, wheels, gauges, short throw, Bilstein B8 on all 4 sides and Rapido springs.

Ever since I have owned this car, the brakes have been real weak. They just don't "grab"... your pedal press is a suggestion rather than a command. They stop the car okay, but it takes longer than you'd expect. I don't remember my other xr4s being this way. In a panic situation, I'd be very leery.

The emergency brake also requires to be maxxed out before it reliably grabs the drum.

Question is, for a car that I driver for fun about a couple days out of the month, what would you guys suggest in the way of brake upgrades? Do you think that rear adjustment, new shoes, and Greenstuffs on the front would be the way to go, or should I do more involved upgrades?

Would love to hear your input. I really miss this car and I'd like to be able to drive it more. Truth be told, I stopped because with the brakes and sharp steering and low stance, it makes me more nervous than excited. The brakes are the final hurdle to enjoying this car fully.

The car is almost factory showroom perfect otherwise and has had some happy times at Carlisle apparently. Sadly, I have not yet been there personally.

thesameguy
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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by thesameguy » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:44 am

The factory brakes are more than adequate for getting around - for a lightly used car I don't think I'd change a thing... a refresh should do you just fine.

DecalService
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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by DecalService » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:07 pm

Thank you, brother!!!

Would you recommend trying the Greenstuff on the front?

Appreciative,
Rod

thesameguy
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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by thesameguy » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:21 pm

*Personally* I have had piss poor luck with EBC brake components and I just couldn't recommend them. For whatever reason, it seems like their products are very polarizing, with lots of love and lots of hate. My experience with them is limited to a few other European cars where they have just grotesquely underperformed, but I've read plenty of positive reviews of them.

I used Wagner Thermoquiets on my '87 a couple years ago and have been very satisfied with them. On other varying applications (*really* varying, like PT Cruisers, Fieros, Saturns, Mercedes) I've had very good results with both their ceramic and semi-metallic options. Rockauto stocks these for the XR - it'd be my recommendation for a DD.

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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by Ed Lijewski » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:46 pm

Just refresh brake pads, shoes if needed (inspect; new springs if new shoes are installed); change fluid, bleeding fully, adjust parking brake (simple). Use Motorcraft pads (and shoes). If rear shoes don't need replacing, at least clean self- adjuster of brake crud.

For DDing, Motorcraft parts give good performance, nice feel, long life (aftermarket pads typically wear rotors faster).

The rear shoes self-adjuster itself is fail safe, but accumulated crud may inhibit operation. Try this even before removing a drum to inspect: find an incline that you can back down on safely to 10/15 mph; brake firmly; go forward in the same manner; repeat reversing as above again. Typically then the brake pedal can be felt to be a bit higher, reflecting rear shoes adjustment. In many cases, drivers never reverse and sharply apply pedal pressure for the adjuster to do its thing.

(A master cylinder rebuild usually isn't required, but could be added to the above if found necessary.)

YMMV
Last edited by Ed Lijewski on Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DecalService
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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by DecalService » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:12 pm

Guys, I forgot how helpful and awesome you folks are! I'm glad to be back, thanks for the help. I hope to reciprocate one day soon.

This forum, along with the Rover800 forum are the two best communities on the 'net, hands down in my opinion (Yes, I sadly also own a Rover/Sterling 827sli. Bought for sentimental reasons)

Thank you all for the info, I'll go the Motorcraft route then, and I'll keep in mind the review on the Greenstuff. I'm a stock guy myself anyway, I don't race or drive my car hard, I drive it solely for the feel and memories, and listen to some music while cruising. I think the stock stuff will suit me just fine.

Appreciative,
Rod R.

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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by JimG » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:29 pm

When I first purchased my '86 XR I thought that it seemed to stop on its "nose" since then I've made a few mods to improve braking, but the first was the most significant and one that I would recommend for all!
Here are my mods:
1. Upgrade the rear brakes to discs and bypass or gut the proportioning valve! Car no longer stopped on its nose and overall braking was much improved.
2. Replaced the front calipers with PBRs with stainless brake lines and Focus svt rotors and as my car is an '86 this combo also required a later model MC and Booster. Braking is much better in the occasional AutoCross.
Jim Gosses
86 XR4TI, 165K, IC, RR, PBR Fronts, T-bird Rear Discs
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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by timxr8 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:53 pm

If you want to go bigger, I do have a solution that is pretty bolt-in on the front and a good rear disc solution that does not require a master cylinder upgrade.

The Focus has been using a 15/16" / 23mm Master Cylinder (same as early XR) for quite some time and the brake feel is very good.

Fronts would be the 2012+ Focus calipers (57mm piston vs the stock 60mm to improve the "feel", which is why Ford switched to a bigger master in the late '86/87 models) and 05-07 Focus rotors (278mm requires 15" wheels).

The rear are 2012+ Focus rear calipers and 02-04 SVT rotors (280mm/11" require 15" wheels, DO NOT WORK WITH SPATULA, unfortunately). If you need to run those or 14" in the rear, I recommend the Merkur Depot kit using the Base Focus rear discs from 1999-2007: essentially the stock Scorpio and Base Sierra rear disc (10" vs Cossie 10.75" vs Focus SVT/ST170 11").
Tim Spencer
1988 XR4Ti Duratec project car
2011 Taurus SHO daily driver...not stock.

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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by thesameguy » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:19 pm

JimG wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:29 pm
When I first purchased my '86 XR I thought that it seemed to stop on its "nose"
A lot of this is the stock suspension tuning... the stock spring rates are very low and the anti-dive geometry is very limited. With "modern" spring rates and a refurb'ed/updated front end bushing set, most of that dive can be eliminated. I have a mostly stock '87 with nothing more than these changes and it does not suffer these issues to any measurable degree.

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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by Ed Lijewski » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:21 pm

I agree ^.

I recently replaced struts and shocks and sway bar bushes on my two XRs and a Scorpio. Last year I replaced their TCAs. The big improvement was from the new struts on the XRs and both struts and shocks on the Scorpio which I had thought didn't need either set to be replaced, but I was wrong; the driving difference was huge.

YMMV
Last edited by Ed Lijewski on Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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mopman93
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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by mopman93 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:50 pm

Don’t forget the brake hoses. Brake fluid breaks down the hoses overtime and they actually collapse internally. Happens all the time. Your car is 30+ years old now.

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Re: Some brake upgrade questions for weekend driver

Post by cmouta » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:51 pm

for what its worth, I have some EBC Redstuff pads for the stock calipers collecting dust with 1500 miles on them if interested. I enjoyed them before upgrading my calipers to SVT Focus units.
Chris
2013 Nero Fiat 500C Abarth
1988 Mono Rosso Red Merkur XR4Ti
1974 VW Thing
2006 Bajaj Chetak 4T w/ sidecar

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