After driving our Hurst edition '70 Chrysler 300 for a while, we realized that stopping this beast was becoming something of a task. While the braking system did stop the car, it was beginning to pull to the right and was making a grinding noise that clearly told us our brakes needed help. The problem is there is not much aftermarket support for Chrysler C-Bodies, so our options were limited. We did find that Stainless Steel Brakes makes a rear disc conversion for the 83/4 rearend, so we ordered the kit and installed it in last month's issue. For the front, however, our options were sparse. If our car was originally equipped with drum brakes we could get an upgrade kit, but our Chrysler had factory discs, and we didn't necessarily want to change to drum spindles due to the rarity of this vehicle. Since no one makes an upgrade kit for our application, we were limited to rebuilding the factory disc brakes but dreaded trying to find parts. You know the story, you go to the local store and ask for pads and caliper rebuild kits, they ask if the car has air conditioning, you ask why that matters, then they say they don't have the parts. We've been down this road before. Of course, we're assuming the local parts store's computer goes back to 1970, some don't. In any case, our research led us to a great source for braking systems out of Charlotte, North Carolina, called Brake Tech Solutions.

With more than 25 years experience designing and rebuilding braking systems, Brake Tech Solutions can either provide the O-rings, pads, and hardware to do the job yourself, or they offer full-service rebuilding of your entire brake system. They can also custom design brake systems for older cars that have no aftermarket support, like ours.

During the inspection of our Chrysler's front end it was apparent that our front suspension was worn, and that new bushings, tie rods, and ball joints would need to be installed. A quick call to Just Suspension confirmed they had the parts we needed in stock and, once ordered, they arrived in a couple of days. Since our car is fairly rare, and we don't want to stray too far from factory installed hardware, plus we'd be busy with the front-suspension overhaul, we opted to have our factory disc brakes overhauled by Brake Tech Solutions. When we say they are a full-service brake restoration center, we mean full service. When we contacted them and told them what we had, they stated we just needed to remove the front brakes, spindles and all, and they could perform all the work and return the brakes in about two weeks. We must admit we were initially skeptical about the two-week turn time, especially with Christmas looming around the corner, but we removed our brakes and shipped them to Brake Tech for an overhaul.

Even during the holiday season Brake Tech Solutions had our front brakes back to us in less time than we thought possible, and the quality of their work was apparent. The brakes didn't look rebuilt, they looked new. Not only were the calipers completely overhauled and coated, new rotors were included, as well as new flexible brake lines, wheel bearings, and all the hardware necessary to complete the job. They even cleaned, inspected, and coated our spindles prior to sending the parts back to us for installation. We have performed brake overhauls ourselves, but have been burned in the past by not having the necessary equipment to repair all the parts. An example of this is the calipers. Inside the caliper is one (as in ours) or more pistons, usually made from aluminum that fit into the steel bore of the caliper. Much like the pistons and bores of an engine, the bore of the caliper will become worn or corroded, and the seal will no longer keep the fluid inside the caliper. While in most applications a new caliper can be obtained, in older vehicles like ours, new parts may not be available. In the absence of new calipers there is only one solution. The caliper's bore must be machined to clean up the damage, the oversize pistons and seals are installed, or the bore is sleeved back to its original size to fit the factory pistons and seals, which is the preferred method. Brake Tech has the tools and equipment to repair calipers and re-sleeve them if necessary. They can even take it a step further and install stainless-steel sleeves so corrosion will never again be an issue. We were impressed, not only with the quality of their work and the short turnaround time, but also with their professionalism and their general knowledge of Mopar braking systems. It's nice to know there are companies as dedicated as we are to keeping these old Chryslers on the road.

We began our job by removing the spindles and brakes and shipping them out to Brake Tech for overhaul. While we waited for our parts to return, we tackled the car's front suspension, removing the parts to clean and inspect them prior to installing the new suspension components. As with any 30-some-year-old car, we had the standard fight on our hands. Dousing the hardware liberally with Royal Purple's Max Film penetrating oil a day prior to completing the work certainly helped free the rusted hardware, and a high-power impact wrench didn't hurt either. Aside from a tie-rod/ball joint separator, a ball joint socket, and a pitman arm remover, only standard hand tools were needed to remove the suspension components. Just Suspension, knowing that ball joint sockets are somewhat of a specialty tool, included one in our suspension rebuild kit. Replacing the control arm bushings does require a hydraulic press, but if you don't have one and still wish to do the work yourself, simply remove the components and take them to a shop to have the new bushings pressed in. They'll charge you for the labor, but not nearly what they would charge to do the job completely. We were finishing up the suspension job just about the time our brakes showed up, so we bolted the brakes back on, bled the system, and were back on the road.

How did our new brakes perform? While we'd love to give you before and after stopping distance numbers, we really can't. Our brakes were in such poor condition that we could have improved stopping distance simply by cutting holes in the floorboards and stopping Fred Flintstone style. Instead, we chose a real world driving test and took our Chrysler to the test track known as Interstate 4 in central Florida. This stretch of road is always packed with vehicles weaving and jockeying for position, much like a Formula One race. It seems everyone is in a hurry, and if you leave a car length of space in front of you, two cars will try to fill it, cutting you off. Those of you who have driven this road know what we mean. While we generally avoid this road while driving our classic cars because of its propensity for accidents, we took the Chrysler onto the interstate during rush hour traffic and were surprised at how comfortable we felt with the new brakes installed. Our Chrysler was maneuvering and stopping like cars half its size and weight, and gave us confidence we had only dreamed of before performing this upgrade. We now look forward to many miles of driving this car without worrying that we can't stop if someone brake-checks us in traffic. Not bad for a couple of weekends of wrenching!

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