Do-It-Yourself Wilwood Brake Upgrade for Series I E-Type
Here is the information on the Wilwood front brake conversion I've developed for my own Series I E-Type. If you have any questions, or run into any problems, feel free to contact me by E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll be happy to provide whatever assistance I can. When you're all
done, I'd love to hear how it went, and how you like your new brakes.
I developed this upgrade for my own use, and I am offering it to others
as a courtesy only, and on a strictly AS-IS basis. USE THIS INFORMATION
STRICTLY AT YOUR OWN RISK!! I will accept absolutely no responsibility
or liability for anything that happens as a result of your use of the information
Several vendors offer Wilwood brake upgrades for E-Types, at prices
starting at about $600. While there are detail differences between these
kits, they are all functionally identical. The differences are the specific
Wilwood calipers used, some include braided steel hoses, the mounting brackets
are obviously different designs, and fabricated from different materials.
of these trade-offs is discussed below, so you can make an informed
decision about which options you want to implement.
My upgrade is also functionally identical to the commercial offerings,
only cheaper. Depending on exactly what you have on-hand, what you need
to buy, and prevailing prices in your area, the whole job can be done for
as little as $350, and should only take about 2 hours to install. Worst
case cost is probably about $400-450. There are two reasons my upgrade
1) You're not paying the overhead of the vendors
2) You will have to do a little more work yourself
However, when you're done, you'll have an upgrade that is functionally
identical to the commercial offerings, and nobody other than you will ever
know the difference. This document, and the attached drawing,
provide instructions on how to do the upgrade, where you can buy all necessary
components, and what everything *should* cost. Of course, "your mileage
may vary". All you need to do, that you would not if you bought one of
the commercial kits, is have the brackets fabricated by a local machine
shop using the attached drawing, and
fabricate the short steel brake lines that connect the calipers to the
I'm not going to explain how to bleed the brakes here. If you don't
know that, you shouldn't be thinking about doing this.
BTW - This is a *real* good time to toss on a new set of rotors and
brake hoses as well.
WILL THIS WORK ON MY CAR?
Well, that depends. The bracket is designed only to fit a Series I
car, although I have seen at least one Series II car with Series I brakes
on it. Don't ask me how they got there. It seems there are an awful lot
of "hacked" cars out there that have parts from other years and models
on them. Your first step should be to verify you really do have Series
I brakes on your car. This is very easy. Open the bonnet, and look at the
calipers, both from under the bonnet, and through the wheel. Series I calipers
are made by Dunlop, and have "Dunlop" embossed on the outside of both cylinders.
They are two piston calipers, so they look essentially the same from both
the left and right sides. They use silly, little pads that are about 2"
square. Next check that the center-to-center spacing on the caliper mounting
bolts is 3", rather than the 3-1/2" of the Series II calipers. Finally,
check the thickness of your rotor. The Series II rotor is 3/8" thick, while
the Series II rotor is 1/2" thick. If all these check out, the upgrade
should work for you. If not, your car may have been modified, and the upgrade
*may* not work for you. If you're not sure, let me know what you find,
and I'll try to help you sort it out.
The mounting brackets can be fabricated by any machine shop. I had
mine made for about $55 each. Shop around, as you'll find considerable
difference in price from shop to shop. It's not rocket science, and does
not require any great precision, so pretty much any shop, or anyone who
knows even a little about running a milling machine, can do it.
For material, you have some flexibility. The drawing specifies 7075
aluminum, which is a high-strength aircraft-grade aluminum alloy that is
both extremely strong, and relatively light weight. I think this is a great
choice, but I made mine from 6061 aluminum, which is not quite as strong,
but cheaper, and will almost always be on-hand at any machine shop. You
can also use
steel, but the machining will probably cost more, the brackets will
be heavier, and they will be subject to rust if not plated. I've had a
number of people express concern that aluminum is either not strong enough,
or somehow cannot handle the heat of this application. While I could put
my engineering degree to use and go into great technical detail about why
these concerns are unfounded, I will instead ask a simple question: What
are the Wilwood (and virutally all high-performance) calipers made of?
Answer: aluminum. And, a rather soft, mild aluminum at that!
For surface finish, the as-machined finish is fine. If you want to smooth
out the milling marks, you can ask the shop to media blast or tumble them.
The drawing specifies black anodize plating. Any plating is primarily a
cosmetic issue, assuming you don't drive in snow and salt. If you do drive
in snow and salt, STOP THAT! For aluminum, anodizing is the finish to use,
and you have your choice of colors (black, red, blue, etc.). If you make
your brackets from steel, get them clear zinc, chromate or cadmium plated.
Again, it's primarily an appearance thing. My recommendation is save some
money, and paint them instead. I didn't bother to plate mine, to save cost.
Hell, I didn't even paint them! My car is never even driven in the rain,
so corrosion is
not an issue. Once the calipers are mounted, the brackets are not really
visible, so appearancewas not a concern for me either.
You have a choice of calipers as well. Some commercial kits use the
Wilwood Billet Dynalite calipers, which are absolutely *gorgeous*, anodized
aluminum, completely milled out of aluminum billets. These are what I used,
and are available for $104
each over the web. If you want to save a little money, you can get
the Dynalite II, which is a functionally identical caliper in cast aluminum
for about $87 each. These are the ones offered in some commercial kits.
The *only* difference is appearance, and a slight difference in weight
(billet is a tad lighter). They are functionally absolutely identical.
The cheapest source I could find for these on-line is Behrent's
The part numbers are:
P/N WIL120-4993 1.75" piston, 3/8" thick rotor $104.37/ea. (2 req'd)
P/N WIL120-1051L 1.75" piston, 3/8" thick rotor, left side $ 86.98/ea.
P/N WIL120-1051R 1.75" piston, 3/8" thick rotor, right side $ 86.98/ea.
P/N WIL15D-4331K Poly-Matrix "D" pads for Dynalite $ 37.50/set (1 set
For either caliper, you'll also need the Wilwood "Tube Adaptors":
P/N WIL220-0628 Wilwood caliper tube adaptors $ 3.81/pkg. (1 pkg req'd)
You'll notice the cast Dynalite II calipers come in left and right.
The only difference is the locations of the bleed screws and crossover
tubes are reversed, so the bleed screws will always be on the top. The
Billet Dynalite has internal crossover, and there are bleed screws at all
four corners, so they can be mounted either side up.
The existing caliper mounting bolts (and possibly shims) can be used
to mount the brackets. You'll also need four each 3/8-24UNF x 1-1/2" Grade
8 bolts, hardened split washers, and hardened flat washers for mounting
the calipers to the brackets. These should all be readily available from
most hardware or auto parts stores. How it all goes together is described
Many people really like stainless steel brake hoses. I admit, they
do look kinda cool. I'm told they provide a slightly firmer pedal, since
they are essentially immune to expansion under pressure. That's about the
only real benefit I can see. I have a hard time buying the argument that
they are more durable in on-road use. In fact, I have reason to believe
they can be less
reliable, unless they are plastic jacketed to prevent dirt from getting
into the braided cover, and abrading the teflon inner tube. Some people
cover them with heat shrink tubing to prevent this, and some come pre-jacketed.
Of course, then you don't get the cool look.....
It's a good idea to replace old hoses. Use stainless steel hoses if
you want, or keep the rubber ones if you want. If you do decide to use
stainless hoses, buy a brand-name product, and make sure they're jacketed.
There are a lot of cheap knock-offs out there that are inferior quality,
and brakes is no place to take chances. If you decide to keep the rubber
hoses, make sure they're in good shape. If they're more than a few years
old, it would probably be wise to just go ahead and replace them while
it's all apart. They don't cost much, compared to the cost of a brake failure
You will need to fabricate new steel brake lines to connect the calipers
to the brake hoses. Everything you need to do this should be readily available
from any auto parts store. First, take one of the Wilwood tube adaptors
to the store with you, and buy a pre-made 3/16" steel brake line at least
18" long, with two flare fittings that will screw into the Wilwood adaptors.
This steel line should cost $3-4. You'll need a brake tubing flaring
tool, which should also be available from the auto parts store for about
$20-25 for a decent one. Finally, you'll need a small tubing cutter, available
from any hardware store, plumbing store, or home center for about $5. If
you like, you can also buy a tubing bending tool, though I simply bent
mine by hand, using a piece of 1/2" pipe as a mandrel. While you're at
the auto parts store, pickup a quart of good DOT-3 brake fluid.
UPGRADING REAR BRAKES
Since this Wilwood upgrade significantly increases the stopping power
of the front brakes, the brake bias is shifted more towards the front than
before. While it is perfectly drivable like this, the braking performance
can be fairly easily improved at no cost by simply moving the cylinders
from the original Dunlop front calipers to the rear calipers. The entire
caliper cannot be
moved, as the emergency brake attaches to the frame of the rear calipers,
and the appropriate fittings do not exist on the front calipers. The cylinders
are interchangeable, however. I wont both to give detailed instructions
on how to do this, as it is quite straight-forward. It does, however, require
dropping the entire independent rear suspension (IRS) assembly to gain
access to the rear calipers. This is considered by some to be a difficult
job. I have done it by myself, and did not find it to be all that difficult,
but I can certainly see that having a second person on-hand could make
it easier to put it back in place and get it lined up properly. Once the
rear calipers are removed from the IRS, the cylinders can be removed from
the frame by simply disconnecting the bridge pipe and the four bolts securing
each cylinder to the frame. Then, simply replace them with the cylinders
from the front calipers. This would also be a good time to consider replacing
the rear rotors and/or brake hose, if any of them are at all suspect.
the fluid drain into a suitable container.
and remove the calipers. Be sure to collect all the shims that *should*
be between the calipers and mounting ears on the uprights. Try to keep
the ones from each bolt together, as you *may* need them in the next steps.
I'd suggest you put the calipers into Ziploc bags and put them in a safe
place, in case you someday want to go back to "stock". If you leave them
out, they'll get rusted up and turn to junk.
for the brake hose to the upright, and pull the hose and short steel tube
out the front, and clear of the upright. Using TWO wrenches, remove the
short steel tube from the hose, then re-attach the bracket, but do not
fully tighten the bolt yet. It is important to loosen and tighten this
fitting with TWO wrenches, or else you'll end up mangling the bracket.
Plus you won't be able to tighten it enough to keep it from leaking.
the caliper are towards the rear of the car, and offset towards the outside.
The Wilwood calipers mount slightly further outboard of where the stock
ones do. Snug down the mounting bolts, but DO NOT tighten them all the
and split washers. Snug down the mounting bolts, but DO NOT tighten them
all the way yet. If you bought the cast Dynalite II calipers, be sure you
mount them with the bleed screws ON TOP!!
centered between the pads. If I did my homework right, the caliper will
be offset slightly towards the outside by about 0.05". If so, remove the
two bolts fastening the bracket to the upright, and put back some or all
of the shims that were removed with the old calipers. Re-mount the caliper,
as required to get the rotor centered reasonably well within the caliper.
It does not need to be absolutely perfect, but should be pretty close.
Also, make VERY sure the caliper is parallel to the rotor. This is important
for even pad wear! Again, it does not have to be absolutely perfect, but
should be very close. Add or delete shims from only the top or bottom mounting
bolt to get it as close to parallel as you can. If you have a choice between
centered and parallel, go for parallel. Being slightly off-center will
not hurt anything.
you can tighten down all four mounting bolts, install and bend the HUGE
cotter pin, and, if you like, re-install the safety wire.
the in-board side of each caliper. Don't use any sealant, as there is already
sealant on the threads. Remember you're going into aluminum, so don't over-tighten
and strip the threads.
cutter, cut the flares off the front end of the old brake tubes, and remove
the large flare nuts. These will be reused on the new lines.
a roughly 120 degree bend in the flared end of each piece of tubing, reasonably
close to the flare. This is the end that will connect to the adaptor in
into the hose fitting on the upright. At this point, the tube should be
more or less shaped like a question mark.
below the hose fitting, and finger tighten it. Mark the point on the tube
directly below the very end of the flare on thehose fitting.
flare nut removed from the old tube, and put a new flare on the end of
the tube. With a little finagling, you should now be able to attach this
new tube to both the caliper and brake hose. If not, uh-oh! Sounds like
another trip to the auto parts store for another sacrificial brake tube!
the hose, just enough so the tube can't move, not enough to bend the bracket.
Then remove the bolt fastening the hose bracket to the upright, pull the
hose and tube out, tighten the flare nut using TWO wrenches, then re-mount
the hose bracket and tighten the mounting bolt.
the hose nor the brake tube contacts ANYTHING!! If there is any contact,
FIX IT NOW!!
sure you get ALL the air out. This will take a while, and will go through
about a quart of brake fluid!