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Product Review- PowerBrake Brake kit for 94-04 Mustangs

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 I want to start doing product reviews on parts I run or use on my own. This blog actually gets a decent amount of traffic so hopefully some people will find these reviews useful. I will only review parts I have personally used. Another note is that I will always give useful information, backed up by as much data as I can, and hopefully over time, these reviews can be used as resources for people. The first part I will review is the new SN95 Mustang Brake Kit from PowerBrake. The story actually starts at PRI 2015 when I happened to run into Terry Fair and Jason McDaniel from Vorshlag as they were chatting with the reps of PowerBrake. I never heard of them before so just kinda evesedropped on the conversation while checking out the impressive display of their brake kits. The kits are finally available here: SN95 Big Brake Kit

Fast forward to January 2017, and after the 2016 season with the increase in power from completing the 3.5 EcoBoost swap, along with much improved aero and grip, the Cobra PBR calipers and one piece rotors weren't quite cutting it any more. They have been on the car since 2009 and performed well, but I knew they were an area of my car that needed to be upgraded. So a call to the guys at Vorshlag was made to see what they were thinking. They spoke very highly of the PowerBrake kits they have already been using on some of their other cars. Problem was, there was no kit available for my car. But as luck would have it, PowerBrake and Vorshlag were already chatting about a kit for the SN95 Mustang that would utilize their already proven X4EM caliper and 330x32mm rotors. A set of spindles was sent to PowerBrake to do their thing and make a complete kit. I needed to retain a 13" rotor so I wouldn't have to buy several sets of 18" rims and tires along with the brake kit. I just had to be patient and wait for them to work their magic and develop the bracket to make it all work. 

Fast forward again about 2-3 months and the kit showed up at my door. We were in contact with the guys at Vorshlag and PowerBrake with the rest of the specs that remained on our current setup to make sure the balance, or bias, remained about what it was. The front calipers have 42mm/38mm pistons, which is slightly less than the PBR calipers they replace which sent a little more bias rearward, which my car needed. This also works the rear brakes a litter harder to help increase braking capacity. First thing to jump out at you is the size difference of the calipers. We unboxed everything and inspected it all. We weighed everything to the tenth of a pound. The new kits total weight increase was about 4.3lbs. As much of a stickler I am about weight, the few extra pounds will be welcomed for the increse in life and performance.

Install was pretty straight forward. Some slight clearancing of the lower brake mounting ear is needed, but thats about it. The brake lines carried over fine and since they send the kit with new banjo bolts and crush washers, it was about a 30 minute install, then an extra 10-15 min to bleed the brakes. I was ready for the first event with the new setup at New Jersey Motorsports Park with NASA. The driver side seems to run a tad hotter than the passenger side, but the brake duct going to it has to snake around the air box and some other stuff so its not as straight a shot as the passenger side. Also, being a CCW run track, passing people you almost always pop out to drivers right, so the passenger side duct would get fed slightly more air as well. The driver side saw a peak of 340-351 on the caliper, and passenger side was between 320-331. This is the first time I've ever had these temperature strips so not sure if that is enough difference to be a concern or not but I don't think so. With my old setup, the driver side rotor would always get more heat checking (and in some cases actually crack) before my passenger side, so I know that its always seemed to run a little hotter just from that. The paint marks on the rotors are the same with the first two turning color. The green turned color but the orange did not so we have to be between 860-1022F. Rotor faces look fine. I had a tad of a mess up on my end and didn't check the clearance between the rotor and caliper. I noticed it was a little off on the top of the driver side during install but didn't think much of it. In the one picture you can see where the spindle/hub would deflect and the rotor made contact with the caliper. They make mention of it in the install manual, I just didn't think it would deflect quite that much. This is the spindle that was on the car when I had a contact with another car in 2015. Not sure if its actually a little tweaked or not but I added a .020 shim to move it out. Passenger side lined up perfect. I also mic'd the leading and trailing edges of the pads. Numbers for that are shown in the picture. The passenger side was just about even. The driver side was a little off, but again, my slight miss on the caliper alignment may have something to do with it. And yes, I checked the bearing and there is no play in that. I actually replaced it before the Pittsburgh event a few weeks ago so that shouldn't be the issue. Compared to my old setup, .050" of pad taper after a weekend is actually damn near perfect! NJMP's Thunderbolt circuit I would call a medium on the scale of very low brake abuse to very high brake abuse. There are 2 hard brake zones from a high speed, 1 hard zone from a medium speed, coupled with 3 other areas you do a little feather, or squeeze on the brakes, but not at max effort. I think thats about it for pictures and inspection. The best part of it all is that the pads look hardly even worn so can already see that the pads and rotors will last much longer. For referrence, I used Hawk DTC 60's in the old setup, and Powerbrake PB23 race compound in the new kit. My rear brakes are 99 Cobra setup, and a stock, 99 Mustang GT master cylinder.

Onto data and seat of the pants. I actually found myself over slowing for the corners getting used to the new setup initially. First thing was seeing is if my Max_LongAccl decreased. And yes, they did. I attached a quick snippet of the channels report of that. The bottom is from just about a month prior with the old setup and saw a max of 1.02 g's. The upper is the new setup and see a max of 1.3 g's. A few things to note tho is in this time frame I worked with the guys at Maximum Motorsports and increased my spring rates all around. If I braked too hard, the splitter would scrape on the softer springs. The old setup, digging through data, I can find decel rates in the 1.2 g range, but are very infrequent. The new setup tho, I'll see it in the 1.2-1.3g range just about every lap. So from this point, realizing I could trust the brakes much more, and decel rates increasing, I needed to shorten my brake zones. Again, digging through data I pulled up multiple laps of the old setup and the new. I then took a delta from peak speeds of the old vs. the new and get a rough new braking point just about 100 feet later. This makes sense as I used to use the 5 marker going into turn 1, and quickly extended it to use the 4 marker, and could probably push a little more if necessary. I also did a blog post more on how to utilize GPS data from my AiM Solo on how to determine this.

All in all, after the first weekend with the new setup I'm really excited. Having faith in my brakes again really increases driver confidence, along with decreasing lap times, and an ability to out brake competitors! One thing I will need to calculate over time is if its actually cheaper to run this kit. Despite the pads and rotors costing more, I expect them to last longer so running costs may actually decrease as well which would just be icing on the cake. But for anyone that wants a high quality, awesome performing 13" brake kit at a very reasonable price definitely needs to check this kit out! The are available by clicking this link here>