all change – the great British brake off

Driving up and down the hills of northern England and Scotland on our recent 1,200+mile road trip north of the border was a great opportunity to see and experience some of the UK’s stunning landscape. It was also a great way to enjoy driving and using our vintage 1964 VW camper.

a simple dream come true, tea on the banks of Loch Lubnaig
a simple dream come true, tea on the banks of Loch Lubnaig
Although the bus performed pretty much perfectly, on some of the major roads, you realised it wasn’t the buses performance you needed to worry about, it was more having to compensate for other road users that caused greater concern!
Whilst the current drum brakes are good, they do need fairly regular maintenance, and sometimes when people pull out in front of you without warning, it can be slightly ‘challenging’ to pull up quickly if you have to!!! I came to the conclusion that maybe it was time to look at upgrading the front brakes to a disc brake system.
For my peace of mind. I’ve decided to look into upgrading to disc brakes at the front. On a 23 window ‘Samba’ Deluxe I used to have a few years back, I really went to town with the running gear and braking system. Vented Porsche 944 discs upfront and at the rear, plus a big brake servo as well, along with a whole bunch of other custom upgrades!
1962 23 Window Samba in progress…
1962 23 Window Samba in progress…
Mind you this was to have a monster BAS Ahnendorp built 2.4 litre type 4 engine in it, so brakes were pretty high on the agenda at the time! Not going that far this time, happy with a stock set up to get the bus chugging along nicely! 🙂
BAS Ahnendorp built 2.4 litre type 4 engine
BAS Ahnendorp built 2.4 litre type 4 engine
My current, humble air cooled 1600cc engine in the camper doesn’t quite have the same amount of grunt as the big high power type 4 motor, nevertheless, stopping in time is always a good thing! No desire to switch over to Porsche running gear or stud pattern this time around, I love running my stock wide five steel rims, so this time I was after a system that worked with what I have and will keep things outwardly looking pretty stock.

After asking around and doing a bit of research, I found the team at Fellows Speedshop did an awesome brake kit to cater for the VW bus 15″ steel stock wheels with the wide five stud pattern setup.

Fellows Speed Shop disc brake kit – Vented Porsche 944 discs
Fellows Speed Shop disc brake kit – Vented Porsche 944 discs

Possibly a bit overkill maybe for my current bus/engine setup, but it combines classic vented Porsche 944 discs, some Willwood 4 pot calipers and a specially designed billet hub manufactured to work with wide five wheel fitment, perfect! 🙂 This should certainly transform the braking performance of the bus and add some serious stopping power upfront!

Fellows Speed Shop disc brake kit - Willwood 4 pot calipers
Fellows Speed Shop disc brake kit – Willwood 4 pot calipers

I added some custom colour coded braided flexible brake hoses as a finishing touch 🙂

upgraded braided coloured brake flexi hoses
upgraded braided coloured brake flexi hoses

All in all a very impressive engineered solution!

Fellows Speed Shop disc brake kit
Fellows Speed Shop disc brake kit

This will really add breaking power to the bus! I’ll see how it feels when fitted, as I could always upgrade it later with a brake servo if I felt it added to it, but they reckon it really is good enough without one!

Fellows Speed Shop disc brake detail
Fellows Speed Shop disc brake detail

I was down at the Resto Classics workshop chatting through the plans, when I saw a very nice Beetle they were working on. Curiosity got the better of me as I was checking it out and noticed that they had been fitting a custom steering rack solution to it. It felt incredibly light and precise compared to what I’ve ever previously experienced on VW Beetles or buses! Combined with an all new braking system upfront, this really would transform my buses driving experience. You know what they say about curiosity and the cat? Well this was definitely my last life, no more upgrades to the bus!

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