<VV> power brakes vs manual

Ray R. (aka Grymm) vairguy at echoes.net
Sun Jun 13 02:29:42 EDT 2010

Seth said:
>I guess
> those archaic drums had worked pretty well  since neither of my parents - 
> nor
> their hot-rodder son had noticed the lack of  assist!

I have to say, I don't understand all the fuss about power brakes (and to a 
great extent disc brakes) myself.  I'll start short and simple.... and with 
corvair content:

I  have never driven a Corvair that I could not easily lock the brakes up 
on....  or even accidentally lock the brakes on for that matter.  Several of 
my girlfriends have driven my Corvairs on a regular basis over the past 9 
years.... none of them weighed more than 120 pounds and ALL OF THEM 
accidentally locked the brakes up the first few times when I had them 
practice "emergency" stops in empty parking lots.  I have a great photo of 
the result of one of them locking up the brakes when a deer ran out in front 
of her despite her practice... take a look.  Note the car was unbelievably 
not hurt hardly at all, one suspension arm got bent so we changed it out.. 
and a few light scratches were made in the clearcoat.

Now I realize the Corvair is not the same as heavier large cars... but my 
1968 Corvette also had no power brakes and I could easily lock the brakes up 
at will (or by accident in a panic)....  admittedly I've never driven a 
"large" car with manual brakes.

Manual brakes may take more pressure at the pedal, but I think anyone 
(except maybe some patients from the geriatrics ward) could very easily 
exceed the pressure needed... and I find that manual brakes have a much 
better feel....  lots of power assisted brakes have a squishy feel or even 
in the case of many 80's GM products have what I find to be a very 
noticeable delay that drives me crazy.  I see no benefit whatsoever in power 
brakes on any small or mid size car... and I think its very likely I'd feel 
the same about large cars if I got a chance to try one out.

Now on the other hand... antilock brakes are the most wonderful safety 
feature I can imagine....  I consider myself a very experienced driver (I 
have well over 500,000 miles on me at age 30) and even I worry that I might 
screw up in an emergency and lock the brakes up.. especially in rain or 
other slick conditions.  Less experienced or less knowledgeable drivers 
benefit even more.

Disc brakes vs. Drums?  I only see disc brakes as important on a car that 
will be driven fast a lot (raced or whatever).  They do also have the added 
benefit of drying more or less instantly but I have only been let down by 
drum brakes once in my life... because I was driving way too fast... and I 
was let down by discs the same way once.  The main benefit of discs is they 
are less prone to fade... they can stop or slow down the car a lot more in a 
shorter period of time... but how often does this come into play on an 
average road car?  Probably only when an aggressive driver or teenager is 
behind the wheel.  I had a 70 Chevelle with four wheel drums (though they 
were power) and never had any complaint whatsoever... the brakes had 
excellent feel and provided more braking force than I could ever use (though 
I'm sure aggressive driving could overheat them).

I'm perfectly happy with my factory manual drums, but I don't race.

Ray "Grymm" Rodriguez III
Lake Ariel, PA
CORSA member
66' Corsa 140/4 coupe
65' Corsa 140/4 coupe (under construction and almost done!)
63' Monza PG coupe (next project)

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