Hot VW's - May 2008 - Stop That Thing!!!
A look at installing CB Performance's front disc brake kit on a Type 181, thanks to Greg Melikyan at German Moter Works
BY ROBERT K. SMITH
For the most part, drum brakes are good, but in a panic stop, they sometimes have a tendancy to pull left, or right, or worse - fade to where the car takes longer to stop. Which is why front disc brakes are commonplace on the vehicles of today. And, many early VW owners, who have upped the horsepower of their custom rides, enjoy using the newfound performance, but also want their cars to stop quicker, and switch to front disc brakes.
This kit consists of new everything, like off-the-shelf replaceable thick rotors, special-made calipers exclusively for CB Performance, ductile iron caliper brackets (annealed before machining), 356 T-6 aluminum hubs with press-in U.S.-made-studs (either 12mm or 14mm), DOT approved stainless steel braided lines, wheel bearings and seals, plus all necessary hardware. Application of this Type 181 wide-5 kit will only bolt onto drum brake spindles, and will also work on the standard Beetle - either for the ball-joint (CB #4201) or the link-pin (CB #4202) setup.
When we visited Greg and Arda Melikyan at German Motor Works in Garden Grove, California, they showed us a '74 Thing they were redoing for a customer, who wanted front discs. Greg mentioned that he would be installing a kit from CB Performance, so we made arrangements to meet-up when the conversion took place.
Arriving at GMW, we were greeted by Greg and Arda, who also introduced their right-hand-man, Bo Artin, the one taht would handle the changeover. The job entailed removing the stock drum brakes and hoses, prepping the old spindles, getting the new kit ready to bolt-on, and packing wheel bearings with grease. Because this was an early kit, the new caliper bracket bolt heads had to be machined a tad for clearance. Once all pieces were ready to install, Bo put everything together, bled the brake lines, took the Thing for a test-drive, and was pleased with the new disc brakes' stopping power. See the included photos and captions for a clear description of what's involved with switching from stock front drums, to rotors and calipers.