Big Red Part VII: The Final Stop
Upgrading the brakes on our Mobil Delvac 2008 GMC Sierra 3500HD is a fitting end to a fun project build
By Bruce W. Smith
Just a little over a year ago we kicked off a new project truck affectionately called Big Red.
Our end goal: To turn an ordinary 2008 GMC Sierra Dually with 130,000 miles on it into a light-duty service truck that has looks, performance and efficiency from the perspective of someone tasked with working on smaller equipment in the field.
As I said in that intro article in our April 2012 issue, “By this time next year we want our ‘Big Red’ GMC, sponsored by Mobil Delvac, to look and function like a $50,000 service truck – and have the sweepstakes winner driving off with a huge smile.”
Well, Big Red has achieved those goals. In fact, we think it’s exceeded expectations in looks, performance and functionality.
The last upgrade we’re making is improving the brakes.
OE braking performance was decent when Big Red was bone stock.
But as the truck’s weight increased with the addition of equipment, accessories and other upgrades, stopping distances increased.
That’s because the majority of stopping power is done by the front brakes – and the OE rotors and calipers were being taxed to their limit.
Taller, heavier tires and wheels, heavy duty winches and bumpers, and the slide-in service body with its equipment necessitated a brake upgrade.
SSBC BIG BRAKES
So we turned to Stainless Steel Brake Corporation (SSBC), which has a Big Bite kit designed just for duallies with 20-inch or larger wheels. (Our truck has 22.5s from American Force.)
SSBC’s Big Bite front brake kit features heavy-duty triple-piston aluminum calipers, Hawk brake pads and 14.5-inch (OE are 14-inch) Turbo Slotted Rotors. It’s a straight bolt-on upgrade with all the parts included.
The rear brake kit consists of the same calipers, pads and cross-drilled-and-slotted 14-inch rotors.
Both front and rear brake upgrades should be relatively easy install for any shop mechanic; The rear can be a little tricky for a first-timer not used to working on Dana 80 (dually) brakes.
If you’ve never had to pull the brake drum off a full-floater axle, the images here show a couple steps that will help get you through that part. It’s actually much easier than one would think.
Be sure to have the rear axle hub seals and hub bearings (if needed) on hand as the former will be needed.
You’ll also need to have a KD Tools Spindle Nut Kit or appropriate Dana 80 Axle nut socket for the reinstall because the nut has to be torqued to 52 lb-ft to initially seat the seal and bearing.
When the SSBC Big Bite upgrade is done and the brakes properly broken in, you should find stopping power much better and the brakes far less prone to overheating on long downgrades or under heavy load.
Your dually, like Big Red, will also stop better in wet conditions – and there will be a lot more miles between those front brake jobs.
(For more detailed photos, see our Big Bite brake-upgrade article under the Big Red installs section at Propickupmag.com.)
- Stainless Steel Brake Corporation: ssbrake.com; 800-448-7722
- Spears Auto Repair: Long Beach, MS; 228-863-1878
SPONSORS BIG RED
Presented by Mobil Delvac
- American Force Wheels: americanforcewheels.com; 800-620-6259
- Amp Research: amp-research.com; 800-309-6823
- B&W Trailer Hitches: turnoverball.com; 800-248-6564
- Barkley GMC: barkleygmc.com; 205-556-6600
- BD Diesel Performance: dieselperformance.com; 800-887-5030
- BOLT: boltlock.com; 877-251-8798
- Buyer’s Products Company: buyersproducts.com; 440-974-8888
- Fab Fours Bumpers: fabfours.com; 866-385-1905
- Fleetwest: fleetwest.net; 866-497-7200
- Hellwig Products: hellwigproducts.com; 800-435-5944
- Husky Liners: huskyliners.com; 800-344-8759
- Hypertech: hypertech.com; 901-382-8888
- Marathon Seat Covers: marathonseatcovers.com; 800-735-2769
- Mile Marker: milemarker.com; 800-886-8647
- Toyo Tires: toyotires.com; 800-442-8696
- Transfer Flow: transferflow.com; 800-442-0056
- Truck Supply & Outfitters: trucksupplyandoutfitters.com; 205-553-4203
- USFleet Tracking: usft.com; 405-749-1105
- Vanair: vanair.com; 800-526-8817