Powertrain Part 3- Brakes, Wheels and Tires

Money Pit Staff Writer

Brakes are just as if not more important than horsepower. For sure, once you have horsepower, you better have great brakes. We looked at several brake manufactures and settled on R1 Concepts, located in Cerritos, California. They ship brakes all over the world from 3 warehouses in the United States and have brakes to fit most foreign and domestic vehicles. As exciting as all that may be, we chose R1 Concepts for their beautifully crafted Big Brake Kit (BBK). R1 testing has shown that a BBK on a Jeep can increase stopping power by as much as 25% over stock braking systems. When it’s time for bigger tires and wheels, it’s time for bigger brakes!

The first thing you cannot help but notice is how they are packaged. It’ s like opening a jewelry box and seeing the diamond for the first time.

R1 Concepts Big Brake Kit 
Next you start to understand that you didn’t understand at all how beautiful brakes can actually be. The calipers are CNC machined from forged billet aluminum. The rear has 4 total pistons, and the front has a hardy 6 pistons. Pistons on both sides of the rotor means deleting the slider found on standard calipers that can sometimes stick and cause limited braking power. The fluid flows through a stainless-steel crossover tube from the inside to the outside pistons. The calipers we chose are powder-coated-to-perfection red with a white R1 Logo.

Even the mounting brackets that attach the calipers to the knuckles are perfectly machined from steel and finished with zinc plating. R1 supplies a few shims and all the hardware needed to fine tune the installation. Not just cheap hardware either. All the hardware in our kit has an “Ultra Corrosion Resistant” coating that will stand up to decades of tough environmental conditions.

R1 Concepts brake caliper mount 
 The 15” rotors are slotted to increase the pad’s grip and help to clean the pads as they wear. They have a Geomet coating to keep them looking great even after countless heat cycles. The rotors attach to a hat which is, again, made from anodized billet aluminum with more Ultra Corrosion Resistant hardware.
R1 Concepts rotors are Geomet Plated for corrosion resistance 

R1 Concepts products are 100% machined in the USA and distributed from 4 warehouses. They have most standard brake kits in stock and ready to ship, but all Big Brake Kits are custom ordered and can have as long as a 4-week lead time.

At the end of the day, it was hard for us to install the wheels over these American made works of art, but this build has got to roll, so we slipped the rotors over the hub and studs and mounted up the calipers. For brake lines we used an O-ring boss, 90 degree, 3an fitting to connect stainless steel braided flex lines to the calipers. After the brake installation was complete (and after standing back to admire how good they look!), it was time to move on to the wheels and tires.

Raceline Wheels has long been the beadlock wheel of choice for many race teams. Professional rock crawlers, desert racers, Ultra4 competitors, as well as recreational weekend wheelers have been using Raceline Beadlock wheels on and off the race course for years.

Raceline Beadlock Wheels 
And since we’ve mounted many different manufactures’ beadlocks, we have a few reasons why Raceline’s are on the top of our list. Raceline Beadlock wheels come in many different sizes, back spacing, offset, and bolt patterns, but the things they do better than the rest are in the small details.

Most of the details that Raceline really gets right are related to the beadlock ring itself, and let’s face it…isn’t that the most important part of a beadlock wheel? The ring itself is thicker than most. This keeps the inward deflection to a minimum when tightening down the bolts. This not only looks better, but relieves stress form the bolts themselves because, when a ring deflects and the bolts get tight, they start a constant bending process that does not stop until you stop tightening them. This design prevents “stretching” and premature bolt failure.

Speaking of bolts, the 17” wheels we used on the LJ have 32 bolts when some competitors have as little as 24 for the same size wheel—another plus for Raceline. This also helps keep the rings from deforming from any outward air pressure from tire inflation and from the rock rash caused by the inevitable scrape on the sidewall. Also, the bolt recesses are deeper and larger than most. They are deep enough that the bolts don’t stick out beyond the face of the ring. This will keep us from replacing 3 or 4 scraped-off bolts every time we return to camp. And they're large enough that a socket fits in the recess. I can’t tell you how may rings I have installed where I had to grind down a socket just to fit in the recess. 

The bolts have captive washers which makes for a much easier installation. The bolts thread into nutserts that are pressed in from the back side. So if you break off a bolt or strip the threads out, you can just press out the old nutsert and pull in a new one. Raceline sends 2 extra nutserts with every wheel.

Raceline developed the first set of 20” Forged Double Beadlock wheels for the Money Pit Rock Buggy, Rocksanne, 2 years ago, and they have held up flawlessly. Rocksanne has Rockwell 2.5 ton axles with a 6 on 8.75 pattern and 1” lug studs. This “Rocker” wheel is now offered on the Raceline wheels website as well as the only Axletech pattern Aluminum Double Beadlock wheel on the market.

We chose Raceline's RT-232 AL Monster Beadlock Wheels. Our wheels were powder coated black and they machined off some high points and then powder coated them again with translucent red for a very nice 2 tone finish. We elected to leave the rings natural so the inevitable gouges won’t stand out too bad. We checked the fit to make sure the wheel cleared the brakes and steering before mounting tires on the wheels.

Check fit the Raceline Wheels 
Raceline sells through retailers and direct from their website. Money Pit Classifieds currently offers a discount code that will save you 25%. For more info on Raceline Wheels please visit their site or make sure to stop and see them the next time you’re at a show.

Now we need tires, and we really like the newest tire from Mickey Thompson, the 17x40 Baja Boss. We’ve been involved in testing this tire for about a year in all conditions: mud, rain, dry surface, on-road, off-road, slick rock and at the King of the Hammers. It performs well no matter what the situation is.

Mickey Thompson Baja Boss 
The Mickey Thompson Baja Boss has tons of features: an asymmetrical tread pattern that reduces noise and improves handling and on-center feel. The sidebiters are 50% larger than any previous Mickey Thompson radial tire, providing unparalleled off-road traction. New PowerPly XD adds 50% extra denier cord to provide even greater puncture resistance, improved handling, and quicker steering response. Deep voids enhance off-road traction and forward bite, and stone ejector ribs prevent gravel from being wedged into tread grooves. Angled shoulder scallops mean you’ll get ultimate traction with self-cleaning ability. Mud scoops provide a concave surface for mud traction and help create a void to prevent mud from clinging. The silica-reinforced compound allows for greater on-road tread wear, cut and chip resistance, and improved wet handling and braking performance. They also look fantastic!
Mickey thompson Tires mounted on Raceline Wheels 
We mounted the tires on our Racelines, paying close attention to the “Inside” and “outside” clearly molded into the sidewall. The Baja Boss’s asymmetrical tread pattern means the two rows of tread down the middle of the tire are different, so correct mounting is critical. A little soapy water on the bead and they slip right over the front lip. We used Raceline’s lock-ring spacers that also help with ring deflection. The supplied bolts got a light brush of anit-sieze and then a quick run in with a rattle gun and finished off with a torque wrench set to 18 ft.lbs. Whenever installing beadlock bolts be sure to use a torque wrench to finish up. The bolts themselves can handle more torque than the specified 15-18 ft.lbs, but you need to realize that the air pressure in the tire adds to the tension on the bolts. Never tighten your beadlock bolts to the max torque spec for your size bolt.  It took about 9 PSI to seat the inside beads. We used black tapered lug nuts to mount the combo to the Currie RockJocks.

That finishes up the drivetrain! Next we will be setting the body back on the frame and tackling the exterior and roll cage. Stay tuned!

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