Wilwood’s Big Brake Upgrade for Ford F250s

Wilwood Engineering, Inc. has been in the brake business since 1977. They are, perhaps, best known for the upgrade kits they offer for competitive motor sports and classic cars and trucks, such as the Ford Mustang, Bronco, and the Chevy Camaro. The lesser-known side of Wilwood is the brakes they make for military vehicles—like the Humvee—and for specialty vehicle makers that ask more of a rig than the OEM spec brakes can handle.

Consider that an armored car delivers cash to the bank or diplomats to their embassy: those are some heavy loads that need more brake capability. Just the same as you do when towing a huge trailer or carrying a full load in the bed. Being able to stop well, both quickly and with a heavy load, is as important as being able to move; so it isn’t surprising to find out that Wilwood has been providing specialty companies and the military with bigger brake kits for quite some time.

Until recently, Wilwood had not participated in the aftermarket sector of brake upgrades for the ¾- and 1-ton truck segment on the consumer side. The truth is, they’ve had the parts and technology to do so, but wanted to be sure that their offering had the proper backing—on not only the same top quality components, but also the full benefits of Wilwood’s engineering expertise.

Fortunately, Wilwood recently completed their engineering and testing, and now offers their uber-large brakes for civilian version Ford and GM trucks. We had the chance to visit with them during the installation process of one of their new, larger kits on a 2005 Ford F250. Follow along and we’ll show you the highlights of the install. It’s simple enough that if you’re a moderately good weekend wrench, you can likely do it yourself. You won’t be sorry you did, no matter what you’re driving, towing and hauling habits are: Stopping better is always a good thing. DW

Whether towing a trailer or hauling a load, you’ll give your original equipment brakes a workout, especially in stop-and-go traffic or on hilly terrain. The better your brakes, the safer you’ll feel, and the more relaxing your drive will be.
1 The stock front brake setup is seen here. The caliper, pads and rotor are removed per the service manual and set aside. Once you’ve completed your Wilwood upgrade, these parts are not needed.
2 The stock calipers can be removed with the flexible line attached. The Wilwood kit comes with new braided stainless steel lines. Here you see a line cap in place to prevent brake fluid from running out onto the floor. This prevents a mess and makes bleeding your new brakes easier too, as the system will only have a little air in it at the caliper end.
3 The Wilwood brake kit, some with new rotors and hats. On the EOM rotors, the hats are part of the casting. Wilwood provides separate two-piece rotor and cap assemblies. They must be bolted together before installation. Be sure to use red Loctite and torque the bolts to spec.
4 Since the Wilwood brake calipers are fixed, these brackets will need to be shimmed to put the rotors in the center of the caliper opening. The shims go between the OEM caliper bracket and the new Wilwood caliper bracket.
The bracket and caliper assemblies are test fit until they are on center, as indicated in the kit instructions. A baseline, suggested starting shim pack is listed in the instructions. This will need to be verified before the brackets are bolted down for good.
5 Here you see one of the front caliper brackets from Wilwood: First the brackets are installed, then the brake rotors. Finally, the calipers are dropped onto the caliper bracket and the caliper center spacing on the rotors is checked. Once the correct caliper shim pack has been determined, put lock-tite on the caliper bracket bolts and torque the caliper brackets to spec.
6 The new Wilwood brake rotor and hat are installed over the hub assembly. Using a stock lug nut to hold them down to the hub face makes caliper installation easier. Three lug nuts, finger tight is all you need. This may be done a few times while the caliper center is set on the caliper brackets.
7 The caliper is installed, the center to the rotor tested. If it is off center, you will need to recheck the shims on the caliper bracket mount.
8 With the brake calipers centered on the rotors, the caliper mounting bolts are torqued to spec.
9 With the brake pads in place, the retaining pins are installed. Don’t lose these pins! They are not an off-the-shelf item from your local auto parts store: It will take a special order from Wilwood to replace them. We suggest getting an extra set of these pins and brake pads. With the pins installed, the front brake upgrade is almost complete, save for bleeding the brakes.
10 The new brake calipers are plumbed into the system using new braided stainless steel flex lines. These are longer than stock in order to work with the new calipers, and are less subject to expansion than the OEM lines. This means more pressure goes to the pads rather than to ballooning the brake lines.
11 This is the complete front brake kit on the F250. It offers much more brake surface than the OEM setup, which allows for quicker stops and less fade. You can install just the front kit, or you can go for the rear Wilwood upgrade kit, too, for a more balanced and an even better working brake system.
12 Here you see the stock rear-brake rotor and the 2-piston fixed caliper. The drum-style parking brake is also here, as a set of shoes inside the rear rotor hat.
14 As with the front, the Wilwood rear-rotor and hat assembly must be put together. At the rear, the hat is also the parking brake drum. Be sure to install the caliper bracket first. Also, be sure to check the parking brake shoes and change them if needed.
15 This is the competed rear-Wilwood brake upgrade. The rear-brake caliper and pads install the same as the front.
16 After installing your Wilwood brake upgrade, you’ll need to check for leaks and then bleed the new brakes.
17 For this install, the stock wheels were too small. Yep, those factory-installed 18s just won’t fit the bigger brakes. A set of Fuel 20-inch wheels where fitted with Falken Wild Peak, LT205/55F20 tires in load range E.
Note that aftermarket wheels must be of the proper offset and may require new lug nuts—ours did. Also, the center must allow for the use of manual locking hubs; on this wheel, the center cap hat can be removed to better match the rear or not used at all up front. See here, the cap with the cap hat in place before removal.

Brake Upgrade Facts

The brake kit installed here was on an F250 4×4, with an October 2004 built date (making it an early ’05). To check for fitment on your truck, contact Wilwood Brakes or your local dealer.

WILWOOD Big Brake Facts for the Ford Seen here:
The Ford factory front and rear brake calipers are a 2-piston, floating design. The new Wilwood calipers are a 6-piston, fixed design. Both EOM and Wilwood use larger pistons up front. The ratios are as follows: front stock is 2 x 2.00-inch, Wilwood is 4 x 1.78-inch. Rear stock is 2 x 1.78-inch, Wilwood is 4 x 1.62-inch. In addition to more force, the 6-piston, fixed design applies pressure more evenly than the floating 2-piston OEM design.

Wilwood also offers a considerable increase in brake-pad contact area. The area increase is 27 percent more front and 68 percent rear. Another factor that affects brake performance is the ability of the rotors to absorb and then dissipate the heat generated when braking. Wilwood provides larger rotors, which increase thermal mass for better braking over stock. The Wilwood rotor mass is 37 percent greater in the front and 15 percent greater in the rear, over stock.

Lastly, in terms of brake torque—or simply how well the brakes clamp the rotors—Wilwood tells us their kit has over 20 percent more brake torque up front over stock, as well as 36 percent more at the rear.

NOTE: Wilwood also offers kits for late model GM HD trucks, so tell your Chevy and GMC friends; or, just upgrade yourself and make your friends envious of your superior brakes.

Wilwood Engineering, Inc.


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