Final Preparations for the Rally Next Week!

According to the Targa Canada West Rally rules next week, I need amongst other things:

– Brakes
1. fluid flushed within last two years
– check (done recently during the search for the brake fluid leak – see previous “Nerdy Car Things” posts)

2. rotors and pads in good condition (min 50% remaining)
– hmmm….

My front pads were Hawk HPS units, which were installed in the summer of 2007 when I upgraded to slotted rotors. Which was a while ago. While they were effective pads which have lasted for a while, I found them to have high levels of brake dust (somewhat of a minor complaint really). However, there was less than 50% pad left for sure.

So knowing that, I called down to Mopac in Langley who were offering me prices competitive to TireRack online for replacements. Unfortunately, due to the training I received throughout school (Subject: Procrastination), I didn’t call them until 3 weeks before the competition… at which point they told me they had none in stock. Standard delivery would be 3 weeks (kind of tight), and air freight would be $125 (vs. the cost of the pads – $65)= No thanks. $125 seems like a lot for air freight on a package no bigger than a brick and weighing less than one. But who am I to question? Calling Lordco, they had the exact same pads in stock but at a premium of +$35. Hmm….

Calling my trusty Miata specialist – Chikara Motorsport – they had in stock some Maruha SS-27’s which offer comparable performance to the Hawk HPS pads for $90. While the cost savings weren’t high, I would rather support the little guy where I can (nothing against Lordco).

The main guy at Chikara – Ocean – was unable to meet up with me in person so he sent his trusty sidekick Ken. Not only did Ken ok meeting up with me on short notice, but we did so at 12am at your local Shopper’s Drug Mart parking lot. Needless to say with cash exchanging hands, we got some funny looks from people passing by. And if it wasn’t the late night cash deal, it may have been Ken’s illegally parked car. Blasting Rastafarian music. That seemed to be blocking everyone leaving Shopper’s. Ken thoughtfully asked if I had access to a lathe to machine down the rotors – giving the new pads a nice smooth and non-warped surface to find a new home in. When I replied “no” he offered to help me with that at his work place (a dealership).

New Maruha SS-27 brake pads and some new oil filters…

You see, Ken masquerades as a Car Mechanic Superhero – your friendly neighbourhood car mechanic at the local dealership working on Japanese econo-boxes by day, and a crazed car lover tuning his 1997 Miata to ridiculous levels at night.

Waiting for Ken’s schedule to free up, I picked up some OEM Mazda oil filters so I could do an oil change as well. This was long due after the battle my car endured through its trip to Calgary and back.

I met up with Ken the following Friday.

Rotors Removed!

Removing the passenger side rotors and placing it in the lathe we found they were quite warped.

Rotor on the lathe! This took a while as 1. slots on the rotors meant we couldn’t make big cuts, and 2. they were quite warped

Also – found a nail in my driver side fronts that has been leaking some air. Hooray! Another thing to fix!

See the nail near the middle of the photograph? Yeah, I need to fix that…ugh

The last time I swapped pads, I literally just took the old pads out, and put the new ones in. Ken was way more thorough in his approach; he suggested cleaning up the shims (which were quite corroded) so I got put on wire brush duty. He also added silicone grease between the shims and the pads to reduce brake noise, and added a copper-based grease on the sliders to smooth the action of the pads sliding within the holders. It was here that I realized just what a craftsman Ken was – he wasn’t just here late on a friday night helping out a friend as quickly as possible, but he made sure he did the best job he could.

New red Maruha pads vs. the old Hawk HPS ones…

Corroded shims…probably need replacement next time.

Before (right) and after (left) machining.

Grooves in the rotors before machining

After machining – much better.

The Chinese guy who listens to Rasta music – at work. Hey Ken – I have permission to use this picture right? I’m taking your silence as acceptance…

It was while waiting for the rotors to be machined, we started talking about other cars and I was telling Ken about my dream of owning a Lotus one day. Then Ken told me how on the last track day he was keeping up with a Lotus Exige S with his 1997 Miata and had just passed him when he cooked his brakes and had to call it quits. That made me 1. give the Lotus dream a once over (ok for a very brief moment), and 2. admire how his plucky little 97 Miata could give an Exige S a run for its money. This year, Ken has a new engine lined up for his car and he is very much looking forward to trying it out. We talked further about getting a group of Miatas down to the US for a trackday – I can’t wait to see it in action. Hopefully I will have a story on that later in the summer.

Pads are now installed, and have been bedded in. The red pads look good! Brakes feel great – good bite (but not overly touchy), and good progressive feel. Bite I would say is roughly equivalent to my Hawk pads, but the pads haven’t been in for that long. I’ll keep you posted.

Rotors machined and new pads installed! Hmm seems like I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this area lately…

When everything was said and done, Ken had given up 2.5 hrs of his Friday evening and all he asked for was a drink in return. That and to “have fun owning some Porsches at the rally next week and come back in one piece”. Thanks Ken – I owe you one.

Maybe I’ll throw in a Bob Marley CD…

– Oil Filters (3) = $30

– New Pads/Installation = $90 + drinks and a Bob Marley CD

3 Comments Add Yours


    dun worry about it mang, I have plenty of Marley CD’s already lol

    nice blog btw!

  2. Keiho

    Link to my friend’s build by Chikara I told you about yesterday.

    • admin

      Haha I’m buddies with the guys at Chikara. I get them to do the messy/complicated jobs I can’t do 😉

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