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Baja

Brake upgrade option & opinions

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My search of the site may have missed this topic, so if it's elsewhere, please point me in that direction.

My situation is this. I have an 04 Ram 2500 4x4, 5.9 auto tranny with 170k on it. From what I can tell it's a stock truck, no extra tuning, or significant upgrades. I use it to carry around my pop-up, slide-in camper, which when loaded, is probably at 1800#. I'm pretty religious on keeping the "wear" items" (brakes, fluids, alignment . . . ) maintained.

My issue is; twice now I've had the brakes over heat on steep grades. Once was while in the back country of BC (logging roads) the most recent, in the mountains of Baja (San Pedro Martir). In both cases the roads were fair macadam or seal coat surface, winding, narrow, long 15+m and steep, + 8% in parts. In both cases I've had newish brakes heavy duty brakes yet these would overheat to the point of smoking and require, as the brits would say, tea stop, to let them cool off. In the last case I ended up put the system into 4-low first gear and let he engine & tranny crawl us out of the mountains. This worked but I have a sense this isn't he best option.

That brings me to this forum and post. Do I get more bang for the dollar installing an exhaust brake system (pacbrake seems to be a preferred choice) or going with an upgraded friction system like EBC or SSCB? For the latter, I'm thinking slotted rotors (larger if possible) pads and calipers. In either case I'd the installation would need to be done by a shop. I don't have the skill, time or tools for this type if work.

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Posted (edited)

100% on exhaust brake my average brake life is 200k miles. 90% of my stopping is done on a exhaust brake. High end pads will eat the rotors quicker. Ill post more tonight.

Edited by Mopar1973Man

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6 hours ago, Mopar1973Man said:

100% on exhaust brake my average brake life is 200k miles. 90% of my stopping is done on a exhaust brake. High end pads will eat the rotors quicker. Ill post more tonight.

 

I agree with you on the exhaust brake, but we have manual transmissions -  yours a 5 spd, mine a 6 spd.  We can use every gear to our advantage which really enhances the exhaust brake performance.

 

Baja has an automatic transmission (stock I think), so only four gears and the first two gears are probably without converter lock-up capability.  The grades he mentions are " winding, narrow, long 15+m and steep, + 8% in parts".  In these situations I don't think an exhaust brake will help him much without doing some major transmission modification.  On more popular highways where the grade typically maxes out at 6 or 7 per cent and curves are more gradual, the exhaust brake would really help him out, providing he can manually lock up the torque converter. 

 

I know that you already know all this, but I just didn't want the guy to get his hopes up thinking the exhaust brake would work as well with his automatic transmission as it does with a manual transmission.

 

- John

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Posted (edited)

John you are correct it is stock tranny, although I don't know the model (relatively new to the truck and diesel in general). The Banks product talks about a "Smart Lock", does this address converter lock issue you're talking about? Also, under general, road conditions I don't appear to have any problems in stopping or slowing. As you say the road geometry is such I can maintain enough speed so air flow keeps the rotors cool. The problem is when I have to basically hold the rig to 10-20mph for many minutes at a time because conditions would rattle us to bits or I have a 16' wide road with a series of 180d corners to deal with.

If I'm following some of the product descriptions correctly, at those speeds an exhaust brake might not even kick in without some manual override.

Great reply guys thanks.

Edited by Baja

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28 minutes ago, Baja said:

The problem is when I have to basically hold the rig to 10-20mph for many minutes at a time because conditions would rattle us to bits or I have a 16' wide road with a series of 180d corners to deal with.

 

You should have a 48RE transmission.  You can compare gear ratios in the chart below.  Even if the torque converter could be locked in every gear (simulating a manual transmission), you still would not get the braking that a manual transmission would give.  However, if you can modify your transmission to lock in all gears, then 1st gear with an exhaust brake would help you in the 10-20 mph range.  Study the gear ratios.  Note that 1st gear in the 48RE is in between 2nd and 3rd gears on the manual 5 spd and 6 spd.transmissions.

 

Hope this helps,

 

- John

Transmissions Ratios.JPG

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Yep, a Smart Lock will help. There is one in my 'new to me' truck along with a Banks Brake. The only problem I have right now is the diaphragm in the actuator is leaking so the exhaust brake doesn't work. I am not sure how your transmission is on your '04, but on my '05 even with Tow/Haul engaged I still have overdrive, but at a higher speed. With the Smart Lock engaged O/D is locked out and I think there is lock up down to 35 mph.

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I have a PacBrake on my 05.  I have a beefed up tranny (triple disk low stall converter, billet input, modified valve body and a bunch of other goodies inside).  I can use the exhaust brake in the top 3 gears because it will lock the converter but the slowest speed the brake will control to is slightly under 20 mph.

 

That won't be good enough on steep mountain back roads.  Good brakes and rotors will be a plus but dropping the transfer case to low will be very useful to control your speed without a lot of heavy brake use.

 

I use heavy slotted rotors and have had very good luck with them.post-558-0-14232200-1431467221_thumb.jpg 

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Well, I'm obviously way out of my league here. You guys are far more educate and "tuned in" to your rigs and all things diesel. I have a long ways to go, heck I'm just remembering it's 'i' before 'e' when spelling it out. 

Seriously, this is good stuff and I find these post helpful. War Eagle your comments support what I've been hearing from others. Which leads be to believe for my specific situation, a premium brake, little better understanding on the use of tow/haul and low gearing is in order.

So what brand of brake did you choose, any comment on the debate over drilled vs dimpled rotors?

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On 4/17/2018 at 7:38 PM, Baja said:

....................

So what brand of brake did you choose, any comment on the debate over drilled vs dimpled rotors?

I use the EBC yellow pads.  Designed for heavy loads of RVs.

 

I've read all the pros and cons for drilled and/or slotted rotors and just finally decided that the only way I'll ever know the truth about it is to run them myself to see how they work with my style of driving and loads I carry.

 

I first ran slotted rotors of the front of my gen 2 Ram (disk brakes only on the front on gen 2 trucks).  I have had them on for several years before I bought my gen 3 Ram.   No abnormal wear or any cracking,  No squealing.  Liked them so when I decided to do brake upgrade on my 3rd gen I went with the drilled and slotted rotors on the front and rear.  I put those and the EBC brake pads on a little over 3 years ago and I am very happy with the setup.  No perceived abnormal wear and no squealing and no heat cracking or any problems at all.

 

I've had to anchor the truck a couple of times when I was heavy loaded and my stopping was very satisfactory. 

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