JBugs Video Series

Empi Disc Brake Installation:

Video Overview:

Learn how to install new disc brake drop spindles for your VW Brakes. In this video, Jaime, a VW Technician at JBugs, walks us through the process of installing a new disc brake conversion kit. This installation is done on a 1969 VW Beetle and is converted to a 5 by 205 lug pattern.

Video Transcript:

In this video we will be discussing the installation of disc brake drop spindles made by EMPI. This is a 1969 VW Beetle we will be converting it to the five by 205 lug pattern using this kit.


Ok let's get this wheel off. Now we get to the fun part, I have loosened the nuts already this case nineteen millimeters on the ball joints seventeen millimeter on the tire rod end typically this would be a castle nut. It appears this tire rod end has already been replaced. The castle nut been replaced with the locking nut.


Tire rod ends and ball joints can be kind of stubborn at times to get them to come out of their seats. These ball joints have been in these cars a lot of years oftentimes you can get lucky with just striking the spindle and they will come loose. If they don't, well then you may have to invest in a pickle fork.


The trick is taking the pickle fork strike it on the end they will come loose. The disadvantage this method is the pickle fork can tear the boot. Next, to remove the brake line you'll need to start here. Loosen the break line here first then at the backing plate break these loose. Want to have something on the floor as you will get some brake fluid dripping from there. This break may not have been working at all as I don't see any brake fluid coming out. Oh there's a little bit.


From there, with this loose we've got the lower ball joint loose this is the eccentric cam this is what they will be using in order to perform the alignment. This does adjust the camber of the wheel pull the weight up off of it. Now if you do you still have a stubborn ball joint this is where the pickle fork or even a good pry bar will come in.


We're ready for the new parts. Here we'll put on new spindle, the pry bar come in handy here. Don't forget your original washers. When tightening down the ball joint nuts the lower one can be a bit finicky. The trick to that is to apply pressure to it with a floor jack if you jack that ball joint up into the spindle tight it can't really spin.


That makes it a lot easier to tighten it down. If the eccentric camp starts to spin a set of channel locks can assist you in that. Keep in mind you will need to get the vehicle aligned afterwards.


It's important to know when you go to install your drop spindles in May of 1968 Volkswagen introduced a larger tie rod end. A little stronger in design, little harder to bend. However when you go to put in your new drop spindles all of the new spindles have the larger later 1969 style tire rod end. So you go to put on your brand new drop spindles and your tire rod end doesn't fit because it's too small good to know, you have the early ones. When a situation is encountered there earlier tire rod end will have to be replaced with a 69 and later tire rod end so that ill will fit the spindle.


If the ball starts to spin inside of the tire rod end that will make it very difficult to get the nut tight, the new replacement tie rod ends have an Allen key slot to assist you to keep that from spinning during tightening. When installing the bearing races into the rotors manufacture strongly recommends the use of a press. The press helps ensure that the race will be installed straight in the rotor and greatly reduces breakage of the rotor. Keep in mind the manufacture offers no warranty whatsoever against broken rotors and they say the use of a press greatly helps reduce the possibility breaking one.


It's imperative to remember that as you're installing the race, if it does start going in cooked; stop the procedure, pull the rotor out, turn it over, bang the race out with a screwdriver or kind of a pry tool you can use to make that work, and do start process over. If you proceed you will break the rotor and you'll have to buy another one.


That race is properly installed turn the rotor over a repeat the process on the opposite side. When packing the wheel bearings pretty simple procedure. We're going to take enough grease put a ball of grease in your palm. You're going to take the bearing firm and simply start scraping, the grease off of your palm to get that nice and packed. As you're packing the bearings should start to see the grease start coming through needles on the other side. You want to repeat that with both the inner and outer bearings. There is now ready to install. Once the wheel bearing is nice and packed, place the bearing into the race. Grease seal. This is a good opportunity to use one of the larger bearing race installers, gently tap into place.


We're ready to put the rotor on to the car, a few important steps to be taken prior to installing. You want to put some grease into the rotor; this will ensure good lubrication for the bearings throughout her life. Secondly very important to use a brake cleaner [of] some sort to clean the Cosmoline away for the rotor. These are packed in Cosmoline which is a rust inhibitor and it keeps the rotor from rusting during transit transport on its way to your car.


If you do not clean this Cosmoline off it will cake up on the brake pads you will get brakes squeal, brake vibration, ultimately it will warp the rotors and again you're buying new rotors. Make sure the rotors nice and clean prior to install.


Let's go ahead and throw the rotor on, make sure you get the brake rotor nice and clean very important to get the Cosmoline off. One question we get a lot is about brake calipers: "How do the brake pads sit in these when properly installed?" Little different than a normal car and if you haven't seen a done it can be a little alarming. The pads simply sit like so, keeping the springs flat, that's how they will sit when installed on a vehicle.


When installing the brake calipers these torque to 29 foot pounds. After you've got the caliber tight to the bracket you want to check your spacing here to make certain that the calipers center compare to the rotor. There are instances due to machining tolerances where the caliber could be a little off-centered. Manufacture does offer shims, included in the kit these are used to space the caliber left or right depending upon what is needed based on these gaps. In this instance nothing was needed this caliber fit perfectly right out of the box.


Included in this kit are longer brake lines as the brake line positioning in the caliber is further away than what the standard wheel cylinder would have been. We'll install these we'll be using aftermarket wheels on this vehicle so wheel studs will be necessary. Little Loctite on the wheel stud we're ready for our wheel.