JBugs Video Series

1971 VW Super Beetle - Front Disc Brake Conversion:

Video Overview:

We had planned on pulling our 1971 Super apart in preparation for paint and body work but that got put on hold when we saw EMPI's new premium disc brake installation kits. Follow along as we show you the features of the Front Super Beetle Bolt On Disc Brake and show how easy it is to convert your Super Beetle over to disc brakes.

Disc brake kit overview: 0:54
Brake caliper prep: 1:26
Brake rotor prep: 2:05
Vehicle prep: 2:33
Drum brake disassembly: 2:52
Brake caliper bracket installation: 3:40
Brake rotor installation: 4:03
Brake caliper installation: 5:00
Brake line installation: 5:55

Video Tips:

Tools used in this video:

Needle Nose Pliers
Lineman Pliers
Rubber Mallet
Flat Head Screwdriver
5.5mm Allen Wrench
7mm Allen Wrench
11mm Wrench
17mm Wrench
18mm Wrench
Adjustable Wrench
3/8" Drive Ratchet
6" Extension
1/2" Impact Driver
15mm Socket
17mm Socket
18mm Socket
19mm Socket
Jack Stands
Wheel Chocks

Chemicals Used:

Disc Brake Grease
Brake Cleaner
Bearing Grease
Medium Thread Locker

Video Transcript:

Hi! I'm Sam with JBugs.com
We're back to work on our 79 Super Beetle and had initially planned to start pulling the car apart 
in preparation for paint and bodywork. That plan got put on hold when we saw that EMPI released their new premium disc brake kits.
The stars of the premium disc brake kits are directional, cross-drilled and slotted, 
silver zinc plated brake rotors. 
The premium front Super Beetle disc brake kits include; 
two-piston brake calipers, which are stock-style two-pin VW Replacements, left and right caliper brackets, hardware for the calipers and brackets, two steel brake lines, and left and right bearing caps.
The calipers in this particular kit come loaded with standard brake pads 
which can be kept as spares but we'll start at the bench by swapping the pads out for the premium disc brake pads that EMPI includes, by pulling out the two clips on the retaining pins. 
While holding the retaining clips, we slide out the pins and remove the springs, 
the standard pads, and the backing plates. 
Installing the premium pads is done in the reverse order 
after applying disc brake grease on the backing plates and the pins before installing them. 
Make sure to re-install the pin retaining clips before pushing the second pin all the way through the caliper. 
Once the pads on both calipers are swapped out, we get to work on the new rotors.
Bearings and seals aren't included with the disc brake kit and we won't be reusing the originals. 
So, after the bearing races were pressed in, we pack the wheel bearings with grease 
in a plastic bag with a handful of grease. We then squeeze grease into the bearings. Once the bearings are packed, the inner bearings are set into the inner race on the backside of the rotor. The bearing seals are pressed in and tapped into place.
With most of the work at the bench done, we can get the front of the car jacked up and set on jack stands 
and begin the disassembly of the drum brakes. 
The wheels are pulled off 
and the grease caps are removed, after making sure to disconnect the speedometer cable from the cap, on the drivers' side, if yours is in place.
The lock screws for the axle nuts are loosened 
and the axle nuts are un-threaded. Remember, the left axle nut is reverse threaded. 
The drums are pulled off the spindle a bit so we can remove the stock thrust washers 
and the brake drums are removed. The axle nuts and thrust washers are set aside for later as we'll clean them up and reuse them. 
Since we will be replacing the original brake hoses, 
we unthread the inner brake lines from the brake hoses at the body and pull the brake line clips. 
The four backing plate bolts are un-threaded from the spindles, 
and the backing plate can be removed from the spindle as a complete assembly with the brake hose and steel line attached. If you have original strut assemblies, make sure to un-clip the brake line from the strut housing.
The spindles are cleaned up and at the left side spindle; 
we make sure the speedometer cable is pressed through. 
Now, we can bolt on the brake caliper brackets, which are marked left and right, 
but they can only be installed one way regardless. 
New hardware is used; 
four of the shorter bolts and lock washers per side, to bolt the brackets to the spindle.
Once the brackets are in place, the new rotors can be installed. 
With the inner and outer bearings and the inner seal in place, 
the rotors are set onto the spindles followed by the thrust washers, and the axle nuts. 
Again remember the drivers' side axle nut is reverse threaded. 
The axle nuts are tightened down to remove all of the free play in the rotor. 
Once you feel a drag on the brake rotor, back off the nut a bit 
and then re-tighten it to the point where there is no drag on the bearings then tighten the set screw.
Now, we can reinstall the bearing caps. 
The drivers' side cap has a square hole for the speedometer cable. 
Once the cap is tapped into place with a rubber mallet, 
the cable is pushed through the cap and a speedometer cable clip is snapped into place.
Next, we can test fit the new brake calipers. 
This disc brake kit includes 
eight shims, in two different thicknesses, to offset the calipers if need be. 
With the caliper set in place over the rotor and against the caliper bracket, 
we can see that when we're centered over the rotor, there's a small gap between the bracket and the caliper. 
We use two of the thick shims, one at each bolt, 
to ensure that the caliper is centered over the rotor. The shims are only used if necessary and may not be needed at all. One side of our car needed shims, the other did not. 
Once we determine which shims if any are needed, 
the caliper bolts are installed through washers, the calipers, and the shims if needed. 
Then, medium strength thread locker is applied 
and the bolts are threaded into the caliper brackets and tightened down.
Now we can install the new brake lines. 
The lines come unbent and can be bent with a brake line bender, 
or by hand if you're cautious, to whichever shape is needed. 
Since we installed lower strut assemblies, 
we do not have a brake line tab to secure them to. 
So, we came up with a bend that allows us to run from the caliper forward, 
up to the strut so we can use a hose clamp to secure it there, then forward and inwards towards the car. 
With a piece of fuel hose slid over the line for protection, 
the line is threaded into the caliper and tightened. A hose clamp is installed around the strut and the brake line and tightened down.
Then, to keep the performance brake theme going, 
we thread the steel brake lines to new stainless steel braided hoses. 
Route them to the tabs at the body, 
clip them in place, and the fittings at the body and the strut are all tightened down. 
Finally, we turn the steering lock to lock 
to make sure that the hoses and lines are clear of the suspension, body and steering components. 
With the new brakes installed, 
we'll prep for some new wheels that will show off the rotors a bit. 
We install some 14-millimeter wheel studs, 
after applying medium thread locker, and tighten them with an Allen wrench.
Once the studs are installed, the rotors and pads are cleaned 
and we install some 914 alley gloss black and polish 15x5.5 inch wheels and hold them to the rotors with chrome-plated Porsche style lug nuts. 
Since the chrome really stands out against the black background, 
we'll pop on some lug nut caps to tone things down a bit. With that, the front disc brake conversion is complete.
Of course, the calipers need to be bled before we can call it a job done 
but next; we're going to get to work converting the rear drums to disc. Keep an eye out for that video.
Thanks for watching!
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Say hello or let us know if you have any questions, in the comments below. And of course when you need parts for your vintage Volkswagen, head over to JBugs.com