Woah Down: Here’s How To Upgrade The Brakes on Your 1971 C10 Truck With Wilwood

Woah Down: Here’s How To Upgrade The Brakes on Your 1971 C10 Truck With Wilwood

(By Kaleb Kelley) – We recently shared an update on this 1971 C10 we’re build at Classic Car Liquidators for our Win A Classic Sweepstakes. Since we nailed down the suspension and fixed this truck’s altitude problem with RideTech’s StreetGRIP system, it was time to make her stop with help from Wilwood Disc Brakes.

Halfway isn’t acceptable when building vehicles to give away, so this truck needed to go, stop and handle great. We’ve put Wilwoods on hundreds of cars over the years and we’ve never had an issue out of them. The best street setup we could find for this C10 was their monster big brake C10 setup. This kit comes with 14” drilled and slotted rotors in the front and Superlite 6-piston calipers built to fit on the CPP drop spindles. The rears are 13” drilled and slotted rotors with Superlite 4-piston calipers built to fit right onto a C10’s square 12-bolt flange. The difference between Wilwood’s system and cheaper options out there is not only the performance, but the ease and fit and finish of the install. Their kits are engineered to fit on your car the first time. We’ve had to grind calipers, notch frames for offset wide calipers and a number of other unnecessary modifications to make “bolt-on” kits fit. That’s the Wilwood difference. You get what you pay for folks.

The truck had factory disc brakes, but they just didn’t hold up to the abuse we expect the new owner to put it through. Don’t worry, we saved everything to put it on another truck in the future. In the front, RideTech’s new StreetGRIP system came with CPP modular drop spindles, so our kit is a little different than if you purchased a kit for a stock C10. The first step is to install the wheel studs into the supplied hubs. Wilwood has very specific instructions on this and not following the instructions and using a torque wrench can cause you to have issues in the future like I did. Back when I was building my 1973 Scamp I was quick on the install and didn’t follow all of the torque specs. Later on, my studs backed out of the hub because I didn’t torque them to the proper settings. Little things like this are the difference between your studs backing out of the hub creating a safety issue, or cruising down the road safely. When installing the studs, torque them to 77 ft-lb all around with a torque wrench. No guesswork here!


Now comes the fun; GREASE. Bearing packing is a fine art that not many have the finesse to accomplish. First, you slop grease into your hand, then you shove it into the bearing to coat the inside of the bearing as best as you can. Joking aside, this is a messy, but necessary part of a proper brake install. Without this grease, the bearing will wear out and it’ll be all bad. Normally we’d use an actual bearing packer, but the old-fashioned hand packing works fine. Once the inner bearing cone and grease seal are in, you can mount the hub onto the spindle.


One of the most rewarding things about installing disc brakes is seeing the rotors on the car, so at this point, we are in the home stretch. All that’s left to get the rotors on there is to mount the rotors to the rotor hats. The supplied 12-point bolts need a little more than tightening to make sure they stay on, so with the help of red Loctite come out. Now just slide the hat over the hub and you have drilled and slotted rotors.

Before you’re done with the hub, make sure to pack the small outer bearing cone and put the washer and nut to secure the hub to the spindle. You have to tighten it snug without stopping the hub from spinning freely. It’s a fine line between putting resistance on the hub and having it too loose and it slowly backing off. Another important part is putting the cotter pin in. I can’t tell you how many cars we’ve had roll through our doors that are missing cotter pins on the hubs. Without the cotter pin, the spindle nut could slowly loosen off and send your wheel rolling off your car and you either seriously hurt or your vehicle seriously hurt. It’s the little things that count, right?


Our shiny rotors looked great, but they’re useless without the monstrous 6-piston Superlite calipers. To mount the calipers, Wilwood sends a bracket that attaches on the back of the spindle and centers the caliper on the rotor. Sometimes there are small variances in manufacturing, so they also include shims so that you can shim it to make sure it is perfect center for your application. A lot of the time there’s a lot of guesswork in this and your put three on, take two out, then put another back, so on and so forth. Jeff got lucky with ours and it only required a few spacers that he guessed right the first time. Then we hooked the supplied brake lines up to the factory lines and the front was buttoned up!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get as many photos of the install on the rear because Jeff slapped it all together while I was taking a late lunch break. It’s almost the same story on the rear except you have to take the axles out to attach the axle housings and get rid of the factory brakes. When you’re done reinstalling the axles with the bracket kit assembly and emergency brake assembly, you attached the rotor to the rotor hat yet again. Slide the assembled hat and rotor assembly over the wheel studs to cover the emergency brake and bracket kit assembly and you have rotors! Next up are the caliper brackets which attach to the bracket kit for the emergency brake. Just like the front, you have to use shims to properly center the caliper on the rotor.


Now all the brakes are installed, we set off to get the new Aluminum 1-1/8 bore Tandem Master Cylinder installed. First off, you have to make sure to carefully bench bleed the unit to get the air out of the master cylinder before you get it in the car. This is an often-overlooked step and can cause issues in the long run. The master cylinder must be completely level and Filled. Then you attach the bleeder tubes to the fluid lines and run them back into the reservoir and start actuating the pushrod until you stop seeing air bubbles. This is important if you want to have good and consistent brake pedal pressure. You also have to bleed the brakes once the master cylinder is installed to make sure all the air also out of the pistons in the calipers.

Stay tuned for a comparison between the old brake system and the new Wilwood system as we did a video to compare the two. Unfortunately, the truck isn’t 100% buttoned up yet, but we plan to have it at GoodGuys Lone Star Spring Nationals finished, so we aren’t far off! Make sure to sign up to win this truck at www.WinAClassic.com while you can. We’re giving the truck or $25,000 CASH away and the deadline to enter ends at midnight on March 31st.

Parts used:

#140-10776-DR – Wilwood Front Disc Brake Kit with 14.00” rotors and Superlite 6-piston calipers

#140-10093-DR – Wilwood Rear Disc Brake Kit with 12.88” rotors and Superlite 4-piston calipers & Parking Brake Kit

#261-13270-BK – Aluminum Tandem Master Cylinder – 1-1/8” Bore

#220-7056 – Flexline Kit

#330-9371 – Parking Brake Cable Kit

  • Share This
  • Pinterest
  • 0

4 thoughts on “Woah Down: Here’s How To Upgrade The Brakes on Your 1971 C10 Truck With Wilwood

  1. 3rd Generation

    Why no pricing ? Not even Retail ? Why ?

    I mean really, maybe someone wants to put $ 5k in brakes in a $ 4k truck to make it stop like a sportscar. A short-wheelbase pickup truck trying to be something it is not.

    1. Matt Cramer

      Might make sense for towing use as well. The stock brakes aren’t bad for normal street duty on these things.

    2. Steven

      Seems like there is just dumb kinds of money going into old trucks these days. I’ll wait and scoop up one of these $25k builds for $7k in a couple years once it’s not as cool.

Comments are closed.