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So after a solid break-in and a little over a thousand miles on my new brake setup, figured I'd better post up with some after thoughts. Some may wonder why I did this as I was one of the original testers for the 15" Vanco brake kit many years ago. Original post from that upgrade is here:

http://www.rubiconownersforum.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=36966&hilit=Vanco+brake+upgrade

My only real answer to that question is well, after testing many sets of brake pads over the years, I was ready for another test. In addition, I am toying with the idea of moving up to a 35" tire and decided since my rotors were pretty well worn, I may as well just do a complete upgrade to my entire braking system.

As I had my entire front end torn apart for some basic maintenance, decided it was a good time to get the brakes done too-finish everything at once while it was all apart. Here's that thread for the newb's who may have never tackled a job like that before:

http://www.rubiconownersforum.com/p...=23&t=71897&hilit=basic+front+end+maintenance

So with the front end torn down, on re-install I added a few new brake "upgrades" to my Vanco brake kit. I had the original 15" kit with 46mm dual piston calipers, so for an "upgrade" to an already outstanding brake kit, I gave Blaine a call to see what he had to offer. Enter new 48mm dual-piston calipers, new Centric Premium rotors and the new Savvy "Black Magic" brake pads, along with fresh Valvoline synthetic fluid.

After install and working with Blaine for a very specific "break-in" bedding period, I have to admit at first I thought he was absolutely out of his mind for recommending the pads. A word of advice to those ready to install the pads-be absolutely 100% certain you are away from regular traffic and out away from other distractions as your initial stops are more of an attempt to stop at best as the pads warm up. I blew right through my initial stops as the brand new pads were only beginning to come to life and the initial stops are more of a "wake-up" call for both you and the pads. After a couple more stops according to Blaine's directions, the pads were slowly coming to life, and begining to bite back showing a willingness to get serious. Upon completion of the break-in period, the pads were most assuredly developing an aggressive attitude of their own, in the most surprising of ways. What is unexplainable at this point is it doesn't stop there-after several hundred miles, the pads only got better. Now, with over 1000 miles on the setup including heavy wheeling and trailer towing, I felt it necessary to post up with my findings. I have tested a lot of pads over the years, but THIS setup here is absolutely amazing. For those that have read my original Vanco brake upgrade, this new current setup only doubles the intensity of my original post. These brakes flat out get with it and get with it NOW! I can't really explain any difference between the two kits other than the aggressiveness of the Savvy Black Magic pads begin to bite, then bite with ferocity the more you use them. Like a pissed off pit-bull on steroids, these things just stop and stop now. While there is no real way to measure stopping distance accurately and repeatedly, I will say these new pads stop much quicker than my original setup. The stopping distance has been shortened greatly and speed of which they bite is greatly increased as well. I don't mean speed at which you touch the brake pedal then calipers/pads respond to rotor, I mean that once you hit the pedal, you are stopping now, as fast or as hard as you hit the brakes. They will easily lock the tires up, but you stop so fast without actually locking them up that it's crazy. No explanation as to why this is, it just is.

Bottom line is these brakes are incredible. If you already have the Vanco kit and want a little more, give these pads a shot-you'll be amazed at what they'll do to improve your current setup. For an outstanding brake improvement over stock for those that don't want to spend big money on a complete Vanco kit just yet, give Blaine a call for some Centric Premium rotors and the new Savvy Black Magic pads. While it's not a replacement for the Vanco kit, it is about as close as you'll get to improving the stock setup without spending the money on a full-blown kit. I have no noise from these pads that I had with others, they are quiet through and through. Regarding brake dust, I have nothing to report of significance with the little use I've had so far in roughly 1000 miles of use. Wheeling in low range, these pads are incredible and have no trouble stopping the rig-you won't push through these like you will with others in low range. These new pads actually saved me from a roll last week in some hard wheeling conditions that otherwise would have resulted in a roll for sure with my prior setup, and something serious enough that I likely wouldn't have walked away from it considering the terrain involved.

I never thought I'd ever need any more from my Vanco kit. I also didn't think it could get any better than the Vanco kit. These new Black Magic pads do just that and will definitely wake-up both a stock rig and a Vanco equipped rig. They are truly amazing. Keep in mind simply swapping rotors and pads will not be AS effective as a full Vanco upgrade, but they WILL add significant stopping power to an otherwise stock setup that is to date, unavailable with any other pad setup on the market. Whatever this "Black Magic" is, I don't know, but I do know full well it works. This is by far the best braking I've had of any setup I've run to date. For those on the fence deciding if they really want to mess with another new pad, just do it-you'll be glad you did.

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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So this is available for the stock calipers as well? I may jump on that as I can't quite pay for the whole Vanco deal right now, but I'd sure like better brakes.
 

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Yes it is available for the stock caliper. He can get them for other vehicles too, just contact him and find out what he can get.
 

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Do any of our vendors carry these pads?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Doug-

No, at this time, as I understand it only Van and Blaine have these or can get these in stock. Not sure who they get them from or what they really are, hence the name "black magic".

Bob-

Yes, they can be had for the factory stock calipers as well, along with other a few other vehicles too which is why I referenced both the Vanco kit and stock above. Keep in mind while a centric premium/black magic upgrade will be a great benefit over stock in an otherwise totally stock setup, it still won't be as good as a full Vanco upgrade, or Vanco/hydroboost setup. Reason being the Vanco kit addresses the inherent factory design flaws with the weak knuckle by beefing it up where it needs it so it won't flex under hard braking conditions. Over time, you'll see this flex present itself in the form of uneven pad wear from toe-heal across the pad with something like a \\ pattern rather than even || as it should be. I hated my factory brakes when the rig was brand new off the lot and had that pattern develop very early on as I discovered when I originally upgraded to the Vanco kit years ago and pulled the factory stuff. Also the move to dual-piston calipers instead of the stock singles. Comparing calipers from my original 15" kit with the 46mm dual pistons, side by side with my new 48mm, you'd never know the difference unless somebody told you which was which. They appear identical on the surface.

The centric premiums seem to be about the best, consistant performers for rotors and the new black magic pads are by far outperforming the competition-even better than the EBC Yellows folks seem to like so much. As I understand it, current pricing on the new black magics are about $10 cheaper now than what I paid for mine as he's got a better pricing deal and is passing that on to his customers.

I like to try and make sure a mod performs as expected before making mention of whether it's actually WORTH it or not and after all the brake testing I've done over the last roughly 5 years since the initial install of the Vanco kit, these are by far the best I've run. I'm continually more and more impressed with them the more I run them. Also seems the harder you work them, the harder they respond and surprisingly, they keep getting better. Blaine considers them broke in after about 400 miles but also says they continue to get better over time. I'm not exactly sure what 400 "Blaine miles" are due to his driving style and traffic conditions down there so while over 1000 of MY miles may not seem like much, after what I've done with them, I'm just blown away at how they seem to keep getting better after each use even at this point. This is something that hasn't happened in other pads I've tested to date. It's become kinda fun to run up to a light quick with my wife panicing whether I'm going to run it or not, then hit the brakes and immediately stop hard without lockup. She hates it, but it's kinda fun for me. :laugh: I suppose it's kind of a bad thing to do so I really don't do that a lot with her in the rig, more or less testing myself against stop signs in the middle of nowhere with no traffic around to see just how close I can really get, when and where they'll lock up and how quickly they'll get the rig stopped. So far, I continue to get a very even, very controlled, strait stop only the distance gets shorter each time if you work them hard. Go easy on them and they'll still stop you quick, just not as fast or as hard as with more pressure-they're definitely very responsive to pedal input, very predictable in that you know they'll stop, just unpredictable at how quick you'll do it as they keep improving. What I can't get over is how they stop so fast without lockup. Yeah I can lock them up easily but compared to other pads, they just stop faster, harder without inducing lockup where other pads would lockup before getting you slowed and stopped. The ability to stop so quick without lockup is great but unexplainable.

One other thing worth mentioning is replacing your brake fluid on a routene interval. Most folks don't do this enough I don't think and you can't tell if fluid is good or bad by it's color as many folks think. A good bleed is also very important for optimum performance and is something many folks don't get right and don't even realize it. I usually have my wife work the pedal while I'm adjusting the bleeders and letting her know when to apply pressure or release from underneath. For fluid, I suppose it's like oil with your own personal favorite brand being best for you. I prefer the Valvoline Synthetic stuff as from my last searching, it still had the highest wet and dry boiling points of any of the fluids out there. Not as high as it used to be prior to removing the really good stuff from the shelves, but still pretty good and better than the rest I've found.

At any rate, I think this is an exciting upgrade for braking safety for those who know they want better brakes but can't quite afford a full Vanco setup just yet. Cost wise this is about the biggest gain you'll see from a stock system without going the Vanco route for a very reasonable price. For those with the Vanco kits already, those kits will only get better as well which is really great. The advancements in technology at this point are really exciting for those of us running modded Jeeps with bigger than stock tires and the ability to retain the factory master/booster setup with no further upgrades or changes to the system necessary.

Anyway, brakes and roll cages are about the two biggest safety issues for modded rigs, and are also the two things that are usually last to be upgraded, and that is if they ever really do get upgraded. I'm just happy to see another alternative that actually works and gives a little more hope to those of us on a tight budget that can't afford the high dollar big stuff just yet. Hope this helps some of the rest of us out there with this issue...

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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What pads did you have before upgrading to the Black Magic pads?

Are you running "Black Magic" on front and rear or just rear? If just the front, then what pads do you on an the rear?

What kind of rotors do you run on the rear?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Doug-

I honestly don't remember which pads I had on last. I've run many different sets and threw some of the boxes away, along with some of the pads that I didn't like. Found my old stock front rotors/calipers and put them on the shelf with the original Vanco rotors/46mm calipers and have the original stock pads laying there, some performance friction ones laying around-why I'm not sure as they're crap, some random napa pads because I swapped occassionally between a few of them, some ceramics. I think the last set was a high dollar Napa set but don't remember WHICH they were as I've moved and mixed up a bunch of stuff. Can't find the box to identify them. After installing the newest black magics, I'm going to toss all the others as there is just no comparison and I won't be swapping back for any reason. Plus, not knowing which is which does me no good anymore. I need to check with Blaine to see if these are available for my wife's '07 Subaru. She is complaining now that it won't stop very well anymore. I've never been happy with the braking distance/time in that car and am curious to see if these are available, how they'd react in that. The Subaru has independant braking at all corners which is excellent in the snow, but on dry pavement, leaves something to be desired. I've swapped a couple sets in the car already and the last is just not good enough as they seem to grab good once freshly broke in, but over time with just "cautious" braking like my wife does, loose their grip and fade out so they become very weak the longer you do this and don't get aggressive with them.

On the rear, I'm still running stock factory rotors and a napa rear pad. Have to remember fronts do roughly 80% of the work and you do NOT want the back to lockup prior to the fronts. You won't want to run the black magics in the rear as they will do this once broke in. In any area this is NOT a good idea in a Jeep, but where we live with all the rain, snow-perticularly not a desireable trait. Definitely do NOT want the back end passing the front when trying to stop. My rig is quite heavy so for it to stop like it does is great-factory setup was absolutely horrible at best back when I was bone stock and scared the crap out of me a few times here in town, which is what dictated the original Vanco kit. I've had many panic stops since, and no worries whether I'll stop or not.

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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Mike, you sold me on these! I played phone tag with Blaine for a couple hours today after I emailed him, Sheeesh! I may be imagining it but, I explained that I wasn't quite in the shape to be able to upgrade to the Vanco set up. I may have had "beer hearing aids" in (similar to beer goggles) but, I could have sworn that he alluded to the fact that I might not need to upgrade past the new pads. We didn't talk about my tire size (35s) or anything else.

He offered the pads and rotors at a pretty good deal but, made sure that I might not need rotors. Well, my rig had 80K on it when I bought it. I have put over 20K on it. It's a stolen/recovered rig out of TX with a good title. I am constantly finding evidence that it was "driven like it was stolen"! Brake wise, all I have done was replace the rear pads when I first got it.

So, there's no known history on the front brakes other than I have had them seize 2x s and cleaning and caliper grease cleared that up. I went for the rotors with the pads and am looking forward to blowing through the imaginary stop signs on some remote deserted road with the break-in procedure.

I never have felt at risk with my current brake set up. I can lock up the 35s if, needed but, when I drive our stock WJ or my S-10, I feel like I am going to do a header through the windshield for the first couple of stops.

Thanks for the write up, Mike!
 

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I dont have much to add about the original post, but I'll agree 100% about the Centric rotors. I've used their stuff for my vehicles and wont use anything else. They've been great on my Van (gone now), truck and Jeep.
 

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Mike,
I have no doubt whatsoever that the pads and rotors perform as you describe. Your description is exactly like my experience with various sports cars when I upgraded to full metallic brake pads. Such pads are much harder than the organic or semi-metallic brake pads that are supplied as stock equipment. They take longer to break in initially, they grab better as they warm up in use, and they allow more pad pressure to be applied without lockup, which translates into brakes that are easier to modulate when hot. The brake dust is much lighter in color than standard pads, your wheels look cleaner longer. In particular, I LOVE the way such brakes perform downhill in the mountains. Standard brake pads fade with heavy use as they heat up, requiring higher pedal pressures. Metallic brakes come up to temperature and require considerably less pedal pressure.

If you have successfully adjusted to the characteristics of full metallic brake pads, congratulations, you now get to enjoy the benefits of upgraded brakes. Realize that they DO NOT stay warm consistently. After a short stint at highway speeds, or a brief dip in a stream, the pads will suddenly return to the reduced performance of cold metallic brakes, and you will not enjoy the additional performance potential until they warm up again. However, once you have a thorough understanding of the characteristics of full metallic pads, you can anticipate the behavior and drive safely on the roads - anticipating those times when they will have cooled and your braking distance is prolonged.

A couple of cautions should be noted. Some original equipment brake rotors may be made of softer material than the metallic pads. I fitted "Repco" full metallic pads to a Fiat 124 once, then discovered that the rotors were rapidly wearing out while the pads remained barely worn. I then had to buy four premium aftermarket brake rotors.

The last caution is in regard to brake fluid. Brake fluid is "hydroscopic", meaning that it absorbs water and keeps it in suspension. As your brakes heat up, the fluid gets hotter and hotter, until the entrapped water turns to steam - you will be smelling the brakes by then, as the paint burns. Standard brakes are almost useless when they are that hot, but they gave you plenty of warning and time to react before going away. But with full metallic brakes, you will not experience brake fade until the water turns to steam, then you will have abrupt, near total brake failure. You NEVER want to experience what I describe, so to prevent it you periodicly drain and replace your brakes with fresh fluid. In Washington state, where you experience a lot of rain, and on a Jeep that often fords streams offroad, I would get agressive and change the brake fluid annually.

Full metallic brakes were developed for racing, where they had distinct advantages. Racers have since moved on to carbon fiber brake pads, which work even better. But by the end of one race, the carbon fiber pads are black streaks of heavy brake dust down the sides of the racecar.
 

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black magic front only. I asked what he recommends for the rear, but I have not heard back from them yet. (sent the question on 11/9/10)
 

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As I read this, all i can imagine is a brief "cool down" before descending Moab Rim or somewhere in Hell's Revenge. NO THANKS!
 

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rubitx said:
As I read this, all i can imagine is a brief "cool down" before descending Moab Rim or somewhere in Hell's Revenge. NO THANKS!
I, by no way, claim to be knowledgeable on the topic. Heat and cool down periods is required for the break in procedure and after that, I don't see it as a problem. I ordered mine last TH or FR and they arrived today. I should have mine installed by the end of the upcoming weekend. Price wise, it looks cheaper than what alternatives are out there for us and I am excluding the Vanco alternative in the price comparison.

Give these things a few months for evaluations before passing judgment. I did do the rotor upgrade with the pads because, I have absolutely no clue on my rig's history before I purchased it at 80K.

rubitx said:
.........all i can imagine is a brief "cool down" before descending Moab Rim.........
This can and has been done in a slightly modified S-10 (me) with stock brakes in 4 low so, please wait until all the testing results are in before passing judgment. I don't want to offend anyone, I am merely asking for a little time before we decide to trash the thought. I meant no harm with my response and I hope none was taken.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
[quote='05TJLWBRUBY]Doug-

...

On the rear, I'm still running stock factory rotors and a napa rear pad. Have to remember fronts do roughly 80% of the work and you do NOT want the back to lockup prior to the fronts. You won't want to run the black magics in the rear as they will do this once broke in. In any area this is NOT a good idea in a Jeep, but where we live with all the rain, snow-perticularly not a desireable trait. Definitely do NOT want the back end passing the front when trying to stop. My rig is quite heavy so for it to stop like it does is great-factory setup was absolutely horrible at best back when I was bone stock and scared the crap out of me a few times here in town, which is what dictated the original Vanco kit. I've had many panic stops since, and no worries whether I'll stop or not.

Best of Luck,

Mike[/quote]


Sorry for the delay, been busy on a new business plan along with normal work and thought I got back on this. Quoted from the 9th...

Still running standard Napa rears with factory rotors-you don't want these back there. My rears are still in great shape after a couple years now I think it's been...

As to cool down-who mentioned anything about that??? That may be part of why these are called "Black Magic". There is no noticeable cool down in these pads or difference in braking when cold. Maybe I mis-took the wording above, but fear not, these are by far the best pads I've run-both cold and hot. As to the fear of going down Hells Revenge or Moab rim-are you serious? You actually have traction there! You should see what I'm dropping down into here-covered in all kinds of crap you won't want to mess with. Worse yet, try climbing up some of it only to fail and wind up sliding backwards down. This is a place where if you fail a climb, you nail the throttle just HOPING to dig down on the hill enough to clear somewhat of a divot of some sort to hold you in just in case. It never works, but you still try, along with a quick prayer. Just did that twice up elk hunting in an area that I wouldn't go before with the standard vanco kit-why? Because I'd have rolled it for sure. I had enough confidence in these to tackle that and while I did NOT make two particular climbs and did slide back a bit, aside from the resulting mess in my pants, I was able to stop and the brakes saved a for-sure roll that I likely wouldn't have walked away from. Now, dealing with my partner who was too slow on hooking the winch line to retrieve my ass while my leg was cramping and shaking like mad as I was physically forcing my knee down with both hands on the pedal while waiting for him-well, that's another story... :rotflmao: They'll stop you for sure-whether or not you can hold it for any length of time when waiting for your partner to secure the winch line-well, that's totally up to you. Keep in mind, this was cold and in cold weather that morning. Oh-and my other passenger walked after that on anything remotely steep. Moab rim or Hells Revenge-like I said, traction there. Flatlanders I tell ya... :rotflmao: I'd already been on my side twice earlier in the week in another area so wasn't necessarily looking forward to another spill.

However, if on "cool down" you meant or were confused by it-Reed is right, there IS a necessary cool down while breaking them in. Following Blaines procedures, you'll do a series of stops exactly as described, then wait -overnight- for proper cool down before the next series of stops before driving on them like normal. THIS cool down period is necessary and again, exactly why I caution above to break them in in a secure location AWAY from other people and on a good road where you won't have any issues when they DON'T stop. Why? Because during initial break-in on your first few stops, they WON'T stop. You'll think I'm crazy telling you how good these are and likely cuss me for the purchase at that point. Ever heard CW McCall? Recall the point where he says "you wanna hit the brakes Roy" Roy then curls his lip and cocks his leg and steps on that pedal, 'n it goes clear to the floor and stays-right there on the floor... Yeah, not a pleasant feeling during phase 1 of break in. After a few stops however and nearing the end of the first cycle, they WILL start to come alive, will start to grab and your pedal will start to increase in pressure/resistance against the floor and start working it's way up off the floor. I'll caution again, do NOT drive them in normal traffic until they are totally broke in-after the next day's repeat cycle. With the second series, they'll start to grab harder and the pedal will come up more back to normal feel with good pressure/resistance and travel. Pedal feel will remain about at that point from then on out but the actual grab from the pads will continue to increase for a while. How long, not sure as mine seem to still be increasing at this point. My normal commute is a lot of highway miles though so when I get back to town before climbing up the hill to the house, it's still surprising at how quick I can stop.

Let Reed get his broke in good with some miles on them and see what he has to say. Keep in mind he'll be on factory brakes with upgraded rotors/pads, where I'm on essentially the 16" Vanco kit now on 'roids. (48mm dual pistons with centrics and black magics) My setup will still fit under a 15" rim though as I kept the rotor diameter the same. Again, rears are standard Napa with factory rotors.

Did I miss anything?

Best of Luck,

Mike
 

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[quote='05TJLWBRUBY]..........Did I miss anything?........[/quote]Not that I can see. BTW, I emailed Blaine yesterday complimenting him on the quick shipping.

His response.........

You got the last set of pads Reed. I had sent them down to SD to be sold and managed to catch the guy I sent them with before he delivered them locally. He mailed his from SD and we mailed the rotors from here.



I won’t have more until mid December.



blaine
 

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f9k9 said:
[quote='05TJLWBRUBY]
His response.........

You got the last set of pads Reed. I had sent them down to SD to be sold and managed to catch the guy I sent them with before he delivered them locally. He mailed his from SD and we mailed the rotors from here.



I won’t have more until mid December.



blaine
[/quote]


Figures! about my luck.
 

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I am one of the testers Blaine picked on JeepForum that was running EBC Yellowstuff pads and Centric premium rotors on a stock setup with 35" tires. These are much better than the EBC Yellowstuff pads were. I did not notice the same braking upon break in that the OP did, but I was still cautious and away from traffic when doing the break in procedures. I've recommended these to my friends because it is a great upgrade for people that can't afford the full Vanco kit.

I can't lock up my 35s, but it comes very close to locking them up. The Yellowstuff pads never did that.

As for off road, I no longer push through the brakes in 4lo. I used to have to put the Jeep in neutral to stop when going downhill. I no longer have to do that and it is a great feeling.
 
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