History of the Development of Brakes

History of the Development of Brakes

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History of the Development of Brakes

The first brakes were drum brakes. They were metal upon metal, and
made a terrible noise, although they did work. Since then, brakes have
been made with asbestos, which is heat resistant, hard wearing, and
relatively silent.

Drum Brake (1890s~1980s)

The working parts of a drum brake are contained in a hard
metal drum that is attached to the hub of a wheel and revolves with
it. Inside, but unattached to the drum, are a pair of stationary
curved brake shoes that are normally held away from the drum by
springs. When the brake pedal is depressed, fluid is forced through
the brake lines and into the wheel cylinder. Pushrods in the cylinder
then apply pressure to both shoes, overcoming the spring tension and
pressing the shoes against the drum. Hydraulic drum brakes can also be
mechanically activated as parking brakes by a cable attached to the
lever. When pressure is removed from the brake pedal, springs on the
brake shoes force the shoes back to their normal released position.
This movement of the shoes forces the pistons inward, returning the
fluid to the master cylinder reservoir.

Power Brakes (1940s~present)

Power brake units used on passenger cars are of four general
types: vacuum suspended; air suspended; hydraulic booster, and
electro-hydraulic booster. Most power brakes use vacuum suspended
units, which contains a large vacuum-powered booster device to provide
the added thrust to the typical power-brake. Pressure on the brake
pedal pushes forward a rod connected to the pistons of the two master
cylinders. The pistons begin forcing fluid into the front and rear
brake lines. At the same time, the brake-pedal pushrod positions the
vacuum-control valve so that it closes the vacuum port and seals off
the forward half of the booster unit. The engine vacuum line then
draws off the air, creating a low-pressure vacuum chamber. Atmospheric
pressure in the control chamber then pushes against the diaphragm,
dividing the two chambers. The pressure on the diaphragm, which is
locked to the pushrod, forces it forward, supplying even more pressure
on the pistons. The safe driver is always ready to apply the total
force needed to stop their vehicle, even if the engine quits (removing
the power assist).

Disc Brake Disc (1970s~present)

Brakes use a clamping action to produce friction between the
wheel and the suspension members which hold the wheel. Firmly mounted
to the spindle, the caliper works like a c-clamp to pinch the rotor
which is attached to the spinning wheel. "Floating" calipers allow
themselves to move slightly when the brakes are applied, because only
one pad moves (in relation to the caliper).

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If the caliper is
solid-mounted, there are pistons on each side of the rotor. These are
called "dual cylinder" or "dual piston" calipers, and are standard
equipment on many performance cars. Inside the caliper, the piston(s)
press against the pads due to the pressure generated in the master
cylinder. The pads rub against the rotor, slowing the vehicle. Because
disc brakes can fling off water more easily than drum brakes, they
work much better in wet conditions. They allow better airflow cooling,
which also increases their effectiveness. Some high performance disc
brakes have drilled or slotted holes through the face of the rotor,
which helps to prevent the pads from "glazing" (becoming hardened due
to heat). Disc brakes were introduced as standard equipment on most
American cars in the early seventies. The disc (rotor) is a heavy
plate that attaches to the spindle to provide a two-sided braking
surface. Fluid from the brake line flows into a cylinder mounted on
the side of a clamp-like caliper. Part of the fluid pressure is
exerted against a piston, which forces the brake shoe and pad against
the inside surface of the disc. The fluid also exerts pressure in the
other direction against the back of the cylinder. This back pressure
causes the whole arm of the caliper to move sideways, bringing an
outboard shoe and pad tight against the outside of the disc to provide
additional stopping power. Ventilation slots around the outside rim of
the disc allow friction heat that is generated to be transferred to
the air quickly.

Anti-lock Brake Systems (ABS) (1980s~present)

Originally developed for aircraft, ABS works by limiting the
pressure to any wheel which decelerates too rapidly. This allows
maximum stopping force to be applied without brake lockup. In
operation, the wheelspeed sensors at each wheel send electronic pulse
signals to the control unit. If wheel lockup (rapid deceleration) is
detected during brake application, the computer signals the valve unit
to limit the hydraulic pressure to the wheel cylinder. This is
accomplished by diverting some of the fluid into a small reservoir,
which is pumped out when the brakes are not being applied. The
anti-lock brake system usually tests itself every time the vehicle is
started and every time the brakes are applied. The system evaluates
its own signals. If a defect is detected, the system then turns off,
leaving normal braking unaffected.
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