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100 Years of Brake Technology
Anything that moves forward must come to a stop. That’s why early horse-drawn wagons and carriages used a simple pivoting handle that, when pulled, applied a wooden block against the rotating wheel that allowed friction to do its job.
Early bicycles used technology known as spoon brakes: a system that incorporated a similar principle. A curved or spoon-shaped piece of metal was forced against the rotating wheel or tire when the brake handle or brake cable was applied.
With the invention of the penny-farthing — or the “high-wheelers” as they became to be known — (those bicycles with large front wheels and a small rear wheel) the spoon brake lost its effectiveness. By design, the rider’s weight was out over the front wheel and the rear wheel did a poor job of stopping the forward momentum.
Now, since necessity is the mother of invention, it makes sense that next came the caliper brake for bicycles. With each successive change in design on bikes and on wagons, so came a new and improved brake system.
Likewise, for the automobile.
Fast-forward through the 1800s and we know that Carl Benz received the first German patent for his “vehicle powered by a gas engine” in 1886. Other similar inventions came before his, but Benz’s was documented with a patent. And like some others, it had a brake. Many early cars had spoon brakes, similar to those found on a carriage. Pull or push the lever and a block of wood rubbed against the wheel. It worked. Not well, and not for long, but it worked.
By the late 1800s, pneumatic tires came into the scene. When the metal, wood or leather-bound brake “pad” was applied to a pneumatic tire, excessive wear soon followed. It was time for the next generation of brakes.
By the beginning of the 1900s, disc brake technology was being tested and used with some success. However, this new development was not being applied to mass-produced automobiles.
In 1902, Louis Renault received a patent for his drum brake design, a braking system that would manually apply brake pads to the inside of a rotating drum. As pads wore down, manual adjustments were needed. It would be many years before the drum brake design would incorporate self-adjusting pads or hydraulics.
Early production cars, like the Model T, were equipped with transmission brakes and parking brakes, but not necessarily any type of independent brake system. Early days of brake technology spread all across the design spectrum.
By the 1920s, brakes systems featured asbestos linings on brake pads, two-wheel configurations, and four-wheel systems that used a brake pedal and a hand brake combination.
In 1924, after joining forces with Fred Zeder, Owen Skelton and Carl Breer, Walter P. Chrysler introduced the revolutionary Chrysler Six. It featured standard four-wheel hydraulic brakes among other innovations, for just over $1,500.
Hydraulic brakes were standard for many years, and by the middle of the century, disc brake technology came to Chrysler. The fourth generation Chrysler Imperial models featured a disc brake system by 1954.
For the balance of the 20th century and beyond, brake technology moved forward in different measures. Slow and steady improvements of brake discs, pads, rotors and related components kept up with the times. Those improvements and technologies moved ahead in larger steps with the advent of anti-lock brake system (ABS) technology and brake systems that regenerated energy for hybrid systems.
The current traction control systems and stability control safety devices that utilize braking as part of a system to keep drivers from dangerous road maneuvers takes the sophistication of brakes off the charts.
BRAKES FOR ALL MAKES
Mopar® and Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar brake parts offer the solution to every brake problem you encounter. Choose from original equipment brake components for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep® and Ram vehicles, as well as top-quality components for major brands like Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen and more.
Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar
• Brake Pad Kits
• Rotors and Drums
• Wheel Bearings and Hubs
For more information, contact your local dealer or visit www.moparrepairconnection.com.