From Stock WRX to Daily-Driven Track Terror – Measuring for the Baers
By: Chris Neprasch
We’re just like anyone else out there, when we get a new toy we want to play with it. So when Baer Brakes sent us their Grand-Touring front brake upgrade for 2002-04 non-STi WRXs, our first impulse was to throw the Sube on the lift and crack open the tool box. We are optimists; the kit is designed for use with most 17-inch or larger wheels and we happened to have just installed a set of 17-inch forged Trak_Lite wheels from Motegi so we were in the clear, right?
From the three inches of gap between the wheel’s spokes and the stock calipers, we figured it there was no way clearance would be a problem. After closer inspection, we realized that the inner diameter of the Motegi wheels is noticeably smaller than a lot of other 17s we have seen on the market. We began shopping for wheel replacements and we hadn’t even taken a lug nut off yet. It might have been jumping the gun, but we didn’t know if the Baer brakes were going to clear and didn’t want to pull everything apart only to find huge clearance issues. Luckily Baer was one step ahead of us.
A wise person once said measure twice, cut once. And no, it wasn’t Lorena Bobbit. Baer has templates available on their website so that you can figure out if that brake upgrade you’re interested in is going to have a clearance issue. Whether you’re driving a WRX, Civic or any other vehicle they make a kit for, short of actually doing the install then measuring, the template will be a good indication if there is going to be any fitment issues ahead of time. We downloaded the PDF file directly from www.baer.com to ease or confirm any worries we had about the GT brake kit smacking the Trak_Lites. If for some reason you don’t have a computer yet you do have a fax machine, Baer can also fax you the template if you give them a call.
The first and one of the most important steps is to make sure than your computer or fax machine didn’t resize the template when it printed because measuring fitment with a template that has a skewed scale would defeat the entire purpose of measuring in the first place. To check that it’s all to scale you can put a ruler up against the side of the template to verify that the marks on the ruler line up with the marks on the template. The picture on the left is of the original template we printed out. If you look closely you can see that for every inch on the ruler, the template would be off a tenth of an inch. We made the adjustments, reprinted the template and then checked again for the correct scale.
Once the template was correctly sized, we got to relive our kindergarten days and play with a glue stick again when we attached the template to a piece of cardboard. The cardboard we originally chose was hard to work with because it was so thick so we put the template on a thick manila folder.
The template had a bold dotted line that gives the basic outline of the rotor and caliper assembly. Craft time continued as we cut along the dotted line. We used safety scissors for the cutting due to a court order forbidding us to hold any sharp objects, but you could use regular ones to do the job too.
There are marks on the template that are labeled for different hub sizes. The directions say to measure the inside diameter of the wheel where the hub goes inside of it and then cut on the correct line to give the template the same width. We ran into a problem when our hub size was 2.209 inches and the smallest the template went was 2.4 so we pulled out the hubcentric ring and measure the wheel bore size which was 2.778 inches. The template was cut to just shy of the 2.8 marker on each side.
Once the template is cut to size then it is placed on the back of the wheel, centered inside of the wheel’s opening for the hub. If it doesn’t go down all of the way, check to see where the template is hitting. If it’s making contact on the part of the template labeled caliper, you can use washers to simulate wheel spacers to determine how far out you would need to bring the wheel to eliminate it.
This is where things get interesting for the Trak_Lite/Baer GT brake relationship. Clearance on the portion of the caliper that faces the wheel’s spokes was exactly what we expected – there was a ton of room and not even the smallest worry of contact. Now the small inside diameter we were worried about is a different story. Baer says that there should be a minimum of 0.100 of an inch between the caliper and wheel at all times. The amount of clearance between the inside of the wheel and the brake caliper on our WRX was measured at approximately 0.112 of an inch.
Assuming either our precision cutting skills were dead on with the template or any slight screwed up cuts were made in our favor then the kit is going to fine and we’re going to take filling out the space behind a wheel off the charts. If it doesn’t, well, then it’s time to get the wheel catalog out because we aren’t giving up our Baer brakes. As the directions say, “This template should be used as a guideline. Wheels that show minimum clearance should be verified with actual brake components whenever possible.” Since we’re dealing with hundredths of an inch then it’s safe to say we fall into the minimum clearance category. It looks like the next step is to put them on the car and find out for sure. Any bets on if they fit or not? Come back soon to find out.
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