I have previously harped upon the ride quality benefits of new rubber, especially on a quarter-elliptic equipped Bugeye. In this post, I will show you something we have not seen before, which is a verifiable braking reduction due to old rubber.
It can be challenging enough to get Bugeye brakes to work properly. Hydraulic and rear axle leaks are common, which will trash the rear shoes and make the rear brake performance suffer.
But in the case of this particular car, the brakes are perfect, not only all brand new, but optimally fit to the drums, and with each brake offering an excellent drum contact patch. We know this because we just built Conrad’s car shown here, and spent nearly 200 hours perfecting all the systems. And so when I went out to road test the car and rear brakes kept locking prematurely, this really got my attention.
We started to wonder if there was a bias issue, or a wheel cylinder diameter issue, or something going on to over pressure the rear brakes and under pressure the fronts. Only when I backed up and locked the fronts just as easily did it make perfect sense to us… the tires, not the brakes, are the issue here.
These tires are from 1993, and now 26 years old as of this writing. Of course, you might say these should have been thrown away years ago. But there were no cracks on the rubber anywhere. The tread is new. And it’s a Bugeye! How much stress could that cause a tire?
Well, the real issue is rear lock-up in a panic stop. If you apply these brakes firmly, the rears lock before the fronts can perform optimum braking, and moreover, the car begins to fishtail, which is obviously very dangerous (why anti-lock brakes make so much sense). This car has drum brakes all around but it would make no difference if they were disk or drum.
Above is the “back-up” test, that confirmed the fronts are working just fine, but when unloaded in this sort of stop, are just as likely to skid. Thus all four tires need to be discarded immediately. The rubber here is skipping along the peaks of the asphalt, instead of gripping the peaks and valleys. Traction is compromised as a result.
We sell Bugeye tires, and they are quite reasonably priced. You can find them here. But make sure to check your date stamps on your tires, and keep your car safe!