I fitted my Alcon Big Brake Kit myself. It did NOT go to plan

After getting carried away and giving a nice chap in London nearly 2500 of my pounds, I’d brokered a deal for my standard brake kit to be sold. This added an unnecessary time pressure to the install of my Alcon Superkit. Many thoughts circulated through my head, various friends who run garages or even taking the car to a specialist. However after a few beers and a complete overhyping of my mechanical abilities I vowed to fit them myself. (Not the smartest idea I’ve had)

The assembly

Now I’m somewhat of a novice with the spanners, more than happy swapping wheels, jacking cars up, brake pad changes and on occasion I’ve fitted exhausts but that’s it. My most mechanical exertion was stripping a B7 Audi RS4 for parts a couple of years ago. But there’s a big difference removing parts on a car you’ll never drive again to swapping the main safety components on a daily driven near 700bhp Datsun. A lot was trial and error and I can’t say enough for the quality of the Alcon kit, the billeted mono-block callipers are beautiful and satisfying to work on. I really enjoyed assembling the callipers, loosely clamping a disc in a vice while I leveraged pushing the pistons back into each calliper gently. Next came greasing the backs of the RS29 pads to help with initial install and prevent them from virtually welding themselves in place later down the line. I thoroughly soaked and cleaned the pins and retaining clips for each calliper to again make the installation easier. The rear callipers are definitely easier to complete than the fronts, the bolt holding the pads and clips in place has both an Allen head at one end with a nut on the other. The monstrous fronts however require some grease and persuasion with a hammer.

The install

Here’s where the calamities start and I’m so very grateful I didn’t make a video for my YouTube channel. I started with the back right corner for install and everything went smoothly. The Brembo discs and Cosworth pads were just a few months old so everything was freshly greased and hadn’t had time to settle in. The two 10mm Allen heads for the calliper took minimal persuasion with a 1/2” ratchet. The brake line didn’t round and happily complied when separated from the calliper, 1 corner done including wheel off in maybe 15 minutes with a cuppa.

Problem number 1

I decided to do complete axles at a time so set to work on the back left. Again the Calliper mounting bolts took little effort to loosen off, however my line spanner decided to be a little bastard and started to round the head of the brake line. Around 15-20 minutes of profuse swearing and hunting through toolboxes I found the trusty old mole grips which saved face. Once removed the calliper and disc were separated from the hub and stored in the garage. Install time around 1 hour and a nervous breakdown.

Install back on track

Getting up close and personal with the massive front Alcon callipers, it was fine to remove the front left calliper. I was apprehensive about this as just a few weeks before I test fitted a ceramic disc to the opposite corner and the mounting bolts were crazy tight. It’s safe to say I was more than a little relieved to find the brake line removed with little duress from my line spanner. (I did this before even attempting the calliper bolts after my previous issue). My oem sized Alcons were a lot older than the near new Brembos on the back so the pads were known to stick a little when wet. However everything mounted up without issue and was again a quick install 20 minutes or so including wheel removal.

The meltdown

There’s nothing worse then starting a job on your car and finding that “someone’s been here before”. I’ve stood underneath my car and I’m proud to see all of the under-tray bolts are correct and present and overall the GT-R looks incredibly clean underneath for 13 years old. However the drivers side front brake line fitting was mangled. I could only just get a spanner on it, it came out “ok” but going back into the Alcon Superkit was just not happening and it was pissing brake fluid allover.

Meltdown part 2

After again using the trusty mole grips to attempt my rescue (I needed the car at the weekend) it was all to no avail. I phoned Nissan to source a brake line however my closest dealer was 60 miles away and wouldn’t post out. I was “saved” by a Nissan specialist after quoting the part number Nissan supplied. I even asked “is this the hard line from the calliper to the block junction on the upright?” Which I was informed it was. This is where tantrums swearing and considering listing the GT-R in the classifieds started to cross my mind. Of course I couldn’t get the other end of the hard line out of the junction block. The bracket on the upright would flex when I applied any tension to it and I just couldn’t get the leverage for fear of breaking something else. (Face palm). I had to remove the braided line further back that Litchfield replaced the year before, snap the hard line off behind the nut and whack a 10mm 1/2” socket onto it in my vice. I cannot stress how much of a pain in the ass this was. Current install time around 4 hours of labour plus a night elapsed waiting on a new brake line.

Meltdown part 3 the final encore

You can imagine my relief knowing the damaged brake line had been successfully removed and all that was required was plumbing in its replacement. Imagine the desire to shout and swear when the picture below greeted me after opening the packaging. The big line at the back was the damaged unit, the much shorter new part was lacking around 4 inches or so. So with some theoretical man logic I had to relocate the junction block on the upright slightly to accommodate the lines apparent lack of length. That and straighten out a couple of the bends to help out that extra bit. It threaded into the calliper perfectly and the junction block and best of all it didn’t leak. We checked full steering lock both sides and it all clears perfectly. I don’t use the car much so I’ll have Kaizer replace the line for me in March. I also have two custom braided lines sat in a box for when it’s times to renew the Goodridge units on the rear.

Summary

This 3 hour install (quoted by a known tuner in their how to guide) took me about 3 days. Most of which waiting for parts and getting soaked in the rain. I loved assembling and torquing all the bolts up. The brake line was a complete unforeseen disaster and really tainted the experience. However I’m incredibly proud of what I achieved. A technician friend of mine came over later that evening and we bled the system and replaced the fluid with Motul RBF660.

Brake performance

Considering how much I was told the RS29 pads are a hardcore track pad that need a lot of heat, I’ve found their initial bite on the road fantastic. A really firm confidence inspiring pedal feel is present and I’m much more inclined to push harder. I’ve done some hard stops from triple digits and I can’t get over how quickly speed is lost with minimal pedal travel. By far the best modification I’ve done to a car yet. I sold my standard set up for £1650 so this kit owes me £794 with brake fluid included, phenomenal bang for my buck and I saved some cash by fitting myself. I’ve only done 200 miles so far but I’ll update with my progress when we have some better weather. I hope you can enjoy this mini thread and probably laugh at the nightmare I had a couple of weeks ago.

Published by Sam Busby

a big nosed bearded idiot who likes to write about cars. Lucky enough to have owned a few quick ones too.

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