I can’t afford a big brake kit for my e30. Not yet anyway. There are too many other upgrades and repairs that have to happen before I can spend the money on a proper set of brakes.
So in the meantime I’ve decided to rebuild my old stock BMW brakes. The previous owner had given me a set of brand new replacement rotors and pads he hadn’t installed, so I already had a head start. All that was left was to take these old rusty calipers and make them look and work like new again. When I say rusty I mean 27 years of nobody even cleaning them. Judging by how hard it was to break the lugs free the first time I took the wheels off, I’m not sure anyone even looked at them since 1991. But here I am, the lucky winner.
The first thing I did after removing these crusty old calipers from the car was disassemble them in preparation for sandblasting—removing the pistons, seals, etc. Fortunately my brother-in-law has a nice industrial sandblast cabinet in his machine shop just down the road, so it didn’t take much to take off all the years of buildup. As an experiment, I tried cleaning one caliper with a wire wheel and drill before sandblasting, in order to compare the results. What a huge difference the sandblasting made in cleaning these calipers—no contest really.
After getting the calipers good and clean with sandblasting, I promptly took them home, plugged all the holes, and sprayed them with primer. Three coats. Then I painted them with black caliper paint. Again, just a spray can. Obviously there were other colors available, but I’m a fan of black. And since these are just stock calipers I didn’t want anything too flashy—no need to bring attention to a standard setup in my opinion. So three coats of black, then three coats of clear. I let them cure for a couple days then got to work on rebuilding them. For stronger, more permanent finish, see if you can find a 2 stage caliper enamel.
Everything went together without a hitch. I learned it’s a good idea to put a little brake fluid around the piston and on the new seals when installing them, just to keep everything lubed and moving smoothly. Friction is the enemy. Everything else was pretty straightforward. After rebuilding the calipers I installed new pads and then it was a done deal. Check out the video above for the details.
Now I have to wait until I finish the front end rebuild as well as rebuilding the rear before I can install these beauties and test everything out. There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s definitely going to be worth it.