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Sunday, 26 May 2013


American entrepreneur and engineer George Westinghouse, patented the compressed-air brake on March 5, 1872. .Before his invention, there was no easy way to quickly stop the extremely heavy freight trains that transported goods over land. Brakemen scrambled over the tops of moving cars to activate hand brakes on each one. The system was unreliable, resulting in frequent derailments, and many brakemen were killed or maimed after falling from trains. The air brake solved all of those problems.

Control handle and valve for a Westinghouse Air Brake

The first production car with hydraulic brakes (ie using pipes and fluid rather than cables to activate the brakes) was the 1920 Duesenberg, an American luxury car with a "straight eight" engine. Chrysler brought the now universal feature to mass-produced cars in 1924.

Formula One racing is where the most advanced brakes are found. During 1997, German driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen recorded a force of 5.99G under braking. This is around six times the braking performance of a conventional road car and meant that Heinz-Harald’s 65kg body momentarily weighed nearly 390kg. To achieve this deceleration he had to push the brake pedal of his Williams-Renault with a pressure of 150kg.

In 1950 Dunlop announced the disc brake. They helped Jaguar to win the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1953 were referred to in the press of the time as "plate brakes". The term "discs" came later.

The 1967 Porsche 911S was the first production car to feature ventilated disc brake rotors. Now common, these rotors have cooling channels running between the two friction surfaces to give better cooling and therefore better resistance to brake fade during heavy applications.

If a car is travelling at 55 miles per hour it will travel 56 feet before the driver can shift his foot from the accelerator to the brake

The power generated by the braking system of even a modest family car can exceed 500bhp (375kW), outstripping the engine output of virtually everything on the road.


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