Over the years, Wilwood has been involved in nearly every form of motorsports, at levels from student, to amateur, to professional, and we've brought our engineering expertise to each. Because of our involvement with motorsports, we are constantly looking for innovative products to give racers a competitive edge. Two similar-looking but different purpose Wilwood items are the hydraulic handbrakes and the hand cutting brake assemblies.
Hydraulic Hand Brake Assembly
Wilwood's Hydraulic Hand Brake Assembly combines a high leverage aluminum lever with a rigid mounting base for a master cylinder. These are very popular in drift and rally competition cars, where drivers sometimes need to apply the brakes on only the rear wheels to initiate a slide. Drag races use a hand brake to control just the front brake (or just the rear on front-wheel-drive cars), to allow more precise staging than a line lock alone would. Some drag racers also plumb the hand brake lever to a redundant set of rear calipers as an added safety measure, together with a pedal connected to the primary calipers.
These hand brakes, with your choice of a vertical or horizontal lever arm, can be configured with any Wilwood single master cylinder with 2.25" on center vertical mounting holes (not included). With the Wilwood GS compact remote master cylinder, it can be set up as a pass-through system operating the same calipers as the foot brake master cylinder. Plumbing is as easy as hooking up the brake line from the primary master cylinder to the reservoir input. When the lever is at rest position, the pressure just passes through it to the brakes. Pull the lever, and pressure is directed only to the calipers plumbed to the lever, not back to the primary master cylinder.
When used with a tandem master cylinder, these hand brakes can also adapt a race car's brakes to hand control for disabled drivers. Wilwood's Tandem Remote Master Cylinder bolts up directly. If you want more leverage than its 1" bore can provide, other Wilwood tandem remote units can easily be adapted.
A pair of these hand brake levers mounted next to each other can also be plumbed to each rear wheel to be used as a cutting or steering brake.
Hand Cutting Brake Assembly
The Wilwood cutting brake assembly is an all-in-one unit with two 3/4" bore master cylinders built into it. Pulling the lever activates one master cylinder, and pushing it triggers the opposite. Cutting brakes come from farm tractors, where there are often two pedals and only brakes on the rear wheels, which allows them to pivot around a braked wheel. The Wilwood hand cutting brake assembly enables the same function to be added to a variety of vehicles.
Cutting brakes are very useful on vehicles like wheelstand dragsters, tractor pull tractors, rock crawlers, and sand rails, often found without all their wheels on the ground, making steering hard. The dual master cylinder cutting brake can steer by braking just one wheel at a time, though it may be counterintuitive to steer left and right by moving a lever forwards or back. More commonly, they are used in a pair mounted next to each other for easy individual control of all four wheels.
Mount two cutting brake levers next to each other in the cockpit, plumb correctly, and your rock crawler will be able to brake one wheel at a time, both front or back, or all four at once. Pulling both levers back, or pushing them forward, applies the brakes on one end of the car. Pulling or pushing one lever applies brakes to just that one corner of the vehicle.
Pull the cutting brake handle plumbed to the left or right rear wheel, and skid steer like a tank or bulldozer - hitting the throttle will pivot you around the stopped wheel. Hold the lever for one front wheel perched on a rock to keep from rolling back and power the other three wheels up the trail.
Instead of splitting a tandem master cylinder front to back, plumb it with each of the two chambers going to one of the cutting brake handles and one side of the car. Stepping on the pedal always gives you four-wheel brakes, with the bias adjusted by using smaller piston calipers in the rear, sometimes with an adjustable proportioning valve on each rear brake line.
Having single-wheel brake control also becomes very useful for stopping a spinning wheel that has no traction, which sends 100% to the other wheel on the same "open" differential. However, this won't work with welded or locked differentials, as applying the brakes to one wheel will attempt to stop both. Pushing both levers forward acts as a line lock allowing for better launch control too.
Wilwood doesn't just make the big parts. We have everything from the pedal to the brake pad! Besides calipers, rotors, and master cylinders, we engineer a full line of accessories, brake pads, fluid, brackets, adapters, and more. Here are just a few of the part numbers used with Wilwood hand brakes and cutting brakes.
Tandem master cylinder adapter
GS compact remote master cylinder
(various bore sizes)