“Any kind of car that has any kind of performance at all, and even many trucks now, use discs in the rear as well,” he said.
“Power and torque are important for on-car lathes, to be able to turn the wheels through driveline friction, because the alternative is that you have to go and drop driveshafts,” said Meyer. “If you can’t turn a wheel, your only alternative, if there’s too much torque required to turn the wheel to turn the brake, you have to disconnect the drive shaft to allow the other side to spin more freely, and I think that’s a very labor-intensive operation, so you want to avoid that at all costs.”
THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION
Regardless of differences between the lathe types, some models of both on-car and bench lathes are capable of working digitally, with computerized compensation to remove run-out. Womer said that advancing technology has helped some shops convert to fully computerized compensation.
“The machine self-compensates once you hook the adapter up to the hub, put the machine up to the adapter, and attach the machine to the adapter,” said Womer. “You start the machine, push one button, and in about 30 seconds the machine has compensated for lateral run out.”
Many manufacturers require records of the length of cut, for warranty reasons. With digital displays, users are able to record these numbers for reference, said Womer.
Along with meeting OE requirements, this feature takes the guesswork out of tweaking cuts so techs don’t have to be as familiar with the fine-tuned aspects of using a lathe manually.
• Limiting the number of tools needed for capital equipment operation is a benefit to any shop. According to Womer, who described a particular model, 9.2 PRO that offers more efficient operation, “the actual setup of the machines requires no tools, because everything’s knobs, levers and buttons.”
• Some lathes also offer anti-chatter devices for a quieter cut. This feature helps users avoid the resonance that occurs when cutting the rotor, similar to the high-pitch frequency heard when running a finger around a crystal glass. “(Anti-chatter Control Technology) automatically varies the speed in which it’s cutting, up and down, and that prevents that resonance from taking place. It’ll give you better surface finish, and a more accurate cut,” said Meyer.
• Another feature some shops look for is an intermittent cutting pattern. “The cutting head, just starting in the middle and moving its way outward, actually stops and has an intermittent cutting pattern. So it moves and stops, moves and stops, as it slowly migrates to the outside of the rotor. That improves surface finish, and eliminates that continuous feed cut,” said Meyer.
This cutting helps vehicles retain the brake pad surface for longer wear.
In this economy, as shops are looking everywhere they can increase tickets, many owners will look to expand services. Once the domain of mainly specialists, with the advance of brake lathes, many shops will be able to add brake service to their credentials and you can be ready to answer equipment questions.