Hydraulic brakes for motor vehicles have improved much over the years and now form the basis of the stopping system on almost every car, truck, motorcycle and ATV.
Consisting of a brake pedal or brake lever on a motorcycle connected to a master cylinder by a mechanical linkage hydraulic fluid is pressurised and flows towards a slave cylinder or caliper which contains the frictional elements. These are known as disc pads and contact against a brake rotor to provide friction and stopping power.
Hydraulic brakes provides leverage ratios far higher than mechanical brake systems, they are compact and easy to maintain and service and do not suffer from wear in linkages etc that have obsoleted their predecessors which were linked or mechanical or even cable brakes.
The brake fluids used in hydraulic brakes must be changed and flushed periodically as most hydraulic brakes use glycol fluids which are hygroscopic which means they absorb moisture.
Another great advantage of hydraulic brakes is that flexible, even rubber fluid transfer lines can be used making it easy to route the hydraulics around hard to reach areas on a vehicle. Some rubber lines or hoses as they are know in hydraulic brakes are braided with steel casing to allow them to accept higher line pressures and the prevent chafing of the rubber lines inside.
The seals used in hydraulic brakes can be made from various rubber compounds and seal the sliding components with the brake and prevent leakage. It is often possible to completely overhaul hydraulic brakes especially motor vehicle calipers which are costly to replace.
Many other vehicles use hydraulic brakes such as cranes and lifts or elevators, aeroplanes, mining vehicles, the uses and application for hydraulic brakes are endless and all use similar systems and components.
It is typical to see efficiency ratios far higher in hydraulic brakes because of the very low friction involved and mechanical advantage ratios of 30 to 1 are quite common. It has to be considered that higher mechanical advantage is inbuilt the more unit movement there will have to be of the actuator and in some cases this restricts the leverage ratios designed into hydraulic brakes, even so the efficiency, flexibility, ease of service, costs and actual product weight makes the hydraulic brake a clear winner in its field.
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