TCE specializes in aftermarket performance big brake systems and is the go-to brake specialist for Crown Victoria and Mercury Marauder owners looking for more stopping power. In fact, owner Todd Cook has been building big brake kits for these cars since 2006 and has kits for just about any popular application on the road today. With several engineered systems to choose from (and the ability to build one-off custom setups) we knew Todd would have the right setup for us. Complicating our goal was the fact that we had already installed the 12.88-inch Wilwood kit on our rear axle and wanted to match our front brakes to our rear. However, Wilwood doesn’t offer a direct Crown Victoria fitment, so Todd built us a hybrid kit that isn’t his typical off-the-shelf offering.
The comparable TCE Crown Vic kit to the one you see here uses a TCE hat and rotor, however for Project Speed Bump, Cook graciously offered to machine and use Wilwood aluminum hats and 14×1.10-inch Wilwood rotors with his brackets. This allowed us to use the same Wilwood SRP Spec-37 rotors up front as we did in the rear, giving a matching front and rear brake appearance. Mounted to those TCE brackets is a pair of six-piston FNSL6R Wilwood siblings to our FNSL4R four-piston rear calipers. With an estimated weight of about 3,600 pounds, our TCE Performance/Wilwood 14-inch/12.88-inch brake system should be more than adequate to haul Speed Bump down after the turbos spool through the upper ends of the power band.
Managing the brake fluid flow to those 20 pistons is Wilwood’s 15/16-bore tandem manual master cylinder. Because of the diesel drivetrain, we didn’t want to have to rely on a vacuum pump for a power brake system, and we like the crisp, honest feel and feedback of a full manual brake system. We also thought it would be a safer to keep the brake system 100 percent separate from the powertrain, ensuring that we’d always have full braking ability, especially since we plan on taking Speed Bump to the dragstrip.
Another advantage to the Wilwood setup is a proportioning valve that is mounted to the master, making biasing adjustments as easy as opening the hood and turning a knob. We were even able to hook up the Wilwood parking brake to the factory parking brake pedal using Wilwood’s universal brake cable kit.
In addition to upgrading to big brakes, we turned to Rock Auto for a slew of new frontend components. With more than 100,000 miles on our junkyard-sourced Crown Vic subframe, we ordered new upper control arms, ball joints, lower control arms, rebuilt steering rack, and tie-rod ends. These parts came with new bushings and ball joints, giving what we hope will be tens of thousands of miles of reliable service. Rock Auto had everything we needed in stock and with several choices and price points per part number to choose from, we were able to order exactly what we needed. Add to that fast shipping and great customer service, and ordering from Rock Auto is a no-brainer for anyone looking for parts for their project.
For our install, we headed back to the capable hands of LGE-CTS Motorsports, where Louie Morosan went to work, renewing the front end of Project Speed Bump.
1. Our Crown Vic frontend had more than 100,000 miles on it when we plucked it out of an Arizona junkyard. Knowing the abuse most Crown Victorias see, we decided it would be smart to go through the entire frontend and replace everything short of the crossmember. Thanks to Rock Auto, we were able to get everything from the steering rack and tie rods to the upper and lower control arms, complete with ball joints and bushings.
2. Wilwood provided the basic pieces we needed to upgrade the frontend, but TCE machined the hats and provided the brackets necessary to put everything together on our late-model Crown Victoria frontend.
3. Using Wilwood’s universal master cylinder linkage kit, we found the right pieces to connect the tandem master cylinder to the factory brake pedal assembly. We did have to shorten the shaft slightly to create the right length.
4. With the linkage figured out, we then installed Wilwood’s master cylinder–mounted proportioning valve.
5. Here you can see the Wilwood manual master cylinder going into place on Speed Bump’s firewall and Louie Morosan starting to determine the routing of the hard lines for the braking system.
6. We then routed the front hard lines down from the master along the Crown Vic front crossmember, using the existing clips from the factory.
7. To reach the calipers, we had these flexible brake lines custom made to give us enough length to take into account steering angle and wheel travel.
8. For the rear brakes, we ran a new hard line down the driver side framerail and used a custom-made flexible line to a distribution block on top of the Dynatrac axle.
9. From the distribution block, hard lines are routed toward the caliper to a fitting. We decided to use flexible hoses from the fitting to the caliper, giving us the ability to change the rear rotors without having to crack the brake line.
10. Once the hard brake lines were in place, we turned our attention to removing the ratty Crown Vic brake components. While the factory twin-piston caliper and 12-inch rotors are more than adequate for most applications of the Crown Vic swap, ours were in need of replacement, or at least that was our perfect excuse for an upgrade.
11. With the factory rotor and caliper removed, we installed the TCE Performance Products caliper brackets.
12. Next, we turned our attention to assembling the 14-inch Wilwood rotors and TCE-modified aluminum hats.
13. Here is a better look at one of the aluminum hats machined by TCE Performance Products, allowing us to use the Wilwood rotors with TCE’s other parts.
14. After applying Loctite to the supplied stainless steel hardware, the hat was joined to the rotor and everything was hand tightened before being torqued to the specification provided in the instructions from TCE.
15. The assembled 14-inch rotor assembly absolutely dwarfs the Crown Vic’s factory 12-inch rotor.
16. Before the new rotors could be mounted on the Crown Vic’s spindles, we had to thoroughly clean the hubs and install the TCE Performance Products register rings that were specially machined for this build. These rings allow the Wilwood hats to sit properly on the Crown Vic hubs.
17. Because the new braking hardware is so substantial in size, we had to remove the factory dust shields by drilling out the rivets that mount them to the spindle.
18. After installing the rotors, the calipers were mounted onto the caliper bracket.
19. We then loaded the pads into the calipers in order to evaluate the alignment. TCE Performance recommends that the caliper be centered over the rotor and that the pads be flush to the edge.
20. Note that shims were used in order to raise up the caliper to get the pads even with the edge of the rotor. We also used shims on the caliper mounting bracket bolts to center the caliper over the rotor.
21. Once we were satisfied with the alignment of the caliper to the rotor, we reinstalled the calipers, secured the pads, plumbed the flexible lines, bled the brake system, and torqued everything to spec. Before the truck heads out on its first drive, we’ll have to set the pedal ratio and rear brake bias.
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