There are few things more important than safety and security when it comes to building a classic car or truck. Sure, beauty and reliability are up there, but as the saying goes, chrome won’t get you home. Oftentimes, some of the simplest safety devices get left out when wrapping up a custom car build. I know I’m just as guilty as anyone else when it comes to leaving out certain things and a proper emergency brake is one of those items that I’ve left out of a handful of builds for various reasons; namely due to frustrations from trying to mate a stock emergency brake lever mechanism with a non-stock rear brake application. My custom and classic vehicle is a great example for this electric emergency brake install.

The E-Stopp is designed to replace an existing e-brake lever with a microcomputer-controlled pushbutton system. A simple push of the button and the E-Stopp engages or disengages the e-brake, giving the user a visible cue in the form of a blinking LED button as well as an audible recognition signal until the process is completed. Once engaged, the button’s LED remains lit (drawing 16 micro amps) until the button is pressed again and the e-brake is disengaged, whereas the LED extinguishes.

The mechanical process of setting the e-brake is handled by a worm-drive actuator that is housed in a rugged aluminum case, with about 3 inches of travel. A microcomputer control box relays the signal from the button to the actuator, which pulls the e-brake cable until it detects 600 pounds of resistance, whereupon it stops and locks in place. Once activated, the unit locks onto itself, drawing nothing from the battery to remain set.

What’s cool about the E-Stopp, and what makes it more than just a simple push-button e-brake, is the security aspect of having an electronically actuated parking brake. By hiding the button in an inconspicuous location, such as in a locking glovebox, it becomes nearly impossible to disable the e-brake once set. A would-be thief could get into your car and fire it up, but he’d have a hard time driving away with a pair of locked-up rear tires. In the case of a failed hydraulic system, it can also be used as an emergency brake by safely engaging the brakes via the mechanical e-brake system. Safety and security built into one system, now that’s 21st century technology for ya!

Installing the E-Stopp system is a simple manner of locating the existing e-brake cables and mating them to the actuator, mounting the control box and switch, and wiring the system to a 12-volt source. On most cars, the install could take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the existing, or lack thereof, e-brake system.

We took an afternoon to install the E-Stopp system, which included running brand-new Lokar emergency brake cables, mounting the actuator, control box and button, and wiring up the system. At the end of the day, we ended up with an e-brake system that not only gave us the safety features we were lacking, but also added a bit of extra security over a standard lever-type system, in about the same time it would have taken to install a traditional e-brake setup.

2. Housed in a double-layered, weatherproof aluminum housing, the E-Stopp actuator consists of a worm-drive mechanism capable of pulling a tension up to 600 pounds, wherein it locks upon itself to maintain continuous line pressure.

3. The brain of the unit is in the control box, which contains a microcomputer and relays the signal from the LED-equipped pushbutton to the actuator.

4. The pushbuttons are available in an assortment of LED-lit colors, as well as a faux cigarette lighter that is easily hidden in any dash.

5. For our application, we’re using a Lokar universal emergency brake cable kit (EC-80FU) to mate the actuator to the Chevy emergency brake mechanisms on the rear disc brakes.

6. It’s a simple matter of attaching the housing to the caliper and hooking the cable’s clevis in the arm of the e-brake mechanism.

7. Next, it’s time to figure out where to mount the actuator. We chose to mount it on the driver-side framerail where it’s well clear of the exhaust and close to the driver side of the dash, making mounting the button on the dash and the control box under the seat a breeze.

8-9. Routing the emergency brake lines is pretty straightforward, but slightly different than most stock applications since we’re pulling them from one side as opposed to from the center. That requires the passenger side cable to route through the frame and across the rear crossmember.

10-11. With both the cables attached, it’s time to locate and mount the cable housing adjustor bracket to the framerail. This acts as a stop for the front side of the brake cable housings and allows the cable’s tension to be adjusted.

12. To prevent galling of the aluminum threads on the cable adjustors, a dab of antiseize is a good idea.

13. To support the cable-housing end of the actuator, I fabricated a quick bracket to ensure that the actuator cable lines up properly with the cable housing adjustor that helps to pull the e-brake cables in a nice, straight line.

14. Next, I attached the cable block, which is part of the Lokar e-brake cable kit, to the end of the actuator cable using the studded rod and a pair of nuts.

15. Each e-brake cable is then pulled taut through the cable block and fastened in place using the two setscrews.

16-17. When it comes to wiring the unit up, it’s pretty simple. The blue wire coming out of the actuator connects to the black (-) wire coming from the control box, while the brown wire attaches to the red (+) wire.

18. On the other end of the control box, the black wire goes to chassis ground, while the red attaches to a 12V+ BAT source. The blue wire is used when the system needs to be disabled during regular use via switched 12V. This is optional and is used to disable the system to prevent any unwanted triggering of the E-Stopp system while the vehicle is in operation, rendering it a parking brake as opposed to a genuine emergency brake.

19. The pushbutton switch is a simple plug ‘n’ play design. Simply mount it where desired and plug in the connector.

20. Here’s a great example of a custom installation where the owner opted to hide the switch in a lockable glove box. Simply push the button, lock the glovebox, and leave your car parked with peace of mind that there’s one more item of deterrence at work.

Axalta Paint Tip of the Month

Sanding For Final Finish

This September LOWRIDER Paint Tip of the Month is brought to you by Axalta Coating Systems. When you want that perfect glass finish, that will all begin and end in the bodywork prep of any vehicle being painted, whether it’s a custom or collision repair finish. Waterborne basecoat or solvent basecoat doesn’t matter; it’s completely elementary at that point. A real good painter can walk by any car and judge a finish just by glancing at it. What stands out the most sometimes are the sanding scratches that are on metallic finishes. They are usually underneath the clearcoat, right there on the basecoat. We are sure that all you good painters know what we’re discussing here. Well with that said, here’s a simple tech tip on how to correct that problem when you’re spending all those man hours (time and money) on that certain color of vehicle you’re painting. Whether you are wet sanding the vehicle for the final finish or dry sanding the vehicle, you should always final sand your car for light metallic in 800 grit and final finish dark metallic finishes in 600 grit. This simple process will keep those nasty sand scratches from appearing on your clear finish six months down the road. What happens is that the base paint material has a film buildup and, in time as it cures, it will shrink up on you. Follow along with this simple advise, so this can keep that finish looking like the day you sprayed it years down the road. This will also guarantee that your customers keep coming back and referring your name and shop out there for more quality work.

For more technical advice please contact Steven Chaparro at