For car and history buffs alike, the history of brake pads is fascinating. Here’s a short look at some interesting highlights.
American vehicle manufacturers did not start using front wheel disk brake systems with brake pads until the 1970s. But, brake pads were developed much earlier, around the turn of the century.
Brake Pads Inventor – Herbert Frood
Herbert Frood of Derbyshire, England, received a patent in 1901 for Brake Blocks. These were the first commercial brake pads. At that time, the brake pad friction materials used were cotton cloth filled with resin, camel hair, leather, and even wood.
As technology progressed, vehicle speeds increased rapidly. Early horseless carriages had top speeds of 6 to 12 miles per hour. Horseless carriages, horses, and mules shared the same roads made from packed earth.
By 1900, vehicles neared speeds of 30 miles per hour, which encouraged experiments to improve braking.
In 1902, Ransom E. Olds tested a new brake system which was a single flexible steel band wrapped around a drum on the rear axle. When the brakes were applied, the steel band contracted round the drum to stop the vehicle.
The Olds system (eventually Oldsmobile) was far superior to a coach’s tire brake, which used a long lever to apply the brakes. The coach’s tire brake damaged the solid rubber tires of that era, but was popular on horse-drawn carriages and early automobiles.
In 1905, Frood created the Herbert Frood Company, specializing in brakes and friction materials. Commercial vehicles, trucks, and buses in England used the company’s products starting around 1907. During World War I, the friction material was adopted by the military for use in tanks, trucks, and other vehicles.
Brake Pads 2.0
Frood focused on improving friction material. In 1910, under the brand name ‘Ferodo’, the first asbestos friction material was created. Asbestos, a natural mineral, can handle high temperatures and is an excellent insulator.
Frood started a manufacturing branch in the US, Ferodo & Asbestos, Inc. in New Brunswick, NJ. In 1901. In 1920, the Herbert Frood Company became Ferodo, Inc., with Frood as majority owner.
In 1926, Turner & Newell, a British company, bought the controlling shares of Ferodo when Frood retired. He died in 1931 at the age of 67.
As a division of Turner & Newell, Ferodo continued to develop brake friction material. The company became a leading name in performance brakes and supplied vehicle manufacturers. In 1961, Ferodo introduced sintered metal (semi-metallic brake pads) and cerametallic friction materials.
Within a decade of the introduction of sintered metal friction material, the cancer-causing properties of asbestos became widely known. The industry abandoned asbestos. Asbestos-free friction material became the standard.
Today, U.S. made-brake pads do not use asbestos as a primary material. However, it may be used in some inexpensive imported brake pads.
About Goodyear Brakes
Goodyear Brakes manufactures premium quality brake bundles, calipers, rotors, brake pads and all the hardware required to successfully install brakes, all backed by a national warranty, decades of production experience and one of the best-known names in automotive excellence. The brake pads are manufactured in the USA using a proprietary green production process by a company with more than 50 years of experience in friction science. The Goodyear Brakes product line is available through Goodyear Brakes at Amazon, CarID, Buy Brakes and AutoAnything.
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