TYPES OF BRAKES BY LAND, SEA & AIR
As auto repair technicians that have experience in brake repair in Chico, we talk about car brakes and truck brakes all day long. Fix brakes this, brake repair that, who’s the best brake tech in the shop… it’s like it’s all we ever talk about. We’re almost sick of it, which got us thinking… let’s talk about something else for once! So today we’re gonna talk about brakes, but for other vehicles! How does a plane stop? Do boats have brakes? All important and critical questions we intend to address here today. First though, let’s go over auto brakes again, real quick:
There are two main kinds of braking systems in modern vehicles:
- Disc Brakes, the most common
- and Drum Brakes, which are more common for trucks than cars.
The primary difference between the two is that disc brakes use brake pads to pinch a rotating disc (rotor) to stop; while drum brakes have pads that are pushed outwards to rub the inside of a rotating drum in order to stop. Typically, both systems use hydraulic fluid pressure to push brake fluid through the brake lines and cause the disc-pinching calipers to move, or drum-pushing to happen, which induces braking.
Now that we’ve covered that again, let’s get to the new stuff!
Traditionally, trains use something called “clasp brakes” in order to stop. These press against the external surface of the wheel. Think of it like a strong man pushing a rolling boulder to a stop with pure strength. Not sure if that’s helpful as an analogy, but it does kinda look and operate just like that… in a sense.
It’s also worth noting that due to running on smooth rails, trains have a lot less friction to stop with. Besides their weight, this is another reason they’re so hard to stop in an emergency.
Slowing and stopping an airplane is quite an engineering feat. Fortunately, technology allows us to do this by way of powerful engines and air brakes that increase aircraft drag to reduce airspeed. This is done via an extension of fins or protrusions that break through the aircraft’s airstream and increase its drag (ie its pull against the wind).
In addition, most if not all planes these days use spoilers, not unlike those seen on drift cars or other race cars. This improves drag in order to reduce speed, but unlike the spoilers on cars, it doesn’t affect the lift as much. By contrast, a car’s spoilers use lift to push the vehicle down and thus increase drag. But changing the lift is not desired in a plane, so they’re not angled the same way as cars.
It’s not a perfect solution but it does work to decrease speed for a controlled landing. In some cases- especially that emergencies- a parachute may even be deployed to aid in reducing speed by, again, increasing drag. This was part of the “braking” system used for the safe landing of the Space Shuttle Discovery, for example.
Boats don’t use traditional braking systems to stop. The way to slow or stop yourself in a boat depends on the boat but usually requires reversing the propeller, dropping anchor, or attempting to steer against the water currents and wind. Fins and other physical protrusions can help- a sail pointed against the wind, for example- but usually don’t make a ton of difference in any kind of emergency braking scenario.
Since boats have to reverse their accelerators in order just to stop, that means their acceleration and deceleration are quite poor. It takes a powerful engine to “stop” (rather than brake) a sea-borne vehicle, but fortunately, we have those now. Building the boat to be light and hydrodynamic also makes a big difference, which is why most speedboats look fairly similar.
To learn more about “How Ships Stop Without Brake?”, watch this YouTube video by Marine Insight.
BRAKE REPAIR IN CHICO
Land, air, and sea brakes may operate a bit differently, but in many ways, they operate on the same fundamental principle: friction slows speed (be that friction from metal-on-metal contact, or from air drag). In the case of boats though, I suppose the force of raw resistance is key, but I digress…
Before we go, know that if you need auto brake repair service in Chico, you’ve come to just the right place! When we’re not arguing about whether or not fish can use brakes (they can’t), we’re fixing auto brakes instead. More the latter than the former, we promise.
Just remember: if you need brake service, give Tedious Repairs a call today!
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Buddy started his auto career journey at Butte College and started his own auto repair company in 2007. Since then he has worked on countless cars, diagnosing, repairing, and replacing worn, faulty, and broken parts.
After a few years, he moved to a bigger shop to accommodate his growth and to better serve the Chico, CA community. It’s a family-owned & operated business.
Outside of work Buddy enjoys spending time with his family and playing softball is one of his many passions.