Many of us who have owned older vehicles have had one or more with front drum brakes. While drums can be made somewhat effective with high quality shoes and some careful tweaking, front disc brakes are far better performers, especially if you've increased tire size and weight.
Drum brakes also have several disadvantages. Under heavy use, they may be prone to brake fade as the iron drum expands and wants to move away from the brake shoes. Drum brakes also tend to retain water and mud, and are not as self-cleaning as disc brakes are. That means, for those of us who venture into the dirty stuff, a disc system is typically the better option.
Early Toyota Land Cruiser models came with drum brakes on all four corners. Fortunately, they were dual-piston units up front and were driven with a vacuum-boosted master cylinder. But, they remain troublesome, so an upgrade to front disc brakes using OEM Toyota parts is a wise modification to any fully drummed 'Cruiser. To do so requires a visit to a variety of parts bins to pick and choose some components from several years and models of Toyotas. The OEM parts can be sourced from Toyota, auto parts stores, or from salvage yards. Along with the disc brake swap, we'll also get stronger outer axles (Birfields), knuckles, steering arms, and locking hubs.
Our first order of business was to get the front axle on jackstands and accessible to disassemble the aged axle drum assemblies. Here we'll detail the swap procedure and the parts we used to complete our front axle upgrades.
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