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Disc Ditching: Rebuilding Your Jeeps Drum Brakes

Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on June 1, 2011
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It’s amazing how a single experience can color your whole perception of something. Bite down on one rancid egg as a kid and you’ll probably get dry-heaves for the rest of your life at the sight of an omelet. For most vintage Jeep owners, the same can be said of trying to stop with worn and broken factory drums. You were probably mashing the pedal with both feet as hard as you could, white-knuckle death grip on the steering wheel, and tears streaming from your eyes. Now you swap discs on any early Jeep before you’ll even move it around your driveway.

Consider Jeep went to the “modern” disc/drum arrangement back in 1977 on CJs and in 1974 on FSJs. That means even the newest drum/drum system is 34 years old. As the vehicle sits, moisture permeates the fluid and rusts the master and brake cylinders internally. The brake cylinder seals can dry out, springs can rust and snap, and any number of other age-related issues can occur. Start your inspection by popping the master cylinder open and inspecting the fluid volume and condition.

We’ll admit that there’s not much you can do to make the early 9-inch drums perform adequately. But if you’re running factory 10- or 11-inch drums, your tire size is around 33 inches or smaller, and if your wheeling doesn’t include a lot of heavy mud, then you can make the factory drum setup really work for you. After all, 4x4 enthusiasts have been driving drum-brake-equipped Jeeps for over half a century. They can’t be all bad.

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