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YJ Rehab (Part 2): Rebuilding Drum Brakes (Yes, Drum Brakes) on Our Jeep YJ Project

In Part One of YJ Rehab, we showed you how to restore the suspension and upgrade the fuel system on a 1994 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. In this exciting episode, we’ll show you how to rebuild a set of rear drum brakes.

Would we have preferred to do a rear disc conversion? Yes. But several came with the warning “may not fit stock wheels.” Since the point of this frame-off was to bring the Jeep back to near-factory condition, that made disc brakes a no-go right off the bat.

While we don’t mind drum brakes, they can be a handful for the uninitiated and are no walk in the park when compared to installing disc brakes. But with a little patience, a couple of hours work, and some parts from Summit Racing, you can give your drums a ground-up rebuild. The parts themselves are relatively inexpensive when you compare it to a disc upgrade. Just the Crown Rear Drum Master Kit alone will get you most of the way to the goal. From there, we replaced the brake line, emergency and parking brake cables, and wheel cylinders. Keep in mind, drum brakes tend to need more attention than discs, so it’s a good idea to periodically inspect and adjust them.

With the brakes finished, the next task is to prep the body and reunite it with our refreshed chassis. In the meantime, here’s how drum brakes get good.

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One of our first steps was providing brake fluid to the rear of the Jeep. We stepped up to stainless line from Classic Tube. As much as we’d like to provide you with a guide on the best way to deal with mis-bends due to shipping, routing the lines comes down to working from one end to the other in very small and careful increments. Be patient, be slow, and be ready to step away occasionally.

We ash-canned the original brake hardware so we can’t show you how bad it was. Suffice to say it was old, rusty. Our brake rehab started with a Crown Automotive Drum Brake Kit. It includes new drums, shoes, and most of the required hardware.

We procured the items included with the Crown kit from Summit Racing including these Crown wheel cylinders and brake adjusters and an Omix-Ada rear brake hose. Also shown are some of the pieces from Classic Tube’s stainless steel brake line.

Our e-brake cables were getting pretty worn, so we purchased one of Crown’s main cables, and Omix-Ada right and left rear cables. You’ll also want to invest in some Omix-Ada brake clips.

We installed a wheel cylinder on the brake backing plate, then snapped the rear e-brake cable into the plate.

After some cleanup, we reused the original emergency brake brackets. Note how the bracket’s Tab-A hooks into the brake shoe’s Slot B.

While they make special tools for compressing the e-brake retaining springs, ours gave us no issues.

The bottom spring went in next (photo inverted). The e-brake cable will want to get in the way, but once we set to the proper tension, it will slip back out of the way.

The brake bar’s springs slide on small end first.

Liberal use of zip ties can add an extra set of hands if you’re having issues keeping the assembly together between parts.

The spring and self-adjuster cable went on next. Make sure to pre-position the cable. Once that second spring goes on, you won’t be able to reposition it easily.

The parking brake cable router goes on with the second spring.

These drum brake adjusting lever return springs are not included in the Crown brake kit. These are made by Raybestos and available at Summit Racing.

The brake adjuster in place.

The three rubber plate caps go on last. Lather, rinse, and repeat on the other side.

Our old brake line was pretty shot. The new Classic Tube lines look great and will probably last the life of the Jeep.

The rear brake lines completed.

The e-brake lines were hooked up and the equalizer installed. We lucked out and had a spare OEM equalizer. Summit Racing carries Omix-Ada equalizers by special order.

With the drum brake install complete, we’re ready for final chassis prep and mating body and chassis.

 

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