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Front Disc Brake Conversion - part #1
I was driving down the road with my Jeep after I finally got it running upon completion of the buildup and a car pulled out in front of me and I had to swerve to avoid them. The front right drum grabbed harder then the left one and I almost endoed my Jeep right there on that little 2-lane road. It was then that I decided that I was going to need some better, more unilateral braking system. Front discs were the way to go I decided. Even though the drums all around were completely brand new from the drums down to the shoes and cylinders, it didn't matter. If they aren't perfectly adjusted they won't work in unison. I tried drilling out the drums too as people had said in a few articles that I read that back in the day hot rodders used to do this to help slow down their vehicles. I also read that it was a good idea for allowing sand and water to leak out of the holes thus helping braking in wet conditions with drum brakes. I tried it all, wasted a lot of time and drill bits but it didn't really help all that much on my rig. It might have been the size of the tires or the combination of the tires, gearing and weight of the vehilce, but to each there own, I wanted to try disc brakes.

So, I set out to research this item quite a bit. I found very good information on the forums about people who had done conversions to Chevy setups and modified Jeep setups. I found that 6-bolt pattern hubs were stronger then 5-bolt and also that there were different size disc brake rotors on some Jeeps then others. From 1979-1986 they used a 10-1/2"x7/8" rotor with a 2 bolt to knuckle caliper mounting bracket. This was interesting news to me because my knuckles didn't have 2 bolts to put this caliper-mounting bracket on. I had seen the bracket on eBay many times for very large amounts of money, but I had no way to attach this to mine without drilling and tapping some holes. I figured that since this isn't the way it came from the factory and that it was 30 years old, putting more holes in it would just cause more stress on the part and I didn't want to do that, so I opted to research further.
I found out that disk brakes were optional in 1976 and standard starting in 1977. Between '76-'78 the disk brakes used a large 10-1/2"x1-1/8" rotor. I searched for this larger setup, but couldn't seem to find it anywhere. Finally in my searching on eBay I found a guy that had a 1979 axle out of a CJ-5 that had disc brakes and he was located only about 150 miles away. Sweet! So for 100 bucks and some gas and tolls, I had an axle that had the entire setup. It was the later model setup that had the 7/8" rotor, but it had a 6 bolt warn hub setup on it that appeared to be somewhat newly replaced so I was cool with it.
Upon getting the new axle setup home, I disassembled it completely, both sides, and ordered up some new ball joints for my new steering knuckles and when they came in, I dropped them off at the machine shop to have them swapped out. Again, I know my limits. I spent so much time getting one side's ball joints out, time spent that I could have been doing something else. It is all about the time value of money with me. It might be different for you, but I make a certain amount of money an hour. If I can pay someone else less money to do something for me that will take longer for me to do and possibly end up ruining that part, it works out financially in the long run for me. Again, you might be different, to each there own.

After the disassembly, I found that the rotors were shot, so I was going to need new rotors. The brake hoses were non-existent since they had disintegrated, so I ordered up some new 6" lift stainless steel brake lines. These are supposed to give better pedal pressure and won't flex as rubber ones do. Also, I had a 4+" lift that I had to account for. The brake hoses can be found (part# 22706 05) at Quadratec or you can get them through froogle. Upon further inspection, new calipers, pads, bearings were also ordered. I went to Froogle again to find the best prices for these. I ordered the parts from a lot of different places, but aside from having different shipping times, the price difference made quite a cost savings.
So, the new knuckles were back from the machine shop and I start to tear into my rig. I put it up on jack stands, take off the wheels and then disasemble the drum brakes. I unhooked the brake lines from the frame area first. Unfortunately I broke one of the new stainless lines I had put on there weeks earlier, so I didn't have the ability to sell the pair off since they can't be reused on the disc brake setup. I then took off the drums and the backing plate along with the hubs. You will need an axle nut socket to remove 2 nuts on each side once you get in there. They are torqued on as well as kept on with a bent up metal key that needs to be pried back. There are 2 washers as well sandwiched between the 2 nuts, then need to come off as well. You will have to knock loose the tire rod ends as well as the drag link from both sides of the knuckles. This will take some doing to get them off if they are original. It is a good time to replace the steering linkages since you have it all apart. You don't need to, but instead of tearing it apart later, this is a good time to do it.

After all this is apart, you can inspect all the components from your base axle and the donor axle and see which parts are better and which ones are not. Make a set of the best ones and then you will be able to sell off the rest. There are tons of people that still run front drum setups. Since I had all that money invested in the new front brake drum parts, I was able to fetch a pretty price on those as well as spindles, hubs, knuckles, etc. Just remember to account for the shipping costs. These will run high for the heavier components not to mention finding boxes to hold them in. This is one of the hardest parts when shipping. You have to account for the packaging and handling costs like tape and other associated costs. These add up and you don't want to eat these costs. Plan ahead.
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