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Submitted By: LoFrontier
Date: February 10, 2009, 02:25:42 AM
Views: 11479

Rear Disc Brake Conversion - LoFrontier

TSM makes their own 11 1/4" vented rotors for this kit. I don't believe that Dodge front rotors will work. I opted for the braided stainless lines for a little extra shine. The calipers have integral parking brakes and are a little pricey. To save some money you can get some from a junkyard off of a 79-85 El-Dorado, Riviera, and Toronado or an 80-85 Seville. Either rebuild them or use them as your cores to get new ones from the auto parts store.

To start jack up the rear of the truck and set the axle on jack stands. I pulled the bed off of my truck because I was replacing all of the rear brake lines. My truck is also lowered quite a bit so working from the top is easier than crawling around on my back.

The first order of business is to remove the stock drum brakes. Pull the wheels and drums off. To get the backing plate off that holds the shoes and wheel cylinder you have to remove the axle shaft. My truck has a 9 1/4" rear end and pulling the axle shafts requires opening up the differential and removing the C clips on the end of the axles. It sounds scary but is actually very easy. This is also a good time to replace the seals on the end of the axle if you need to.

Pull the diff cover and drain the oil. (Please pardon my lack of proper terminology here) Put the truck in Neutral and spin the diff around until you can access the pin (Item 1) that holds the spider gear idler shaft (Item 2) in place. The pin is removed and the shaft is partially pulled out in the picture. Sliding the shaft out will allow you to push in on the axle shaft and remove the C clip (Item 4) from its end. In the picture the C clip has been removed and is sitting in the diff housing for safe keeping. You can see the splines in the spider gear (Item 3) that engage the axle shafts.

With the C clips removed you can pull the axles out and remove the 4 bolts from the drum brake backing plate that fasten it to the axle housing. After 130k miles mine was rusted on there pretty good so some persuasion was required to remove it. I took a wire wheel on an angle grinder and cleaned the axle housing up real good and painted it. Slide the axles back into the tubes but don't install the C clips just yet. Remove the parking brake cables from the drum brake assembly, you're going to reuse them later.

Following TSM's instructions install the C shaped brackets onto the axle tube and torque per their specs. Install the caliper mounting bracket to the C shaped bracket using the supplied bolts and spacers. I stacked 2 of the 5/16" spacers. Your application may require a different combination of shims. Torque the bolts.

Reinstall the C clips onto the ends of the axles. Slide the spider gear idler shaft back in and screw its retaining pin back in. I don't know the torque spec on this but you want it good and tight. It's not the kind of thing you want coming loose.

Slide the rotor on and snug it up with a couple lug nuts. As you can see from the pictures the tolerances are pretty tight. When the wheel goes on you'll notice how tight of a fit it is. It is possible to fabricate these brackets yourself but unless you're real good you can save yourself a lot of time, effort and frustration by simply buying the brackets from TSM.

Install the calipers and plumb the brake lines. There is a bracket that holds the flexible line that has to be welded to the axle tube. If you don't have access to a welder I imagine you can just skip this and zip tie the flexible line to the axle tube. Because the hard line is going to be shorter now you need to run new line from the tee on the axle to the flexible line. You need a double flare tool for this. You might be able to make a loop in your stock line to shorten it up but running new line is the safest way to go. No new proportioning valves are required.

Put the diff cover back on. Use Lock-Tite on the threads and seal the cover with RTV sealant. Fill her back up with oil.

Now for the parking brakes. TSM sells a "short cable extension" for using your stock parking brake cables with the new calipers. I purchased this but didn't end up using them. With the new calipers the length of the parking brake cable is too long relative to the length of the cable housing. The "short cable extension" can be used to make the housing longer and remedy the problem. I ended up doing this a little different. The length of my passenger side cable seemed to be OK and the driver's side a little long. I made the housing longer by sticking a nut between the housing and the mounting bracket. ******* yes but it works. You also have to cut the coil spring off of the end of your stock parking brake cables. They don't work with the new setup and the return springs on the calipers are plenty strong enough.

The new calipers require more cable to be pulled in order to actuate them than the stock drums. To get the system to pull more cable I have since drilled a new hole in the plate for the cable coming from the E-brake pedal about an inch up from its stock location. Less leverage but it pulls more cable.

A lot of adjustment of this little thingy was required to compensate for the new E-brake setup. This is where most of the extra length of the parking brake cables was taken up. In retrospect I probably should've used the "short cable extensions" and avoided this slack and the nut spacer.

One thing I noticed when I was putting the wheels back on is that some longer wheel studs would be a good idea. The thickness of the mounting surface of the new rotor is a little thicker than that of the stock drums. My truck has the alloy turbine wheels on it that have a thicker mounting surface than a steel wheel does. This thickness combined with the thickness of the new rotor makes the wheel studs a tad too short.

All in all this is an excellent kit. There is a little bit of customizing required to get everything working just right and a few specialized tools (welder, double flare tool). TSM's website ( is an excellent resource when it comes to troubleshooting problems and their sales and tech people are excellent.

I've put close to 1,000 miles on my truck so far and the new brakes work great. They're reliable and stop with confidence. They're very well balanced. You can feel that they stop stronger than the drums but they're not overpowering which is a good thing. You don't want your rear locking up before the front and coming around on you.

If you want extra stopping power and added simplicity for your truck I highly recommend this kit!
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