Do drum brakes really suck this much?!

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Mar 5, 2005
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Pagosa Springs, CO.
I bought my rig with a blown motor. I yanked it and installed my Cummins into it. I finally got to drive it, and I must say I'm really dissappointed with the brakes. I've never driven a stock pig, and I've heard all the horror stories about drum brakes, but I was expecting more than this.

I have plenty of shoe, and a properly primed system. My pedal feels great. But when I have to stop this beast, it just seems like it takes too much foot to do it. I have my vacuum pump hooked up to the master, and it's pulling fine. The brakes don't feel just spongy at all, just pathetic...

I understand that I slapped a heavier powertrain into my junk, but c'mon! Is it possible that there is a problem with the master, or are these brakes really this weak?
 
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Joined
May 17, 2005
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Dallas, Texas
I had a 75 FJ40 that had drums all around. I don't know about the rest of the folks here, but I was always having to adjust them. It was always a pain, especially since there were 2 wheel cylinders on each drum that needed to be adjusted out.

I recently picked up my new (to me) 76 FJ40 which had disc brakes on front and drums in the rear. I changed to discs all around. I don't know what the difference might be since you changed a few things, but having discs all around has made a world of difference.

I am curious too as to what some of these other guys who know a lot more than me, might have to ay about it.

Good luck

-Lance
 
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My drums work fine, esp on the 71 with the booster. I think, however, the trick is to have everything in good shape to start with. Drums round, cylinders in order, good master, fresh shoes that haven't been worn unevenly by previously poor adjustment. I say this because when all of the previous were the case for me, it WAS hard to get things right. Having gotten them right, they take little to no readjustment (it has been over a year) and they stop well, good and straight.
 

CruisinGA

 
 
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I've driven drum brake trucks that stop better than discs, just more friction.

I would question the strength of your vacuum pump and condition of booster.

The bitch is normally getting everything adjusted so that the pedal doesn't require pumping.
 
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Jan 18, 2004
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If your vacuum pump is to small you will need a reservoir to "store" some vacuum.
 

e rock

 
 
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Feb 24, 2004
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Monroe, WA
I've got 40+ year old non-boosted drums all around on mine, rolling 33x12.50s and I have no problem locking all 4 up (well, the rear is welded so those 2 go together). It's not something that happens accidentally by any means - it takes some muscle - but like I said, no problem on dry pavement.

I'd still get rid of them in a second for the gains in wet and reverse braking.
 

jikser

 
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Feb 9, 2005
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I've got drums all the way around on my 71 40, and if I ease into them it pulls to the right. If on the other hand I jam on them everything goes left. It's kinda exciting everytime you come to a stop. My steering isn't the best either though. I think the drums are cool, but I will go disks as soon as I have driven it till I can't stand it anymore.

Les
 
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Mar 5, 2005
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Pagosa Springs, CO.
tobydog said:
If your vacuum pump is to small you will need a reservoir to "store" some vacuum.
This might be an option, but I doubt my vacuum pump is too small. It generates a poopload of vacuum and the only thing I need it for is brakes. Thus, vacuum is not wasted elsewhere...

After listening to you guys, I think I will try to manually adjust my brakes closer to the drums. Just because the brake pedal feels tight doesn't mean you're getting good contact all the way around.

Hopefully that will help. It's good to hear that there are others who'll stand behind their drums. Thanks!
 

cruiserbrett

Moderator
 
 
 
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a set of well tuned drum brakes will surprise you. I had non power assist drums, that had been recently serviced in my FJ45lwb and it would stop just as well as the non power assist disc front/drum rear that I have now.
 

mr_manny

 
 
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san pancho, ca
A few weeks ago I avoided a potential life changing event:

While returning from work, a guy stepped off the sidewalk and right into my lane.
I was immediately on the brakes, which put my 40 into a 4wheel-locked slide.
This guy jumped, threw his hands in the air and started apologizing profusely.
I wanted to call him a few choice words, but I was still in disbelief that this could possibly be happening to me..

I honestly feel that If my 40 still had 4wheel drums, my life would be completely different right now.

If you drive your cruiser everyday, 4wheel disc brakes are a MUST.

manny
 
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Barrington, RI
You said you hadn't had the cruiser running and there was good meat on the shoes but I'm wondering when you last checked or had the wheels off. I know I had major brake problems when the axle seal leaked and coated all the inside allowing nice lubrication! Just a thought.

Adjustment as stated by the others, is critical.

Good Luck.

JJB
 
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JJB77FJ40 said:
I know I had major brake problems when the axle seal leaked and coated all the inside allowing nice lubrication! Just a thought.
Excellent point. I will check for leaks when I push those shoes out further, thanks!
 

peesalot

 
 
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I agree with the dirty shoes theory , my 70 had drums with the boosted M/C and it stopped really good unless shoes got wet , then yoiu better tell the guy in front of you to keep moving on the downhills.
 

brian

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mr_manny said:
If you drive your cruiser everyday, 4wheel disc brakes are a MUST.

manny

not really.

i can't argue front drums vs disc, as all i've driven is disc's.
however nothing i have has REAR disc's.
you're not going to stop any quicker with all 4 wheels locked, in fact you'll be inless control with 4 locked compared to two locked.
i dd my 40, and it stops plenty good with rear drums.
 

TJDIV

Back in The U.P.
 
 
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Jan 28, 2003
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Upper Michigan
I replace everything on the 67 FJ45LV I worked up and the drum brakes worked great.

I think a properly adjusted and maintained drum system is just as good as discs. In fact, I've had both in Cruisers and know for a fact that it's just as good.

I replaced the wheel cylinders, and brake master on my 45. Cost wasn't s*** compared to running into something with piss poor brakes. It stopped on a dime, and WOULD easily lock up all 4 tires.

IMOP, unless you want the bragging rights of 4 wheel disc, plunk down a couple bucks and rebuild your drums back to good.
 
Joined
May 6, 2004
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outside if possible
I went to all discs and can say that the only advantage is less maintenence. Drums are great like said before if in good cond. When you have the wheels off also peel back the rubbers on the wh. cyl. to make sure you have no seepage. check for even wear on the shoes and good drum/shoe surfaces not glazed or cracked or oily. also if you haven't replaced your brake fluid in a year or two I would do so as well. nothing destroys wh.cyl. and m/c's faster than dirty brake fluid.
Good Luck
 

jikser

 
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Feb 9, 2005
Messages
96
I thought my drum shoes were pretty clean, lay them in front of a floor heater for about 30min. and see how much oil/diff/brake fluid surfaces. Mine had quite a bit embedded in the pads. Replaced with new ones for better stopping. Also saw a thread a while back about heating the drums with a torch to make any fluid embedded in the metal surface. Haven't tried this don't have a torch.

Les
 

Pighead

Stop calling it an FJ
 
 
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Aug 31, 2004
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ppillard,
Stock Pigdrums are not weak, they have larger (than a 40) wheel cylinders and can bring a fully-loaded Pig to a screeching halt. Napa has rebuild kits for the MC and wheel cylinders. Might also want to replace the rubber brake lines (I went with braided SS hoses).
I bet if you went through your Pigbrakes thouroughly, you'd find them perfectly adequate for the time being.



ppillard said:
<snipped> Is it possible that there is a problem with the master, or are these brakes really this weak?
 
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