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Ok, let me ask this of the collective brain trust. If I have a peg leg, 2:79 geared, drum braked 8” and needed to upgrade gears and brakes, would I be ahead just getting an Explorer 8.8 with the brakes and gears already there and going that route? I realize I have to shorten one side and get a matching axle along with welding leaf perches. Just weighing my options here.
Kelly stated that she spent just shy of $1000 on her Wilwood swap. For that kind of money you can buy a junk yard Explorer with Traction-Lok, 31 spline axles and a desirable gear ratio and pay somebody to narrow it. The Explorer disc brakes use the same style parking brake- brakes shoes inside the rotor's hat.
I paid $80 for my Explorer 3.73 Traction-Lok and narrowed it myself. It had good rotors, calipers and pads so I used them. I had to buy another short side axle, a companion flange for the pinion yoke, new spring perches and some brake cable hardware. I had already converted to a tunnel mounted parking brake handle. I have less than $300 in my Explorer swap.
 

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....and sorry Kelly For the hijack, but you started it by being, you know, awesome.
 

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I'm waiting for someone to come in here and defend rear drums. The argument that drums are "cheaper" is moot, especially when factoring in horrible QC that equates to wasted time and money.

I've been preaching this for a while and I always get pushback- drum brakes are horrible. I don't care how fancy of a shoe compound you use- drums are inherently crap by design when compared to discs. I also don't care that "they were good enough for Shelby blah blah".

That was 50 years go and we were't sharing the roads with boneheads in ABS equipped cars.

No one "plans" for evasive maneuvering and braking when driving, I'd rather be prepared and not worry about my rear brakes inevitably locking up or fading.

Okay, rant over- great write up Kelly :p.
OK ,I'll defend rear drums as most of the regular defenders seem to be tired of doing so.

1. Don't really need a lot of rear brake on a Mustang.

2. Pull the parking brake on my most original parts still in place Mustang and it will lock up the rear tires. The last car I had with an effective E-brake was a 2001 Crown Vic ex cop car with the "mini drums".

3. I autocross with the rear drums, still the original drums with no problems. I run a 2008 GT brake setup up front using EBC rotors and pads that do most of the work. Given the squirrelyness of my rear end "car", I'm more than happy, at this point anyway, with less rear brake.

The fact that Kelly says that the rotors don't increase the track width has me interested in the Wilwood setup "eventually after the vaccine and employment" if only to stop this constant comment at every autocross. How can you go so fast with drum brakes!
 

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....if only to stop this constant comment at every autocross. How can you go so fast with drum brakes!
Answer 1: Because you know how to drive. ;)
Answer 2: Because brakes only slow you down.
 

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Yes, the Explorer axle is a good choice, as far as I know. Can't say I know that much about it but plenty of people have them in their cars here on the forum, and they wouldn't if the swap was not worth it!

As I mentioned, I didn't put the discs on because I wanted "more brake" (since even the drums have to be regulated down) - I put them on because I wanted better consistency, and they have certainly given me that! Nailbender, I would have to imagine that if you have your front brakes doing the lion's share of the work and your rear brakes doing very little, your car probably nosedives pretty hard when you get on the brakes while autocrossing. Maybe you have mitigated that with suspension modifications, but it still probably shifts the weight of the car around a lot. Just think how much faster you'd be if you didn't have that issue :p

But really, as I have said a million billion times... rear drums work fine for many people and their driving styles. I would recommend rear discs in one of these three instances: (1) you have money to spend and you want significantly better braking "just because"; (2) you're going racing; or (3) you intend to drive your car frequently on congested roads. The fact of the matter is, although drums will stop you "fine", they certainly do not compare in consistency to discs and you add stopping distance by having to compensate for their grabby behavior by reducing their bias, and as you do that, you also affect the weight shift of the car. I have learned that there is more to a brake than raw stopping power and surface area - HOW that force is applied, and how reliably it can be regulated, is also extremely important. A perfectly tuned drum brake with really great quality shoes is probably very good, but many of us don't know how to perfectly dial in a drum brake to find the sweet spot between increased stopping distance + nosediving, and doing a 180 tailspin. So if you've got $300-1000 bucks laying around and you don't want to ass around with that stuff, it is really a no-brainer.

Rick of NPD shot me a private message and pointed out something important that I thought worth sharing with the rest. This applies to ALL rear brakes, both disc and drum. Just because you have your rear brakes adjusted correctly for a good non-skidding non-tailspin stop in a straight line on dry roads, DOES NOT mean that the same will be true if you try to hit the brakes hard in a turn on a wet road! Rick recommended that I make my final adjustments in a large parking lot on a wet day, so I can go in circles and hit the brakes and adjust the rear bias back if they are strong enough to induce a spin. Definitely not something I had thought about, and definitely something that I will make sure to do!

As far as adapting the stock parking brake cables to rear discs goes: I'm 100% certain it could be done, but you would need to do some monkeying around with the cables. I think you would have to cut one of the ball crimp ends off so you could install the clevis (since both ends have ball crimps, you can't thread the cable through backwards like I did with the Lokar cables), and you maybe would need to adapt the end of the cable sheathing to sandwich the parking brake sheathing retainer? It might actually slot in perfectly and stay there, but I know that the Lokar sheathing ends have nuts on them so you can tighten the fitting down to sandwich the retainer bracket so there's no chance of it slipping out. Forget exactly how the factory cables attach to the drums.

Now I do have one annoying thing that has cropped up over the past few days of driving. The left rear parking brake drum (or the rotor) is justtttt slightly out of round, causing the drum to justtttt slightly clip the rotor, in one spot on the rotor, every wheel revolution, resulting in a persistent cyclical squeak. If I click the parking brake up a notch (3-4 notches is usually what holds the car on a hill, 1-2 does nothing), then the squeak goes away. I now need to figure out if I want to adjust that drum to have a little more drag, or a little less. Ugh! If I was older and more hearing impaired I definitely wouldn't even be able to hear it, but I have bat ears (especially when it comes to weird Jane noises) so it's driving me insane. You know how we all usually have a catalog of normal noises our cars make - exhaust, slight exhaust leak on one side, noisy injectors, that one noisy lifter, the front right corner squeak over bumps at specifically 50mph, etc... I do not need to add a parking brake squeak!

Anyways, otherwise I'm still 1000% happy.

P.S. - Birthday bench vises are amazing, especially when you have never had the luxury of having anything to hold your objects for you.
 

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I always enjoy your writeups Kelly, you dive in and fabricate with the best of us but there is always that photo showing some part being held with manicured nails. My hands are black with grease forced under my nails after a job like that. I try using gloves even HF 9mm ones but eventually they split and I just want to keep going. I imagine nails like that would be very tough on surgical gloves.

I'm sure you thought of this but did you make sure you got a disk disk master cylinder. Some have residual valves built in for drum brakes that will make your rear disks drag. Once they get hot they warp which may cause the clicking. If you have an IR gun you can check disk temps after a drive to tell for sure.

What is truly impressive is that all these years you have been doing it without a vice - a third and fourth set of hands - the centerpiece of any good fabricator's garage. Do not miss its utility as an anvil for shaping and especially flattening bent metal. Welcome to a new world of precision and elimination of a good bit of (but certainly not all) blood-letting.

It is amazing how well a car handles when you get it to stop nosediving. You will find using brakes in a corner a completely different experience since you won't have major weight transfer. It makes trailbraking a dream in autocross...

You are part of the inspiration to drive mine to FL this Sept when I move. Is there thread you have written covering any one to three things that you would identify as essential to long distance mustanging that most people might not think of - Sensai?
 

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I always enjoy your writeups Kelly, you dive in and fabricate with the best of us but there is always that photo showing some part being held with manicured nails. My hands are black with grease forced under my nails after a job like that. I try using gloves even HF 9mm ones but eventually they split and I just want to keep going. I imagine nails like that would be very tough on surgical gloves.

I'm sure you thought of this but did you make sure you got a disk disk master cylinder. Some have residual valves built in for drum brakes that will make your rear disks drag. Once they get hot they warp which may cause the clicking. If you have an IR gun you can check disk temps after a drive to tell for sure.

What is truly impressive is that all these years you have been doing it without a vice - a third and fourth set of hands - the centerpiece of any good fabricator's garage. Do not miss its utility as an anvil for shaping and especially flattening bent metal. Welcome to a new world of precision and elimination of a good bit of (but certainly not all) blood-letting.

It is amazing how well a car handles when you get it to stop nosediving. You will find using brakes in a corner a completely different experience since you won't have major weight transfer. It makes trailbraking a dream in autocross...

You are part of the inspiration to drive mine to FL this Sept when I move. Is there thread you have written covering any one to three things that you would identify as essential to long distance mustanging that most people might not think of - Sensai?
Ha! My nails aren't manicured, they're just long. I'm blessed with good genes that give me good sturdy nails so they're good for picking up washers on the floor and stuff. But if it's any consolation, most frequently in the shop my hands look like this:

759585


I just try to wipe them off before using the camera.

No, I still have the Maverick disc/drum master cylinder. I was concerned about that as well but multiple people told me they use that MC with no problems so I decided to keep it (I hate re-bending brake lines). I don't think that the residual valve has the discs dragging, as they spin just as freely as the front discs when I jack the car up. At any rate, if that were happening, that would cause the rotors to drag, but would not cause the parking brake to squeak since the parking brake is separate from the disc surface and interfaces with the rotor hat instead. And it doesn't quite make sense for tightening up the brake to cause the squeak to go away, in that instance. But I will check their warmth anyways next time I drive somewhere. I did the finger test a few days back and all 4 brakes were cool enough to touch, so at least there's that.

Hmm, I don't think I have a thread anywhere about long-distance driving, though I have posted in several threads about that subject as far as things that I always check. I am pretty laissez-faire about long-distance driving and tend to just toss all my junk in and go. But in general, I make sure that I have a ton of hand tools (because you will always need the one you don't have, so you are likely to not need any at all if you have all of them), spare fluids, spare hoses, a spare belt, and (now) a spare coil. I also keep an electrical kit in my car with a bunch of wire, terminals, strippers/crimpers, etc., which I have used on several other peoples' cars in the past.

A friend of mine once told me "if it'll go a hundred miles, it'll go a thousand miles". Because I'm insane, I've modified that to be "if it'll go ten miles, it'll go ten thousand miles" which is usually how I approach shakedown runs leading up to road trips. I just can't be bothered to go in circles for a hundred miles to make sure that the car works. As long as cooling is good, motor sounds strong, and transmission isn't doing anything crazy, seems like it should be good for anything, anywhere. I mean, what else does it need???
 

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Nailbender, I would have to imagine that if you have your front brakes doing the lion's share of the work and your rear brakes doing very little, your car probably nosedives pretty hard when you get on the brakes while autocrossing. Maybe you have mitigated that with suspension modifications, but it still probably shifts the weight of the car around a lot. Just think how much faster you'd be if you didn't have that issue :p
I had people check at todays autocross on the nose dive thing and I'm good! No worse than your average German sedan trying to autocross I hear. I've got a repo Foxbody proportioning/ combination valve that applies the rears before the fronts. I do check the rear drums every time the car is on the lift, after every weekend, to make sure the drums are snug. Still, I don't think the rears do much unless everything else fails.
 

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After selling the rear Disc Brake conversion for several years, we decided to stop. Mainly due to the inability for folks to connect the rear E brake, to the inability to adjust, to the residual issues, to NOT FITTING, to wheels not fitting, "I have no pedal-goes to floor", so many issues that make them more of a pain in the rear, than a real advance's in braking.
Then, WHY does one want to spend hundreds on these to gain less than 5% braking in the rear?
Have not figured this out yet to why.
 

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Nice work and documentation Kelly.
 

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After selling the rear Disc Brake conversion for several years, we decided to stop. Mainly due to the inability for folks to connect the rear E brake, to the inability to adjust, to the residual issues, to NOT FITTING, to wheels not fitting, "I have no pedal-goes to floor", so many issues that make them more of a pain in the rear, than a real advance's in braking.
Then, WHY does one want to spend hundreds on these to gain less than 5% braking in the rear?
Have not figured this out yet to why.
You forgot the best part, then they add a proportioning valve that ends up taking 5% out of the brakes so the brakes balance like the engineers designed the orignal brakes... ;o)
 

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. Still, I don't think the rears do much unless everything else fails.
I had a bad mastercylinder that actually was not actuating the rears. When I finally figured out what was going on and replaced the master, I was stunned at how much better the car stopped. Good working rear brakes make a big difference!
 

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An update: I checked front vs rear braking temps to make sure the rears weren't dragging. I drove to the grocery store, Lowe's, and then back home, with a bunch of braking and a couple stops with heavy braking right before I pulled into the driveway. Front discs are 145*F on the rotor surface, rears are 135*F.
 

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I had a bad mastercylinder that actually was not actuating the rears. When I finally figured out what was going on and replaced the master, I was stunned at how much better the car stopped. Good working rear brakes make a big difference!
I've been contemplating this same issue,..."bad master cylinder that actually was not actuating the rears". I have another on on the bench, I'm going re-kit. I run a disc/drum setup with 10X2.5s on the rear. I swear the rears don't seem to get that much wear.
 

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Still, I don't think the rears do much unless everything else fails.
I swear the rears don't seem to get that much wear.
I have a 2001 Ranger that has 250,000 miles on it. It had 30,000 on it when I bought it in 2005. In the 220,000 miles I have put on it I have NEVER replaced the rear brake shoes. That reminds me, I better check them again.
 

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I have a 2001 Ranger that has 250,000 miles on it. It had 30,000 on it when I bought it in 2005. In the 220,000 miles I have put on it I have NEVER replaced the rear brake shoes. That reminds me, I better check them again.
No hurry

I make light of rear brakes on the forum but I check everything out on a lift between weekends. They don't do the heavy lifting on an early Mustang but are important. I feel responsible for the course workers when I'm letting it all hang out and couldn't live with myself if something were to happen. Kelly solved her rear braking issues, and that is awesome!
 

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I don't like to take us off-track here, but, this is a "rear brake' learning comment. A couple years ago, I had my newer DD (Venza) at the dealer for something, I don't recall. The tech comes out to me and stated that my rear pads were severely worn and should be replaced. I though to myself, "yeah bud, another case of up-sell". I stated that that seems unusual, since I've yet to replace the front! I told him I would make a future appointment. He proceeded to tell me, as part of the "anti-dive" characteristics there is more bias to the rear in newer cars. Well, gotta say, my oldest is 53 years young and my newest will be 11 years this August. LOL!
Since there was no low pad squeal yet, I waited another week while my new pads shipped. Sure enough, the rear pads were down pretty low, while the fronts were 50%, maybe a little less. I learned something that day.......
 

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I have to ask, looking at that hand(s).....do you not have any money left over for gloves? LOL
 

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I have to ask, looking at that hand(s).....do you not have any money left over for gloves? LOL
Have YOU found any nitrile gloves in stores in the past three months??? :LOL:

Nah, but really, I don't like wearing gloves because I end up ripping them anyways and I do everything by feel so I get kind of messed up when I can't get a good purchase on nuts/bolts/washers. Plus I hate sweaty hands!!! And Dawn dish soap takes care of everything anyways.
 
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