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DEALING WITH “DDR’s” (DUMB DRUM BRAKES)

February 12, 2009
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Dear Boss,
The brakes on my 1999 Kodiak keep dying. They just don’t work very well after riding through mud. I take the drums apart, clean everything and put in new brake shoes, but they still stop working. I’m getting fed up. The disc brakes on my LT-R450 work perfect. Is it possible to replace my dumb drum brakes with the disc brake system from the newer Kodiaks? Will it fit? I absolutely love your Dialed In section and thanks for your advice.
Francois Cyr
Alberta, Canada

When you state they “stop working” what do you mean? Is it because the shoes become slimy with mud and water and the braking force is reduced or is it because the brakes don’t apply when wet? The latter is most likely caused by a sticking brake cam. Remove the drum, shoes, external arm and extract the brake cam. Clean it and the hole. Replace the shaft seal with a new one and coat the inside of the hole and the brake cam with Marine Grade Never-Seize. Reinstall the arm and place a dab of the never-seize on the fixed pivot point as well as the flat cam that spreads the shoes apart. This will ensure the shoes expand and contract smoothly. The former problem is caused by using factory shoes and having a defective drum seal. Install EBC “G” series grooved shoes with a new axle seal as well as the drum cover seal. This will keep water and mud out of the drum and allow the shoes to grip the cast iron drum friction surface for maximum effect. If any water does get in, the “G” series shoes grip harder than a stock set of shoes does. As to whether the newer rear disc brakes can be retrofitted; yes, but at a cost! It would be easier to purchase a wrecked chassis from a salvage yard and transplant all the parts to yours. Axle, disc brake carrier, disc, caliper, caliper holder, master cylinder, lines, etc. Get the picture? Try “fixing” your “Dumb Drums” first!

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