Category Archives: Brakes

XJ Dana 44 rear axle to ZJ disc brakes with integral parking brake.

See someone convert a XJ Dana 44 rear axle to ZJ disc brakes with integral parking brake.

Disc Braking a GM 14 Bolt Rear Axle

Extremely detailed look at how I added disc brakes to the GM Corp 14 Bolt rear axle in the Wolf. Procedure can be used for other rear axles too (D60, D70, etc). Contains hints and tips on other axles. Includes detailed part numbers. Also contains excerpts from Military 14 Bolt maintenance manual on axle shaft R&R and wheel bearing R&R and adjustment.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

When I installed the front 52″ springs, I realized I was going to need some brakelines that would up to the new requirements. I decided to go with Black Widow Performance’s (BWP) braided stainless steel extended brakelines because they are longer than what you’d typically get from one of the lift kit manfacturers. The brakelines are made by Crown to BWP’s specifications, they are  10,000PSI tested, D.O.T approved brake lines. Construction is as follows; teflon core, wrapped in kevlar, wrapped in a protective material then wrapped in braided stainless steel with a protective vinyl covering available in custom colors. I chose clear.

They are  33″ long:

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

The kit includes (2) 33″ braided stainless steel lines, (4) copper washers, (2) spring clips, (2) brackets, and (2) self-tapping screws.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance


The installation is pretty simple. It took me 15minutes per side. I needed 4 tools, but if you’re lucky you’ll only need 3:

  1. 9/16″ wrench: flare fitting nut
  2. 11/16″ wrench: brakeling side of flare fitting
  3. 7/16″ socket: banjo bolt
  4. Unlucky #4: vice grips because one of my flare nuts rounded off

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance


The first thing I did was take the banjo bolt out. You’ll have fluid coming out, so have a catch pan ready. Next pop the flare fitting loose and you can just twist the brakeline off.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance


That’s it, the old line has been removed. Next step is to install it.

I start by threading the flare fitting together, but not tight yet. Then I install the banjo bolt. The casting on the Dana 60 caliper only permits one orientation, so you might as well torque it down because there’s no moving it around anyways. Make sure you get a copper washer on either side of the banjo fitting and ensure there is no junk on the mating surface for the caliper.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

Being the torque geek that I am, I tried to find the torque spec for the banjo bolt with no success. I just get it pretty much as tight as I feel comfortable with the little 1/4″ drive ratchet.

Now just tighten the flare fitting. Put the spring clip on and you’ve got it all together. It works best if you can get someone to depress the brake pedal so you can perform a leak check. You’re not done yet, but it sure looks pretty!

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance


Once both sides have been installed, the next step is to bleed the breaks. This is one job I don’t like. Kind of tedious and messy, and the real pain comes if your bleeder screws are jacked. I’m lucky and my axles lived in a dry climate; if you have east coast axles, you have a better chance of bleeder screw nightmare.

Start by popping the master cylinder cover and making sure the reservoirs are full. After topping the levels off, leave the cap on but don’t put the retainer on. You want it to be easy for fluid to be drawn, but prevent splash-over during pedal return. Trust me, I’ve tried it without the cover on.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

I’ve made my own little brake bleeding kit using some clear vinyl tubing from Home Depot, 5/16″ ID, and a glass jar with lid. I drilled 2 holes in the lid, one to hold the tube in the jar during bleeding and the second hole is to store the other end when not in use. Poor a little fluid in the bottom of the jar so the tube is submerged.

For the Dana 60 bleeder, you need a 10mm end wrench.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

Put the box end on the bleeder and then put the tube on.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

You’ll need to people to bleed brakes in this manner. Start on the passenger side. Have your helper pump the brakes up a couple of times. Don’t pump them super-fast because you can actually cavitate the master cylinder.

Have your helper hold pressure on the brake pedal. This may be tricky if the brakes really need bled badly. Just make sure they maintain enough pressure to move the pedal down slowly. Once they are holding pressure crack the bleeder. With the clear vinyl tube you’ll be able to see the air bubbles leaving the caliper. Have your helper holler once the pedal approaches bottom, you tighten the bleeder screw and give them the all clear to let the pedal up.

You may want to be careful about bottoming the pedal out too far because there could be corrosion or sediment build-up would damage the seals in the master cylinder.

Continue the procedure by having your partner pump up the brakes again and go from there. You want to do this until there are no more bubbles appearing in the clear tube leaving the bleeder screw. Once this happens move to the other caliper. But first, refill the master cylinder reservoir.

Now you’re done! Go out and enjoy with confidence knowing that you won’t pop a brakeline.

Installing extended front brakelines from Black Widow Performance

Installing Disc Brakes on GM Corp. 14 bolt Full Floating Axle

The following article outlines the procedure I followed for swapping rear disc brakes on my rear axle which is a GM Corp 14blt full-floater from a 1979 K30.

Many people have asked me, “Why do this?” Well there are a couple of universal reasons;

  • Eliminate the problem of having mud packed in the drums.
  • Remove 100+ pounds of weight from the rear axle.

Aside from those I had a couple of personal reasons;

  • My rear brakes were pretty much non-existent – as you will see in some following pictures.
  • Maintaining disc brakes is much easier.

If you are reading this article and doing research to do this swap yourself, then I’m sure you’re very familiar with what the rear drums on the 14blt FF axle look like. However, it just does not seem right not to have at least one picture of these big, burly brutes in their full glory.

As the picture above illustrates, the first step is to put the rear axle on jack stands and remove the wheels.
Next remove the axle shafts. This is done by removing the eight (8) bolts from the hub with a 3/4″ socket. They are on there tight and use serrated flange bolts, so make sure you have good leverage. Be prepared for fluid to drain out of the hub after the axle shaft is removed.
This is what the hub will look like now.

The hub on the rear axle is very similar to front axle hubs. There will be 2 spindle nuts with some sort of retainer in between. You will need the appropriate hub socket to remove the nuts. On my axle before remove the outer nut I had to bend the tab back from one of the recesses in the nut, otherwise you can’t get the socket on the nut.

  1. Remove the outer spindle nut.
  2. Remove the retainer washer.
  3. Remove inner spindle nut.
  4. Remove inner keyed washer.

Now you can pull the drum off. Be aware, they are very heavy so have a good grip and position yourself to be able to safely remove them without straining your back.
You may have a situation where you just cannot get the drum to pull off, like maybe you forgot to remove something. Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple. More than likely the shoes have worn into the drum far enough that a lip has formed on the inside of the drum. This lip is preventing the drum from sliding off the shoes. I had this problem on one side. You must back the adjuster off to allow the shoes to move in. Refer to the picture below: 

  • Yellow finger is pointing to the adjuster – puts tension on the shoes
  • Green finger is pointing to the adjuster ratchet stop – keeps the adjuster from backing off
  • Red finger is pointing to the access hole for the adjuster

Because what I’m calling the “adjuster ratchet stop” keeps the adjuster from backing off, you need to disengage it in order to move the adjuster the correct direction. All of this must be done through the little access hole. Now I don’t know if there is a fancy tool for this, but I used a long, skinny punch to push the stop away (as you are laying under the truck this means towards the end of the axle) and a flat blade screw driver to turn the adjuster. Yes it’s a big pain.
Now hopefully you have the drums removed and you should see the working components of the drum brakes as seen in the picture above. This entire assembly can be removed in one piece. Remove the four bolts you can see already missing in the picture above. Disconnect the brake line from the back of the assembly and it will just pull off with a little effort. The picture below shows what you’ll have after the removal.

You will see the spindle is welded to the axle tube. I would imagine you’d want to take great care not to damage the spindle because I don’t think replacement will be a simple matter.
Now we are ready to install the disc brakes. I’ll start with a list of the parts you will need:

  1. Caliper Brackets – mine are from Ruffstuff Specialties and the following parts are what’s needed for these particular brackets. Verify what parts are needed for the brackets you choose.
  2. Dana 44 Calipers for 73-77 Chevy trucks, 1/2ton or 3/4ton. If you get “loaded” calipers, new pads will be included.
  3. Rotors for 73-77 Chevy trucks front axle, 3/4ton only
  4. Rubber brake lines to fit the calipers. There are many options here, the most common are 73-77 Chevy truck application or 1980 Chevy Chevette application (these are popular because they are shorter).
  5. Brake fluid
  6. Optional items:
  • Proportioning valve – You may find your rear brakes lock up much sooner than the front. This can lead to unstable handling under emergency braking. Installing an adjustable proportioning valve in the rear brake lines will allow you to adjust the bias back to the front brakes.
  • New bolts to mount the caliper brackets: Grade 8, 1/2″ x 1″ NF w/split lock washers – 4 per side
  • New hard brake lines. They are 3/16″ lines and you can choose from assorted lengths at the parts store and bend them to fit how you like.
  • New oil seals for the rear hubs. You have the hubs off, might as well replace them.
  • New axle shaft flange gaskets. They are only $3ea, might as well replace them too.

Let’s start with finishing up the last detail in the deconstruction phase. The drums need to be separated from the hubs. The picture below shows where the two pieces separate: 
In order to do this the studs must be press out. If you don’t want or need to salvage the existing studs, you can remove them with a big hammer. However, if you plan to re-use them you need to use a press. The “cheap” Harbor Freight press I used worked just fine.
Now the rotors can be attached to the hubs by pressing the studs back on. The rotor installs on the hubs just like the drum was. With that done, it’s time to go back to the axle.
The next step is to install the caliper brackets on the axle. I used a little thread locker on the ends of the bolts and installed new bolts with new lock washers. I orientated the brackets so the caliper will sit as it does on the front axle. 
The hub rotor assembly is installed next. The following is the procedure outlined in my Chilton’s book.

  1. Install the thrust washer
  2. Install inner spindle nut and torque to 50ft-lbs while rotating the hub. Loosen the nut and re-torque to 35ft-lbs and finally loosen the nut 1/4 turn.
  3. Install retainer washer
  4. Install outer nut and torque to 65ft-lbs.
  5. Bend one tank into the slot on the outer nut.

Install the axle shafts and torque the flange bolts to 115ft-lbs.
Now the caliper can be installed on the rotors. This procedure is the same as installing them on the front axle with the bleeder screw pointing up. Once the caliper is installed attach the rubber brake line. The rubber brake line can then be plumbed in with the hard line. I ran my lines over the top of the springs and along the axle truss. This way they are up out of the way. 

Just for curiosity sake, here’s a picture with drums on one side and discs on the other.

Bleed the brakes, install the wheels, and you are done with the install. Now go out and test drive.
As I stated earlier, you may find it necessary to install an adjustable proportioning valve for the rear brakes. I am fortunate and my brakes function properly without one. It seems to be one of those things that differs from truck to truck. It may even come down to personal preference.
I had an opportunity to test the new brakes on a snow, slick trail the day after the install. The brakes worked great. A lot of that probably owed to the fact that my rear shoes were virtually gone and therefore I didn’t have much in the way of rear brakes with the drums. I can tell the brakes are better because I found myself stopping much more suddenly given my usual pedal pressure.

Finished product: