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Black Magic Brakes: Round 2

Brantley

TJ Enthusiast
Over the years I've fought the battle between working rear drum brakes vs non-working drum brakes. They are a pain. The drums stop fine...until they get out of adjustment. Along with not working properly, pedal feel goes out the window, and so does parking brake function. I've grown tired of this problem, and keeping them adjusted is required every 1,000 miles or so for me, so it's just not worth it after a while, in my opinion.

Take note: your braking will not improve one iota if your drums are working properly. But, maintenance will be easier, you'll have your pedal feel forever, and the only thing to ever get out of adjustment from now on is the parking brake, which is easily adjustable and at much further intervals (multiple years) as per what @mrblaine told me.

Also note that if your brakes suck, don't buy this kit first. Buy the Vanco Big Brake Kit from Black Magic Brakes instead which upgrades the front brakes where power really counts. I already have that kit so I'm now messing with the rear stuff since mine was so badly out of adjustment.

So, this past week I decided to pull the trigger on the disc brake conversion kit that Blaine sells at Black Magic Brakes. The cost was $455 shipped, which you just can't beat. The only things it doesn't come with are parking brake cables and metal hard lines which means you'll have to cut and flare the old lines. Not too bad to do. This is in comparison with the Teraflex kit which also doesn't come with the parking brake cables and requires flaring the lines, yet the cost of the kit about $630. No thanks.

I'm not going to post a write-up on it or anything, since it's pretty easy to figure out, but I will make some pointers.

1. Make sure the bleeders for the calipers are upwards on both sides, which means make sure the correct caliper is on the correct side.

2. Wash the rotors with something like Simple Green and water before installing them. The box even mentions this so that users hopefully won't miss it and install greasy rotors.

3. You don't need a fancy new combination valve or anything. None of that adjustable stuff sold on the market is necessary. The factory used the same valve for both disc/drum and disc/disc setups, so you can use the same one with no problems whatsoever.

4. Welding is preferred for the brake line tabs. The tabs are pieces of L-shaped metal that hold the connection from your new soft lines to the old hard lines. I don't know how to weld, so my friend I had help me install the kit welded them onto my tubes. Took him about 10 minutes per side to fully weld each bracket all the way around.

5. Bleed them properly. I'm not going to write out Blaine's procedure for bleeding, but I'm sure if you called him and asked, or searched any forums for posts he's made about bleeding, you will find out the procedure pretty quickly.

For the line flaring, we cut and bent my current lines up to where we welded the tabs. It was a non-issue.

For parking brake cables, I bought the lines that Tera sells because I know they fit. There aren't a whole lot of options out there, brand isn't really critical anyways.

I'm recommending BMB for the kit because I know Blaine will sell quality parts, and the price is better than the other kits out there. It comes with everything the Teraflex kit comes with yet for about $170 cheaper. That's a deal in my book. Everything was packaged nicely too which is a plus, knowing that nothing was damaged in shipping.

I actually had a small hiccup where I didn't get the line retainer clips for my tabs, but a quick phone call to Blaine and that was resolved. I'm currently driving around with them unclipped which isn't a problem, as soon as I get the clips I'll install them and it'll be as if it never happened.

In closing, I'll say the kit was worth it to get rid of the nasty drums and to fix any lack of adjustment problems that the drums have. The bonus is that my parking brake finally works and works well. The price was fair. If you have rear drum problems, AND have fixed your front brakes by either upgrading to Black Magic pads (generally good for 33's and smaller), or have upgraded to one of the fantastic Vanco Big Brake Kits, take the plunge and go for the rear disc kit from BM simply for a better overall setup with easier maintenance.

Here are some pictures from the install. I apologize for the first one as I took it on Snapchat and could only save it after I had written on it.

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Here is where I will be adding the clips when I get them.

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This picture is to show how the setup looks behind the wheel, but ultimately reminds me how much I hate those ugly clip-on balance weights.
 

Chris

Administrator
Staff Member
Sep 28, 2015
38,789
Salem, Oregon
I'm almost thinking this should be in the how-to section (great write-up FYI), I'm just thinking of what the new title would be (so that people could find it easier)?

How to convert your TJ to rear disc brakes?
 
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Brantley

TJ Enthusiast
The original brakes look all rusty and nasty, it's no surprise they didn't work properly. The disc set up definitely looks nice. Thanks for the write up:emoji_thumbsup:
Thanks. Yes, they were quite rusty, but the shoes were only a year or two old. I rebuilt them with new springs and stuff a year ago when I upgraded to Vanco up front.

Part of the problem was I messed with my parking brake cable adjuster and tightened it too tight and couldn't ever figure out what the sweet spot was. This is a problem because it now throws two variables into the mix, one being the cable slack and one being drum adjustment.

Then there's the matter of setting the drums up correctly too so that they even function right. I'm too lazy to do it often and do it correctly so overall the disc brake conversion is the way to go for me.

Side note, the parking brake is out of this world compared to stock. If anything, I paid $550 for an amazing parking brake. Just that in itself is worth it. Not to mention it corrected my crappy pedal feel and eliminated drum brake adjustments for driving purposes. Only adjustments I ever have to make again are for the parking brake and that's so simple a monkey could do it. Great upgrade in addition to my Vanco front brakes.
 
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Brantley

TJ Enthusiast
I'm almost thinking this should be in the how-to section (great write-up FYI), I'm just thinking of what the new title would be (so that people could find it easier)?

How to convert your TJ to rear disc brakes?
Thanks, Chris, although I'm not sure if I'd call it a write up or use it as a how-to. If you think it's that helpful, move it to the how-to section if you want although I think some clearer instructions might want to be added.

I was just meaning for it to be a nice review giving yet another review for Black Magic/Blaine in addition to the other thousands of reviews out there.

I will add, the kit didn't even come with instructions itself so I guess a true step-by-step write-up isn't even really necessary. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. And, if you really need that help, you can just source our Tera's instructions for their kit since the installations are literally identical.

But yeah, if you want to move it to a how-to, that's fine, I'll try to attach either a link or a picture of Tera's instructions just so they can be reached by being in this thread.

Your suggestion of the title would probably work fine, though I would change the "TJ" to "Dana 35/44".

Edit: Here are the instructions for Teraflex. They install the same as Blaine's kit.

https://teraflex.com/file/attachments/5567ac993de0f8008b01c339.pdf
 
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mrblaine

TJ Expert
Supporting Member
Nov 20, 2015
5,650
Quail Valley, CA
Side note, the parking brake is out of this world compared to stock. If anything, I paid $550 for an amazing parking brake. Just that in itself is worth it. Not to mention it corrected my crappy pedal feel and eliminated drum brake adjustments for driving purposes. Only adjustments I ever have to make again are for the parking brake and that's so simple a monkey could do it. Great upgrade in addition to my Vanco front brakes.
Fair warning. If you drive off with the parking brake applied, you'll be calling and asking why your brake shoes wadded up. They wadded up because the brake sets hard enough to shear off the anchor pin at the top which lets the shoes spin around with the drum and get blenderized by the housing end bolts.

That isn't a warranty issue, I didn't do it, you did. It isn't the fault of the backing plate because I've done that to OEM Ford Motorsports parts my ownself.

Yes, I will sell one side, but I much prefer not to.

Your clips are going out tomorrow. BTW- there is hardware in the package to bolt that bracket to the back edge of the spring perch.
 
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Brantley

TJ Enthusiast
Fair warning. If you drive off with the parking brake applied, you'll be calling and asking why your brake shoes wadded up. They wadded up because the brake sets hard enough to shear off the anchor pin at the top which lets the shoes spin around with the drum and get blenderized by the housing end bolts.

That isn't a warranty issue, I didn't do it, you did. It isn't the fault of the backing plate because I've done that to OEM Ford Motorsports parts my ownself.

Yes, I will sell one side, but I much prefer not to.

Your clips are going out tomorrow. BTW- there is hardware in the package to bolt that bracket to the back edge of the spring perch.
Thanks for the warning. I tested it just a tiny bit to test the holding power and with the one click of the parking brake, it wouldn't let the Jeep budge even a smidgen. I don't plan on testing it anymore than that and there's no way I can go out driving with it pushed at all. But I will keep that in mind to prevent damage.

If you haven't shipped the clips yet and want to keep the hardware portion, you can. This is on a YJ application for me so there's nothing to bolt to on my Jeep, and I also have the tabs fully welded on at this point so I don't need them anyway. No sense in sending me the bolts if I don't need them.

If they're already packaged and you don't want to tear back into it to take the hardware out, then I'll just say I appreciate the hardware and I'll throw it into my spare bolts bin.
 

mrblaine

TJ Expert
Supporting Member
Nov 20, 2015
5,650
Quail Valley, CA
Thanks for the warning. I tested it just a tiny bit to test the holding power and with the one click of the parking brake, it wouldn't let the Jeep budge even a smidgen. I don't plan on testing it anymore than that and there's no way I can go out driving with it pushed at all. But I will keep that in mind to prevent damage.

If you haven't shipped the clips yet and want to keep the hardware portion, you can. This is on a YJ application for me so there's nothing to bolt to on my Jeep, and I also have the tabs fully welded on at this point so I don't need them anyway. No sense in sending me the bolts if I don't need them.

If they're already packaged and you don't want to tear back into it to take the hardware out, then I'll just say I appreciate the hardware and I'll throw it into my spare bolts bin.
All of our hardware etc. is bulk before it is packaged so we have the clips loose.

I broke mine because I set it on a trail and my buddy let his wife drive who was parked about 5 feet behind us. I saw her dump the clutch so I hit the gas without releasing the brake in 4 low. Snapped the anchor pin right off.
 
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Brantley

TJ Enthusiast
Don't get excited, the only real benefit is they're easier to work on. Your Jeep won't brake any better after converting from rear drums to disk unless your rear drum brakes weren't working properly.
X2. I only did this because I'm fed up with the drums and I've already taken care of the front by going with the Vanco Big Brake Kit. Absolutely upgrade your front brakes first before fiddling with the rear. I only noticed a slight performance increase from the rear disc and that's only because the drums weren't functioning properly and I never could get them "just right."

I'd recommend it but only after the fronts have been addressed.
 
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RaymondT

TJ Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Aug 13, 2016
573
Summerland, B.C.
My drum brakes work exceptionally well. I helps to prep everything including primer and painting the backing plates when you do a rebuild. Grease the contact points per the manual and never-seize the adjust bolt threads. As the shoes seat into the drums over the next 6-8 months, it helps to do the factory recommended procedure of the final adjustment every few months;

Find a parking lot. Go forward 10mph, brake hard to a stop without locking it up. Do this in reverse. Repeat 8-10 times. In the parking lot get up to 20mph and brake moderately with your hands just off the wheel. Check for any pull indicating uneven braking.

My TJ stops so fast, I think I scare other drivers in traffic.
 
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