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Thread: Project Summary: All new brake system + Upgrade, S3 109" Dual Circuit Drum Brakes

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    199

    Default Project Summary: All new brake system + Upgrade, S3 109" Dual Circuit Drum Brakes

    Hey folks,

    I like details, and I appreciate it when folks are transparent and let you know how much a project is going to cost, and the hidden bits. I just finished a full rebuild and upgrade of my brakes, which took about 3-4 months of weekends to do. In case you want to see the results and have similar interest, here is a summary, including costs and details.

    Why: I had rusted drum brakes that were suspect and nearly 50 years old. There was a leak in the wheel cylinder, and I had to pump like crazy to stop, to the point where I didn't trust the brakes with my saftey and used the transmission to slow down to 5mph before I could even slow down with the brakes. I needed to know this car was safe, and I wanted to drive at road speeds (45pmh) and safely slam on the brakes to come to a stop. Instead of going part by part, I just decided it was time for a full system rebuild. Also, I bought the Rover to work on, so I was looking for a project.

    Considerations: I saw great posts.about converting the system into a disc brake system. Disc brakes are the gold standard in modern brakes.The costs for that seemed excessive ($2500+ for new bespoke discs & calipers, etc). I wasn't sure I'd need to corner like a coupe, and drums seem okay for truck applications. Also, it seemed that much of the same upgrade was in the Master Cylinder and Vacuum Booster work. You need to do that for both ( vacuum boosted drums or discs). The 8" Series 3 vacuum booster adds 2-to-1 mechanical advantage (press pedal half as hard, or get twice the bite, depending on how you look at it). So that's an improvement already. The other consideration was - how to replace parts? Brakes are a consumable, so I'd be doing brakes again. Can I get those discs again, when they rub down below tolerance? Will that company be around anymore? I saw 3-4 manufacturers, mostly using drilled out and machined modern discs - either from a Chevy (for North America) or Range Rover discs. Still, it was a custom bit of kit...and no guarantee I'd be able to get those parts again. Many of the upgrade kits have gone out of business in the interim from web posting to now. So, I didn't want to get into that situation, where I have to spend $2500 on new, custom parts again. So I wanted "off the shelf" solution. I also didn't want to cut my fenders/wings & Bulkhead to retrofit some newer hardware.

    What I did: I decided to rebuild the entire system, getting stock Land Rover Series 3 components...but choose the best option available that year. Series trucks ran well into the 1980's so there was some nice-to-haves like Vacuum Boosters, Dual Line Master Cylinders and the safety of a shuttle valve (which you folks have heard me talk about). All these were offered from the dealership, as options, so I knew I'd be able to match Part numbers and they'd "just work together" without me being an engineer. So, that's what I did. I replaced all hardware on all 4 wheels, new CuNiFer lines, fittings and such with stainless mounting hardware. New MC and Vacuum booster + PDWL valve. It also required a new Pedal Tower. Nearly all the parts are available, with the exception of some minor brackets I had to make from scrap steel plate and some aluminum. The reason it took me so long was there was some homework to do about the plumbing routes and the correct MC to use.

    You can find a spreadsheet with full part numbers and honest costs for the entire project here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

    In the end, it cost about $2000 for the entire system. I initially ballparked it at around $750, so there is that - things ALWAYS creep! Which is why I decided to share the full cost, so that you know what you're gettting into(if you want to do it too). At the same time, I also did Hub Axle rebuilds all around (had everything off anyway) so there is some cost for that which isn't accounted for (I can provide that, too, if anyone's interested). Also, found some gouges in my halfshafts and bone-dry and pitted Swivel balls, so it turned into a bigger project...but the spreadsheet only goes into the brakes. Let me know if you guys would like the same for the other projects.

    Here is a collage of the highlights. Many new parts!
    Name:  S3_109_2CircuitBrakes.jpg
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    Some unexpected bits:
    * I bought pre-cut and pre-flared lines initially. These turned out hard to work with, because the lengths are just estimates. So, as you route them around, you end up with too much or too little (usually too much) and it makes for awkward routing to get rid of excess length. Invest in a nice flaring tool and just get 25 feet or so of coiled line. The only exception I would recommend is the line that connects the wheel cylinders in front. Those are bent excessively at like 110 degrees right next to the flare fitting, which is tricky to do. It's worth just getting those (~$8 each) pre-bent and flared since they are small and fixed dimensions.
    * Needed vacuum tap from intake manifold for the Vacuum Booster. You may need to tap your intake, if it doesn't have a hole. I also have a spare "tapped" intake- which I bought but never used - if anyone needs it.
    * The PDWL valve bracket doesn't exist anymore., So you have to make it.
    * The Brake pedal return springs available don't fit the Pangolin 4x4 fabricated brake tower. They are too long. So, either get new custom generic springs, or make up a bracket for them.
    * The Brake light switch is different from single to dual line. It moves to the top of the brake tower, and is a basic brass plunger, not driven by brake fluid pressure anymore. This brake tower option has some additional parts not available anymore, so I had to make them (see my other posts). There is also the option to just use the same plunger on the front of the brake pedal arm inside the car. This is how modern cars do it, and easier to tune. I would recommend this option instead of trying to re-create the brake tower top mounted setup. I just made a little bracket out of a bent piece of plate with a couple holes drilled in. I left space on the bracket to drill out for the brake light switch, in case I want to do this later. But I would recommend doing this bracket because it eliminates about 4 finicky parts in the Brake tower. (See pic).
    * Be very careful not to mix American and British brake line fittings! Use one or the other. They will screw in to each other, but only a few threads and won't make a hydraulic seal. So, don't assume! Get the right ones. My system is a British double flare (DIM). There are only 3 sizes (2, really) for most of the fittings...so just stock up on a 10-20 pack of each and take it easy threading so as not to strip anything! It was an exercise in patience. Just do everything hand threading and loose until it all is almost snug. If it feels tight after 2 threads, you're stripping it and it will leak!!
    * The PDWL/Shuttle valve was a little tricky to bleed, but easy once you wrap your head around what it's doing. (See my other recent post.)
    * I have not hooked up the PDWL dash light yet. I wanted the valve for it's automatic safety shutoff, not the dummy light. So, the wire loom for that would be an additional cost - if you want to add that.
    * If you're getting new backing plates (which I recommend!! I only got new front and re-used the rear ) - prefer the integrated brake adjusters from the factory!!! They are welded on and solid! I got a set of those screw-on brake adjuster kits and they are JUNK! The spire is supposed to crush onto a soft metal snail shell to secure the thing. But it doesn't crush down very hard and slips. So you go to spin the adjusters and they just spin without adjusting the brakes. I had to add some washers to force it a tighter fit. But the integrated ones from LR welded to the bolts on the backing plate are preferable! For the back, I blasted the backing plates down to bare metal and used a Eastwood rust inhibitor to treat the original backing plates. I worked the integrated adjusters with some oil to unseize them. But they were very loose after. But I just can't accept the bolt on adjusters. They are terrible! So, I would recommend just buying new backing plates, and you get brand new(or NOS) integrated adjusters there. It's worth it.

    Was it worth it? Now is the part I wish I knew before I started. Was the upgrade worth it? Is the car safer? Does it stop well? Would I do the disc brakes instead?
    Well, the first part is the safety; yes, it's much safer. I can drive normal speeds now, and a car pulled out in front of me the other day and I just slammed on the brakes to stop in 10-30 feet. It's still drum brakes, so I'm not locking up the wheels and skidding, like with discs. But, everything is SOLID, and I do slow down. The old system was a joke. But, I still use the downshift method to sluff off some speed before slowing down. It feels like it probably did fresh off the dealership lot in 1973. So, take that with a grain of salt. Modern brakes are definitely tighter. I may get sick of this and fork over the cost for some custom machined discs and calipers to convert this, later. But, I'm happy for now. The parts will be easily available. If I pass this car along to another owner, they'll be able to just order parts off the LR part numbers for my year. No custom cross-reference for 2003 Chevy Cruise dics or 1996 Discovery, etc. It's all just stock Land Rover Series 3, like if I got the upgrades in 1973 at the dealership.

    I think if I had went the disc route, it would have been probably $1200-$1500 more expensive than I would have ballparked. So, looking at the Haystee kits for around $2500..I bet you add $1500 to that and that's the cost of the same system in disc brakes.

    There's also the option to go with a 10" Vacuum booster. That, I think, gives an additional 20% mechanical advantage. Not sure how much this would help. For that, you have to cut the fender\wing and get into cross reference part numbers for a Defender 110(?). This is what I see online. I don't know. In the end, I chalk this one up to more "restoration" than full modern upgrade. I got the car because I like the lines and quirky mechanics of the old Rovers. I am not a concourse "rivet counter' by any means, but I also don't want to cut open the fenders and make it into a Baja truck or Rock Crawler in the name of "improvement", you know? So, going for the original equipment restoration was the right choice for me. But if you're looking for maximum braking improvement, go with the discs...and expect the whole shebang to cost about 50% more than you budgeted.

    -Cheers!
    ...┌───────┬──,,
    ...|______OD__|__\\_____
    ...d ..__ ......... |... | ..__....p
    └/ | \────┴──┴/ | \─┘≡
    ..../..@........................@

    1973 Series 3, 109

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    252

    Default

    thanks for putting this up vlad, I really appreciated your work after reading all this and this will be available for future reference. I only wished i could slide my tires once, (in seattle i hit the back of a low boy, neither of us got out of the cars) ....... my series 2a doesn't have the booster, i do hope it has the shuttle valve, the series 3 is stock and i never have a problem with it other than i have not yet found any "air filter" on the booster but it works like new anyway but any filter there should be packed with krap.
    I'll probably be fine with my brakes on both vehicles but were I to do a upgrade i'd probably go with the disc option. and i am nowhere near being a ''rivit counter'' ....... i do like my rovers to appear as near stock as practical.
    Thx again.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2022
    Location
    Woburn, MA
    Posts
    39

    Default

    Hi Vlad. Great information. I was about to post concerning questions regarding my brake rebuild. Well your write up and spreadsheet helps answer quiet a few questions. My 1969 2A 88" is a one family owned project that I got hold off. The brake system was non existent so I have been doing much research to understand what I will need to plan for. I am hoping to be at the stage of a rolling chassis in the next month or so. My bulkhead repairs are complete except for welding all the bits. I figure once I can mock in the bulkhead I can begin the brake plumbing work. I also am planning on having the engine and transmission back in the next couple of months. So for now I think your info gets me going but I am going to guess that I will have questions eventually. Cheers, Tom

  4. #4

    Default

    Nice job - both the mechanical work and the documentation. One thing you might want to reconsider, though, is the use of heater hose for your booster vacuum supply. Most heater hose I've used is meant to hold pressure and might eventually collapse under vacuum. The LR hose is rather thick and stiff to preclude that happening. Auto parts store might have a roll of hose for brake boosters.

    Cheers,
    erik

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    199

    Default

    @Erik88LR: Thanks for the tip. I assumed that all those hoses were equal, except the diameter. Will look into larger diameter vaccuum hose. Although, I'm sure LR will charge $200 for that $3/foot hose. :P

    @Poppy1969
    Sounds fun. This job would be so much fun as a rolling Chassis- you can see everything and get to everything. I had to do it crawling around and feeling blind in some spots.
    ...┌───────┬──,,
    ...|______OD__|__\\_____
    ...d ..__ ......... |... | ..__....p
    └/ | \────┴──┴/ | \─┘≡
    ..../..@........................@

    1973 Series 3, 109

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