Drums suck. They are a huge maintenence headache. Yuck.
Discs are much nicer. So much easier to work on. They work better, are more fade resistant. There are more choices for pad material.
In rebuilding my rear suspension, I found that one of my drums was cracked.Being perpetually short of funds, I hadn't planned on doing anything with the rear brakes, but clearly this provided the justification. So, once again taking advantage of knowledge gleaned from others, I set out to replace my drums with discs.
If you can find the 82-83 Maxima brackets in a salvage yard, or at a parts counter (part number is 44155-04S10), then count yourself lucky. I decided to make some brackets. I found a very nice drawing of an early Maxima style bracket posted on a thread on HybridZ.org (via Pete Paraska's website). This drawing was done by Dan Laurizio. I played with the sizing of it in order to get a print out that was actual size. I then went to my friend's shop to cut the parts out of the 1/2 inch steel plate which was specified in the drawing. In retrospect, and after discussing this with others, I believe1/4 inch plate could've been used, with a few additional support braces welded in. The 1/2 inch plate was Extremely hard to work with. The giant plasma torch had a very hard time and the cuts looked terrible. Much tedious cleaning with a grinder was required.
280ZX calipers - these are somewhat expensive - moreso than I would've thought. As Terry Oxandale has pointed out (and I confirmed), the doubled piston is a weak point. Tends to freeze up making used calipers useless as far as ebrake auto-adjustment goes. Also, as Ross points out, the cable does have to be convoluted to hook up. It's solvable, but less than ideal. Better than a separate spot caliper (IMO), but if the calipers could go more towards the backside (top I suppose), the cable could be relieved of some stress. At any rate, I recommend getting some junk calipers from a yard, but only to use as a core. I tried rebuilding and basically wasted time and money. But, most places I've checked have a HUGE core deposit. Get either NA or Turbo 82 rear calipers. But be sneaky and use them as cores for the Turbo units - according to Terry these have a slightly larger piston. They look identical though, so, I seriously doubt anyone will notice. AdvancedAuto had the best price (about $80+core), But I keep getting leaky calipers from them.
Remember to put the "L" caliper on the passenger side and the "R" on the drivers.
I welded washers near the midpoint of the each axle on the front bulkhead, pretty much in the center, to hook the ebrake cable retaining springs too. I moved these springs over about a foot further up the length of the cable as well. Keeps them from interfering. I also created some spacers by cutting slots in some 1/2 inch washers to space the cable end mechanism on the mounting arm of the caliper. The caliper seems to require more pull than the drum did to actuate the brake, so you have to "tune" the cable with washer spacers to get the operation in the sweet spot. I believe this is why proper functioning of that double cylinder auto-adjustment mechanism is so critical. Oh, I also cut out 2-3 coils of the spring on the end of the cable to gain some more pull.
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