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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Replacing rear brakes (wheel cylinder, shoes, hardware kit, drum), existing shoe width is 2 1/4 ", would there be any benefit, or problem, going up to a 2 1/2 " shoe width ? Thinking the wider shoe might have better braking.

Drum diameter is 11 "
 

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You can look at the wear pattern first and see if you have enough extra surface width on both sides equally. Then see if the backing plate has enough room on the backing side. You cannot change the offset or things will break.

You probably will not gain braking power much as the PSI applying the brake will not be changed. Just lower pressure per lining size. That will give you longer life.

A more aggressive lining is probably what you really want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
How would you make it fit? Do you have wider drums available?
According to Rock Auto website, and my ' go to parts guy ', the wheel cylinder, shoes, hardware kit, drum, are available in either 2 1/4" or 2 1/2", so it appears all of those components need to match. It looks as if there is more than enough distance from backing plate to the inside of the drum (surface of axle hub) to accommodate the wider 2 1/2" setup, after further thought maybe the 2 1/2" is a slightly heavier duty set up, perhaps it dissipates heat better so it would be less likely to warp. A B3500 has a 13" x 3 1/2" setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You probably will not gain braking power much as the PSI applying the brake will not be changed. Just lower pressure per lining size. That will give you longer life.
Maybe the slightly wider setup would dissipate heat better so less likely to warp, I am not hard on the drive train as much as I can be heavy on brakes.
 

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Your van already has RWAL or possibly 4 wheel ABS. Don't alter the balance of braking front to rear. You shouldn't need to. If there is a braking problem, address the real problem first.
You mention heat and warping.

The front brakes do most of the stopping. If you are pulling a loaded van/trailer in hilly country, keep well within the margin of safety or look for a heavier-duty truck (2500/3500?). The suspension and steering is almost 24 years old on this 1/2-ton 1500 as it is.

If you are asking a lot from the brakes, use premium components and expect a more frequent need for service.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Your van already has RWAL or possibly 4 wheel ABS. Don't alter the balance of braking front to rear. You shouldn't need to. If there is a braking problem, address the real problem first.
You mention heat and warping.

The front brakes do most of the stopping. If you are pulling a loaded van/trailer in hilly country, keep well within the margin of safety or look for a heavier-duty truck (2500/3500?). The suspension and steering is almost 24 years old on this 1/2-ton 1500 as it is.

If you are asking a lot from the brakes, use premium components and expect a more frequent need for service.
Thinking is more along the lines if the 2 1/2" are slightly heavier duty and the other system components are compatible with either size, then just go with the 2 1/2". Not a huge size difference % wise between 2 1/4" and 2 1/2", thoughts were it could be the shoe width are interchangeable and the rest of the system components remain the same. Obviously no desire to alter something that should not be altered.

Do you know if the ABS and master cylinder are compatible with either 2 1/4" or 2 1/2" shoes ?

How can you tell if you have rear wheel ABS anyhow ? People keep mentioning this but I don't think I ever had rear wheel ABS on a van, maybe I have, I think all vans around this year have front wheel ABS and I have seen a sensor type wire set up at the front rotor, guessing what this sensor type wire set up is for.
 

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You'd be better off just replacing the shoes with the correct size. If you go the 2 1/2 size, I don't see them working out and you're just going to have to do the job twice. Like Walt said, most of your braking is done by the front pads, so why monkey with something that has proven to work? And even though it's only 1/4" difference, I don't think the drums would fit correctly. Believe me, as an old carpenter and pipefitter, 1/4" is a HUGE difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Guess I have the answer.

Called the dealer, says he could give me a brake code but not brake shoe size, brake code is BGJ, then was surprised to see a listing for the size, according to VIN rear brake shoe size is 11" x 2 1/2". Thought it could be a possibility with 140,00 miles that the shoes were most likely replaced and may have not been replaced with the correct size as well.

I think I am pushing Denny's patience, called a few times over the last several months so I asked them of they could email me a build sheet, they did.
 

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Heat dissipation is more of a brake drum issue than a brake shoe. Seldom have seen a shoe warped but have seen a lot of drums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
That would be normal. Backing plates would be different too.
I suppose it is possible that the backing plates could be different, I would think that the backing plates would be the same for either the 11" x 2 1/4" or the 11" x 2 1/2" setup, but I could be wrong. Figure not only would the drum be wider but probably thicker as well, and of course it would be this wider thicker drum that would help dissipate heat better, and less likely to warp, as much as it would be the shoe, that goes without being said.

I made a mistake earlier when I said the B3500 has a 13 " setup, it is a 12.13" setup.

12.13 x 3 "
or
12.13" x 3.5"

There is also a listing for a 11" x 2.5" as a light duty setup for a B3500, but then this is the RockAuto listing for a 23 year old van, so who knows how accurate the listing is or if they even care that it is.

The reason I posted this thread is because I figured at some point down through the years somebody may have came across this exact same question, and the answer may have been " yeah, you can use either a 2 1/4" or 2 1./2" setup, the rest of the braking system is the same, so long as the wheel cylinder, shoe, hardware kit and drum are matched for either size. " Figured it could be possible that for inventory reasons the ABS, master cylinder, brake line are the same for either setup, and that Dodge figured they could save $1.00 with the lighter shoe and drum, but who knows, irrelevant now.

I plan on replacing everything, so now would be the time to make the change, if there was a change to be made.
 

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I suppose it is possible that the backing plates could be different, I would think that the backing plates would be the same for either the 11" x 2 1/4" or the 11" x 2 1/2" setup, but I could be wrong. Figure not only would the drum be wider but probably thicker as well, and of course it would be this wider thicker drum that would help dissipate heat better, and less likely to warp, as much as it would be the shoe, that goes without being said.

I made a mistake earlier when I said the B3500 has a 13 " setup, it is a 12.13" setup.

12.13 x 3 "
or
12.13" x 3.5"

There is also a listing for a 11" x 2.5" as a light duty setup for a B3500, but then this is the RockAuto listing for a 23 year old van, so who knows how accurate the listing is or if they even care that it is.

The reason I posted this thread is because I figured at some point down through the years somebody may have came across this exact same question, and the answer may have been " yeah, you can use either a 2 1/4" or 2 1./2" setup, the rest of the braking system is the same, so long as the wheel cylinder, shoe, hardware kit and drum are matched for either size. " Figured it could be possible that for inventory reasons the ABS, master cylinder, brake line are the same for either setup, and that Dodge figured they could save $1.00 with the lighter shoe and drum, but who knows, irrelevant now.

I plan on replacing everything, so now would be the time to make the change, if there was a change to be made.
Possible rear axle swap?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Possible rear axle swap?
Are you asking if it has been, or, if one can be done ?

I have an '03 B1500 that is going to the scrap yard in a few weeks that has rear disc (fairly new rotors, pads, caliper, hoses), that rear axle has 200,000 miles on it, not sure what would be involved in converting it over to disc. I think the rear axle in this '98 is damaged, I am going to remove the rear cover and inspect it and take some pictures and hopefully get some help from the experts, you guys.

Regrettably I think I am forced to replace the brakes on the '98 for now until I can come up with a semi-permanent solution so I can use this van for work.

Thank you for all of your assistance, BTW, you guys are awesome !
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
No idea, I looked for an identifying tag on the rear axle a few weeks ago but I did not see one, if the thinking is because of the existing 2 1/4" shoe instead of the 2 1/2" shoe, as per the build sheet, then my guess would be that they just put on 2 1/4" shoes at some point when the brakes were serviced, my guess is the backing plates are the same for the two different shoe sizes, and with the difference between the shoe widths being 1/4" that would place the center line of the two shoes sizes at a 1/8" difference, the wheel cylinder and retaining springs would probably still function with either size shoe, albeit not as designed, although according to my ' go to parts guy ' one brand hardware kit was the same for either the 2 1/4" and 2 1/2" shoes.

This is the listings from the build sheet, the parts guy I called at the dealer seemed very knowledgeable and as if he has been doing this for several years, he said it was the first time he ever saw the brake size listed, but then he told me the brake code was BGJ, maybe BKG is an upgrade, no idea.


BGJ BRAKES - PWR DISC/DRUM, RR ANTI-LOCK
BKG BRAKES - 11X2.5 REAR DRUM


Hopefully tear into the brakes later today, at first glance it did appear as if the existing drum was wide enough for a 2 1/2" shoe, my ' go to parts guy " needed to know the shoe width so he knew what to order, apparently the 2 1/2" size is less common.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It has pretty much been one thing or another with this van since I got it and even before I got it, but for $2,250 + $1,000 shipping figured I would have to put about $1,250 or so into it anyhow (not counting undercoating or sealing the undercarriage or a paint job, if that ever happens), but if I do the work myself that is quite a bit of a newer parts (brakes, suspension, tune-up, whatever else) and hopefully she will be reliable as the day is long, needs to be, even if I put two big ones into the van it is still around what they are selling for, $ 4,000 to $5,000, and that is probably not with a lot of newer parts, plus doing the work myself I know a lot of it will be done right.

Seeing how I live up North it is well worth the extra thousand dollars to not have a rusted van. Driving a Chevy, or a Ford, or a GMC cargo van ain't going to happen, I will go out of business first.
 

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Things like springs spring pins and even parking brake levers are shoe web based items and have nothing to do with shoe lining width. Diameter of wheel cylinder may or may not change depth of its centerline based on design.
 

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It has pretty much been one thing or another with this van since I got it and even before I got it, but for $2,250 + $1,000 shipping figured I would have to put about $1,250 or so into it anyhow (not counting undercoating or sealing the undercarriage or a paint job, if that ever happens), but if I do the work myself that is quite a bit of a newer parts (brakes, suspension, tune-up, whatever else) and hopefully she will be reliable as the day is long, needs to be, even if I put two big ones into the van it is still around what they are selling for, $ 4,000 to $5,000, and that is probably not with a lot of newer parts, plus doing the work myself I know a lot of it will be done right.

Seeing how I live up North it is well worth the extra thousand dollars to not have a rusted van. Driving a Chevy, or a Ford, or a GMC cargo van ain't going to happen, I will go out of business first.
That's the spirit! But speaking as someone who is also not yet done sinking money into an older Dodge van I would urge both of us not to lose sight of sanity with our respective projects. Lots of room for cubic dollars in these things, no matter how good our intentions.
 
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