The Definitive 300ZX Brake Swap – Rear Brake Swap

rearbrakeswap

The rear brake swap is not impossible, but it can be difficult.  I wouldn’t try it unless you have some decent experience under your belt.  The reason for this “disclaimer” is that it requires nearly the complete disassembly of the rear suspension.  Some believe that this swap isn’t necessary to complete an effective brake upgrade on the 240SX, but I wanted to go all out as well as have a complete swap to write this series! 

Parts Necessary

  • non-turbo Z32 e-brake/splash shield setup
  • non-turbo Z32 hub/bearing
  • calipers
  • rotors
  • R33 skyline GT-S e-brake cables (swap here)
  • SPL Parts or PDM Racing SS brake lines

Tools Necessary

  • Jack, Jack stands and Wheel Chocks
  • Metric Sockets and Wrenches
  • Flare Wrench (optional but handy)
  • 12 mm x 1.25 pitch tap

Some people have been able to utilize the aluminum 300ZX upright, but it requires shocks with the correct lower mount.  (SCC used JIC’s shocks with the aluminum uprights)

I’ve talked to many people regarding turbo vs non-turbo rear parts.  Calipers and rotors are the same, however the e-brake hardware and hubs are different.  The only year the hub was separate from the e-brake hardware was the non-turbo 1990.  After that, the hub has the stud for the e-brake built in.  In that case, you need to make sure to find non turbo hardware in order to get the correct axle splines.  I always recommend, if possible, try to source all the parts from the same car. This will simplify parts compatibility.  

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Start by removing the calipers and the brake lines.  For now, disconnect the e-brake hardware and move it aside.  Then remove the rotor.
Remove all of the control arm bolts
Remove all of the control arm bolts
You will need to pull out the axles.
You will need to pull out the axles.
Do so by removing the big nut on the end and sliding out the axle.
Do so by removing the big nut on the end and sliding out the axle.
At this point, you need to remove the nut that holds the lower ball joint.  Do this with a 22 mm socket.  You may need a ball joint popping tool to remove the knuckle.
At this point, you need to remove the nut that holds the lower ball joint. Do this with a 22 mm socket. You may need a ball joint popping tool to remove the knuckle.
Once you have the knuckle out, you will need to change the backing plate.  This is accomplished by removing the hub/bearing assembly.
Once you have the knuckle out, you will need to change the backing plate. This is accomplished by removing the hub/bearing assembly.

As you will see, there is a large hole in the original knuckle. This hole is used by the e-brake/backing plate hardware. The chances of this working smoothly are pretty slim. The hole has probably corroded over time and needs to be cleaned. A dremel tool with a grinding bit should do the trick. If this doesn’t work then you can use the big nut and an impact gun to act as a press. Make sure the holes are lined up properly. If you get them off center, the rest of the hardware will not bolt on properly and it’s very difficult to pull apart. Alignment is much easier if you place the hub/bearing assembly in the middle and slowly thread it’s bolts in while you tighten the large nut for the e-brake hardware. Make sure all of the nuts and bolts are tight.

rear-brake-dustsheild
A collection of shots of the rear dust shield – ebrake hardware. Once the hub and upright are removed, you can see that there is quite a bit of hardware left that will be transferred to your original upright.
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Although it is possible to install later, the e-brake lines of your choice should be attached to the new backing plate you just installed. This will create problems while manipulating the assembly, but not for too long. You can wait to install the caliper hardware until after the knuckle is on the car, or you can do it before hand.

Begin reinstalling the knuckle. First, you will need to pass the e-brake cable through the sub frame (if already installed). Let the cable rest on the sub frame for now. Next, attach the lower ball joint, slide the axel back into the bearing, and reattach the rest of the control arms. With everything in, you can install the rotors and calipers, if you haven’t already done so.

I would strongly suggest using some anti-seize on every bolt that you replace.  It will make it easier to take apart in the future.
I would strongly suggest using some anti-seize on every bolt that you replace. It will make it easier to take apart in the future.
Once the upright is bolted into place, it's probably a good idea to check all of the bolts...there are quite a few of them!
Once the upright is bolted into place, it’s probably a good idea to check all of the bolts…there are quite a few of them!
Since I had the stock 300ZX brake lines, I decided to make them work in this application.  The calipers need the same fittings as those in the front.  In order to utilize the stock hardware, it is necessary to modify the bracket that holds the brake line.  I cut the bracket in half using a cutting wheel and then welded a 3" section of sheet metal to each end.  This gives you the extra 2" necessary to allow the brake line enough slack to reach the hard line on the chassis.
Since I had the stock 300ZX brake lines, I decided to make them work in this application. The calipers need the same fittings as those in the front. In order to utilize the stock hardware, it is necessary to modify the bracket that holds the brake line. I cut the bracket in half using a cutting wheel and then welded a 3″ section of sheet metal to each end. This gives you the extra 2″ necessary to allow the brake line enough slack to reach the hard line on the chassis.

Ideal, alternative setup:

PDM racing and SPL Parts offers rear conversion lines that will be much easier to install and require no fabrication!

Completed rear swap
Completed rear swap

The e-brake cable installation/swap is one of the least straight forward parts of this entire swap and deserves its own page. I cover cable splicing and refer to a few more desirable options.

With all of the brake components bolted in place, bleed the brakes or move on to the Master Cylinder installation.  The next sections will cover the e-brake swap and master cylinder swap. Click the link below for the complete series.

The Definitive 300ZX Brake Swap Series