BrakeJob Dodge MB400 chassis

Started by Mlw, March 11, 2022, 12:58 PM

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So moving Betsy around the parking lot of the hobby garage to put her on the bridge I notices the passengerside front brake dragging heavily, so yesterday and the day before I have been working on them.

I always feared working on brakes, because they are pretty important, but finally after Jessica telling if I can do it, you can, I dove into it.

There just is something about a woman who knows how to handle her stuff  ;) :)ThmbUp

And yes, there really is nothing to it, but be smart, if you are not used to it, make plenty of pictures how they were. It will ease your job bigtime.
As I'm not done with the job and need to make more pictures this item will be upgraded later.

SO, after removing the wheel straining your back doing that you will get this beautiful view:

first you going to remove the keepers for your brake pads by removing just one bolt on both sides of the caliper

Then remove the brakeline so there will not be any force applied to the line when removing the caliper.

There need to be a copper ring between the caliper side of the block at the end of the brakeline and on the banjo bolt side to prevent leakage of brake fluid.

When you removed the brakeline remove bolt one of the bracket holding the caliper.

and bolt two on the other side

Now normally wiggling the caliper should remove it, but as you can see a lot of rust is there from the RV standing, so I had to apply some force.
Use a plastic or copper hammer (material softer than the caliper) so you don't damage anything.

After emptying the caliper of break fluid I noticed a lot of water in there so there is the reason the brake was stuck. The piston is really stuck so maybe I will need to replace everything. For now I filled it up with WD40, let's hope it will help getting it loose after soaking for 4 days.


So after two months of soaking in WD40 and very aggressive rust removers I gave up on the passenger side caliper and contacted Geoff of Alretta. Wow this guy knows his stuff, The front calipers aren't going to be a problem. The drums at the back are a different story however:

FYI. No rear drum is available.. a factory only part and no aftermarket.. this means that you do need the rear brake system to work perfectly in order to spare the brake drums from any damage that a damaged brake shoe will cause

And that's why today the day finally came that I need to question myself if I'm going to continue with the project or throw the towel in the ring and call the junkyard to pick it up. I tried to open up the rear brakes to find that the previous IDIOT baked the rear bearings at least red hot because this is how the inside of the lid on my inside drive shaft looks like. It is burned shiny black!

Lid Inner axle shaft drivers side..jpg

the reason of this is because the unimaginable IDIOT tightened the nuts SOLID.

There is absolutely no movement in them, while they should only be finger tight and locked up with a starwasher. So now I first have to find a socket or the right tool to force them loose and let's hope that the hundreds of guardian angels on the IDIOTS shoulder did a good enough job that everything is still solvable.

Man, I really don't know how much more of this idiocy I can take.


The discoloration on the back of the axle flange is normal. You are seeing the heat treatment the axle got at the factory when it was built.


Well, let's hope you are right, but the discolloration exactly matches the shape of the last nut holding the bearing.

This shouldn't necessarily be the problem, because a bearing can be replaced. But as far as Geoff of Alretta tells me, the drums can't because they were a factory option.

Now of course you can go to a metal shop and ask if they can make them, but the costs then will be huge of course and then it's going to be the question if it's worth all the trouble.

worst case scenario i'm now looking at an engine rebuild and rear axle rebuild. The complete roof has to be rebuild and the interior needs overhauling. Economically it is absolutely not worth it because the cost are going to be way higher then this RV is going to be worth, certainly in current times with shipping costs going thru the roof!.

It's becoming a labour of love and I really need to make up my mind if it's going to be worth it for me.


Now, as i'm allready way to deep in this, I decided to bite the bullet and finish the job because it also pains my heart to throw in the towel now.

Has anybody any idea what Axle is underneath the 1979 Dodge MB400 chassis. I'm prety convinced it's a Dana but is it a 60 or a 70 or does anybody know where to find the info on the axle itself?


That should be a Dana 70HD.  It's what the class A M400 used, I'd think it would be the same.
1969 D22, 2 x 1974 D24 Indians, 1977 27' Itasca


yes, this was what I already thought.

The good thing is that I have now 2 adresses here in the Netherlands that can help me to a second hand Dana 70 Axle when needed.

But as the Previous Idiot shows time and time again he has not hundreds but hundred of thousands guardian angels on each shoulder let's hope the've done their work this time too.


Now it is finally time to also get some good news.

At first, 73WinnieB was absolutely right on the discoloration, it was from the fabrication process.

What I did was ordering the axle nut socket needed to loosen the bolt in the USA as it was not available here in Europe. As I needed to order parts for the engine anyway I ordered it at Summit Racing

OEM Automotive Tools Axle Wheel Bearing Sockets 25243

Now the thing is that there are two types of locking nuts, one with 2 nuts and a star washer or a single self clinging nut with a lock spring. Now I've seen lots of video's removing the drums with the star washer and only one with the self clinging nut where it wasn't shown how the nut was removed as you can see in the next two video's

Self clinging


It caused a lot of confusion for me that all the video's I saw everyone was telling how the nut should only be fingertight causing me my blood preasure to go thru the roof and blaiming the former owner falsely (this time). Now of course i understand why removing the self clinging nut needed the socket to get removed.  It's just one of the very bumpy roads yo have to travel when you are fixing a 43 year old vehicle and information gets scarce.

So removing self clinging nuts aren't still a walk in the park. IIn my case it took a lot of greasing and going back and forth with a heavy duty socket wrench to get it off. Getting it back on was a lot easier however so it holds ground that in the video with the self clinging nut they tell that you actually need to replace the nut oncer you've remove it.

After that it was a world of surprises because the wheel bearing looked absolutely fine and brand spanking new. at first the brake drum wouldn't come off but after some love taps with the old persuader, it came off to reveal a very low milage break system in good condition.

Now I'm not a fan of too much government interference, but in this case you see the advantages. Another leasons to be learned here is to get the proper tools and information to get the job done and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.


Well, it's good to find out the components were in good condition after all that work.  Beats having to do more work!
1969 D22, 2 x 1974 D24 Indians, 1977 27' Itasca


Yes it really is the "problem" with my Betsy. She's to bad to travel, but to good to send off to the junkyard.

I will put her right agian, but it still is going to be a hell of a fight.


This week I finally dug in the passenger side of the brake drums. As the only reference about this system is the video shown above i needed my wits about me and I completely forgot to make pictures. I will make some after pics.

Now, the outer brake drum was a lot rustier, But the "Good thing" was that this side dropped plenty of lubricant out of the axle shaft opening as warned about in the video's. So let's hope the RV is hanging over to the passenger side, as the left side was really bone dry without any lubricant running out of the Axle opening, but at least both shafts were very greasy, so let's hope it IS just the RV hanging over to the passenger side.

Unfortunately the complete passenger side brake system looked a lot more worn, rusty and dirty then the drivers side, but after a thourough cleanup it wasn't as bad as it seemed.

Passenger side rear brake.jpg

Now I will make pictures later how to remove this system or perhaps even a video. so future newbies at this at least can find the right info here at CWVR.  ;)


And the end product.

Eyez Open

Great job! Man bringing back old memories there, my father owned a garage and we serviced heavy trucks for the utility companies. I had forgotten just how heavy and stubborn those old hubs&brakes can be. I came very close to badly tearing up my shoulder on mine recently...seems I did not take into account being 60 makes quite a bit of difference :shocked:


 :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:

Yeah well, luckily I watched a lot of video's in advance (two of them here in the topic) and there were a lot of warnings about the weight of the drum, so I was prepared.

The left side was indeed stubborn and needed removal with a pulley, but the right came right off. Striking was that the stubborn side looked much better than the side that came right off.

And I forgot my age with removing the duallys for the first time. I almost couldn't walk a few hours later. Since then I take it a whole lot easier taking the wheels off by sitting on the floor and removing the wheels by giving them a great lovehug  :rolleyes:  :rolleyes:  :rolleyes:

But it works. No more backpain.  :)clap


If you do not already have it you can get the 1979 Dodge Van Service Manual on EBAY though you may have to work with a seller for shipping. Covers all versions of the Dodge van B100/200/300, CB300/400, MB300/400, PB100/200/300 including the Spicer 60/60HD or Spicer 70 rearend your working on.


Hi Dave,

Thank youfor your reaction. I really appreciate it.

A year ago I bought this manual here on the forum

'78 - '82 Dodge Service eManual: M300, 400, 500 & 600

It doesn't specifically say MB series, but I covered about 90% of the manual and it hasn't let me down once and is 100% accurate in what I used, exept for the lock nut system on the rear axles to remove the brakedrum.
It can of course be that the measurements are a bit different (I don't know) but I always order parts with my VIN number.

Next to this The only thing not totally clear to me Is the fact if I have a Dana or Spicer axle in the rear. The manual says Spicer but the original owner of Betsy had the underside coated so till this day I have not find any markings on the axles, The disassembly of the axle is almost 100% accurate however, exept (again) for the fact that the starwasher system wit the double nuts is discribed in the manual, while I got the lock nut system with the safety pin. That took quite some time to figure out and order the correct tools to remove.

But If you've got any points that would make a major difference I will gladly hear of it, but for now it seems that I'm going to buy a manual I already have.

As it was only the book, I would buy it in a heartbeat, but i'm a bit fed up bying a book of $ 10,= and pay about 500% shipping costs and taxes. I can only hope you appreciate that.

However if you have any points where you think this manual is worth it over the one I got I gladly hear it.

Again thanks for your troubles.


There are going to be differences between a Class A and a Class C (e.g.: Coil spring vs straight axle front end).  Just wanted to make sure you knew what the correct service manual was for your rig.

Now the Parts manual in the store is a bit different as it does cover both Class A and Class C rigs.


Dana and Spicer are the same company..Here is a PDF file to help you identify..99.99 chance it is a Dana 70 because it is a duel wheel
The best mechanic is the one that can make it run with the least amount of parts!


WOW, Thank you so much, Mike. Exactly what I need. :)clap

In the meantime the drivers side looks the same now, all the hoses are replaced, the brakefluid replaced and the brakes bled, but no chance of testing as the vehicle still has no engine.


MLW - Do you have 12 x 3 or 13 x 3.5 rear brakes? If 12 x 3 I believe I have found drum info and drums from multiple sources.


I've seen your reaction at Mike's topic

What a wonderfull catalog you are for us!!!

I have to take off the duallys again to check. Fingers crossed that i have the 12 X 3

I have talked to Geoff of Alretta about this too...

"For your information, you will never buy another pair of rear brake drums for this vehicle. They were special factory only parts that were never sold in the stores. I do have the complete shoe axle set. 13x3-1/2" size. $320"

Let's just hope he's wrong this time, but we all know he's very knowledgeable too.

As soon as I've taken the duallys off I will let everybody know.


Quote from: DaveVA78Chieftain on July 18, 2023, 08:51 PMMLW - Do you have 12 x 3 or 13 x 3.5 rear brakes? If 12 x 3 I believe I have found drum info and drums from multiple sources.

I can tell from reading through this, he has like I have, the 13x 3.5 shoes. I managed to get a set from Geoff a few years back and kept my cores. If you have a source for the drums, that would be stellar. Only source I know of by me is a massive mopar only yard that is hidden out in the woods. knowing what the owner has, i'm sure he has a couple ambulances hidden in there. I got my 12" flexplate from him.


You are probably right. Problem was that I was way to busy to check when the weather was decent, and now we are in the 7 months wet season. As soon as I arive at my Betsy to try to do some work on the exterior it starts pouring  immediately :rolleyes:  :rolleyes:  :rolleyes:


So, as last Monday actually was quite a nice day i decided not to keep you guys in suspense any longer😉😂
As I thought secretly, I do have 13's. The good news is that they seem to be in very good condition at first sight, Let's just hope they are not warped.

Underneath the pictures with all the numbers.

Brakedrum passengerside Max dia 13.08

Brakedrum passengerside 103871

Brakedrum passengerside 8000

The numbers are what I could make of them thru the paint.