Can Brake Drums Be Welded?Find Out

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The metals used in constructing brake drums are chosen for both their heat conductivity and weight. This is to ensure that heat is effectively dissipated, and the overall unsprung weight is bearable. The issue now is whether these drums can be welded or not. 

Of course, you can weld brake drums. However, you must do so with care in order to avoid further cracking. Most welding techniques require that the surface of the metal be cleaned and cast iron benefits from both pre and post-weld heating, in addition to careful cooling too.

Table Of Contents

Are brake drums weldable?

Yes, they are. This is possible because brake drums are manufactured using metals that can withstand welding which includes cast iron, aluminium ( in the front wheels)or steel, which is rarely used.

  They can also be designed with the use of a combination of cast iron and steel metals. Though cast iron is better than steel since it can dissipate heat faster and also have a higher coefficient of friction when used with any brake lining than steel.

What causes brake drums to get hot?

The most important reason why brake drums get very hot when braking is because of the severe friction generated therein. Friction is the basic working principle of the brake drum, which generates a lot of heat, which can be aggravated by your driving style. In severe cases, brake drum temperatures can rise up to as much as 600 to 700 degrees Celsius.

Can brake drums be resurfaced?

Yes, they can be, but for any mechanic to resurface a brake drum, he will have to remove a thin layer of metal from the damaged surface of the brake drum or rotor. This is basically what resurfacing is all about.

Resurfacing is mostly cheaper than either brake drum or rotor replacements and can also be completed in a very short time by any brake service specialist. Most people, in order to cut down expenses, will opt to resurface rather than replace brake drums, unless that option is not on the table.

A rough brake drum surface will most likely reduce both brake life and braking efficiency. However, note that drum brakes should always be resurfaced in pairs. (Read Also:Can Brake Drums Be Turned?)


Do new brake drums need to be machined before welding?

No, they really don’t. The conventional thing to do is to complete the welding before machining the brake drum surface. If you machine your brake drums, it brings back any warped part as well as extends its service life. To do this effectively, you need what is commonly called a brake lathe. You then mount your warped rotors or drums to the lathe which will cut a new surface into the drum or rotor, a process that is normally done after welding and not before.

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How do you weld brake drums?

There are certain mandatory steps that must be diligently executed if you want to weld your brake drums satisfactorily. Some of the tools required for this operation are grinder or cutting and grinding disc, welder, press or roller, oxy torch, and son.

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The materials needed are 130  by 10 mm flat bar, heavy-walled pipe, 3-inch truck brake drums, 3-inch chipping hammers, 12 mm round bar, 5-10 mm plate, 7  by 3/4 but and bolts, exhaust paint, et cetera. For protection, wear eye goggles and PPE( personal protective equipment). The steps  for welding are:

Step 1

Finding the brake drum. First, get three truck brake drums from either your local truck depot or metal recyclers.

Step 2

Next, cut out the ash door. Begin by cutting a hole out of the bass drum to enable you to remove the ash and charcoal from your heater. Remember that this will serve as an avenue for air intake for your heater. Also, it is good to know that cast iron cut poorly with an oxy, so, it is better to use a grinder or a plasma cutter. (Read Also:Why Are Brake Calipers In Different Positions?)

Step 3

Weld grate and bolt the drums. Proceed next to bolt the two bottom drums together.

Step 4

Bend up bar for midsection ring. Bend some flat bar for the midsection of the heater. You can choose any size flat bar depending on the height you prefer between the drums. It is recommended that you use at least 10 mm thick as this may support a lot of weight while under heat. (Read Also:Are Brake Pads Supposed To Be Loose?)

Step 5

 Ash drawer. Weld the drawer together which will catch the ash. Ensure that the drawer is as long as possible as especially since it will later act as the air intake for the heater.

Step 6

Cut out openings. Now, you should cut out the openings for the door and also the flue. A grinder works just fine here with patience and finesse.

Step 7

Cut the top plate and mark out the flue. Do this with oxy and cut it in half depending on the size you want for the door or flue.

Step 8

Attach door. Cut off the top 3/4 inch bolt and weld it together beneath the plate to be bolted to the drum. In the alternative, you could just use a nut and bolt. Finally, round off the edge near where the bolt will allow the lid to swivel open.

Step 9

Attach the flue and door handle. Weld the flue to the top plate to be sure and also weld the top and button for strength.

Step 10

Flue damper. Weld in a flue damper. The flue damper is the most relevant part of the operation of the heater, which controls the temperature as well as adds shut down.

Step 11

Final assembly. Assemble everything together and make sure that everything is as you wish. Check also to ensure that everything is working just fine. If you want any additional changes, now is when to do that. Otherwise, it may be too late.

Step 12

Prep and paint your drum brakes, though this is optional. In conclusion,  run over and remove any rust using a wire wheel. Ensure to use the heater in a well-ventilated area because of the fumes produced while the paint cures. (Read Also: Can Brake Cleaner Remove Paint?)

Frequently asked questions(FAQ)

How many miles do brake drums last?

Brake drums can last for up to 200 000 miles. However, in some cases, the drums can wear out much sooner than this projected time due to other worn-out internal components which can put more strain on the drum. Your drums wear down as you break and eventually become smaller too.

Are brake drums cast in iron or steel?

Brake drums are traditionally made of cast iron, though sometimes they can also be produced using aluminum for mostly the front wheels. Aluminum has an advantage over cast iron because it is lighter in weight.

Cast iron is used mainly because it has a high heat conductivity and is also wear-resistant too. However, the black plates are made of steel. Black plates are the features that hold and support the whole brake drum unit, to enable it to stay strong. (Read Also:Can You Brake Check A Cop?)

How much does it cost to have brake drums turned?

If you have anything against replacing your brake drums at home, you can always head to a specialist mechanic in order to get it done for you. On average, it will cost you about 233 and 338 dollars for the whole procedure. Of this total cost, about 171 to about 217 dollars is for labor while 62 to 121 dollars is for all the needed parts.

How do you put drum brakes back together?

The first thing to do when you want to put your drum brakes back together is to prepare the vehicle.

How does a brake drum system work?

Upon application of pressure on the brake pedal, the two curved surfaces of the brake shoes, that bear a friction material on them are forced by a hydraulic wheel cylinder against the inner surface of a rotating drum. This results in the generation of enormous friction which enables the vehicle to either slow down or stop as the case may be.

How do you break in brake drums?

To break in new brake drums, you should first drive the car to an open highway or some such place and accelerate to about 60 miles per hour or thereabout. After that, you then apply the brakes firmly but not hard enough to trigger the anti-lock braking system(ABS). Next, you should repeat the above procedures about ten more times before your brakes can fully break.

How often do drum brake shoes need to be replaced?

Both the brake shoes and pads can last for more than 50 000 miles on some vehicles and as little as 10 000 miles on others. The time taken between the change in brakes and shoes mostly depends on your driving style, the quality of your brake pads and shoes, the weight of the vehicle, and of course the driving conditions of the roads.

How do you know when brake drum brakes need replacing?

Certain things will enable you to know when your brake drums need replacing such as:

(1). Inconsistency in the brake pedal feel. The driver may feel certain vibrations if the front and rear brake drums and pads are bad.

(2). Secondly, the handbrake itself may feel loose. If you have to yank hard on the handbrake before you can keep the car rolling off the road, chances are pretty high that you are landed with faulty brake shoes which need replacing.

What is the difference between disc and drum brakes?

Generally speaking, a drum brake is a small drum with a set of shoes inside it. This drum will rotate alongside the wheel and whenever pressure is applied on the brake pedal, the shoes are inadvertently forced against the sides of the drum and the wheel is effectively slowed. On the other hand, a disc brake has a sort of disc-shaped metal rotor that spins within a wheel.

How do you tell if brake drums are overheating?

Like in all previous cases, you look out for certain symptoms that will enable you to know when your brakes are overheating. Some of these symptoms are:

(1). Brake fade. Whenever you step on the pedal, it is likely to feel spongy.

(2). Smoking brakes. In some instances, you are likely to see smoke coming out from around your wheels whenever you apply the brakes. This is often associated with a kind of burning or nauseating smell as well.

(3). Squeaking sound. Your brake pad might have become overly worn such that metal is freely grinding on metal thereby causing more heat and noise from the tires too.

Can brake drums be welded – Conclusion

The brake system of any vehicle is the most important part of it,  probably after only the engine. In addition, how safe we drive depends on the brake system more than on any other thing.

It is, therefore, logical to treat all brake issues with the seriousness it deserves. Fortunately, all brake-related issues are easy to resolve even at home by relatively inexperienced hands, but you got to be careful while doing that.

You can perform all sorts of procedures on the brake drums just to either maintain or replenish their conditions by resurfacing, turning, welding, and so on.

In most of these procedures, the objective is to make sure that the brake drum surface is kept as close to its original features from the manufacturers as possible. After all, of what use is a smooth and shiny brake drum if it needs friction to operate? Your guess is as good as mine.

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