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Old 02-20-2013, 12:22 AM   #1
danw210
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Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Has anyone done a drum to disc brake swap on a closed knuckle Dana 44? If so, what did you use? I have a 69 K20 and I figured that the disc brackets from a 72 K20 would work. Everything bolts up but when I mount the calipers there is not enough clearance for the brake pads (see pictures).
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:19 PM   #2
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

My own thought on this is why? The open knuckle front is so much better for turning radius, just swap it in complete.

Converting a Dana 25/27 to discs using the GM parts and Jeep rotors is a common swap, but only because you can't get a drop in that uses same gears like you can with the GM.

So, not answering your questions, but if you are going to swap something, I'd swap the whole front axle with the caveat that gear has to match or you have to swap the gears in the housing.
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:56 PM   #3
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

I hear you Mike, but I'm already in this deep so I just want to make this work with what I have. I already have so much invested in it already, I just assumed that the swap was as simple as using the brackets and hubs from the 72.
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Old 03-08-2013, 09:49 AM   #4
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

OK - I am making this work (I think). I was using the 69 spindles, because the axle shafts fit into them, but it did not line-up the rotor where I needed it. The 72 spindles bolt up of course but the axle shafts do not fit into them, the rotor lines up perfect with the 72 spindle. If you look at the picture of the two spindles you can see that the 69 has a bushing and the 72 has a needle bearing.

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I had the outer axle shafts turned down to fit the 72 spindles and they fit really nice. I'll be putting the axle shafts back together with new u-joints.
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Old 03-08-2013, 08:43 PM   #5
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Isn't this the second, or maybe third, separate thread on this?
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Old 03-08-2013, 09:01 PM   #6
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

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Isn't this the second, or maybe third, separate thread on this?
I did have another thread where I was asking some of the same questions. that one has since been deleted. I have made mention of this on my build page as well. I figured this may be useful info for someone in the same predicament.
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Old 03-09-2013, 01:54 AM   #7
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

I believe you may run into issues with caliper clearance between the knuckle and the back of the caliper. I haven't ever done a swap on a chevy, but I did one on a Ford using Chevy parts and a Scout using FSJ parts. both had issues got worked out with grinder therapy.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:59 AM   #8
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

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I believe you may run into issues with caliper clearance between the knuckle and the back of the caliper. I haven't ever done a swap on a chevy, but I did one on a Ford using Chevy parts and a Scout using FSJ parts. both had issues got worked out with grinder therapy.
I had to turn the caliper bracket to avoid the clearance problem.
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Old 03-10-2013, 01:07 AM   #9
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Well everything worked out! It is all put back together, rotors spin, no clearance problems, lockouts engage. If I had to do it all over again I would swap in a 71-87 front diff but considering the circumstances I had to make this work. I hope that this may help anyone in a similar scenario.
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:31 AM   #10
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

I had a 72 chevy with the closed knuckles on the front. This maybe a stupid question but what are the advantages of having a closed knuckle? Really miss that truck.
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Old 03-13-2013, 07:36 AM   #11
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

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I had a 72 chevy with the closed knuckles on the front. This maybe a stupid question but what are the advantages of having a closed knuckle? Really miss that truck.
I don't think that there are any advantages to a closed knuckle over an open. It was what I had with my 69 so I wanted to make it work. I would go with the open knuckle if I do it again. I've found that the knuckle bearings and wiper kits are not cheap so the open knuckle would be a lot sheaper to maintain, and I hear the turning radius is better too.
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Old 11-16-2013, 12:57 AM   #12
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Dan210 how's the project coming? Just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of selling my 69 k20. There's a lot of reasons to let her go but #1 was it stopped like sh**. I've had her for over 15 years. Rebuilt the brakes more than I care to count. Everyone says just swap axles, they don't know the open knuckle disc brake axle is 3" wider. I can't stand that look. Thanks to your post I may keep my cool Suburban. Just thought you should know your detective work is appreciated! How cool to step on the brakes and know what's going to happen! There's a post where a guy goes from your conversion back to drums..... Go figure!
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Old 11-16-2013, 09:51 AM   #13
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

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Dan210 how's the project coming? Just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of selling my 69 k20. There's a lot of reasons to let her go but #1 was it stopped like sh**. I've had her for over 15 years. Rebuilt the brakes more than I care to count. Everyone says just swap axles, they don't know the open knuckle disc brake axle is 3" wider. I can't stand that look. Thanks to your post I may keep my cool Suburban. Just thought you should know your detective work is appreciated! How cool to step on the brakes and know what's going to happen! There's a post where a guy goes from your conversion back to drums..... Go figure!
Thanks for the kind words. I agree, everyone says just swap axles but I don't regret going this route (at least not yet). I can't see why someone would go back to drums unless they were restoring back to original. The disc brakes outperform the drums by just a little, lol.
The project has been put on hold for now. I moved this summer from northern Illinois to Kentucky and the truck has just been sitting. I hope to get back to it by spring of 2014.
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Old 11-16-2013, 06:51 PM   #14
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Neat project. I put disc brakes on a closed knuckle frontend back in 1991. This was a low budget off road only buggy. I am not recomending that anybody do this, I am just letting you know how I did it for an off road only machine. I used a half worn out brake pad on the inside and put a some shims between the inner wheel bearing and shoulder on the spindle to move the hub/rotor out a little bit. My reasoning for using the closed knuckle frontend was that I figured it would keep mud and dirt out of the axle joints and axle tubes. Somebody mentioned that these frontends don't turn as sharp, but I didn't figure that it would matter a whole lot on this machine because the frame was shortened up quite a bit. The other disadvantage of these frontends is that they have small axle joints. Here is a scan of an old picture of it.

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Old 12-03-2013, 12:49 AM   #15
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Well I,m finding myself in the same predicament in converting my closed knuckle Dana 44 to disk brakes on a k10 . This thread has been very helpful. My question is what modification was made to the caliper bracket to make it work without clearance interference .
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Old 12-03-2013, 11:39 PM   #16
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

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Well I,m finding myself in the same predicament in converting my closed knuckle Dana 44 to disk brakes on a k10 . This thread has been very helpful. My question is what modification was made to the caliper bracket to make it work without clearance interference .
No mods needed to the caliper bracket. After the outer shafts are milled everything fits perfect. Good luck!
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:36 AM   #17
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

This info may be useful for the next person who wants to do a disc conversion on a closed knuckle 44.

http://www.circletracksupply.com/che...brake-kit.html



I am looking to do the same conversion on a '56 International S120 4X4 D44 closed knuckle axle. The Circle Track source has discs for 8 lug, but a phone conversation got the information that undrilled discs may be available, so I could set up the 6 lug I need it.
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Old 08-29-2015, 08:08 AM   #18
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brake conversion

I was hoping to have a few questions solved re:1962 GMC 3/4 Ton 4x4 front Disk brake conversion.I have learned a lot from the previous posts but still have some issues.
1.The original drum and backing plate is removed and replaced with newer GMC caliper mounting plate.(What year will fit and must it be off of a 4x4?)
2.The axle spindle must be replaced because of the caliper/rotor positioning?What year of spindle,rotor and disc would work best?
3.The original outer axle needs machining 1.312" to fit the newer spindle with needle bearing vs. bushing ?
4.What vacuum booster and master cylinder / proportioning valve would work best?
5.When this is put together,what is the best lubricant for the closed knuckle?
Thanks everybody in advance for the input
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Old 08-29-2015, 05:23 PM   #19
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

#5- Novak Conversions has recommended grease mixed with 90 to 140 oil to a consistency of very thick pancake batter. I have also used corn head grease. I believe original this closed knuckle lube was called semi-liquid grease.
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Old 09-01-2015, 02:05 AM   #20
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brake conversion

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Originally Posted by wadelitvany@shaw.ca View Post
I was hoping to have a few questions solved re:1962 GMC 3/4 Ton 4x4 front Disk brake conversion.I have learned a lot from the previous posts but still have some issues.
1.The original drum and backing plate is removed and replaced with newer GMC caliper mounting plate.(What year will fit and must it be off of a 4x4?)
2.The axle spindle must be replaced because of the caliper/rotor positioning?What year of spindle,rotor and disc would work best?
3.The original outer axle needs machining 1.312" to fit the newer spindle with needle bearing vs. bushing ?
4.What vacuum booster and master cylinder / proportioning valve would work best?
5.When this is put together,what is the best lubricant for the closed knuckle?
Thanks everybody in advance for the input

I haven't done this yet myself but researched it enough I think I can answer you questions. Some of your questions depend on 3/4 ton or 1/2 ton.
1. Yes off a dana 44 with disc brakes 6 lug or 8 depending on what you have.
2. Yes that's why the spindle must be replaced. Again I don't think it matters just a dana 44 again 6 or 8 lug.
3. Yes it needs to be turned down to fit the needle bearings.
4. Depends on the year of you truck. If it's 67-69 you could just use what they used on the newer models that came with disc brakes. If your truck is a 60-66, look up Capt. Fab for your answer. If you still have a single master clyinder be prepared to bend some new brake lines.
5. I've never used anything but 90w in both my closed knuckle 44s with no issues.
Hope that helps
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Old 10-03-2015, 07:40 PM   #21
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Thanks for the info. I'm one of those strange birds that like the looks of the closed knuckle axle. Don't the open knuckle axles use ball joints vs king pins for closed knuckle?
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Old 10-03-2015, 07:52 PM   #22
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

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Originally Posted by danw210 View Post
I hear you Mike, but I'm already in this deep so I just want to make this work with what I have. I already have so much invested in it already, I just assumed that the swap was as simple as using the brackets and hubs from the 72.
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frankly, my hearing must be bad,

I dony get why people got to ask you why you did what you already have done. and then qualify thier answer based on the foundation that it really does not matter because you got it wrong simply because you chose a closed knuckle axle from the beginning,

I had a friend who worked with me at a gas stattion, every time somebody would pull in and ask directions, he would say, you cant get there from here, you gotta go somewhere else first and go from there.

I have a dana 44 closed knuckle front end on my truck. lots of advantages ....to me.
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Old 10-04-2015, 03:39 PM   #23
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Regarding what lubricant to use in the closed knuckle - I have has success with simply packing the wheel and knuckle bearings with grease, the way you would with an open knuckle unit. No oil leaks that way. Been running my 62 that way for a few years now.
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Old 10-05-2015, 03:14 PM   #24
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

this is what i put in mine to keep the knuckle bearings lubed. I put regular u-joints on the axles as tk won't see alot of 4wd.
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Old 11-09-2015, 04:40 PM   #25
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Re: Dana 44 closed knuckle disc brakes

Dan, (i know it's an old thread) what calp brake hose's did you use? Longer?
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