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disk brakes on 3500# axle

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I sent a pm to John E Davies and in his reply he asked that I post this as a topic.

My PM said:

I am considering a Legacy Elite II and want disc brakes.  Oliver service no longer installs disc brakes, so I would have to get that work done locally.

I read your old posts on it using disk brake as a search term, but did not see where you said you actually did a conversion, but I may have missed it.

Did you get a conversion to disc brakes done on the 3500# axle with a 6 by 5.5 hub and collar?

I was considering getting a hub with 6 by 5.5"  for the 3500# axle and the 5200# axle kodiac 12" collar/caliper kit, which would leave me with the caliper attachment plate problem of the 4 bolt plate used on the 3500# axle versus the 5 bolt plate needed for the 12" collar/caliper kit.

I looked at the kodiak site description for the 5 bolt caliper attachment plate, and it seemed to use the same calipers as the 10" calipers for the 3500# kit.

I thought it might be feasible to drill the 4 bolt plate on the 3500# axle to the 5 bolt caliper attachment plate pattern or drill the 5 bolt caliper attachment plate to the 4 bolt pattern on the 3500# axle.


John H Davies responded:

I never installed disks. I considered modifying the Kodiak caliper brackets to allow them to bolt up to the 4 hole mount. It would certainly be one easy way to solve the problem. I decided against it:

A custom brake part complicates future repairs for the next owner. Admittedly this is minor for a bracket. I don’t know if the center hole is different. I suspect not.

Putting disks on the existing axles does zilch to correct a glaring fault, there is hardly any upward suspension travel. On mine with an average towing load it is just 1.5”. To fix that you would have to do a spring over axle mod, install longer shocks  and rubber bump stops. That would lift the frame about 5”, way too high, so you would need to swap the axles for ones with 4” offset spindles to bring it back down most of the way. If you are going to swap axles, then you might as well buy the bigger ones and have the much stouter bearings and spindles. It is a vicious circle, like building an expedition vehicle. One mod begets three more, which beget six more. Before you know it,  you have spent $20k, you are not yet done, and you have made it very hard to resell the truck without taking a huge financial loss. I have been down that rabbit hole before, it taught me a big lesson.

The Elite 2 has a GVWR of 7000 pounds and axles are rated at 7000 pounds. I think there is not enough load reserve (strength) in the axles, and with the lack of travel there is a real risk of bending them. OTH I am not aware of any reported bent ones. You might try contacting Service to see what they say.

The two owners I am aware of who have disk brakes also have bigger axles, (one was factory installed - member “overland”) but no spring-over conversion. I am waiting for somebody to install the Timbren independent  suspension, to do all the R&D, head scratching, measuring, swearing, fabricating and final road testing; I am not prepared to possibly waste countless hours, create an unsafe trailer and scrap a very expensive Oliver subframe, and then have to put it back to where I started.


It is more than a little discouraging..... especially since Oliver could so easily have started installed the bigger axles as standard equipment fifteen years ago. They use them for the Elite, so it would actually reduce their parts inventory. I really don’t understand their reasoning.

Please post your Kodiak question as a new thread in Mods. You will get some good feedback, I am sure. I bet there are more than a few owners who would like to be able to add better brakes, and don’t care at all about the axles. If you could find a local machine shop that would do the drilling (a one near me quoted $50 per bracket!) you could have a bunch modified and sell them here. Maybe. It would be a risk.


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