I've not been a member on this forum nearly as long many but have gained insight on several things here so having just completed my rear drum brake overhaul and upgrade on my 97 2500 I thought this would be a good time to chime in and possibly help others contemplating this. I know this is a somewhat old thread but thought I'd throw in my experience on this topic none the less. BTW, I've been a fairly long term member on the dieseltruckresource forum and decided a while back to join this one too as this also looks to have members who value what others have experienced and are very willing to help when they can.
Anyway, back on topic, I just completed this rebuild, along with some other non-brake related work, this past weekend. What drove me to this was a while back my right rear parking brake cable was damaged by some fence repair wire that got wrapped around the axle during a hunting trip in CO. The wire basically wrapped so tightly around the axle that as it became more and more wrapped, it pulled on the cable so hard that the outer jacket snapped, resulting in a severe imbalance between the rear brakes when applying the parking brake, making the parking brake unusable. Before that happened I had already bought new brake shoes and had already read about upgrading to 1-ton Chevy wheel cylinders and bought these too, so this incident provided the catalyst for a complete rebuild and upgrade. During this time I took a couple of weeks off work to do the brake work and install a gooseneck hitch and air bag suspension and do other work around the house.
So, having determined this would be a complete overhaul of my rear brakes and having worked on drum brakes on our old Jeep CJ-7 in the past, I started by taking several photos of the brake components before I started removing anything. I highly recommend this to anyone doing this job, especially if this is your first time or it's been a while since you've worked on drum brakes. One thing I quickly realized was the brake adjusters at the bottom had become corroded/gummed up by years of use and were basically not working any more. The left brake adjuster was frozen to the point it wouldn't turn at all. So, during this overhaul, I cleaned everything, especially the adjusters, so they could turn as freely as new parts.
With everything cleaned up and the brake drums freshly resurfaced, the installation of new parts began. I even bought a new parking brake equalizer/tension adjuster to replace the corroded OEM part. The hardest thing to deal with were the parking brake cables. One of the new cables had a rubber washer that wasn't part of the original design and this occupied too much space for the flared-finger retention end to be pushed into the backing plate and lock into place. The outside also didn't have any real protective cover to minimize the entry of "stuff" from getting in so I improvised and made some from the covers on the old cables. With that out of the way, the last thing I did before the reassembly of parts began was to install the new 1-ton wheel cylinders. I was very pleased to discover the Chevy 37337 parts were a direct fit in all regards.
After getting everything back together and an initial parking brake adjustment I performed several complete stops while backing up to allow the brake adjusters to do the work of setting the brake shoes to a good working position. This step of braking to a COMPLETE stop while backing up was emphasized in the factory service manual, as it said just hitting the brakes without coming to a complete stop will not activate the brake adjuster lever and engage the adjuster wheel - only a complete stop will do that. All I can say about that is my truck stops straight and true after doing this brake job, so they must be braking properly and equally on both sides.
Now, about the improvement due to the 1-ton cylinders. After running the truck through our rural subdivision roads to make sure everything was normal, I drove out on a couple of 2-lane hi-ways nearby and got up to about 60 mph. This too convinced me everything was running normal and it gave me the opportunity to experience the difference and improvement in braking. I was immediately impressed with how much less pedal pressure was needed to brake the truck AND how much more positive the braking was in slowing the truck or coming to a complete stop. Having done brake jobs on all our vehicles over many years, I know it's best to not brake too aggressively in the first 100 miles or so, but even so, I noticed a definite improvement in both areas - considerably less pedal pressure required and the feeling that the rear brakes were providing considerably more to the braking process.
So, having broken the ice on this forum, I hope my experience can he helpful to others. See you all around.
White 97 Ram 2500 12-valve: ClubCab, 4x4, 5-speed, 3.54 axles, full bed. Mods: Too much to list here.