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2016 Nissan Versa S (manual transmission)
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When you bleed drum brakes, yes... the drum must be installed prior to bleeding. I assume you are pumping them up with the brake pedal and opening the bleeder once pressure is felt at the pedal. The brake drum limits how far the brake shoes can expand and how far the pistons and cups can expand inside the body of the wheel cylinder.

I also adjust the self adjuster outwards just enough to hear the drum drag (slightly), almost like a light scratching sound (prior to bleeding).
 
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