Replacing the Rear Brake Drums

A couple of months ago, I purchased new brake drums all around. More than one of the existing drums are out of round and the front right tends to grab the pad at really unexpected times, trying to pull the car off the road.

After jacking up the rear driver side wheel, I pulled the old brake drum off.

Things are dry, which is good, but a little rusty.

After hosing everything down with brake parts cleaner and wiping down the new brake drum, I realized I had grabbed one of the new front brake drums. The part pictured above, 365-74004 is the rear drum.

These star adjuster wheels were both frozen/stuck. I spent a long time trying to get them freed up, spraying PB Blaster several times, before giving up. Finally, I just took the bottom spring off and was then able to pull the bottom ears of the brake shoes out of the adjuster ends. Then I used a large flat screwdriver to turn the adjuster bolts manually.

Eventually, I got a nice, snug fit of the new drum over the shoes and buttoned it all back up. I forgot to take a picture before I got the wheel back on.

You can kind of see a bit of it in there. It’s painted black and surprisingly, the brake parts cleaner didn’t seem to wipe the paint off, so that’s good.

Apparently, I gave up on documenting the process completely at this point, as the only other picture I took was once I finished up and was packing things away.

Unfortunately, I found that the passenger side rear drum was wet inside – black. Goopy and black. I wondered if the new brake cylinder I replaced last year was leaking again, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. The brake fluid reservoir is still completely tip-topped up.

Is it possible that transaxle oil is traveling down the axle?

I put the parking brake on full, put the car in neutral, and wasn’t able to push it. The brakes appear to be tight. I will take the car out for a runaround later today.

Replacing a Parking Brake Cable

I’m about to replace the parking brake cable on the driver side, but I started off the day by reinstalling the missing knobs in the dash.

I have purchased two new wiper/washer knob sets and neither have fit correctly. The existing one has a tendency to spin on the threads when you turn the wipers on, making it difficult to turn them back off. Also, visually, the print is worn off the washer button. So, here we are, with the old button and knob mounted again.

Now, moving onto that parking brake cable. As mentioned in a previous post, the driver’s side cable adjustment was screwed down all the way and the brake was barely grabbing back there. I had the new cable on hand, so let’s dig in.

I peeled back the new rubber cover I had put on earlier and removed the double nuts.

Then I got the rear wheel up in the air and removed the cable mounting plate from the back side of the brake assembly.

It took a lot of finagling the cable ends and moving back and forth between the driver’s seat and the rear wheel, but eventually, I was able to get the old cable out. It was covered in thick, black axle grease, so that’s good.

Once I got the new cable slathered up with axle grease and fed back through to the front, it took a lot of wrangling to actually get it pulled up through from the tunnel. By the time I snapped the next picture, I had removed both front seats and the parking brake handle assembly. That made it a lot easier to get into place.

Time for a break. BEER ME.

OK, back at it.

The new cable I bought already had a crack in the black plastic sleeve. The parts aftermarket manufacturers and sellers should seriously be ashamed of themselves. I have never consistently bought so much garbage in my life.

After getting the wheel mounted and brake adjusted, I was then able to get the cable adjusted. I want to not be able to turn the wheel by hand with the parking brake handle about 3/4 of the way up. The cables will eventually stretch and brake shoes wear, so it’s good to have some room left to adjust the cable tighter as needed.

And now the rubber cover is back in place and not stretched over a hot spot of that long cable end.

Brakes again.

I previously fixed the passenger side rear brake and got it adjusted. Now it’s time for me to check the driver side.

One could wonder why the parking brake wasn’t working… I found when clipping the end of the cable back in place, there was a lot of slop and I could imagine in normal use, it could work its way off. When I was recently reviewing old posts here, I noticed when I first looked at the parking brake cables, the driver side cable was tightened down as far as it would go. Maybe this is why.

So, I clipped it back together and re-adjusted the brakes. Tightening that cable all the way back down and applying the parking brake would almost stop the wheel from turning (by hand).

Note to self: The driver side cable is the one that needs to be replaced. Now I know it is just stretched, not broken.

Then I took the passenger side wheel off again and re-adjusted the brakes.

I then tightened the passenger side cable to where I couldn’t turn the wheel by hand with the parking brake lever about 3/4 of the way up. The rear passenger side wheel is now rock solid when the parking brake is on.

I remembered that I had purchased a new dust boot cover for the parking brake assembly. Now that the parking brake is working again, this is the perfect time to install the new boot.

It’s a big stretch and not a comfortable fit. With the heater vent levers pulled through, there was just no flex or stretch to be had.

Let’s move into the back seat for better leverage.

From there, I was finally able to stretch the boot into place.

I had to put in some effort to get the carpet stretched back enough to allow all that excess rubber to be hidden below.

But, I eventually got it. You can see in the pic above, that extra long parking brake cable trying to push through the top of the dust boot.

Now, I can run, stop, and check my mail at the top of the driveway when I get home. The parking brake is essential in the mountains.

This was a much needed win.

Brakes Again?

I decided this would be a good time to replace that broken parking brake cable, since the interior is already torn apart.

I got the rear end up in the air and removed the wheel. Flaked off some more undercoating and gave it a quick shot of paint.

I couldn’t get the brake drum off and realized I was going to have to adjust the shoes in. My hands were getting wet with brake fluid as I was feeling around on the back side of the drum to remove the parking brake cable, . Poking my head around to take a look, I saw that it was super cruddy back there. I just rebuilt this brake a couple hundred miles ago!

Let’s not rush into this…

OK, back at it! I had to adjust the brakes in quite a bit to get the drum off. There is a good sized lip around the outside edge. The little T-shaped push pin thing that connects to the spring and cap was gone.

Who even knew that was possible.

I’m all out of brake parts cleaner spray and don’t feel like heading back out to the store today, so I grabbed a new T shaped pin from the front brakes hardware kit I have waiting, wiped everything down, and put it all back together.

Getting that brake shoe locked back in place should fix the parking brake problem. Turns out it wasn’t the cable after all.

More Junk…

I was able to get the brake torn back apart and replaced the wheel cylinder again.

That’s the remnants of the bleeder screw in the bottom.

I bled the brakes all around and then adjusted them. It now has a great pedal, about 2/3 of a pedal, which is as good as it has ever been. It still doesn’t actually stop very well, but there is enough pedal to stand on if need be. It used to just clack against the floor board.

After adjusting the shoes at each wheel, I decided to check on the parking brake situation. Obviously, it wasn’t working too well. The wheel was turning when I was torquing on that rear axle nut with the parking brake on (and car in gear and wheel chocked).

I peeled back the tatty dust cover on the e-brake handle to get to the cable adjusters.

The one on the right was tightened down about half way, but with a broken screw head. The one on the left was tightened all the way down and the cable was slack.

So apparently, the parking brake hasn’t been applying on the driver’s side. That mystery is solved. And another TO DO item added to the list.

In an attempt to clean out my kitchen, which has turned into a tool shed and car parts storage, I bought a garden cart (Amazon link) to help shuttle my gear up and around from the basement.

That load would have normally taken five trips carrying everything by hand.

The End of the Rear Brake Saga Begins

Foreshadowing in the title, there…

Now that the rear brake had been gushing fluid for nearly a month, inside of that brake drum was a mess. I didn’t snap a picture before hosing it down with brake cleaner. It was awful in there. A thick black, sludgy, fuzzy (?) mess. This pic is after a can of brake clean.

That’s a little more apparent on the back of this brake shoe.

I fought with that spring clip for a long time, which is probably why I took a picture of it. Take a break from swearing at it. Eventually, I got it off.

Everything went back together with the new hardware without any further issues. This was after work one evening and I only had an hour or so of daylight left to work with.

As I was buttoning everything up, checking that everything on the new wheel cylinder was tight…

The bleeder screw broke off in the cylinder. It probably cracked when tightening it, but it actually fell off while I was tightening the hard line below it. I whacked it with the wrench a couple of times and it fell apart.

I considered trying to use an easy out bolt extractor, but it would be $15 to buy one of those to try or $20 to replace the wheel cylinder (again).

So, off to O’Reilly I went. Luckily (and surprisingly) it’s a part they keep in stock (O’Reilly link).

Breaking Breaker Bars Part 2

Back at it again! This time, with a 36″ cheater pipe.

Also, I anchored the car a little better to keep it from roll starting on me.

A few more rounds of heating and torquing, then the inevitable happened.

It was apparently too much to ask of Mr. Goodwrench. R.I.P.

I never did get that axle nut off, but luckily a friend was able to. With a proper garage full of proper tools and being a proper man, Dave was able to torch it up to red hot, then torque it back and forth with his 1000 ft lb air impact. We tried it with the impact before the torch and it wouldn’t budge in either direction.

FINALLY, I will be able to get that brake rebuilt.

Breaking Breaker Bars

Back to that driver’s side rear wheel, I made a couple more attempts at getting the axle nut loose. For a start, I bought a Bernzomatic MAP gas hand torch kit (Amazon link)…

I heated the axle nut until it was smoking, then jumped up and down on it with my old faithful 17″ long Goodwrench 1/2″ drive breaker bar with an 18″ cheater pipe.

Broken breaker bar… OK, fine. I went to Harbor Freight and bought the biggest 1/2″ drive breaker bar they had, a 25″ Icon brand (Harbor Freight link).

That comfort grip TPR handle wasn’t very comfortable. Also, it was too large to fit inside the cheater pipe. That would have left me at 25″ instead of the 35″ I had with the cheater pipe.

So, looking at the business end of each breaker bar, they both had a similar allen key bolt holding the drive in. Swapped those out and was back in business with my old Goodwrench breaker bar and cheater pipe.

But, still no luck. Several cycles of heating and torquing later, the axle nut was still frozen solid.

With the car in gear, the parking brake on, and a jack stand jammed up under the front of the wheel, I still managed to dig a rut by spinning the wheel…

It was also now sitting on top of that jack stand wheel chock, so I had to put it in neutral, release the parking brake, and push the car back a few inches to be able to get the jack stand out.

Giving up for the day (again).

More Brake Business

After a successful second master cylinder replacement, I went back out a couple of weeks later to adjust the brake shoes and found that both rear wheel cylinders were blown. Brake fluid all over the place in the rear. I ordered new wheel cylinders for the front (Amazon link) and rear (Amazon link), figuring the fronts would blow after replacing the rears – pressure finding the next weakest point in the pipeline.

Once I had the parts in hand, while having my morning coffee at the start of installation day, I figured I may as well replace the shoes and hardware while I was in there. Shopping around online, I found that O’Reilly had the parts in stock. Went and picked everything up and was ready to go.

I started at the passenger rear, just like when bleeding the brakes. I was worried about the axle nut, a 32mm castle nut. I didn’t have that big of a socket, so I picked on of those up as well.

Everything came apart without issue and was surprisingly easy. I was expecting a more complicated setup, but not so much.

That picture was taken after blowing half a can of Brake Kleen and wiping everything down. The shoes were about half-life.

One of the washers on the back side crumbled. Replaced it with the closest I could find laying around in my somewhat organized hardware pile.

New shoes and old shoes side by side. The old hand cleaner can is a good brake fluid catcher. It’s also a good oil pan for changing the lawn mower oil.

New parts waiting to go.

As I was reassembling, there were some snags, like one of the pre-drilled holes in the shoe not being big enough for the pin.

I also had to mix and match some of the old and new parts. The new springs were significantly taller than the old springs. I couldn’t get them compressed far enough, so reused the old springs. It was still a very tight fit.

I put the drum back on, took it off, adjusted the shoes, repeated that process ten times or so, getting a nice, snug fit.

Got that wheel back together, but when I went around to do the passenger side rear wheel, the axle nut was not budging. I decided to go ahead and bleed that rear passenger side, but my manual brake bleeder vacuum gun promptly blew out and started squirting brake fluid in my face.

I was able to finish bleeding it with minimal brake fluid ingested.

AutoZone was the only place in town that had one of those manual brake bleeder vacuum guns in stock, so I headed over there. Saw this sweet 1964 Galaxie 500 in the parking lot.