Just worked on drum brakes for the first time...

Messages
8,976
Location
Illinois
With the help of my next door neighbor, and the local NAPA store, which had the wheel cylinder on the shelf... I just tackled a repair on drum brakes for the first time. This happened to be on the '52 Chevy DeLuxe.

The brake fluid reservoir went dry, so I started looking for signs as to where it had gone. I found what I needed to see on the inside of the front passenger tire. Had what appeared to be a wheel cylinder leaking.

Tore it all down to the cylinder, and carefully lifted the boot on the end of the cylinder that looked wet with a screwdriver... and yep... brake fluid pours out from under the boot.

The local NAPA store had a wheel cylinder on the shelf and ready for pickup in 30 minutes, for what I thought was a completely reasonable $20.49.

Was it as cheap as RockAuto? No. But I had the wheel cylinder in my hand in 30 minutes. But NAPA was actually cheaper than a Raybestos wheel cylinder through Amazon ($21.52).

My neighbor walked me through all of the steps, but made me do all of the work. While I was working, he went through his toolbox and gave me duplicates that he happened to have, of all of the special tools that I used today... along with the tool to adjust the pads as they wear. So now I'm all set up for the next time.
IMG_20200827_135636721.jpg

I've done all sorts of work on disc brakes in the past... but never on drums.
 
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Messages
4,739
Location
Ohio
First car I owned had rear drum brakes. No car I've owned since that one has had drum brakes and I haven't the first clue how to change them. I don't expect to ever learn how either.... 🤪
 
Messages
25,572
Location
Upstate NY
Remember many vehicles with disc brakes still have drum brakes for the parking brake. So your knowledge of drum brakes will come in handy.
 
Messages
5,386
Location
NJ
I've never worked on drum brakes. Tried once on my old Sable but couldn't even them apart to get started.
 
Messages
12,687
Location
North Carolina
Have not had to do any since i got rid of my olds ciera. My son still has a saturn. Every time i do a set i think, i won't do a set next time but i do. His car is probably close to needing them, so i think i'll end up doing another drum job!
 
Messages
10,302
Location
MA
I've never worked on drum brakes. Tried once on my old Sable but couldn't even them apart to get started.
Typically there's a ring of rust around the drum so even if you loosen the shoes all the way, you won't be able to get the drum off. When I had a shop do them, the first thing they did was use an air chisel to cut the drums up to get them off. They didn't even bother to try and get them out the regular way.
 
Messages
67
Location
Southwest
Hopefully the backing plates where the shoe rides don't have a worn in grove after 68 years. Usually you weld up the grove and grind it smooth again for another 68 years.
 
Messages
4,985
Location
Pittsburgh,PA U.S.A.
I remember back in 1974 I was driving my dads 1970 Chevy full size stationwagon going about 30 MPH when a shoe on the right front came loose. It instantly froze the wheel. The weight of the car shifted somewhat towards the front as the front end came down in height a little and the car very suddenly stopped. I was pressing the gas peddle a little (not even touching the brake) when it happened, and the car stopped so fast that I though the only way it could of stopped that fast is if I had hit a brick wall, but I would of seen a brick wall if there had been one in front of me. I was wondering what the heck had happened. I got out and looked and there was nothing in front of the car. I got back in and put it in reverse and could hear the shoe making noise in the drum. I had worked on cars and from where the sound was coming from I knew what it was. Put it back in forward and it did not lock up. I slowly drove it home and got it fixed.

It is amazing how fast a single locked up front tire can stop a car. Shoes do not often come loose from the metal back plate, but it can happen.
 
Messages
314
Location
USA
As I have aged I have started to hate Drum brakes.

I hate 'em too. Wrestling with brake springs and adjusters is not my arthritic hands' idea of a good time. I recently finished rebuilding the front drum brakes on one of my older vehicles with all-new shoes, springs, adjusters, wheel cylinders, and hoses. What a PITA job, and I have all the old-school American-made brake tools to do it. Probably should have converted to front discs.
 
Messages
10,169
Location
Birmingham, AL
As I have aged I have started to hate Drum brakes.
I first learned to work on them in highschool auto mechanics and hated them right off the bat. The sliding of aggravating, uncooperative springs onto the pegs/attachment points, then all the adjuster stuff coming loose, etc is just a pain in the ass. I don't know why people didn't figure out disc brakes first, they make so much more sense.
 
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