DRUM Brake Overhaul - Now, for something totally different...

oldbee

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I bet Wife's right leg is stronger than the left after all of that! :rolleyes:

You have a good woman there that gets involved and is not afraid to get dirty. And actually understands what's going on! Rare find for sure :)
Kid- she's the smart one. She wasn't laying on that hard floor!
 

moparedtn

Ed on the Ridge
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Brief update on the brakes as of today:
We've had Fred out a handful of times with the new brakes and the news continues to be good. :)
The pedal remains satisfyingly firm and where it should be in travel; the response is very
predictable and as the Porterfield shoes break in, the "bite" continues to get better and better.

At this point, I wouldn't call their street compound shoes "neck-snapping", but they are very
similar to the original asbestos+metallic high performance shoes we could buy way back when.
I imagine they'd work even better with all new drums, but these used ones are working just fine
and the adjuster upgrade to the newer model type is working well, too.

For what they are (manual drum brakes), I'd say this has turned out pretty much as well as I'd
hoped. I'm very satisfied with the results - but I'll chime back in should something go amiss in
the future. :thumbsup:
 

moparedtn

Ed on the Ridge
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Sounds like a win win!
Happy for you. Thanks for letting us watch you get it done and for all the information. :thumbsup::drinks:
You're very kind, sir. It was (and is) my pleasure. :)
Now - what do I do with all the other cool unused parts?
(Tosses 'em all in the pile...)
 

moparedtn

Ed on the Ridge
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Save them... You may need them on the your next car! :thumbsup::steering:
Well, turns out you're quite prophetic - but not for the next car, turns out:

(The usual "Ed story" caveat applies here - I write these posts primarily as a cathartic exercise, not to gather
knuckle-dragging trolls and the other various and sundry derogatory comments some feel compelled to offer.
If anyone earnestly garners anything positive out of reading these, that's great!
If not hey, I'm just writing it down as a sort of journal anyways, so that's ok too.)


UPDATE 8/16/21
What with all the fun recently with the messed up hub on the drivers' side of Fred, that issue was actually
discovered while I was looking for a problem elsewhere in the braking system.
While the new brakes worked fine at first, a problem soon developed with a couple dozen miles or so...
namely, the car started pulling hard left (emanating from the front left, specifically) once the brakes got
some heat in them after a few stops.

Obviously, that's not an acceptable condition anytime - but REALLY not acceptable in times of unexpected,
urgent braking for sure - so it was time to dig back in and try to figure out what the problem was.
Something had been eating at me in the back of my mind ever since I had "finished" the original job -
and it was now manifesting itself in reality, whatever it was.

Initial inspection of the new internals of the front left drum revealed little. No leaks; everything was where
it was supposed to be and there wasn't any tell-tale wear indicators or such to lend clues, either.
I got the new hub installed with all new everything stuffed in it (big thanks again to @Chi Town Runner
Frank!) and backed off the adjustment on the shoes to try and match the other side better.
Next trip to town revealed that although I had corrected a serious issue with the hub - the braking issues
remained, albeit a bit less severely.
Ok, time to dig in yet again...

Logically, the only remaining items not addressed on the front end brakes were the drums (used but quite
serviceable, least for now) and the wheel cylinders + hoses.
Although both had been replaced at some time in the cars' past prior to my taking stewardship and both
had not shown any issues/leaks AND both sides bled normally, I decided they had to go anyways.
After all - what else was left?
There sat the new, USA-made ones on my workbench, having been carefully sought out and procured for
just this situation. All right....it was time to finish this.

After yet another positive, supportive phone chat with John @khryslerkid that answered the questions
about the job (filling in blanks in my old memory of having done the job in the past), I went after the
wheel cylinders and hoses, both front sides, yesterday - in the midst of our hottest, stickiest part of
summer (garage has no a/c).

As it turned out, the job went about as uneventfully as you could hope for. The 50+ year old components
didn't put up any unreasonable resistance and even the evident cobbling the previous owner had done
however many years ago (vice grips - all I'm saying) weren't stumbling blocks.
(Keep in mind, I was doing all this sitting on the concrete floor indian-style, basically wallering around in
that mixture of brake fluid, brake shoe dust, my own pig sweat and anything else that wandered by -
and it was sweatynastyHOT....and no parts store backup was available for boo-boos.)


First order of business was seeing if the hard lines would back out of the old hoses at the frame rail
connection point without a fuss. Turned out, they did - although they had been BURIED by the P.O.
via use of the aforementioned vice grips (tooth marks still evident, ruining the hex head of the fitting
in the process).
Well, shit...
Oh well, I own a pair of those also, heck with it - and sure enough, it worked fine. :)
As I disconnected each, I popped a vacuum fitting rubber booty over it to prevent it leaking
constantly and draining the master cylinder. Worked great!

Once I saw that connection was going to be fine, I committed to the teardown of all the brake shoe
hardware and such and the job took off in earnest, beginning with what I thought was the "good"
right side, front... except once I had the old wheel cylinder in hand and had popped off the boots,
I felt rightly the fool - it was very apparent the wheel cylinders were NOT "good" at all!
Leaking like crazy, lots of corrosion mixed in the dirty old fluid, all hiding behind those rubber boots!
Hoses were fine though. No matter, both were gone in short order....

YES, the little bolts holding the wheel cylinders on to the backing plate DO suck to get at for anyone
with adult-sized fingers. MAN, do they suck! Didn't matter, I figured it out anyways with my own
sausage-like appendages.
Why dost thou foresake me, Mopar gods?? I think they could have spent a little more engineering
time there...


New wheel cylinders, hoses complete with new copper crush washers, etc. all went in just fine and
the shoes and hardware soon followed suit.
A quick half-assed adjustment of the shoes (done by slapping the drum on and running it down with
a couple lugnuts) and it was time to head to the problem child left (drivers') side to do the same thing...
As I pulled the cylinder off that side and now expectantly pulled the boots loose on it, the evidence
of that particular unit being BAD were even WORSE!
I tell you what, those rubber boots were doing one hell of a job containing all the leaking fluid...
Drivers' side went about the same as the right side had, albeit at a lot slower pace, since both the
heat and all that crawling around on the concrete had been taking their toll on me.

I'll admit it - I was feeling it. A lot. Disappointingly so, but not unexpectedly...dead guy here, remember?


Slapped that side all back together, proud that I remembered the order of everything without pics
or instruction from the FSM this time, adjusted rudimentarily....
Wheels back on, both sides. Car still on the floor jack (under the k-frame) - and yes, backed up by
non-recalled jackstands, both sides.

By then, my wife made her customary "he's been out there a while, best go see if the car's fallen
on him yet" visit to the garage - where she promptly pointed out just how nasty my near-naked
(shorts and shoes, all I had left on at that point) carcass looked.
According to her, I had "old car funk coating", head to toe. I didn't doubt it - but it wasn't exactly
words of encouragement, either.

Perfect timing, of course.
Plunked her ass behind the wheel, it was BLEEDIN' TIME!
For whatever reason, the new Wagner wheel cylinder on the RF had a 1/4" bleeder on it, while
the Raybestos on the LF had a 5/16", both of which proved problematic to get a regular wrench on.
Heck with it, a 1/4 drive screwdriver with socket was employed on each (I didn't want to risk
snapping either of them by ham-handing a ratchet on them; the screwdriver handle drive would
be fine).
Found out in a hurry that you only get about three good whacks at it before you have to refill the
master cylinder, though.....dammit, gotta do it all again, MC sucked air that time....
Another positive is that the entire front braking circuit wound up getting flushed in the process.
Once all that was done (and the wife was getting antsy behind the wheel), I got back down under
there one more time for each side, making adjustments through the slots in the rear of the backing
plates until the brakes just barely dragged.
I had her stomp the pedal each time, then adjusted more - until the stompin' made no difference
to the amount of drag evident afterwards.

It's interesting that up until the adjustments, which were what I'd consider minor for each side
(remember, I had made some preliminary adjustments during assembly earlier), my wife kept noting
that "the pedal feels like crap".
Ah, who wouldn't feel motivated with that sort of encouraging commentary, eh?
I tried coaxing her into providing, you know, USEFUL information whilst sitting on her keyster behind
the wheel - attempting to show her the difference between "spongy" and "low" pedal and such,
so eventually I got what I needed from her.
Once I brought the shoe adjustment up those minor amounts though, she exclaimed "now THAT'S
more like it!"
Amazing how a little adjusting makes such a big difference (which the self-adjusters would have done
eventually anyways, right?).
When she proclaimed the brakes were acceptable, I began the shutdown process while I threw tools
on the bench.

If I'm being honest - having her there, packing snark and all as usual - made all the difference in this
particular job being DONE.
I handed her a Scotchbrite pad and some Gojo and had her scrub me down, front and back, up and
down, before a quick wipedown so I could re-enter the house and take the celebratory shower after.
As much as I've never been one to stay down when whatever was trying to kill me whenever...
bluntly stated, had she not been here - I would not be now, either.


It occurred to me later, after a really good shower, dinner and LOTS of a/c, that I hadn't actually tried
the brake pedal myself at all after all that work - I'd just relied on her report and shut down work.
So...
Feigning taking the dog out for a quick walk, I instead bee-lined for the garage, where I checked out
the work yet again for leaks - then climbed in and stomped the pedal "cold", without pumping it.
A very, VERY satisfyingly firm pedal about 80% up from the floor was the result. :thumbsup:

Of course, once the dog and I re-entered the house, my wife looked up over her
glasses at me and smirked, then asked "so, how do those brakes feel?" :p


All sorts of folks get into this hobby at all levels of expertise, money, and hands-on amounts...
As for me, this shadetree method is all I know (other than youthful jobs in garages decades ago)
- and as much as I admire those who seek perfection and do wonderful jobs documented here on
FBBO - THIS way, this grungy, grubby, hands-on, seat of the pants, penny-pinching way - is why
I am so much enjoying this last time around of bringing an old car back from the brink.

I'm constantly reminded of my own mortality doing so, sure - but DAMN, it's so satisfying.
As has been the goal in everything for me the last decade - I am determined not to leave a mess
for anyone to clean up after I'm gone.
Fred is now one step closer to NOT being just such a "mess".
Now to heal up for the next one...:)
 
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moparedtn

Ed on the Ridge
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Glad to hear it all went well!
Thanks, I appreciate that. :)
Yes, unlike after the first go-round, my mind is somewhat more at ease on the subject now.
I've learned with aging that it's usually wise to listen to that nagging little voice - it's usually right. :thumbsup:
 

66chargerpat

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Thanks for posting the update. I've had similar luck with wheel cylinders in the past. Good thing you had the new ones on hand. let us know how it does on the test drive.
 

oldbee

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AND, didn't I just tell you to stay off the concrete?!!!!
 

moparedtn

Ed on the Ridge
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Thanks for posting the update. I've had similar luck with wheel cylinders in the past. Good thing you had the new ones on hand. let us know how it does on the test drive.
If only I had followed through completely on the original plan and just went ahead and replaced them...
oh well, it wasn't a whole lot more duplicated work to do them later on.
Both the ones that were on the car looked to be originals (they had the part number and all), but it was obvious
they'd been off the car before (bolts didn't fight a lot to loosen, plus the vice grip evidence on the hose connection).
I didn't even bother to keep them - once I saw they were puking behind the boots, straight in the garbage they
went.
 

moparedtn

Ed on the Ridge
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Thanks for posting the update. I've had similar luck with wheel cylinders in the past. Good thing you had the new ones on hand. let us know how it does on the test drive.
Life being as it has been lately (a flurry of medical stuff going on again, sigh...), today was the first actual
opportunity for a road test of the whole she-bang, new wheel cylinders and all.

The wife and I took off to town to run errands - which of course always starts with the leap of faith that
is heading straight down off our ridge (which has, over the years, produced more than one OH SH_T moment,
trust me).

My rather conservative preliminary adjusting of the front shoes when reassembling everything the other day led to
a less than stunning pedal height today, so I ran Fred back and forth across the west field first just in case...
once that didn't scare hell out of me, down the ridge we went. :eek:
Once safely down to almost highway level, things relaxed in the sphincter department and I actually did some
rudimentary back and forth motions to get the self-adjusters to bring the pedal up a bit more - which they did. :thumbsup:

From there, some highway, some city, enough hard braking testing that eventually my wife got pissed about it
and I was satisfied - they ain't great brakes, but they're as good as I ever remember all drums being.
More importantly - no pulling in any direction.:thumbsup:
Short of fetching new (Chinese I guess) drums one day as needed, I think I'm finally done with this part. :)
 

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