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Old 02-08-2018, 08:23 PM   #1
jp2code
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Default Rear Brake Drums acting Funny

1st: Not my vehicle.

2nd: The emergency brake does not hold.

3rd: We need to get the vehicle inspected.

On the rear brakes, I took the drum off and twist the adjusting screw by hand, put the brake drum back on, and the rear brakes are pretty tight.

We applied the emergency brake, and the vehicle held.

We used the brake's "auto adjusting" feature next to get it set right. We put the vehicle in reverse, go a few feet and activate the emergency brake. We heard clicks from the brake drum area, so we figured it must be working.

But, the emergency brake wasn't holding the vehicle as well as it was before.

Again, we put the vehicle in reverse, backed up a few feet, and mashed the brake. Again we heard clicks. Now the vehicle rolls a little while the emergency brake is applied.

The vehicle owner continues trying to get the brakes to adjust until the emergency brake does not hold at all.

The adjuster seems to be working, but it seems to be making the brakes loose and not tight.

Does anyone know what is going on?

It's like the activator lever on the rear brakes is turning the adjuster the wrong direction, but I'm reluctant to pull the shoes off just to see.

Which of the adjuster parts in the diagram could be on backwards?

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Old 02-08-2018, 08:43 PM   #2
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you dont adjust drums with the drum off, nor using the hand brake (normally)

you go zipping in reverse and mash the brake pedal. the sound you hear clicking is the adjuster lever arm smacking the starwheel adjusted. after 4-5 reverse-stops you should feel tighter brakes. if not, sometimes there is a little access panel on the backing plate of the drum that you remove and then put a screwdriver in to adjust the star wheel. Actually, its not a repeated clicking. its a clang. one clang. cause whats happening is the shoes move, deform a little and the adjuster lever moves with the deformation and slaps the starwheel. thus one clang. not click click click. if you hear that, its the shoes catching, dragging and releasing.

you wanna do the manual adjustment with the drums on, if they are used. they can wear slightly causing a conical or stepped surface on the drums. This will prevent you from being able to get the shoes into adjustment and slip the drum over the shoes.

The only part that COULD go in backwards would be the start wheel adjuster. However, the giveaway is that little arm that hits the whee to move it. That will tell you the proper orientation, unless somehow the entire system is backwards
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Old 02-08-2018, 08:59 PM   #3
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Brakes are new, recently replaced by someone else while doing the brake cylinders.

OK, so if the rear brakes were fairly snug, why are they getting loose instead of tighter whenever the brakes are applied?

I know nothing about rear brakes. The little arm does hit the wheel.

I'll look for the access panel this evening. Right now, though, even if I get the brakes tight again, they are going to loosen themselves as soon as the brakes are applied.

How would that happen?

If I search for symptoms, what would I call this?
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:06 PM   #4
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Double post. Sorry about that.
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:07 PM   #5
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I would check that the parking brake cable is in place properly and moving back and forth without resistance. It's possible it wasn't installed correctly if they unhooked it to replace the shoes. The parking brake is 100% mechanical and shouldn't have anything to do with the wheel cylinders. Do the regular brakes seem to work normally? Also, what kind of vehicle is it?
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:18 PM   #6
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I took the brake shoes off, turned the adjuster, and put the brake shoes back on.

(street_rulerr says I can do that by just going through some "adjuster window", but I didn't know about that - I'm just stating what I did.)

At that point, we could set the emergency brake and the wheel would NOT turn.

We took the vehicle for a little test ride, and attempted to further "set" the emergency brake by applying the brakes while going backwards.

The act of applying the brakes made the brakes get loose.

So, I can get the brakes tight, but they will not stay that way.

Brake drums all seem to be made very similar to one another, so this has to be something that someone has encountered before.
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:30 PM   #7
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There should be a little window in the rear of the backing plate. Usually there's a little rubber plug to keep the road dust out. I would probably end up removing the drums and have a friend apply the parking brake while watching to see what happens. To me and least it sounds like the adjuster isn't the problem but something isn't holding. I'd also get a ahold of a diagram for the vehicle's rear brake setup and make sure all the return springs are installed in the correct locations. Sorry, that's all I got.

Last edited by SBJ; 02-08-2018 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:36 PM   #8
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MOST of the time theres a little ruber grommet you remove on the drum backing plate to get at the adjuster....MOST of the time.

take off the drum, look at the adjuster. look at the arm that hits the star wheel. look at the star wheel. when the adjuster arm hits the starwheel from above, would that move the star wheel or slide off? the teeth are sloped so it is only adjustable one direction.

once youve established which lever arm direction will move the starwheel, does that direction expand or collapse the starwheel adjuster?

the only other thing that could be happening is that the shoes are so out alignment that they are not biting the drum. basically it looks like the shoes and the drum make a vendiagram rather than two (more or less) concentric circles.


what method are you using to determine that the brakes are loose? is the stopping power reduced? reduced heat in the drums? parking brake?

the parking brake adjustment and how the brakes bite when using the pedal are unrelated.
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Old 02-09-2018, 12:35 AM   #9
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> what method are you using to determine
> that the brakes are loose? is the stopping
> power reduced? reduced heat in the drums?
> parking brake?

Well, the drum slid off with no resistance from the brake pads. They were that loose.

After I snugged them up, I could still spin the wheel around on the axle, but it would only make 1 or 2 revolutions before friction stopped it.

Applying the parking brake stopped the wheel immediately, and I was not able to manually turn it.

The little adjuster arm, from what I remember from last night, almost looks like it would fit flush against the gears on the adjusting rod.

I wasn't able to get that adjuster to move. I figured it was in a bind or something with all the springs in there. The only tool I had for the springs was a screwdriver, and I wasn't willing to pull those off without knowing how to get it all back together.

Luckily, this woman is too busy tonight to come back for another round ...or at least she hasn't called me yet.
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Old 02-09-2018, 02:03 AM   #10
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i never use the little window to adjust the rear shoes. i remove the drum. why? it doesnt take that much more time, and it is also a chance to see everything. there could be a broken retainer spring or a leaking wheel cylinder. and i also clean the rear brakes and backing plate with brake cleaner every time as well.

i know what the manual says to do, but i say that is a quick fix and not a proper preventative cleaning and inspection.
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