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What's the proper way to adjust rear drums? (long story)


Old 12-19-2000, 01:48 AM
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Location: El Paso, TX USA
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Question What's the proper way to adjust rear drums? (long story)

A few months ago I replaced the brakes on my 97 f150 4X4. The rears got new drums and shoes and the front-new pads and turned rotors. Here is my problem. I adjusted the rear brakes which I thought was a little on the tight side then. Months later my trucks brake pedal started to pulsate while braking so I inspected the brakes. I found the rear shoes were not even contacting the drums which led to all my braking being done by the front hence my warped rotors. So then what is the proper way to adjust the rear drums. I did notice upon inspection that the tab that ratchets the adjsutment wheel had no tension what so ever. Could this be a problem. I need to re-do the front brakes but am holding off until i get the rear adjusted properly. What is the correct method and how can i tell if all is funtioning properly on my drum brakes? Thanks in advance to any help.
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Old 12-19-2000, 10:49 AM
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Posts: 996

According to my manual, the rear brakes are adjusted when you use the parking brake.
If you are not a regular user, do so a few times and see if that helps the rear shoes make contact.

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Old 12-23-2000, 01:10 AM
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Location: Kalamazoo, MI USA
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Could you have mixed the left adjuster with the right adjuster (which would de-adjust instead of tighten)?

Got any pix?
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Old 01-01-2001, 05:03 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: conroe,Tx , usa
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Sorry I didn't see your post sooner, I think your problem could be the same one I had. Purchase two new brake adjustment cables for the rear drums. They feel tight when the brake job is done and closed up, but the minute you hit the street they stretch back.
I spent about 25 bucks having my mechanic replace them.
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Old 01-02-2001, 03:26 PM
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Location: Abilene, TX USA
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I am having the same problem. I tried the emergency brake to perform the adjustment but to no avail. I did find it interesting that the emergency brake will hold the back wheels when applied. Have you remedied your problem yet?

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Old 01-06-2001, 09:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: fayetteville, n.c.
Posts: 11

adjusting with the parking brake never works, the best way to do it is jack up that side remove tire. then adjust with screw driver. keep tightening untill u can feel noticeable friction on drum when u spin it. at least that the way all the old timers did it before everyone forgot how
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Old 01-17-2001, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Fort Worth
Posts: 20
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Two very simple solutions. First get rid of the cheap pistons in the front calipers. Most breaks centers will blow the 4 out and replace them with high temp metal pistons for little money. This will prevent heat up of the front breaks. Bendix or Hawk pads and drilled rotors on the front will help if you brake hard from high speed regularly. Second go to the ford dealer and buy 2 new spring loaded cables for the rear drum. This cable keeps tension on the adjustment screw. To adjust these out, simply raise the wheel off the ground an inch with the parking break OFF. You will see a small oval rubber plug on the lower/back drum assy. There is no need to take off the wheel. Buy a $3.99 drum adjustment tool at any auto store. Stick that puppy straight in and give it two clicks by pushing UP. Spin the back tire and repeat until you get a slight drag. Repeat on the other side.. This will solve all you F150 braking needs.
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Old 01-17-2001, 08:38 PM
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I've got a couple of tips....

If you pull the drum off and look at Ford rear drums, and watch the geometry when you apply the brakes, here's what you'll find.

When you step on the pedal, the cylinder pushes out the plungers, which, in turn push out on the shoes. Now, assuming the arc of the shoe matches the arc of the drum, and you have full contact, when you release the brakes, the shoes will slide evenly away from the drum. Now, as the shoes move in and out, the piece of the shoe that the cable is wrapped around going to the adjusting lever pulls the cable a little bit. Now, as the shoe wears over time, the shoes move out a little bit farther, pulling the cable a little bit farther. When the shoes finally pull the cable far enough to pull the lever up far enough, the lever catches the next notch on the adjusting screw and adjusts it out one notch. That's what makes drum brakes self-adjusting. I always used a bit of anti-sieze (just a BIT) to keep them moving free on my Ranger, and never had a problem in 134,000 miles. (Replaced them once around 55k because they came with the spring kit. Nothing was wrong with the original ones) Contrart yo popular belief, on most rear drums, using the e-brake doesn't help adjust them. Braking in reverse sometimes does (depending on the design) because it causes the brakes to shift around the other way, and depending on the design, might pull on the adjusting lever cable a little bit farther. Either way, if the adjusting screw is siezed, it's not going to work.
Sorry for the length....

Now, as for the initial adjustment, just like they said above... I would run the adjuster in until the brake drum would slide over the shoes, and then adjust the wheel out through the hole in the backing plate just far enough that there was just a slight bit of drag, and then back them off about 1/4 turn. Always seemed to work just fine.
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Old 02-06-2001, 12:28 AM
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i love brakes
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Old 02-12-2001, 01:30 AM
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I'm not sure what the cables on the rear brakes are called,but every time my brakes feel weak,I pull the drums off and one side or the others cable has snapped in the middle. Give it a look,it may be your trouble,,,,98

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WOW,what a cool site!

Had to take the picture out,it was way too out of date,,,,98
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