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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As stated, I went to adjust the rear brakes to try and get the emergency brake to work better. Well wouldn't ya know a nice easy half hour/hour task turned iunto about three hrs....

The holes/slots in the brake backing plates were never punched out to get a brake adjusting tool in there...WTH!?!?!

I tried punching them out with a flat blade screw driver and hammer, nope, no luck. I ended up taking off the tires, and disassembling the brakes to drill then cut and pry out the tabs to open up the slots...what a PIA for something that should've taken a few minutes. I remember just punching them out in the day, as you can see in the pic, they look like they're ready to get punched out, but nope...

The traction bars didn't make it any easier either.

In the pics you can see where I got the tabs out, and the tab next to it "looks" like it could be just punched out....NOT...

Sooo, that leads me to believe, how in the heck were the rear brakes adjusted previously??? I know it's probably not a stock rear end, that's the trouble of not knowing who built the car and the history...I take it as it goes...

Anyway, mission accomplished and now I can adjust the brakes.....three hrs later.. :rolleyes:

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
True, they're "supposed" to be self adjusting. The drums came off fairly easy, probably because there was no lip on them.. The brake shoes looked good also..

Oh well, at least now I can adjust them....
 

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The park brake is adjusted at the cable equalizer on the driver's side rear of the floor pan at least through gen 3. The rear brakes themselves only require an initial adjustment when serviced and this is done by hand at the adjuster star wheel. You then do the forward and reverse hit the brakes routine for final adjustment.

Regarding why the holes were not punched out, there is variation in this, but the drums are supposed to have the access hole in them. Not sure if all of them did. And who knows with replacements after all these years.

Tech notes pop-up in the early '70s service manuals about punching out the metal "tab" on the drums or backing plates if adjustment needs to be made on heavily worn brakes.
 

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The self-adjusters do work if they are in good shape. Not a tough Saturday project to remove the wheel and the drum, then remove the self-adjuster assembly. I only do one at a time because different sides have reverse threads, I believe. Take them apart and do a thorough wire brush on the threads and clean all the parts well. A little graphite spray on the threads before reassembly, and if the springs are in good shape, they should self-adjust. Sometimes, when the backing plates are VERY worn where the side of the brake shoes contact the plates, there will be a divot, and that will prevent free movement of the shoes when you try to use the self-adjuster part. Those can be welded and ground down for the remedy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the tips folks.

After all that, the e brake still doesn't engage. It was to late to try and adjust the cable, however I suspect the cable is stretched to much. There's still some adjustment left, but eventually it will need replacing...oh to just have a lift at home....

I've been looking at one of those home owner type garage lifts that you see advertised on TV during the car fix shows on the History channel,,,Anyone have one of those...any good??? The ones that are flat and you can slide them under the rocker panels or what not...

I was a NAPA today, I forgot the little rubber plugs...maybe next trip..I've become a "regular" at our local NAPA store....
 

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I purchased the quick jack last year and love it. It has two lift settings, the higher is 22in off the ground.
Need to be very careful to make sure you have it under the frame right. Ask me how I know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks krash,

My garage is "slightly" packed now with rearranging a room in the house. If I ever got that lift I was planning on just storing it under the car if possible...I have no wall space left..

Maybe one of these days..
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The self-adjusters do work if they are in good shape. Not a tough Saturday project to remove the wheel and the drum, then remove the self-adjuster assembly. I only do one at a time because different sides have reverse threads, I believe. Take them apart and do a thorough wire brush on the threads and clean all the parts well. A little graphite spray on the threads before reassembly, and if the springs are in good shape, they should self-adjust. Sometimes, when the backing plates are VERY worn where the side of the brake shoes contact the plates, there will be a divot, and that will prevent free movement of the shoes when you try to use the self-adjuster part. Those can be welded and ground down for the remedy.
Haa, yeah, I learned the hard way before cell phones and pic capability not to take brake assembly stuff apart at the same time...
All the parts funstioned properly, the adjusters were fine...albiet some surface rust on them..I used white lithium grease on them..(adjusters)
this time I did it one side at a time and took a pic before disassembly....good thing I did...It's been about 35 yrs since I've done rear brakes...with shoes anyway. Disc brakes with pads...no brainer...mostly..

The brakes do feel better, so I am assuming the adjusters are working properly..
 

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Replacing the park brake cables is a pain, but doable for those of use working on the ground. All the parts are available. I think I have one or two NORS cable replacement sets left for 3rd gens.

If you do not have the factory service manual for the car, I would pick that up. You can find good deals on eBay if you are patient. I prefer original GM ones, but most the of reprints are fine. The brake section will cover all the adjustment procedures and give tips that have been lost to time. Like the drums are supposed to go back on a certain way or adjust the park brake with it engaged two clicks from "free".
 

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I have a 72, 10 bolt, 9.5" drum. I rebuilt my brakes while working on the diff. My back plates did not have holes or scores to knock out. Also it does not look feasible to make your own hole after looking at it. My understanding is to bring the star out to where you can barely get the drum on without busting up the edges of the shoe. That will give you enough resistance when you go in reverse and forward a couple times for the self adjusters to do there thing and they do.

For the back plates with holes is you can slack off the star to pull drums off when doing a brake job as they can still be a little tight. When putting them back on you don't have to worry about all that business with getting the brake snug, just put the drum on. The you use the star through the hole to snug it up for the initial resistance. Self adjusters will do the rest even under normal driving conditions as your brakes slowly wear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
you can simply use a brake adjustment tool similar to the one found here: Buy Brake & Wheel Tools

measure the drum, set your shoes according to the tool's measurement, done.

-Rusty
I have brake adj tools. I actually have tools from my dads tool box from his garage he had (Sunoco Service Station) from the 60-70's...They're still of use today. I have a lot of "old school tools" in that tool box...It brings back many memories of me working in his garage and using those same tools yrs ago. The station folded during the gas crisis in the 70's...There's now a Sunoco "quicky mart" in the same location....
 

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You definitely want to get those rubber plugs and install them. YMany years ago while attending Aircraft school I had a car with drum brakes and did not bother to replace the rubber plugs that had dry rotted. Over time road grime got into the drums and cut up the drum surface till they looked like groves on a 45 RPM record. Needless to say resurfacing the drums found the groves were too deep and I had to replace all 4 drums.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
pickateer, yup, I went and got a kit from autozone and it had two plugs in it. They'll be in this weekend...

he brakes do work better I may add...emergency brake cable needs to be replaced I think, still not enough to get it to grab good enough..
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, been awhile on this thread.

The car has a slight pull to the left when applying brakes. I believe it's the rear wheel brakes that need adjustment. It doesn't feel like the front brakes by it pulling the steering wheel..

But, my question.. Does it matter which direction the star adjusters on drum brakes are installed?? I didn't check thread direction when I pulled them off and put them back on...duuhhh...

I think I out them on with the smaller removeable adjuster end forward....or like I asked...does it matter??

thanks
 

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Yes it does matter. The adjusters for the left and right side are not the same. The threads are reversed on one side, which is why the "experts" say to do one side at a time. The star wheel should line up with the hole so you can turn it with a screwdriver through the hole.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Thanks AZ71... I adjusted and it's better now...

Yesterday I also replaced the e-brake assy and the front e brake cable...oh what fun that was...NOT.. I had to dremmel the little tabs at the top of the front e brake cable off to get it out of the mounting hole... I tried all the tricks, socket over the tabs, hose clamp, etc, etc.. Nope, had to dremmel the tabs off...but hey..it worked..
So now, I have a working e brake. Oh, and the new e brake assy pedal has the fancy chrome trim ring around the pedal... Nice..that's good for at least 5 more HP.. :LOL:

I have the two rear cables that go to the wheels, I'll replace them the next time I mess with the brakes... So now the front and center e brake cables are new, along with the e brake foot assy.

Luckily these cables were a direct fit. I read on another post that Jim had some input on that he had to mess with a spring and such. I guess I got lucky and everything was fine.. (y)
 
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