Drum brake problem... - Chevelle Tech
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 10:36 PM Thread Starter
 
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Unhappy Drum brake problem...

Found myself losing my brake pedal on my rarely driven '69 chevelle. Things got worse and the front started pulling left (into oncoming traffic!). First thing I found was fluid low in front of master cylinder. Second thing I found was a "wet" end of the left front brake hose. Third thing I found when I pulled off left front tire and drum housing was brake fluid all over shoes and running down inside of tire.

I bit the bullet and changed the left wheel cylinder and hydraulic brake hose. Filled master cylinder, bled passenger front then driver front. Wiped brake shoes with a rag and noticed shoes on drivers side front are worn more than passenger front.

Adjusted front brakes. Backed out and "self-adjusted" a few times. Stopped fine once or twice, but when I got a few miles down the road, Same problem, pulling to the Left! Faster I went, more danger.

Got her home safely, pulled rear tires, drums, cylinders fine.

Do I (Should I) replace the front end brake shoes so left and right are even Steven? Did that fluid in left front drum and shoes ruin the shoes? I even tried adjusting the right front "tighter" to compensate for the left front pull but It still pulls to left (and lock up)...

Sorry for the novel from a novice but any help appreciated!
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 10:45 PM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Once you get any kind of brake fluid on the brake pads you need to replace them, same is true if the rear end leaks gear oil on them. You need to make sure your drum is also clean also before you put it back on with new pads. When the brakes heat up the oils will come to the surface, making it pull left or right. I like my brakes shoes the same on both sides and the drums turned the same diameter.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Thanks alot. How can I clean the drum(s) properly?
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 10:51 PM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

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Originally Posted by mder View Post
Thanks alot. How can I clean the drum(s) properly?
I have used brake cleaner and then used emery cloth to scuff them up to remove the glaze on the drums if I'm not going to have them turned.

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Thanks again Ray. That's quite a website you got there!
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 10:58 PM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

I don't believe there is a self-adjuster on the front drums. Just the rear ones. I may be thinking of the early models though. If you see it in there, I believe you

You can use brake cleaner, acetone, lacquer thinner, purple degreaser, Easy-off, just about anything that rinses clean or doesn't leave an oily residue to clean the drums. If it is just brake fluid, you can rinse it with water.

The pulling to the left makes me think you have a stuck cylinder in the right side. You might try spinning the wheel and hitting the brake with the right wheel in the air. Also, not sure why, but "they" always say to bleed starting with the wheel farther from the master cylinder.

K

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 11:20 PM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mder View Post
Thanks again Ray. That's quite a website you got there!
Thanks, hopefully I will have it back to it's original color and be driving it by next summer.

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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 6th, 07, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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Smile Re: Drum brake problem...

Thanks again for the help.

Soo, If you have a stuck wheel cylinder...but the wheel will spin when off the ground....does that mean when I hit the brake pedal that tire would keep spinning?? I guess that would make sense if the left side grabs and the right side doesn't pulling me into oncoming traffic!

Would I have to rebuild the wheel cylinder if it was stuck?? Is it fairly easy to do??

I noticed my original cylinders have some sort of "packing" under the rubber end caps...like a putty? The new left cylinder I replaced didn't have this.

Chevello, I'll need a little time to read your site.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 07, 12:15 AM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevello View Post
I don't believe there is a self-adjuster on the front drums. Just the rear ones. I may be thinking of the early models though. If you see it in there, I believe you
1969 has self adjuster on the front drums. I just looked at a set of '69 drum brakes I have laying around in the garage to make sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mder View Post
I noticed my original cylinders have some sort of "packing" under the rubber end caps...like a putty? The new left cylinder I replaced didn't have this.
That gunk is a mix of brake fluid, rust and dirt, and it should not be there. It means that the cylinder is leaking and ready to retire. From what you're describing, I think you should do yourself a favor and do a complete overhaul. The parts are not all that expensive, and then you'll know that everything is ok. Or you could dig a bit deeper in your billfold and buy discs.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 07, 9:02 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Man, thank y'all so much for the information. My first car was a 1969 4 door malibu with a straight 6 (250?) that I bought off a friend for $500 Back in '86. It was the best purchase I ever made. Then one day I got rear ended twice in same accident (ice). My car was totalled. I was only 17 then but I actually cried when I saw the damage. I didn't have anyone in my life then that could help me repair it and of course no money. Insurance gave me $600 to total the car. Bastards.

Soooo, 15 years later, I decide to get a 1969 Chevelle for a decent price and fixer up. I am finding out the car of your dreams is/can be the car of your nightmares, if you have limited money and no experience.

This website is really a blessing.
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post #11 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 7th, 07, 10:50 AM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mder View Post
I am finding out the car of your dreams is/can be the car of your nightmares, if you have limited money and no experience.

This website is really a blessing.
It can be that even if you have unlimited money and TONS of experience. Most of us got our experience the old-school way you are doing it. Asking questions, then asking questions about the answers.

And yes it is

Spinning the wheel with it in the air should result in it stopping when you apply the brake. If not, I would say the cylinder is stuck, or there is something blocking the line. If you got fluid at that right front when you were bleeding, then most likely it isn't the line.

Interesting to know that the fronts are self adjusting.

K

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post #12 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 8th, 07, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
 
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Talking Re: Drum brake problem...

Awesome!! Pulled drums, cleaned most parts with brake cleaner, inspected right cylinder (ok), installed new front brake shoe kit, scuffed drums with emory cloth, put all back together and self-adjusted a few times backing up and...Wallah...like new!!!

It definitely was that brake fluid on left side shoes and drum causing my pain. Thanks again guys for knowledge...I'm sure I'll be back when I tackle the ball joints and brake conversion!
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post #13 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 8th, 07, 11:52 PM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

You could have washed the shoes with rubbing alcohol and they would have been fine.
I've done it many times.

You can't adjust the front brakes by backing up, they are not self adjusting.
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post #14 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 07, 11:06 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Drum brake problem...

Hey Dean,

Thanks for the rubbing alcohol tip as well. Ended up using a whole large can of aerosol brake cleaner...worth the $2.44 from Advance. I changed the shoes because left sides were about 25% more worn than right sides...also probably just to see if I could do it by myself

I believe I do have the self adjusting brakes on the front. It has the metal "wing" held by springs against the adjusting wheel...correct?? Or does that "wing" just keep the adjusting wheel from spinning either way?
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post #15 of 22 (permalink) Old Jul 9th, 07, 11:13 PM
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Re: Drum brake problem...

If I find anything in the hydraulic system that is leaking or looks brittle, or old, I replace every rubber component in the system. For peace of mind, I would replace both wheel cylinders and brake hoses. I think back a lot farther then most of you guys, but back in the 60's I repaired two wrecks that were the result of blowing a front hose. One job was the result of replacing the hose on one side and not the other. The other blew out within a month of the other being replaced. It was the weak link in the system. Second time it was a guy that replaced a master cylinder and the increased pressure caused a front hose to break in a few months.

I realize we have better rubber now and dual cylinders, but for peace of mind, I like to do all hoses and wheel cylinders in a rebuild. Metal lines if they are rusty. All pretty cheap parts and you probably never have to do it again.
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