I started this year with four brake jobs to do. These are brakes on restored cars that had sat and locked up wheel cylinders, master
cylinders, etc. I only wrote a Southern Wheels article about the 64 Corvette because it was drum self-adjusters all the way around, and
there were some differences from the usual drum rebuilds that I had covered in the past (see www.southernwheels.com/archives, Feb. 2021).
Here I will give you some things I have learned and bits I did differently during the projects that you may find helpful.
JOB 1 was the 64 Corvette. It was Corvettes last year of the drum brakes before going to discs in 65. It seems like my lift always
has my Jaguar Mk/2 on it, so I had to work on the concrete garage floor in January. Corvettes have strong frames, but you need to know
where to jack the car up, not so much because of the frame, but more to prevent the fiberglass panels from cracking. To com-
plicate matters, I have side pipes on the car. The car sets low to the ground, but a racing jack will go under it just fine. I was
given a word of caution on the front end. On small block cars like mine, I was told that you can jack the car Times New Roman; Goudy Old Style ATT;;up to get jack stands under it by jacking up the cross member in the front. However, on big block cars, this would bend the cross member due to the added engine weight. So I jacked up the cross member until both tires were off of the floor, then put a low profile jack stand under the frame just behind each front wheel. Regular sized jack stands were too tall for the car. I found a set (sellers recommend buying them in twos so that the jack stand specs will be the same) on eBay for about $65 a set. They go as low as 10.5so they easily fit under my Vette. Another thing on that job, I noticed that my rear tires were rubbing at the top inside on the trailing arm blocks, negative camber. I like some negative camber because I rally with this car and it helps it to hug the road when going around a corner, but my rear wheels were actually touching the rubber blocks. I have 775 x 15 redlines and have had them on for 10 years. My question was, did they always touch? When I removed the rear wheels, I could see the blocks attach with two bolts and there is no adjustment. With the wheels off, it was about time to clean them and check air pressure. Both were low, down to 10 psi. I aired them up to 30 psi, put them on and the problem went away! I didnt know air pressure affected suspension parts like that.
The last thing on this job was brake fluid. I always use OEM style brake fluid, and on this car its DOT 3. The ratings I know of are DOT 3, 4, 5.1 and 5 (silicone). There is a new low-moisture brake fluid that can be used in the above systems (not silicone 5) and is available on line or at parts stores. The problem with my brakes generally turns out to be moisture locking up wheel cylinders, master cylinders, etc. This new brake fluid is Bosch E516, which has a wet boiling temperature of 365 degrees and states that it lasts 100% longer than standard DOT 3. I have ordered some and will let you know the results. I also bought a brake fluid tester on Amazon for around $10. It will give you the condition of your brake fluid, shows water content in the brake fluid and when it should be changed.
JOB 2 was my 1978 Chevrolet Silverado 3 + 3. This truck has taken us all over the country from Washington DC to New York, in search of cars and parts, and is like an old friend. It can sit for months at a time when not in use with no problems, and this time the truck did start right up, but when we took it out for a drive, it had restricted power. Its a 350 with an Edelbrock 4bbl carb and you could hear the sh-u-u-hof the carb, but the truck wasnt going anywhere. I took it back to the shop. I had this happen once before on my way to Nashville to pick up chrome at Advanced Plating. By the time we got home, the engine had melted, cracked pistons, burnt valves and it turned out to be a vacuum advancea $30 part.
This time I got out my vacuum tester, pulled the vacuum line (rubber) from the carburetor to the distributor, capped one end and pulled vacuum on the other. It held. Then I re-connected the line and pulled vacuum and it didnt hold! I bought a new vacuum advance AND new hose. The old hose probably would have cracked when I put the new vacuum advance on.
JOB 3: All of you who are following our 51 Packard Mayfair restoration know that we were down to putting on the rear quarter chrome trim (bottle caps). The car is up on a low-profile lift and we checked everything over before we lower it and put on these last 6 chrome pieces. I got in the car, started it and with the rear wheels off the ground, put it in drive while Woody watched the right wheel go around. I put my foot on the brake, but the wheel kept spinning. I had replaced the brakes in front, but not the rear. Cutting everything off, we checked brake fluid (full) then bled the rear brakes. When we tried to turn each rear wheel by hand, they could hardly be turned. I adjusted the brake adjusters all the way in, although they would hardly click. When we rebuilt the front brakes two years ago (see archives) we replaced all three hoses: left, right front and one rear to the leflt/right steel lines to the wheel cylinders. They came in a set of three. They were all the same length. I put on the front hoses and a helper put on the rear. Now I checked the rear and
it was pulled tight. Too short. The fronts were fine. These hoses are listed as all three the same, from Packard, but the trouble now is they make all three the same as the front, when they should have made all three the same as the rears (longer hoses here). When I removed the rear hose, I laid it out next to a new hose I had gotten from Max Merritt Packard Parts* (#418240[51-54 all]). The old hose was 15long and the new one was 17 I had ordered this hose online and at parts stores and they were all wrong! Max Merritt had the right one. Another note on this hose is that crush washers are unnecessary. The male end is a 3/8thread, then there is a 5/16shaft between the treads and the nut, so a 3/8crush washer rattles around on the 5/16pipe and a 5/16crush washer wont clear the 3/8threads. It is made this way because it has a tapered fit to the metal brake hose connection. With the new hose on, now the rear drums are locked up. The big problem on these rear brakes is that the rear drum must come off for me to see why they are locking up and wont adjust. Packard used a tapered drum and axle on its rear brakes and they must be pulled with a special three-fingered puller.
This is something all of us Packard guys dread because the drums are almost always stuck. The procedure is with the wheel off the ground and the car secure, the rim is removed then the axle nut 1 3/8is backed off until it flushes with the end of the axle (this will keep the drum from flying off when it breaks loose). The drum is made so that the lug bolt threads are in the drum, so when you put the lug bolts in the pullers 3 fingers, you are pulling the drum and not the axle. Once the axle cotter pin is out, nut loose and puller hooked up, then the slow pulling process begins. The puller has a threaded shaft that has a pin in the end that goes into a hole in the axle shaft to keep everything centered. A spanner on the puller is turned clockwise to tighten and put outward pressure on the drums. After it tightens, I tap the spanner with a hammer to increase tension. Then tap around the brake drum, but not on the end of the axle shaft. This could damage the rear end. Today is the third day of this setup and the drum has not moved. Next will be to apply heat with an oxy/acetylene torch. Will let you know the results next month.
JOB 4 is, as always, the 1967 Jaguar Mark 2 that is up on the lift with a front brake that is STUCK.
Dont ever say were almost done!
Keep em driving!