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How to adjust your brakes

by Annette Flottwell

Series Three vehicles come with effective drum brakes. They go fast in a Stage One, though they may be quite appropriate for a 2 1/4 88". So the day will come when braking becomes quite unsatisfactory. They may become noisy and just lack the response and power you want. Or, when approaching the next traffic lights, you can start pumping 200ms in advance. That is O.K. if everything is as flat as here in Flanders and you can see every obstacle 20kms away, but it is not to be recommended in towns or any other situation where you can't anticipate braking easily.

If you have to pump a couple of times, this may mean you have air in your brake lines or your master cylinder needs new rubber seals. In the first case, read this hint. In the second, get a repair kit and pray that you don't need a new cylinder. This case I will cover later. Let's try to adjust the brakes first, that is move your brake shoes outwards closer to the drum. It's very easy and can be done in 15 minutes, including the time to get the jack.

Jack up the side and axle where you want to start. Put her out of gear and see to it that you can easily get behind the wheel in question, that means relocate jack if necessary. Get a 1/2" deep socket spanner and let's hope this all you'll need. Locate the two bolts opposite each other as, one is shown above.

Now turn the spanner in one direction till you can't turn the wheel anymore. Now turn the other way till you feel a metallic 'clonk'. This is when your brake drums are all the way inside and you are at the end of the adjustment escargot. Now turn back again and watch carefully how much you can turn till you can't turn the wheel anymore. The rest up to one full turn -the dotted line- is the adjustment you have left on your drums and shoes. Turn the bolt back just enough to get your wheel loose again. If you can make a full turn and the shoe snaps back, you have nothing left to adjust.

Try the other bolt and adjust the other shoe. Any adjustment left? If yes, turn back again till the wheel is free. That's all there is to it. To understand what happens, see the picture below. Your two bolts turn the escargot which moves the shoes in the direction of the blue arrows. Repeat procedure for the other wheels.

If you want to remove the brake drum - this is what you want to do if there was nothing left or scarcely anything, you have to turn the shoes 'in' again, of course. Get the 27mm or 1 1/16" socket and remove wheel. Tap drum cautiously with a rubber hammer if need be and pull it off. If that doesn't work, check again whether your adjustment is in the clonk position. Blow the dust, mud, rust or whatever you find in there out and check drum and linings. Cracks in the linings and grooves in the drum are a bad sign. Your should have more than .5 mm left above the rivets. If not, forget them. You may now think it is a good idea to turn your drums out, depending on condition. But keep in mind that you can do that only once and you'll need thicker linings after that. You'll also need a special rivet tool for the copper lining rivets. Thus it may be less involved and even cheaper to get a fresh set. If you decide to do that, do it on both sides!!

If you have to remove the shoes, use a pry bar lo lever them out in the top. Place them on the ground in the position they were so that you don't have to ask yourself later how they fit in. Also hang the spring in the right position for the same good reason. I will insert a picture here later, when that film is ready.

Hint for you fellow continentals: we found that brake sets came half the price in the UK compared to the continent, including shipping and VAT.

It is a good idea to clean your brake drums after driving in sand mud or other grime. They'll live longer.

Drive safely!



by Annette Flottwell

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