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1999 Ranger 4x4 parking brake 10" drums

coopab

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Time for inspection discovered pkg brake not holding. 1st issue was frozen right (passenger) side cable. Replaced it and after that the intermediate cable was too short. Given that it was twisted and literally had a knot tied in the middle I ordered a replacement from NAPA. Reconnected front to rear and still insufficient holding power to pass inspection.
Since I had only pulled the drum on right side in order to attach the new cable I decided to take a look at the left side. Among other thing I discovered:
  • right and left star wheel adjusters reversed (teeth faced wrong way to match up with the release lever (no L or R marking on either one)
  • Left side had primary and secondary shoes backwards
  • shoes on one side were much more worn that the other
  • spring was absent from the parking brake bar
So I decided to go with new shoes and hardware kit. With all those issues corrected I hoped that putting it all back together would solve the weak parking brake issue.
It didn't.
With the rear end up on jack stands and parking brake pushed to the floor both wheels seem to be locked up tight but down on the ground with engine idling, tranny in D and parking brake "on" there's little or no braking effect. Same thing in Reverse.
Pushed down on parking brake pedal by hand and observed that the cable seems to be engaging and slack in the cable disappears but still very little braking effect.
A properly operating parking brake pedal should not need to be pushed all the way to the floor to hold the truck so I'm wondering if:
  • shortening the cable with a turnbuckle arrangement would work
  • Is there something in the pedal assembly that needs attention?
  • Do I need to replace the left side cable even though it was working OK before I started this project? I can see it move when I pull on the cable underneath the truck. And I drizzled some silicone lubricant into it when it was detached.
Sorry for the wordiness but that's what happens after two to three days on the same problem.
 


Earl43P

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Adjust the star wheels so that it takes a good force to rotate each wheel.
It'll bed in the shoes and then it should hold. Basically, you need to tighten up the rear shoes to a decent drag, or the PB can't work. It relies on proper shoe adjustment.
 

chucky2

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Hi Earl43P, can you expound a little on the adjusting the star wheel so it takes some force to rotate each axle?

Does one do this with just the drums on wheels off, or, with the wheels also on? Can you give a little more detail into the approximate level of force needed to make whatever it is spin, and, when spun, how much they should spin by?

Chuck
 

Earl43P

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The rear brakes have a rubber plug on the inside of the backing plate.
It gives access to adjust the star wheel with the drums and wheels on.

You first need to know that each star wheel adjuster is side-specific.
Each will have either an L or R stamped on it.

Once you remove the rubber plug, you can insert a common screwdriver blade in there to advance the star wheel. It won't let you loosen the starwheel unless you pry the keeper away and turn backward (harder to do). Proper adjustments result in audible clicks as it passes teeth under spring tension.

What I do is adjust the star wheel so that the drum is harder to install.
That gives you a good starting point.

Then, I continue to tighten each star wheel until each rear wheel makes an audible dragging (shoes to drum) sound when forcing the drum to turn (tire off). When I say forcing the drum to turn, I mean it takes a good two-hand EFFORT or a cheater between the studs to turn the drum. That amount of drag will bed the new shoes in properly when you drive it.

You can touch each rim after a drive and feel SOME heat built up from the drag, but that will taper off as you rack up miles. Hot as in you can hold your hand on the rim by the lugnuts without discomfort (drum will be much hotter).

Once they have bedded in, you should be able to rotate each rear wheel considerably easier. That does not mean they will spin free. I wouldn't expect a tire to free spin an entire revolution with properly adjusted rear shoes.

I've worked on a LOT of rear brakes. People complain about the front brakes being grabby and the problem is really that the rears are doing NOTHING due to lack of adjustment.

Lastly, if you KNOW your star wheels are installed on the correct sides and you adjusted the shoes to make the drums harder to install, you can use the "Earl's alternate method" of adjusting the rear shoes:

Find an empty road / parking lot.
Drive in reverse and apply the foot brake HARD, re-accelerate, repeat, repeat, repeat, etc. (do not be alarmed if one side or the other tends to lock up that tire, it just has tighter shoes. Ignore that the fronts slide.)

At some point after X# of reverse brakings, you will feel that the rear shoes are "doing more work" and your brake pedal will feel firmer and engage more toward the top of the pedal travel (you want that). I do this every few months or so on my front street, back up and brake HARD 5 or 6 good times.

Using the Parking Brake regularly will also tend to self-adjust the star wheels and keep the rear shoes doing work.

I think it's worth the $12 to put properly L/R stamped Bendix star wheels on there. I use a little Lithium or Lubriplate grease on their threads.


Edit: I watched the end of that video: that dude still had an issue - his starwheel keeper wasn't sprung properly. it had no clicking when he made the adjustments! Bad.
 
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coopab

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Thanks and update on parking brake

You first need to know that each star wheel adjuster is side-specific. Each will have either an L or R stamped on it.
Mine had no such markings (inside the cap that slides onto the adjuster) but I swapped them based on the fact the the notches on the star wheel were facing the wrong way relative to the keeper.
Once you remove the rubber plug, you can insert a common screwdriver blade in there to advance the star wheel. It won't let you loosen the starwheel unless you pry the keeper away and turn backward (harder to do). Proper adjustments result in audible clicks as it passes teeth under spring tension.
I've owned this truck for a little over a year and the star wheel adjusters had been installed on the wrong sides since I bought it.
What I do is adjust the star wheel so that the drum is harder to install.
That gives you a good starting point.
Then, I continue to tighten each star wheel until each rear wheel makes an audible dragging (shoes to drum) sound when forcing the drum to turn (tire off). When I say forcing the drum to turn, I mean it takes a good two-hand EFFORT or a cheater between the studs to turn the drum. That amount of drag will bed the new shoes in properly when you drive it.
I may give this another try before I start taking it apart...again.
You can touch each rim after a drive and feel SOME heat built up from the drag, but that will taper off as you rack up miles. Hot as in you can hold your hand on the rim by the lugnuts without discomfort (drum will be much hotter).
Don't you worry a little about overheating the drum and perhaps warping it?
Once they have bedded in, you should be able to rotate each rear wheel considerably easier. That does not mean they will spin free. I wouldn't expect a tire to free spin an entire revolution with properly adjusted rear shoes.
Earl, Thanks for the detailed reply. I've done all of the above and when done I took about a 14-15 mile roundtrip to drop of a load of brush and twigs.
While unloading I could "smell" the hear in my right rear wheel. However when I jacked the rear end up to test it nothing had changed. The driver's side wheel is locked tight as it should be, but the passenger side, even after a little more tightening, still spins.
I can't help but think that there's a problem with wear on the bar called the parking break link or strut.
Despite new cable which I tightened with "Help" cable adjusters and a turnbuckle the pedal goes all the way to the floor but because the right side isn't locking up, the car moves forward or back in gear and at idle.
I've had the drums of and on two or three times and it looks like the passenger side drum will have to come off again so I can pull the link/strut and bring it to NAPA so see if they can match it.

coopab

update 21 Aug '13
Well I found a replacement for the parking brake link at Autozone and while I was on their web site found that they had a parking brake adjuster kit. Good thing I bought it because when I took the drum off...again...I discovered that the adjuster cable that attaches at the star wheel had snapped.
With all new hardware on my parking brake finally works.
Funny that Advance doesn't carry a similar kit. In retrospect I think it's good to replace all the hardware inside the drum not just the hold down springs. Even though my passenger side parking brake is functional I'm going to get another kit and replace the adjuster hardware on that side as well. I think the hardware was more important even than replacing the PB link between the shoes as the star wheel adjuster really works now. With the old cable stretched before it broke it only "kinda worked". The new hardware puts sufficient pressure on the star wheel and lines up the adjusting lever where it should be. Before it barely made contact with the star wheel.
 
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bmerr98

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For future reference where the star wheel slack adjusters are not marked R or L, the passenger side has standard righty - tighty threads, and the driver's side has reverse or left hand threads. Don't know if this has been mentioned.

Glad you got them straightened out. You'd think that, drum brakes being around almost since the dawn of the automobile, we'd all have them figured out by now, but they still stump us now and then, myself included...
 

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Glad you got them straightened out. You'd think that, drum brakes being around almost since the dawn of the automobile, we'd all have them figured out by now, but they still stump us now and then, myself included...
Amen.

I spent almost $1600 total (before turning stuff in for core credits) on swapping an Explorer rear into my truck. I got lots of benefits like a stronger axle on my towing vehicle, better gearing, etc, but the sole motivating factor for starting that swap was to ditch the over-complicated drum brakes.
 

coopab

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starwheel and keeper

The rear brakes have a rubber plug on the inside of the backing plate.

--snipped--

Edit: I watched the end of that video: that dude still had an issue - his starwheel keeper wasn't sprung properly. it had no clicking when he made the adjustments! Bad.
I looked at that video too and noticed that when he spun the star wheel the first time it spun forward and backward. That's how mine was until I got the replacement adjuster kit. There's a little "edge" on the flat portion of the keeper that should fit nicely into the angled notches of the star wheel. I only replaced the hardware on the right side because that was the wheel that wouldn't hold, but plan to redo the left side once I get caught up on a couple of other jobs.
I can only attribute the fact that the keeper wasn't properly sprung to the cable being stretched which allowed the keeper to "droop". With the new hardware it took noticeably more effort to hook the cable onto the keeper but that's what made it line up correctly.
 

bmerr98

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Amen.

I spent almost $1600 total (before turning stuff in for core credits) on swapping an Explorer rear into my truck. I got lots of benefits like a stronger axle on my towing vehicle, better gearing, etc, but the sole motivating factor for starting that swap was to ditch the over-complicated drum brakes.
I don't know man...I can stomach a bunch of drum brake headaches for $1600!:shok:
 

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That 1600 wasn't just for disk breaks, that was for an entire axle install. You can swap disk brakes onto a stock axle for a lot less than that. That said I'm not sure how he got up to 1600 on his swap, unless he bought new calipers or something. You should be able to pick up an Explorer axle for less than $500 (I paid that much for a whole explorer), put on new pads and rotors if needed, weld on new springs perches. Actually If you are capable of welding I would think the whole thing could be done for under 500, but I don't know what other work he may have had done. Mustang disk brake swap can be done cheaper on a stock axle.

You want expensive, I've got no less than 1500 in the front brake parts on my 86 using all Ford OEM (or OEM replacement) components, that's rotors, pads, calipers, custom brackets to mount them and lines. Then there was the added expense of having to update my entire suspension to the 95-95 set-up to install it. I'm probably close to 2K in my front suspension (all used except bushings) and brakes on an 86 2wd Ranger. I'll be running an explorer rear as well, but it'll only cost me the price of new hoses and possibly pads/rotors if needed. I picked up the entire Explorer for $500 as a V8 engine donor, the axle was an added bonus. I've actually spent more on brakes and suspension than I've got tied up in the rest of the build including the purchase price of both vehicles. Damn that's sad to think about.
 

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