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- Drum Brake Adjustment -

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When your brakes are feeling weak and pedal travel is long (not pedal freeplay), most likely all that is needed is a brake adjustment. Assuming you have drum brakes (which was stock in 1966), its a pretty easy task to complete. Begin by removing a tire; I start with the front brakes.

Drum brake adjustment can be completed with either leaving the hub on or taking it off. If its your first time looking at the brakes, I would suggest taking the hubs off to orient yourself with the brakes. Now that I know what to look for, I just do it through the inspection/adjustment hole.

  • Tools you will need
    • Screw driver to turn the stars
    • Lug wrench
    • Jack and jack stands

  • Check out the brake parts
    • This is easiest with the hub off but can be done with it on
    • Check the shoe retaining pin and cups
      • These are the parts that hold the brake pad straight up and down
      • Make sure they are not worn and that they are actually holding the brake shoe correctly
      • If you push on the side of the shoe and it moves, you need to pull the hub and replace the clip and cup
    • Take a look at the return springs
      • These are hard to see with the hub on but they will be obvious if they are broken

  • Start adjusting the drum brake shoes
    • I start with the front brakes
    • Set the hand brake, block the rear wheels, jack up the front of the car, set jack stands
    • Remove the front wheel of choice
    • Spin the hub until you can see the brake adjustment star (there are 2 per wheel)
      • The front wheel stars are at the 3 or 9 oclock position towards the front of the car
    • Adjust the star by turning the star slowly with a screw driver and spinning the hub until the brake locks up
    • When the brake locks up spin the star back a little until the wheel spins freely
      • Thats one brake shoe adjusted (almost)
    • Now do the same to the other star on the same wheel
    • Get in the car and push on the brake hard a few times to reseat the brake shoe
      • Adjusting the star only moves one end of the shoes and pushing the brake reseats it evenly
    • Now readjust the brake shoe by turning the stars to the point that it just doesn't hang
    • Move onto the other side of the front and repeat the process
    • Replace the front tires and lower the front of the car

    • Block the front tires very well and release the handbrake
      • The handbrake only locks up the rear wheels so there is nothing keeping the front from rolling except your blocks
    • Jack up the rear of the car and set your jack stands
    • Remove the rear wheel of choice
    • Check the shoe retaining pins,cups, and the return springs
    • Spin the hub until you can see the brake adjustment star
      • The rear stars are at the 6 oclock position
    • Follow the same procedure as the front wheels
    • Lower the car and tighten all your lug nuts/bolts

  • Test the brakes
    • Test the drum brakes at very low speed (like your driveway)
    • Move on to a low traffic road and test the brakes at slow speeds
      • If all is well you will have well adjusted drum brakes that stop your car nicely