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Series Land Rovers

Brake Adjustment

By Bill Maloney

Okay, you've bought your new brake shoes and have installed them and for one reason or other it stops like crap. The shoes certainly need adjustment but first we must check a few other items:

  • Wheel Bearings - If the wheel bearings are way out of adjustment the wheel and drum can flop around a bit and do all sorts of nasty things when you hit the pedal. Jack up the wheel and try to shake it with your hands. If you can move it perceptibly you need to adjust the bearings. Remove the hub flange placing a catch pan to catch the gear oil. Bend down the edge of the lock washer and undo the outer locknut. I use a 2 3/32" hub socket I bought at a local auto parts store. It's a little looser than I'd like but it does the job well. Remove the lock washer and if you don't have a new one pound it flat with a hammer. Turn the inner nut in til it takes up the slack and back it off a little. Replace the washer and the outer lock nut and tighten it firmly. Then do your check again. The wheel should turn easily with very little perceptible play. It will take a few tries to get it right. Then bend down the lock washer on one side and bend it out on the other. Replace the hub flange.
  • Hub Seals - Are they leaking? If oil is getting on the shoes the brakes will not work very well. If they are really saturated pull the shoes and replace them. Replace the hub seal races too if they are scored, and they probably will be. Use a drill bit that is almost the width of the race drilling 90 degrees from the axle. Be careful not to drill into the hub and when you are close to through take a chisel and split the race at the drill point. It will be easier than you'd expect. The race will now come off pretty easily. When you replace the race smear some silicone gasket sealer where the race meets the hub. Then you can either tap it in slowly all around, which is a pain but doable, or else before hand you take the race to a hardware store and have them cut a length of pipe a few inches longer than the stub axle and close to the diameter of the race - you will use this to drive the race back onto the stub axle. If gear oil has leaked onto the brake shoes clean them off thoroughly with brake parts cleaner, along with the drums. They may work OK but if they are really saturated you'll have to change them.
  • Wheel Cylinders - If they are leaking change them. You can clean off the shoes and drums but brake fluid seems to deteriorate the linings much more so than gear oil so you'd be better off replacing them unless it was only a quick dousing.
  • Brake Bleeding - You can buy all sorts of self bleeding brake tools to do this. Or you can get a length of hose that will fit tightly over the bleeder nipple, a jar, and a tall plastic bucket (or any other similarly sized object to put the jar on). Put the jar on the overturned bucket in the wheel well (wheel off) making sure it is above the level of the brake cylinder. You may have to stack stuff underneath the jar to raise it up. This will keep any air bubbles from flowing back into the wheel cylinder. Fill up the master cylinder and open up the bleeder nipple with the hose on it going up and into the jar. Start with the closest wheel to the master cylinder. Pump it in long strokes filling the master cylinder up a few times to really flush it through. Check it every few pumps so that you don't empty the master cylinder and draw more air into the system. Continue with the other wheels.

OK, now you are ready to adjust the shoes. Turn off the radio and try to pick a quiet time or area as you'll need to be able to hear the shoes scraping against the drums. On the inside of each brake back plate is an adjustment bolt connected to a radial snail cam that contacts a post on the front brake shoe of that wheel (109s have one for each shoe on the front wheels). Turn the adjuster while turning the wheel. When it stops turning turn the adjuster a little more. If it stops hard, you're turning the wrong way! On mine most go clockwise but one goes counter clockwise (yes I have had the drum off and examined it). When you are turning it the right way, you'll reach a point where the wheel will stop and you will still be able to turn the adjuster with stiffening resistance and the feel of 2 or 3 more clicks until it is locked. With new shoes turn them in til they just start to drag. With used shoes turn them in til they drag and back off just til they are free. If the adjuster cams are really worn along with the shoes you may turn it til the post jumps off the cam and you have to turn it another 360. Replace the snail cam to cure this or do it again carefully, stopping a little before the post jumps off the edge.

Once you finish this you'll have a rock hard pedal and great brakes.

109 Front Brakes - As I mentioned the 109 has 20 adjusters on each wheel. They also have brake shoe steady posts. It is a bolt or screw with a lock washer that adjusts the sideways angle of the shoe in relation to the drum. If they are not adjusted properly the brakes will pull to one side. What you need is a combination square and a small ruler with fine graduations. At the 3 or 9 O'Clock place the flat part of the square against the hub flange so that the ruler/straight edge part is parallel to the brake lining. Make sure the area of the hub is clean and smooth and that the square is flat against it. take your small ruler and measure the distance from the lining to the straight edge at the outer and inner edge of the shoe. If it is not square reach around to the inside of the backplate and loosen the locknut for the adjusting post and turn the screw in or out until the lining is paralell to the straight edge. If you're not sure it is exact, err on the side of having it hair further at the inside than the outside. This way when the shoe is forced against the drum it will find it's own center. If tilted outwards at all, the adjusting post will prevent it from squaring up with the drum on its own. If you are not having problems this will probably be fine. But if you've addressed everything else and the brakes are still pulling to one side this could be the solution.



Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-2011. Last modified November 13, 2005.
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