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Old 06-30-2010, 04:46 PM   #1
Colorado Greg
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Default Brake centering tool?

When I bought my '29 Coupe in April of this year from my Father, it had been sitting for several years without being run. I have cleaned and sealed the gas tank, rodded the radiator, rebuilt carb, dist, speedo, re-wired (I only let a little smoke out) and I finally have it running pretty decent but have not driven very far due to bad brakes.

Now it's time for brakes! The car has new cast drums and I was told they were never adjusted and I was given 4 new brake rods and was told it needed them. Well, the pedal goes to the floor and the car doesn't stop. I have not even looked at the brakes on this car yet but I've been reading through Les Andrew's book for brake repair/adjusting and I'm looking for any tips and I have a question.

Do I need to go and purchase a brake centering tool? Can I make something that will get me by or is this a must purchase item. I have done alot of brake jobs on modern cars and motorcycles, but this is completely new to me, bending roller tracks to center the shoes WOW!

I'm going to go though the entire system and ensure everything is right before driving this more than a few blocks. I'll repair or rebuild all that's necessary but thought it might be good to see what others are doing.

Thanks for any input!
"Betsy doesn't leak oil - she just marks her spot"

Last edited by Colorado Greg; 06-30-2010 at 10:33 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 06-30-2010, 05:13 PM   #2
Marco Tahtaras
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Default Re: Brake centering tool?

Yes, you need something to insure the shoes are centered. The problem with many "centering tools" is they will only get you close at best unless luck is on your side. I'm sure the odds are a little better than the lottery. For any centering tool to be totally effective it must be accurately adjustable to match the diameter of the particular drum being used on each location. Ford's original KRW centering tool was effective because in those days all drums were standard @ 11" so a non-adjustable tool setup for 11" was all that was needed. If your drum measures 11.025" then the centering tool needs to be set to the same. Most folks just don't understand that.
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Old 06-30-2010, 07:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Brake centering tool?

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Old 06-30-2010, 10:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: Brake centering tool?

One thing you will need to do is to be sure the shoes have been arched to the drums. If the shoes are a different radius then the drums, you will have difficulty cetering the shoes and it may take a very long time to "Bed in" the brakes.

I made my own centering tool but I made it so I can compensate for overside drums. Making your own centering tool is possible but you have to be very precise. When everything is right and adjusted properly, Model A Brakes are quite good.

Les's Book has very good directions for properly rebuilding, arcing, centering and adjusting Model A Brakes.

Take your time and do it right.

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