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Old 10-10-2017, 01:17 PM   #1
Marshall V. Daut
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Default 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

As some of you may recall, two years ago I repaired my friend's brake shoe and spring operation on his 1937 Fordor, which he has owned since the mid-1950's. Thanks to advice and parts supplied by the readers on this site, his car has stopped very well since then.
Readers may also recall that a local "repair" shop royally screwed up the brakes on this car. My friend reported that the car stopped worse AFTER he got it back from the shop. Since I repaired the brakes on all four wheels afterwards, my friend has put only a couple hundred miles on the car. I got a phone call a few weeks ago from my aged friend, informing me that he'd had an accident because the brakes completely failed. Upon approaching a stop sign, the pedal had gone to the floor with NO brake action. I PANICKED!!! How could all four wheels have failed at once? This is not a hydraulic brake system, where such a thing could happen. I was sure nothing I had done at the backing plates would have caused this catastrophic brake failure. One wheel, perhaps. But all four??? At the collision repair shop, I pushed on the brake pedal and it did, in fact, go to the floor with zero resistance. Aha! The problem had to lie between the pedal and the rod connection to the main cluster of cable connections. Lying on my back and peering up into the foot well with a trouble light, I saw that the brake pedal pin had backed out of the arm and adjusting clevis so that there was no longer any connection! The pin was just dangling in the brake pedal arm, almost ready to fall out completely. My friend told me the shop had removed the transmission for some unspecified repair at the time the brakes were "fixed". I suspect the Einsteins in the repair shop forgot to put a cotter pin back in the pedal pin. It finally worked itself loose. Fortunately, only the left front fender was damaged, no injuries. A replacement fender was procured and will be painted and installed. All because someone forgot to install a 2 cent cotter pin!
O.K. An easy fix from above - IMPOSSIBLE from beneath. Once I put the pin back into place and hooked up the return spring, all was good. I just need to put in a heavy-duty cotter pin to keep the pedal pin from every working its way back out again. But upon re-assembly, I noticed that the brake pedal travelled quite a ways downward before resistance was felt. See the attached photo. There is a gap up front between the pin in the pedal arm and the adjusting clevis, maybe 1/2"? Should there be this gap or should the clevis be adjusted to remove all or most of this gap? Does the gap need to be there for the emergency brake operation? Why such a looooong clevis adjustment area? I don't trust ANYTHING the "repair" shop did to this poor car, so I wouldn't rule out misadjusting this clevis. What is the proper adjustment at this point, please?
My expertise is Model A's and T's, so each thing I do on my friend's car is new frontier for me. 'Sorry if this question is too basic.
Thanks in advance.
Marshall
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Old 10-10-2017, 01:39 PM   #2
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

With the hand brake on you will get a gap there ,with it off you should get direct action ,Ted
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Old 10-10-2017, 03:12 PM   #3
DavidG
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

With the hand brake disengaged adjust the pedal clevis to the point where there is no free play between the pedal and the brake cables to the four wheels. Only then adjust the hand brake cable to engage the cross shaft at the same time as the pedal engages the cross shaft. That way you will have good brakes either with foot or hand operation (the latter for parking or emergencies).

While you're at it, do your friend the favor of checking all of the cotter pins, including those for the clutch pedal to throw-out arm.
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Old 10-10-2017, 04:51 PM   #4
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

Thanks, Guys. Good advice. Having seen the near-disastrous results of ONE missing cotter pin, I will definitely check others up in the pedal area. I didn't know two years ago when I rebuilt the four backing plates (and nothing else!) that the "repair" shop had also removed the transmission. Had I known that they messed with the brake pedal at that time, I would have checked all junctures for replaced cotter pins. Sadly, this experience with this local "repair" shop is not unique. Complaints about lousy repairs are legion around here. Beats me how they stay in business. And they ain't cheap, either!
Marshall
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Old 10-10-2017, 05:15 PM   #5
slowforty
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

Sorry to Hijack this thread. But is there a summer or winter setting for the 37/38 brakes?
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

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Marshall, while you're at it, be sure to lubricate all the cables where they run through their conduits. The cables on my 37 fordor were extremely tight and would not move freely through the conduits. After lubeing them with cable lubricant it was easy to move them, where before I was unable to move them by hand. The 37 Ford lube chart recommends lubeing the cables once a year. Also I have not seen anything about separate brake adjustments for winter or summer.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:31 AM   #7
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

'Will do, Ed. Thanks. Standard chassis grease or white grease?
Marshall
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Old 10-11-2017, 09:38 AM   #8
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

White grease. Just did mine. I have used never seize, but I think white grease is better.

And I agree that there should be no gap in the foot pedal with the emergency off.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:05 AM   #9
1937sedandelivery
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

All good stuff.
Marshall, the Ford Reference Book V85 for 1937, pages 55-57, has a decent description of how to adjust the brakes. It doesn't include any info about the clevis adjustment, but the description implies (to me) that there should be no free play when the emergency brake is disengaged.
I recently restored my brakes to mechanical (someone hacked them to hydraulics) and they work great. I will now go check to ensure all the cotter pins are installed!
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

Marshall, I use Blaster All Purpose Lubricant in the spray can with the tube on the nozzle. It is a liquid/oil lubricant with teflon. It's made by the same company that makes PB Blaster penetrating oil. I get mine at Pep Boys. My cables were so bad I disconnected both ends of the cables at the cross shaft and the backing plates so that I could get to the sections that run through the conduits. I don't use chassis grease or white grease because grease tends to attract the dirt and dust that happens under a car.
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Old 10-11-2017, 01:55 PM   #11
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

Marshall, Next time you look for a repair shop, consider driving west about 50 miles to Iowa City. Bob Shellady has a shop there, retired, but his son runs it. Bob is here on the FB known as Supereal. They do flatheads as well as modern, but of course not so many these days.
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Old 10-11-2017, 02:46 PM   #12
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: 1937 Brake Pedal Adjustment

Thanks for the lead, "ford38v8". My friend didn't inform me that he was taking his '37 Fordor to this particular shop to re-do his brakes, or I would have warned him to go somewhere else. I only found out after the fact when my friend asked me to fix the brakes properly. Other friends have been "taken" by this clip joint with lousy mechanics. I believe they charged my friend well over $1000 to do the brakes - and they wouldn't stop worth a tiddly-boo because some moron had hooked up springs the way a pre-1937 system was designed. No way would those shoes move properly. They weren't the correct springs and there weren't enough of them. Yet, the shop released the car to my friend as "repaired" and charged him a fortune, to boot! It was a rolling death trap. The forgotten cotter pin on the brake pedal was the final act of criminal stupidity.
Should my friend need servicing or repairs that I am not able to figure out, we'll follow your suggestion.
Marshall
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