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|Rambler American Restoration
Parking Brake Cable R&R
WARNING! Nothing beats a factory level service manual. There are various details that this article doesn't cover that are in your service manual. Also, the brakes are not something to be taken lightly. When in doubt, take your car to a trusted mechanic.
One of the things I had to do on my American when I got it was to replace worn out brake parts. This involved replacing all four wheel cylinders, shoes, springs, self-adjusters, drums, a section of brake line, and the rear parking brake cables. This article will detail how to replace the rear parking brake cables on a 6 cylinder 1968 American. But, before I get started, a few words to the wise...
If you have never done a brake job on drum type brakes, stop now. If you put things back together incorrectly, the brakes will fail and you could cause severe injury or death to yourself and those around you. This is not to say that a brake job is beyond the capability of the average person, you just need to make sure you know what you are doing.
You'll need the following tools for this job:
You'll need the following shop supplies:
Before you go to the parts store...
There are a few things you need to check before you head to the parts store. First, put the car up on jack stands and remove the rear wheels. Make sure the parking brake is released and crawl under the car. Find the barking brake equalizer and pull on each cable going to the rear wheels. If both of the cables move, you have some other problem preventing the parking brake from working. The next step is to inspect the actual brake assemblies. There may or may not be 3, 3/8" hex screws holding each drum on the car. If they are there, remove them. Back off the self adjusters and remove the drum. Check the following items: condition of the star wheel on the self-adjuster and the cable that activates it, check the linings on the shoes, and check to make sure the wheel cylinder isn't leaking (some leakage around the seals is normal, if the whole thing is wet, replace the cylinder). If anything needs replaced, now is the time to do it. You will also need 1-1/16" and 3-3/32" cotter pins. Part numbers are listed in Rambler Dan's AMC Parts List.
Out with the old...
If you took the car off of the jack stands, put it back on them now. The higher in the air, the better. Remove the wheels and drums. Remove the return springs (the ones attached to the anchor above the wheel cylinder). Take a moment to observe how the self-adjusting mechanism is attached, it will likely fall apart in the next few steps. Remove the cable for the self-adjuster and the shoe hold down springs. Pull the shoes apart and remove the parking brake spreader bar and then remove the shoes from the car. Disconnect the brake cable from the parking brake lever attached to the rear brake shoe. If you can't compress the spring on the end of the cable, use a pair of bolt cutters to cut the cable.
Make sure the parking brake handle is in the returned position and tighten the nuts on the equalizer until most of the slack is removed. Reinstall the wheels and take the car off of the jack stands. Take the car to an empty parking lot, put the car in reverse and accelerate. When you get up to about 5 MPH (yes, I know that the speedometer doesn't work in reverse, just take your best guess), hit the brakes hard and stay on them until the car has stopped. You will need to do this about 15 or 20 times or until the pedal feels firm and the brakes apply evenly. Don't worry, as long as everything is in good shape, you cannot over adjust the brakes doing this.
Take the car back to your work area and put it back on jack stands. Pull the parking brake lever out three clicks. Get under the car and tighten the adjustment screws on the equalizer until the wheels can't move when rotated forward. Release the brake and check for freedom of movement. Hold the first nut in place and tighten the second up against it (this is called double-nutting). Take the car off of the jack stands and go find a steep hill to check the operation of the brake. With the transmission in neutral (and you in the car), it should not roll. If it does, you will need to tighten the adjusting nuts more.
Last Updated 01/05/04 09:19:12 PM