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  • Brakes: Rear brake lockup

    I've only had my '51 Champion a few months and the brakes worked fine when it arrived--not strong, but fine as far as stopping straight without lockup. A few weeks ago I was driving it after a rain and as I was coming to a stop a rear brake locked up. I wrote it off to wet roads and everything seemed fine after that. But the next couple of times I took the car out a rear brake has continued to lock up easily, even when I try to stop slowly and carefully with light pedal pressure. What's happening? Does the car just need a brake adjust? It has the hill-holder feature and I'm kind of suspicious of that, mainly because I don't really know how it functions as part of the braking system. Does anyone have any suggestions as far as where to begin looking for the problem?Thanks.

  • #2
    Originally posted by dstude View Post
    I've only had my '51 Champion a few months and the brakes worked fine when it arrived--not strong, but fine as far as stopping straight without lockup. A few weeks ago I was driving it after a rain and as I was coming to a stop a rear brake locked up. I wrote it off to wet roads and everything seemed fine after that. But the next couple of times I took the car out a rear brake has continued to lock up easily, even when I try to stop slowly and carefully with light pedal pressure. What's happening? Does the car just need a brake adjust? It has the hill-holder feature and I'm kind of suspicious of that, mainly because I don't really know how it functions as part of the braking system. Does anyone have any suggestions as far as where to begin looking for the problem?Thanks.
    'Gotta pull both rear drums and see if either (or both) sides have linings soaked with grease or rear axle lube or brake fluid. If all is well, check to be sure the wheel cylinder on the side that locks up isn't sticking and needs to be rebuilt....in which case, of course, it is best to rebuild both of them. BP
    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

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    • #3
      Prior to disassembling the brakes, do a test. Find an empty parking lot with nothing to hit, run up to about 40 MPH and brake as hard as you can a couple of times. If the rear locks, let off and immediately brake hard again. If the behavior is consistent after three or so hard applications, then it is indeed time to get inside. However, sometimes this old stuff just needs some strenuous exercise to limber it up.

      jack vines
      PackardV8

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      • #4
        WET ROADS ? Water on brake drum = rust. One of the rear drums may have more rust than the outher one. Try Jacks fix ,should fix it.

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        • #5
          Thanks guys. That's what I was hoping to hear. Based on how nicely the brakes worked initially and how suddenly the change happened, I was thinking something had just gotten hung up. I'll try Jack's recommendation and report back.

          I still plan to change the brakes in the near future, either to the larger Lark V8 drum version or to one of the disc kits, just to feel more secure in modern, fast-moving traffic. I don't want to wrinkle the sheet metal.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by dstude View Post
            Thanks guys. That's what I was hoping to hear. Based on how nicely the brakes worked initially and how suddenly the change happened, I was thinking something had just gotten hung up. I'll try Jack's recommendation and report back.

            I still plan to change the brakes in the near future, either to the larger Lark V8 drum version or to one of the disc kits, just to feel more secure in modern, fast-moving traffic. I don't want to wrinkle the sheet metal.
            If I were a betting man, my money would be on 'contamination on the brake shoes' like Bob Palma suggested.
            Jerry Forrester
            Forrester's Chrome
            Douglasville, Georgia

            See all of Buttercup's pictures at https://imgur.com/a/tBjGzTk

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            • #7
              Is it the stock master cylinder? If it happens to be a dual circuit the front circuit may be failing.
              Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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              • #8
                Get out there and drive the car like you were late for work in 1950.....looses all the moving parts up...

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                • #9
                  Bingo! Problem solved. Jack's recommendation was the big winner. I drove to a street that had almost no traffic and did a series of stops. It took about a dozen stops for the coating of rust to be scrubbed off the brake drums and the lockup problem to go away completely. Thanks for all the input.

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                  • #10
                    I would still do a close watch on the Brakes, check the Fluid for level and cleanliness for sure.

                    The 1954 to 1966 V8 Brake conversion is a good idea, and even the 6 Cyl. setup will stop that '51 much better.
                    StudeRich
                    Second Generation Stude Driver,
                    Proud '54 Starliner Owner

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                    • #11
                      FWIW If one of the front wheel drums gets wet, expect the dry one to grab and jerk the steering wheel to one side. It can cause a wreck if not expected. Yes I know most of us knows this, but some of the younger drivers may not.

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                      • #12
                        brakes

                        Hey Chip. I think OKieJoe needs to talk to you....

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by StudeRich View Post
                          I would still do a close watch on the Brakes, check the Fluid for level and cleanliness for sure.

                          The 1954 to 1966 V8 Brake conversion is a good idea, and even the 6 Cyl. setup will stop that '51 much better.
                          I agree with Rich. I like my cars completely stock, but when someone restored my 1950 Champion 25 years ago they changed to the 5 bolt 10 inch drums, and you couldn't ask for better stopping power. I would never consider a power brake booster nor disc brakes. Just light foot pressure will make my Champion stop on a dime.

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