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self adjusting brakes on my '52 Commander

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  • Brakes: self adjusting brakes on my '52 Commander

    I consider myself "mechanically inclined", at least I have always been able to fix things when needed and figure out how things work. However, the self-adjusting part of the brakes on my '52 Commander have me puzzled. I believe(?) I have all the parts, and everything seems to work freely but I cannot see how they self adjust themselves. The brakes on mine are all new and working good but I still would like to know how they work. I have the genuine Studebaker brake manual ordered but it has not came yet. Can anyone 'splain them to me or direct me to a good source of info on the 'net in the meantime? thanks
    thom

  • #2
    A quick search got me here, ignore the banners...

    https://www.brakeandfrontend.com/dru...cient-devices/

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    • #3
      I don't think Topper's link is going to help you much. The early '50s Studebaker adjusters were quite different.

      Without getting in to much detail, the round plug through the center of the shoe always rides on the same plane against the drum as the brake lining material and, as that material wears down, the drum pushes the plug towards the adjusting mechanism on the back of the shoe. The plug is attached to the adjusting lever and, as the lever is incrementally pivoted by the motion of the plug, the wedge, which is under spring tension, fills that slack, preventing the lever from returning, and incrementally maintaining the minimal distance between the shoe lining and the drum. In theory, at least if everything is moving properly, you have a constant perfect adjustment.

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      Last edited by rockne10; 06-22-2019, 05:37 AM.
      "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

      Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
      Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
      '33 Rockne 10,
      '51 Commander Starlight,
      '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
      '56 Sky Hawk

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      • #4
        What he said. The pin being pushed back as the lining wears takes out any slack in the system. The part that throws backyard mechanics, working without a manual, is the need to push new pins all the way out and grind or file them flush with the new lining. If the pin is not trimmed there will be no adjustment left in the system.
        My first 52 had pins that were not properly installed and the brakes begin to squeak as the lining wore down. The "mechanic" removed the self adjusters on that side and then there was no way to adjust the brake. The car pulled to one side when braking. I put everything back by the manual and had no problems for 40 years with them....except that they were undersized in the first place.
        Attached Files
        "In the heart of Arkansas."
        Searcy, Arkansas
        1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
        1952 2R pickup

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        • #5
          So the "self adjuster" actually turns the cam that moves the front/leading shoe outward closer to the drum as the shoe/lining wears down? Correct? I think I will pull the wheels off mine and have another look. I'm not sure I trust the mechanic(?) that worked on the car before I got it. I've had one off and looked, but I think I'll look at all of them again. I'll repack the front bearings too. He had used a too small cotter pin in the one front that I checked, not a good sign.
          thom

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          • #6
            The Studebaker shop manual has a good write up on how the system works. The MOTORS manual doesn't have much of a write up, but it does have a good line drawing of the mechanism that shows how it works.

            Oops. I see that it is figure 14 in the first picture of Rocne10's post
            RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

            17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
            10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
            10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
            4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
            5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
            56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
            60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

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            • #7
              I have a question.
              My 50 Land Cruiser came with no self adjusters. Someone has placed a bolt thru the shoes that contacts the adjuster. I am wondering if the self adjusting parts are interchangeable with the Champion? The ones I looked up in the chassis catalog show for use for both 9G thru 17A. I have quite a few Champion parts from 5 cars I have parted out, should have more then enough to set up the Land Cruiser.

              I had the shoes relined but have never been able to get them adjusted properly.
              sigpic
              Barn Find
              1950 Champion
              Before I started
              Jim Berry
              Midlothian, TX

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              • #8
                As I've said before, for maybe the dozenth time, the system was problematic when nearly new and haven't gotten better with age. If everything is is moving as it should the system will work as intended. The problem is, as it was when new, many owners expected self adjusting to be akin to maintenance free, they were not. Once gummed up or rusted the self adjusting mechanism would not allow the hard metal core to contract as it was intended. The metal core would remain stationary. The result was the core would eat into the drum, like a machining tool. In the day I have seen a core eat almost all the way through a drum, and just try to get a drum off when this happens!

                In the day many auto parts stores had a card of large metal washers, with one side flattened. The intent was to remove the self adjusting mechanism and replace it with the notched washer. While not a perfect solution, they worked. I have a set on a 51 Champ, and that and with DOT 5, have made to little used car's braking system nearly maintenance free.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by thom View Post
                  So the "self adjuster" actually turns the cam that moves the front/leading shoe outward closer to the drum as the shoe/lining wears down? Correct?.
                  Oops! No! Sorry, I should have included the final page on the cam adjustment. I thought you were just asking about the self adjusters.
                  The cams are on the backing plate, and should be backed off before pulling the drums. They are the primary adjustment when you first assemble the brakes, and must be physically set and locked for both shoes initially.
                  The plug, lever and wedge do the self adjusting during driving operation.

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                  I think purchasing a copy of the shop manual is invaluable.
                  "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

                  Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
                  Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
                  '33 Rockne 10,
                  '51 Commander Starlight,
                  '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
                  '56 Sky Hawk

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hallibut, if your car had hard metal plugs on the adjusters, then there's your problem Originally they were zinc, and quite soft. The "wear groove" in the drums was from driving on dirt roads (quite common back then) and the dust, and lining material collecting in the contact plug hole edges. Bad brakes only happen if you drive until you have a problem. Back then brakes were routinely inspected every year. Now people drive their cars until something breaks.
                    Last edited by bezhawk; 06-22-2019, 06:15 PM.
                    Bez Auto Alchemy
                    573-318-8948
                    http://bezautoalchemy.com


                    "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by thom View Post
                      So the "self adjuster" actually turns the cam that moves the front/leading shoe outward closer to the drum as the shoe/lining wears down? Correct? I think I will pull the wheels off mine and have another look. I'm not sure I trust the mechanic(?) that worked on the car before I got it. I've had one off and looked, but I think I'll look at all of them again. I'll repack the front bearings too. He had used a too small cotter pin in the one front that I checked, not a good sign.
                      The cam is the initial adjustment when the pin is all the way out and the linings are new. the wedge and spring self-adjuster removes slack as it develops. Obviously being steel the parts can rust or stick from debris. This was never a problem with mine.
                      I just replaced the parts on my 2R pickup because someone had removed them. The brakes now work as they should.
                      "In the heart of Arkansas."
                      Searcy, Arkansas
                      1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                      1952 2R pickup

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Brad,

                        I don't know you or your level of real word driving experience back in the 50's and 60's, but I can tell you for a fact that brakes were not routinely inspected every year. By the late 50's> these were beater cars and they were treated as such. I can also atest to the fact that states with mandatory annual vehicle inspections are the exception rather then the rule. A quick check indicated that only seventeen states require a regular inspection. As for the hardness of the self adjusting core, I'm not a metallurgist, but what was obvious in the day, is obvious today, that the core is harder then both the lining and the cast iron drum. I am not making up a story when I tell you about trips to wrecking yards in an attempt to find a replacement drum, for numerous recently purchased cars, only to find that virtually all of them shared the same tel-tail deep score, right through the center of the drum's braking surface.

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                        • #13
                          I don't know what kind of pins may have been available from discount parts dealers, but the pins I have used were softer than steel. They would make noise if improperly installed, but just seemed to polish the drum where they traveled. Embedded material could also cause scoring I suppose.
                          "In the heart of Arkansas."
                          Searcy, Arkansas
                          1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                          1952 2R pickup

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Howard,

                            The reason you see only the polishing action on the drum is because your self-adjusting pins is retracting as they should. If they were not you would began to hear the tel-tail scraping sound of metal on metal, which if ignored would result in the condition I described. Just to make it clear we have a 1950 Champion Starlight coupe which has a properly operating Lockheed self adjusting brakes as factory installed, which is working properly. I am not on a pilgrimage to destroy the credibility of the factory system, but I am not imagining the problem that I've seen, or the after market solution that was aimed at the problem.

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                            • #15
                              I bought some NOS Studebaker pins on ebay a few years ago, and I'm not sure of the material, but it may be zinc or some such soft material. I know they aren't steel or brass.

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