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Safety: unexpected surprises - 59 Lark

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  • Brakes: Safety: unexpected surprises - 59 Lark

    I’ve only driven the car about 15 miles now since it’s return to the road last weekend. The PO said “that the brakes may need a bit of adjustment” as it pulled a bit to the right. Actually given that this had sat for so long, the pulling was hardly there at all, but the pedal was soft enough that I knew I’d be opening up the system at some point.

    I ordered the standard steel InlineTube lines kit last summer when the car arrived to me; hoses, cylinders and shoes ordered as well, and I had a spare MC from my previous ‘51 Champion so I’m pretty much set for parts.

    So I tackled the fronts first today and LF came off to the spindle with no issue. After slackening the RF shoes, the drum slid off....but so did the linings. Of all the cars I’ve owned, i’ve never had a normally-driving car still stop OK with completely debonded shoes. Amazing - and lucky timing.

    The hoses appear to be original (61 yrs old) as the RF union had the same factory undercoating splash on it as the inner fender did above it. Again, everything felt fine when driving but I never take chances and nor should you out there. If you can’t date the hose, replace it.

    The drums on this 60,000 mile Lark appear to have turned into corduroy, with all shoes matching male-female. How does this even occur?!

    I’m crossing my fingers I have enough meat to be able to have my local shop turn the front drums as I really don’t want to shell out the $500 for the pair. Given that it’s going to be a low mileage car I’ll roll the dice and maybe go a couple thou over the limit, but we’ll see.

    As others have said here and I’ve always believed: invest in brakes before anything of worth.

  • #2
    The grooved ones look like someone drove it through a Rock Pellet Pile!
    Just looking at the pics, that Drum doesn't appear to be able to be Turned to anywhere under about .080-.090 Tho over 10 Inches.
    Last edited by StudeRich; 03-23-2021, 03:29 PM.
    Second Generation Stude Driver,
    Proud '54 Starliner Owner


    • #3
      You need to be concerned somewhat about how much difference in drum sizing from L > R. Not to mention adjustments, but 1 drum turned a lot more than the other side can affect braking....... or so I've heard tell about...


      • #4
        If you end up needing to replace the drums, now would be a good time to upgrade the front brakes to V-8 brakes. It will make a big difference and you can leave the rears as original 6 cylinder brakes.
        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


        • #5
          New 6-cylinder shoes are easy to come by, whereas V8 brake shoes will require a set of used cores to be relined.
          In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.


          • #6
            oh wow, those are some crummy brakes

            i didn't trust what was represented to me, it's never the complete picture, to be fair, PO"s can't do everything, otherwise my lark would have cost a lot more, perhaps PO's are less mechanically competent, than the next owner? who knows? or the other way around.

            my stude have been a learning curve. and a 5 month long test drive.

            had to verify my car, took 5 months to access and somewhat rectify , now i know what is a ticking time bomb on my lark and what band aid worked, I am aware now, what it can and cannot do and what it should not do. ( drum brakes lol)

            at least you'll have good brakes after this


            • #7
              Originally posted by NCDave51 View Post
              The drums on this 60,000 mile Lark appear to have turned into corduroy, with all shoes matching male-female. How does this even occur?!
              It honestly appears that someone ran the brakes down metal to metal at some point, and continued driving it that way for awhile. Then they installed new shoes without turning or replacing the drums. I've seen that quality of work a few times.

              Whirling dervish of misinformation.


              • #8
                New drums and lugs from S-I on their way this morning. Thanks for all the feedback - these ones are just too far gone.

                While the rear drums aren’t wonderful, I’ll trust the 100% new front set up to give the estimated 60+% braking effort. New lines, shoes, hoses, MC and wheel cyls will complete the job.


                • #9
                  A long time fan of oven cleaner as a degreaser and lifter of weakened paint - proving nicely again on the backing plates. Left has been brushed in spirits, scraped of grime and in a 10 minute soak in Easy-Off. Right is the same, but has just been pressure washed.

                  Left to dry, the plates are ready for painting, no further wiping nor sanding necessary. Going with semi-gloss black. Paint that is sound after these steps can stay on as far as I’m concerned.


                  • #10
                    Awaiting the new front drums and studs, I figured out a decent way to separate the junk drums from the hubs, and to also press the studs from the hub - without using a press. If you’ve seen this before, forgive me. I just figured others could learn from this tricky exercise.

                    The drums are swaged onto the five studs at their bases, immediately as they pass through the drum. (At some earlier point in the 50s the drums were behind the hub base, my 59 has the drum over top). The best way would be to find a metal hole saw to just address these points, but there would be some risk of weakening the base of the stud if you were to accidentally strike them. So out came the angle grinder with a cutoff wheel, then grinding the stubs and swages flush, and the hub easily separated.

                    Now you’re left with “stubs”. These original drums had the Wagner smooth studs (not serrated or splined) with the “W-circle” logo on the head. I used an impact socket that was slightly bigger than the head diameter, and used the next size down as a support 180 degrees across from this. As these sockets are all the same length, they give a good balance and lift the hub away from the concrete floor.

                    With some heat from a propane torch and then a good dose of WD-40 or other penetrating oil, I used a metal drift just under the size of the stub diameter and gave swift blows with a hand maul, sending the stub into the socket below. Came out cleanly with no distortion to the hub, given that the socket supported the stresses immediately around the stub.

                    Then, with all the components cleaned and the backing plates painted and dried, I reassembled the front brakes in no time at all. That’s the nice thing about US cars of this era, these brakes are all very common and easy to remember. Always pay attention that the small arrow on the upper anchor is always pointing to the primary shoe, meaning the arrow will be out and pointing forward on the left wheel and inside and pointing forward on the right!


                    • #11
                      On a servo brake system, shouldn't the front primary shoe lining be shorter to keep brakes from locking up during hard braking?


                      • #12
                        The Wagner units that came off and the new ones that are going on are equal length. I thought the same thing.


                        • #13
                          I noticed the the chassis parts illustrations show the front shoe lining shorter on top also. It shows the lining starting at about the same location as the return spring hook on front primary shoes on the front and rear. Since the primary shoe engages drum first and then rotates to push secondary shoe until it stops at top anchor, the shorter lining reduces the tendency for the primary shoe to grab too quickly. The secondary shoe does probably 70% of the braking. The shop that relined the shoes for my 62 GT made them both the same length too and they're riveted and bonded. I am going to cut the front linings and drill out the first two rivets so I can chisel off a section of the primary shoe linings to correct the lengths for what I believe to be proper servo action. Not sure if it makes a significant difference, but this is how servo drum brake shoes were designed. I'm thinking the Stude chassis parts catalog pics are correct.


                          • #14
                            Note that the anchor is curved on the primary side, and flat on the secondary. Their reactions are different.

                            I do remember that Bendix systems had unequal lengths, yes.


                            • #15
                              The straight ramp on the secondary side is to help wedge the shoe into position when pushed up for braking. The curved ramp on the primary side is to help the shoe ride back up into position by the return spring when the brake cylinders go back in. I find it's best for me to know as much as I can about how assemblies actually work together so I don't miss something necessary to putting things together as intended. Sometimes it takes thinking "why would they do that" and then doing lots of research.