Brake troubleshooting

Ckelley254

Bigger Hammer
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Mar 23, 2016
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Severance, Colorado
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Chris
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
#1
I have a 55' wagon that has the original drum brake setup. After adjusting the front brakes, the front drivers side wheel started to lock up after braking. I re-adjusted the brakes on this wheel, removing most of the drag on the wheel from the adjusters. Everything seemed fine, but on my way home from doing some errands, the front drivers side wheel started locking up again when the breaks were applied.

I'm thinking the possible culprit could be a bad wheel cylinder, or maybe some crud in the break line. Has anyone else experienced this problem before. I will be pulling the drum off this weekend to re-inspect the brakes and wheel cylinder. (I inspected everything, and checked the shoe lining the day I adjusted the break shoes, about three weeks ago. Everything looked fine, with no leaks, ect.)
 

Bill Kuran

Precision Fit
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Potomac, MD
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Bill
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Willys Year:
1960
#2
My experience with what you describe was caused by brake fluid on the lining from a leaking wheel cylinder. I put the shoes in an oven at 425°F for six hours to evaporate/burn away the fluid and replaced the wheel cylinder. Maybe take another look at the lining.
 

tnestell

Precision Fit
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Saginaw, Michigan
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Ted
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Willys Year:
1954
#3
I had this problem also. My fix was to shorten the push rod from the pedal to the master cylinder about 1/4". It is adjustable. When cool everything was fine, but after warming up the problem would show up.
 

Ckelley254

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Chris
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1955
#4
I had this problem also. My fix was to shorten the push rod from the pedal to the master cylinder about 1/4". It is adjustable. When cool everything was fine, but after warming up the problem would show up.
I thought about that. I fiddled with the adjusters again today, drove it, and it seemed ok. A few hours later, I went to go get my son from school, and I didn’t get 50 feet from my house before it locked up. Would it do it after sitting for that long.
 

jfcroni

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#5
If all adjustments seem good.... if you have old flexible rubber brake lines from the block to the cylinder, they could be swollen internally and not be allowing the fluid to return into the lines under the spring tension between the two shoes. Could be the cylinder too.
 

Ckelley254

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1955
#6
If all adjustments seem good.... if you have old flexible rubber brake lines from the block to the cylinder, they could be swollen internally and not be allowing the fluid to return into the lines under the spring tension between the two shoes. Could be the cylinder too.
Ahh, the rubber linesp never crossed my mind. They haven’t been replaced since December 1997, so it’s probably time. Lol. I guess we’ll see when I get the wheel and drum off.
 
Joined
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North Lawrence,Ohio
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Willys Year:
1959
#7
It could also be weak return springs or improperly installed springs. I have seen them installed with the hooks in the wrong places and they will not apply enough return pressure to return the brake cylinder. Good luck and let us know what you find.
 

Ckelley254

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#9
Update:

Sorry it took me so long. But I only got garage time yesterday. After pulling the drum and hub off, I looked for any brake fluid and leaks around the wheel cylinder. I found none and the rubber on the wheel cylinder looks good. I did notice that the bottom return spring is a little week. I switched all of the bleeders out to the doorman one person quick bleeders and re-bled the entire brake system. I then adjusted the brakes. So far on a few test drives everything seems to be working. The fluid in the system looked pretty clean when I bled it.

I’m not sure what was causing the left front wheel to lock up, and it is probably too early to say that I fixed the problem. I will be driving to town later on this morning and I hope everything goes well with it. If the problem come back, I will know to replace the wheel cylinder and I will also replace both of the rubber brake lines for the front. I will also need to replace the adjuster’s as some are stripped out and a 5/16 wrench no longer fits on them. Also, I order new springs.

Not sure what caused my problem, only that before it started happening, I had topped off the master cylinder with brake fluid. Maybe too much and there wasn’t room for expansion once the system was warm. But I’d think it would cause the entire brake system to lock up.

Anyway I guess I’ll find out when I go to town. B4CD4483-5B1A-436E-8533-9F0649E5EF7C.jpeg B4CD4483-5B1A-436E-8533-9F0649E5EF7C.jpeg B4CD4483-5B1A-436E-8533-9F0649E5EF7C.jpeg B4CD4483-5B1A-436E-8533-9F0649E5EF7C.jpeg 029A848B-1008-467D-915F-F95EEBF46AD8.jpeg 029A848B-1008-467D-915F-F95EEBF46AD8.jpeg B4CD4483-5B1A-436E-8533-9F0649E5EF7C.jpeg AF362D0E-3DF4-4EA0-BE6E-E9F1B90265F3.jpeg C0DBD605-2B3D-42B5-B8C2-DFEC9E341EBA.jpeg 029A848B-1008-467D-915F-F95EEBF46AD8.jpeg C0DBD605-2B3D-42B5-B8C2-DFEC9E341EBA.jpeg B4CD4483-5B1A-436E-8533-9F0649E5EF7C.jpeg 029A848B-1008-467D-915F-F95EEBF46AD8.jpeg
 

Blindmelon

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#10
If that's the left front, the shoes are on backwards.. Long shoe on the front, short on the rear... If you switch to Bendix single anchor it's long on the rear, short one on the front
 

Ckelley254

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Chris
Willys Model
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Willys Year:
1955
#11
If that's the left front, the shoes are on backwards.. Long shoe on the front, short on the rear... If you switch to Bendix single anchor it's long on the rear, short one on the front
Thanks for that catch. I should’ve noticed it the very first time I took it apart. It’s been that way since 2012. I paid a quack mechanic to do the breaks as I was working 80+ hours a week back then. Looks like I’m going to be pulling all my wheels and hubs to check all the other brakes now.

P.s. does the long shoes face the front on the rear, or are they the same size?
 

Blindmelon

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#12
Yes, front and rear brake assemblys are identical in this application.. The rear shoe has a shorter lining to equalize wear.. The front shoe would wear faster than the rear if they had the same size lining..
 
Last edited:

Blindmelon

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#13
Just another tip regarding front drum brakes... Check your front wheel bearings.. A loose bearing can make your
brakes pull...
 
Joined
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Vallejo California
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Larry
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Willys Year:
1961
#14
My experience with what you describe was caused by brake fluid on the lining from a leaking wheel cylinder. I put the shoes in an oven at 425°F for six hours to evaporate/burn away the fluid and replaced the wheel cylinder. Maybe take another look at the lining.
Throw a Turkey in there for about 3 hours...fluid smoke maybe an interesting fusion cooking flavor...Willys meets Gobbler
 

Ken_Parkman

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Ontario
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Ken
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#15
I vaguely remember once doing an adjust (drums, but not a jeep) and it caused it to grab. Then it wore in a bit and the problem solved itself. My opinion was the adjust cause the exact way the shoe hit the drum changed and caused a slightly different self energizing effect - and it grabbed until it re-seated itself. IIRC it did not take long. If there is no fluid - which for sure messes them up - I'd go out and find a "safe" place and load the shoes a bit to seat them. See if it fixes itself.

Of course if you correct the shoes that will probably exaggerate the need to re seat.

BTW I bought a complete Bendix kit assembled, installed it on Sunday. EVERYTHING is wrong, adjustors on wrong side, shoes reversed. By now if someone tells me a job I did is as good as a pro I respond... It's that bad?
 

56STK

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#16
If it happens again, open the bleeder on that wheel while it's locked. If it then turns free the problem is hydraulic pressure not releasing . If it stays locked it's a mechanical problem inside the drum. Good luck
 

vintagetrk

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nathan
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#17
I have fought the same issue and like 56STK said, I have chased it back to being something in the master cylinder. I either have something flipped and its not allowing fluid to return or possible an obstruction or air in a line? My solution is to update the system to either Bendix 11" self adjustors or front disk rear drum setup.
 

Ckelley254

Bigger Hammer
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Severance, Colorado
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Chris
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Willys Year:
1955
#18
Update:

After putting the front shoes in the correct position, and bleeding and adjusting the brakes, everything worked well...for three weeks. Yesterday I was driving back from Fort Collins and had to brake hard. The front drivers side pulled hard and I had a come to Jesus moment as the wagon was hurled to the left. Luckily I was able to control it. Also, after initial braking, if I let up on the pedal and then re-brake the vehicle seems to brake "true " or at least more even and straight

So could my bearings on the right front be needing replaced? They looked decent and I re-greased them when I put everything back together.

I'm thinking a front disc conversion will be in the future, but not the immediate future. Any thoughts...
 
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#19
When I adjust my brakes I take the truck out to a safe area and brake hard a couple of times. You can even out the application of the brakes by further adjustment. If the side that locks up is not dragging I would tighten up the opposite side rather than loosen the tight side. Keep messing with the adjustments to get the application even side to side. Brakes pulling to one side can happen with even modern braking systems.

Check you're air pressure in the tires. A low tire will cause it to pull also.

Also do some research on the disc brake conversion. With out a booster you may be disappointed in the results.

Good luck.
 

56STK

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#20
So is it brakes staying on/dragging or is it a pull to one side? There is a difference
 
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