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Old 07-21-2017, 07:20 PM   #1
cuetip
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1997 SW1
Question Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Hi all. Working on my '97 SW1's drum brakes. The old adjuster mechanisms are very rusty so I want to replace them. Is there a specific brand I should get or will the universal adjuster kits at the auto store work just fine? I also noticed that the adjuster kits for each side of the vehicle have an "L" and an "R" stamped on the adjuster hardware. Do these letters denote the side of the vehicle or the thread direction?

Thanks in advance

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Old 07-21-2017, 07:22 PM   #2
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2001 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Universal adjuster kits are fine. Yes the L is left R is right.

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Old 07-21-2017, 07:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

And the thread direction is opposite on each. I sure hope the one marked "R" has the RH thread, as well as being intended for the right side...

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Old 07-21-2017, 08:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

So I should put the adjuster stamped "L" on the left side of the car (driver side) and the one stamped "R" on the right side (passenger side)?

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Old 07-21-2017, 08:37 PM   #5
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2001 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuetip View Post
So I should put the adjuster stamped "L" on the left side of the car (driver side) and the one stamped "R" on the right side (passenger side)?
Correct.

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Old 07-21-2017, 08:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Definitely get both, and if you have not get a hardware kit for the rear as well. Also put a little high temp grease on the threads of the adjuster while you are at it.

Good call on getting these parts; they definitely take some of the aggravation out of doing drum brakes.

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Old 07-21-2017, 09:31 PM   #7
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1997 SW1
Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Yeah, for sure. I use Sil-Glyde for brake lubrication.

Thinking about getting AC Delco parts for this job because I'm paranoid about fitment and feel. Anyone here get AC Delco drum brake parts?

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Old 08-22-2017, 12:24 PM   #8
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1997 SW1
Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

So I finally got around to installing all the brake hardware. Everything fit together nicely, BUT there is a problem. A rather annoying one. Every time I use the parking brake, it causes the shoes to lose adjustment. I can feel the pedal travel increase to the point where the drums barely get hot after a drive. I end up having to readjust the drum brakes manually by turning the star wheels on either side. The adjustment holds until I use the parking brake.

I installed everything according to the FSM and quadruple checked my work. I followed the procedure in the FSM to adjust the parking brake after installing the new brake hardware. Any idea why is this happening?

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Old 08-22-2017, 01:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Something is not installed correctly.

Do you have somebody else that can check this over, a "second set of eyes"? I find that once I make a mistake I "see" things the way they are supposed to be, not the way they actually are. I will make the same error over-and-over, no matter how many times I check things. The only way to get out of this loop is to back away for a week, so your eyes are "fresh" or get somebody else to check things.

How about posting a bunch of (good) pictures? Maybe we can see something obvious.

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Old 08-22-2017, 02:17 PM   #10
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1997 SW1
Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

When I get the chance I'll upload some pics. The parking brake cable springs on both sides are very rusty and broke in half (in roughly the same spots). I was able to slide the broken pieces over the cables and install the adjuster levers without issue. Could this be the cause of my problem?

For reference, it's number 12 on the diagram.

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Old 08-22-2017, 02:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuetip View Post
So I finally got around to installing all the brake hardware. Everything fit together nicely, BUT there is a problem. A rather annoying one. Every time I use the parking brake, it causes the shoes to lose adjustment. I can feel the pedal travel increase to the point where the drums barely get hot after a drive. I end up having to readjust the drum brakes manually by turning the star wheels on either side. The adjustment holds until I use the parking brake. .......Any idea why is this happening?
Simple answer; the two star wheel adjusters are in the wrong positions. Your descriptions seems to fit when you use the parking brake and the brake pedal travels more.

Star wheel adjusters can be confusing if you're not familiar with mechanical levers, right and left hand threaded screws. If you ignore anyone's advice about right or left hand threads, examine the parking brake levers in each brake assembly. With drums removed, have someone carefully, not yank on the park brake lever, while you observe the star wheel adjuster move. You can also use a finger to tug, pull or push the park brake cable just outside the brake backing plate to see how the mechanism moves the star wheel. When you see which way the star wheel rotates, manually adjust the star wheel by hand using a screwdriver or anything to rotate the star wheel. As you observe the star wheel, which way do the arms move, spreading apart or retracting? Pulling, tugging, pushing the park brake cable is supposed to adjust the star wheel to incrementally spread the brake shoes apart - as brakes wear, the parking brake mechanically moves each star wheel to spread worn shoes closer to the brake drum. If you find the star wheels retracting, remove each one and put them in the other side. To be sure both star wheels are operating correctly, try them again with all hardware assembled, tug or pull the park brake cable to see if the star wheel adjusts in the correct direction, spreading arms apart. If correct, readjust them to fit drums back on and make any adjustments using the parking brake lever.

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Old 08-22-2017, 02:52 PM   #12
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1997 SW1
Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

One adjuster has an "L" etched into it and the other has an "R". L goes on the driver side and R on the passenger side, right? Because that's how I installed them. Assuming this is correct, could I have installed the adjusters upside down, causing them to adjust the wrong way?

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Old 08-22-2017, 03:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Star wheel adjusters go on only one way because the park brake lever mechanics are positioned in such a way that star wheels only fit one way. The wrong star wheel can fit but work in the opposite direction, retracting its arms instead of extending them when the park brake cable is pulled. While it's good to pay attention to star wheel markings, it's more important to understand how they operate in relation to the park brake lever and cable as its pulled - the cable pulls on each lever inside each brake assembly to ratchet the star wheel, spreading the arms and forcing brake shoes towards each brake drum.

I'm aware of these things even when both brake drums are removed. I use the opposite side as reference only (never disassembling both) so parts stay on one side as they're removed and reassembled. The star wheels never get mixed and I don't have to remember 'left' or 'right'. Know how star wheels operate in relation to using the parking brake.

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Old 08-22-2017, 03:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

What items are you seeing "R" and "L" stamped on them? The little right-angle lever (11 in the diagram above), or the star-wheel (also 11), or both?

I kind of doubt the broken springs around the cables is the issue, but not certain. I would replace them, that certainly isn't going to reduce problems having them broken

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Old 08-22-2017, 03:41 PM   #15
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Thanks for the detailed information, fdryer. I must be missing something here though. I bought ACDelco adjusters. They came in ACDelco boxes. The part numbers for each correspond to the side they're supposed to go on, as per ACDelco's website. I made extra sure that each adjuster was installed on the correct side. According to their website, the part numbers, and the boxes each part came in, the adjuster with "L" etched into it is supposed to be installed on the driver side, and the adjuster with "R" etched into it is supposed to be installed on the passenger side. I did exactly this. Is this not correct? Were they threaded wrong at the factory? Why do drum brakes have to ********** suck so much?

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Old 08-22-2017, 04:06 PM   #16
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
What items are you seeing "R" and "L" stamped on them? The little right-angle lever (11 in the diagram above), or the star-wheel (also 11), or both?
Both. Each new adjuster kit comes with each part labeled 11. And depending on the side, the angle bracket piece and star wheel cylinder will have an L or an R etched into it.

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Old 08-22-2017, 04:35 PM   #17
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Rock Auto determine Left or Right by position when sitting in the car. So Left would be drivers side and right would be passenger side.

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Old 08-22-2017, 04:55 PM   #18
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuetip View Post
Thanks for the detailed information, fdryer. I must be missing something here though. I bought ACDelco adjusters. They came in ACDelco boxes. The part numbers for each correspond to the side they're supposed to go on, as per ACDelco's website. I made extra sure that each adjuster was installed on the correct side. According to their website, the part numbers, and the boxes each part came in, the adjuster with "L" etched into it is supposed to be installed on the driver side, and the adjuster with "R" etched into it is supposed to be installed on the passenger side. I did exactly this. Is this not correct? Were they threaded wrong at the factory? Why do drum brakes have to ********** suck so much?
If you insist on left and right, fine. It's your car. Me? I don't place trust in something until I verify it. In your case, the star wheels marked are "references". That's all. If you choose to believe in them without understanding how they work without verifying the entire park brake mechanics related to adjusting these star wheels, you're in the only position to lose and remain frustrated about rear brakes loosening up (possibly due to star wheel misplacement), if that is occurring. Perhaps Googling for youtube videos may help to become familiar with drum brakes and how star wheels automatically adjust.

Drum brakes have been around longer than disc brakes and are used in almost every tractor trailer long haul trucks. Same brakes you're looking at except bigger parts for very heavy duty use. While frustrating, brakes are not for the average diyer. If you are still confused, you might as well bring your car in to a shop to straighten out this mystery otherwise safety is compromised.

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Old 08-22-2017, 07:11 PM   #19
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

I agree with what you're saying. I'll disregard the etchings and go by actual thread direction of the star wheel bolts. Which thread direction goes on which side?

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Old 08-22-2017, 10:36 PM   #20
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Default Re: Drum Brake Adjuster Kit Question

There is still no confirmation that these star wheels are the cause of your brake pedal dropping and a presumption on my part. You or a repair shop will have to verify this or something else is causing your brake pedal to drop after using the parking brake.

1-I'll try this one more time. DO NOT assume anything about 'left' or 'right' markings on your two star wheels.

2-Unless you have a full understanding of how star wheels adjust by using the parking brake, your 'tunnel vision' about left and right is preventing you from moving forward to understand how each star wheel rotates by cable and levers to spread the arms apart to keep brake shoes close to drums. It's not a matter of left or right but how each star wheel rotates to move the arms further apart to move brake shoes close to drums. The key to understanding star wheels is in what rotation each one moves by cable operation to spread shoes apart. I cannot make it any simpler. If you have difficulty with this then I think you should have these brakes examined by a repair shop and explain your predicament.

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