Tech Tip: Series 10" Brake Installation

Probably the most common repair that a Series Land Rover owner will undertake is replacing the brakes. Most of the questions we answer on the phone here at Rovers North are about the correct way to replace brakes. The following is a description for replacing the 10" style brakes found on short wheel base Land Rovers built before 1980.

Once the vehicle has been jacked up and is securely resting on jack stands and the road wheel removed, the brake drum is exposed. Three screws, and maybe some rust, are all that hold the drum in place. If these screws have not been removed in quite a while they will probably require the use of a hammer and chisel or a hand impact driver to loosen them. Once these are removed and the adjuster on the backing plate is slackened the drum is ready to be removed. Usually this requires the assistance of a 3/8" coarse threaded bolt that is screwed into the small hole on the face of the brake drum. This will pry the drum away from the hub. Be careful not to turn the bolt too far causing the drum to crack. Note: You might want to use a high-tensile bolt here, as a hardware grade bolt may shed its threads rather than pop the drum loose. Grade-8 is recommended, typically - it will retain its threads, and you won't torque it hard enough to break it - the drum will pop off first.

Now that the drum is removed, inspect the shoes to see if they have been contaminated with hub bearing grease or oil. If so, the hub will have to be removed and the seal and race replaced. Likewise, the wheel cylinder will need to be rebuilt if the shoes show signs of brake fluid contamination.

Remove the two bolts holding the retaining ring onto the bottom of the trailing shoe (#4). Often there is a lock tab that needs to be bent down in order to get a wrench on these bolts. Using a pry bar or vise grips, carefully lever out the bottom of the trailing shoe to clear the pivot post at the bottom of the backing plate. Remove the shoe and repeat to remove the leading shoe.

Inspect the dust boots (#6) on the wheel cylinder. If the cylinder is leaking there will be an accumulation of fluid in the dust boots and the cylinder will need to be rebuilt or replaced. Also check that the pistons move easily inside the cylinder. Clean the backing plate and inspect the adjuster to make sure it rotates freely and doesn't have any spots that are worn flat on its outer edge. Also inspect the pivot bracket at the base of the plate to insure that it is not loose on the plate.

When replacing the shoes pair up a leading shoe with a trailing shoe. The leading shoes are the ones with the posts that face the backing plate and ride on the adjuster cams. The trailing shoes have no posts. Apply a bit of grease (preferably white lithium assembly grease) to the top and bottom of each shoe where they come in contact with the cylinder pistons and the bottom pivot bracket. Also apply some grease to the edge of the adjuster cam and to the two points on the backing plate that come in contact with the shoes. Do not allow any grease to get on the brake linings!

After matching the sets of new shoes, connect the bottom spring (black one) between the two shoes (#5). The spring goes on the inside or backing plate side of the shoes. Holding the set of shoes up, place the leading shoe into position. Carefully lever the trailing shoe into position. Connect the top spring (red one) between the post on the leading shoe and the post on the opposite side of the backing plate (#3). This spring does not connect to the trailing shoe. The spring must be behind and not interfere with the adjuster cam. Install the retaining ring to the trailing shoe. These bolts are designed to tap into the unthreaded holes but starting them is easier if a 1/4"x20 tap is used on the holes first.

Clean out the brake drum. Remove any dust, rust, oil or grease from the inside surface. Inspect the inside face that comes in contact with the shoes. If this is scored it will have to be resurfaced or replaced. 10" brake drums can be turned to a maximum of 10 1/16". Back off the adjuster cam and compress the top of the shoes into the wheel cylinder and install the drum. Apply a never-seize product to the drum screws and install. Gently tapping the face of the drum with a hammer will help to get these screws tight.

Adjust the adjuster cam. These should be turned to the point where they can't be turned any further then backed off a couple of notches so the drum turns freely. If the adjuster turns all the way around then either the post is not making contact with the cam or the drum has been turned out too far and will need to be replaced.

Test drive the Land Rover once all the brakes have been checked and adjusted. The Land Rover should brake smoothly without pulling to one side and without any shudder or pulsing in the pedal. Squeal is common with new shoes and should dissipate as the shoes break into the drums. After test driving, recheck the brake adjustment and enjoy the satisfaction of completing an important part of your Land Rover's maintenance.

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