Bad brakes when wet

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Mar 27, 2003
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I have all four drums on my '74. Everything cept lines and shoes is brand spankin new other than booster (which is still fine). Whenever I go through some deep water, my brakes pretty much quit working and feel like manual brakes for a very long time. (Takes 1 day 1 night of sitting to fully dry them,) or less when driving a lot. This has caused me to have some very close calls, especially last weekend when we had a tornado and and inch of rain in half an hour, I drove through some 3 foot deep water and then almost had a few wrecks cause I couldn't stop.
One other brake problem, whenever I have to slam on the brakes, (not necessarily that hard) the rear brakes instantly lock up, causeing me to skid pretty bad, also causing a few close calls. When the roads are wet its hard to stop quickly at all without locking up the back. Something that might be related-the first brake to dry is always the rear left, I can tell cause right after I go through deep water and have to brake firmly, I always swing to the right. Any help is greatly appreciated, this is starting to get dangerous :eek:sometimes. :eek:
 

megolfer

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Jan 29, 2003
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This is a common problem with drum brakes, when they get wet they dont stop. They will work fine again once they dry. The only way to fix this is to put disc brakes on
 
G

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There should be 4 Rubber Grommets that go into the Adjuster holes on each Drum.
 
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Jan 8, 2003
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Cruiserman,
There are several solutions to your problems. After driving through water, drive slowly in 1st gear and use your left foot to put a little (light) pressure on the brake pedal. As the brakes begin to dry out, you'll feel the drag on the engine. If they don't dry evenly, it'll begin to pull to one side or the other. With practice, you'll get a feel for how much throttle and brake pressure to use. As the drag on the engine increases, you can try real stopping to gauge whether they work well enough to trust them. My '68 has 4 drums and no booster, and this is standard operating procedure when it's been in the wet.
If you're really in water a lot, there are corrective measures. You can drill a series of small holes in the brake drums (like 1/8 inch) to let the water escape more quickly (think of ventilated brake discs and you'll get the idea). Space the evenly radially around the drum and staggered across the swept surface. The downside is if you are in gritty muddy water, it can let the same nasties inside the drum, contributing to increased wear. Remember to flush them out well with fresh water anytime you've been in deep water.
As for the other problem, the cause is probably uneven adjustment and/or air in lines. Try backing off the rears a little bit to see if it is slower to lock up. Re-bleed the fronts and readjust them to make sure they're doing their share of the work. (I disagree with your cause/effect perception: if the left rear dries out first, then you should be swerving to the left braking after a water crossing, since it would be the first to do any real work slowing you down.)
p.s. How come I haven't seen you on the CCOT forum? (www. coolcruisers.com)
 
Joined
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p.s.  How come I haven't seen you on the CCOT forum? (www. coolcruisers.com)
I've read it a coupla times, just never posted much, I might start readin it too. Not much time this part of the year with school wrapping up and exams. Thanks for the brake tips, I found that I could dry them fine when wheelin cause I would be in 4 lo and not in traffic, but on the road (this one case only) it was ugly, especially since it was raining and I had no top on :eek:.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2002
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It sounds like you only have 1 drum doing all the work. That would account for long times to recover from wetting AND swerving with dry brakes. I think you should go back and bleed the whole system again. (What's one more evening of screwing around with it compared to ruining someone's whole life because you couldn't stop in time?) Buy yourself a gallon of fluid and bleed the bejeebers out of it, being careful not to draw air back in each time your partner lets off the pedal.

Then turn each manual adjuster down tight until the drum is locked up, and back off until it turns freely with just a slight amount of rubbing. You can step on the pedal between adjustments to make sure the pads are centered.

With good adjustment and no air they should work when dry and they should dry out faster after you swamp them.
:D
 
Joined
Feb 17, 2002
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Like the others said, adjust them all up and learn how to dry them out.
You can also drill a couple of small holes, maybe 1/4" near the bottom of the backing plates.
Of course this will let water in but it will also let it out.
Years ago when i ran old beater Jeeps in lots of water in South FL we woulh butcher up the backing plates with a torch, leaving just enough to hold the shoes and cylinders.
This made it easy to wash out with a hose when we got home.
Of course this let lots of crud into the brakes but what the heck.
Paul
 
Joined
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I figured out how to dry em pretty quick since the first time i got it wet enough I was driving on mountain pass roads way up in North Ga, but on road I was presented with a problem since you have to stop pretty freqently. I think I'll go adjust them up and bleed and see if that helps. I bet disks (at least front) are in my future, but for now the all new drums stop really well when dry.
 

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