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Can't get my rear brake drum off of my '52 Dodge


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You need to go to the nearest tool rental shop and pick up a three legged style drum puller. It should be the type with three legs that bolt to the drum studs and has a hammerhead looking type screw center piece. Bolt the puller to the drum and whack that center piece until the drum pops off. DO NOT STAND IN FRONT OF THE PULLER! There is the possibility that the drum could fly off the axle and hit you. Sometimes they just slide off easily.

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Old-timer's method--WARNING!! you can screw up the threads on your axle this way, if you are not careful!

Put wheels on. Jack up car at opposite wheel (wheel you want drum off is on the ground, weight of car on it, other wheel in the air)

Take off axle nut. If you don't have an "axle driver" tool (basically a long blind-holed nut), turn the nut around, and put back on the axle until the end of the nut is flush with the axle. Get a friend to hold a good sized piece of flat steel against the end of the axle, make certain he's holding it square. Strike the steel at the axle point with a LARGE sledge hammer. After one or three blows, the drum should come loose. The nut keeps the drum from flying off, AND keeps the end of the axle from mushrooming. Having the other wheel in the air allows the car (and axle) to move when the axle is struck. The wheel on the ground keeps the drum from moving.

The tool described is the best solution, but even with it, you sometimes have to do the jack thing--and don't forget to put the nut on the axle first!!

Good luck, they can be real bears to get loose.

David D.

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Once you have the hub off you'll see that the axle end is sloped out toward you and the inside of the drum is concave to accept the axle. And the axle and drum are 'keyed' to each other with a full length 1/4" or 5/16" Woodruff key. Handle the key very carefully. The edges become VERY sharp over the years and cut like a razor blade. Before putting everything back together smear modern silicone grease on all the surfaces. Be careful of the slot for the key in the drum and in the axle as these have razor sharp edges as well. The grease will stay put because of it's very high melting point and it's doesn't 'flow' or 'bleed' out it's carrier like common mineral based greases. I've found over the years that lubricating all the mating surfaces with silicone grease makes parting the drum from the axle much easier down the road.

I agree that just backing off the axle nut and leaving it in place is the best course of action. Remove the large washer also to give you more 'gap'. Because of the downward and outward slope of the mating surfaces of the drum and the 'loading' of the parts by the jack screw in the puller, the drum has a nasty habit of flying off and landing sometimes 3 feet away from the car when it lets go. Lots of stored energy it would seem. Leaving the axle nut in place captures the drum. You can tell if the drum has come loose by watching the gap between the rear of the nut and face of the drum. Once the gap closes the drum is loose.

Anybody reading this thread that owns any antique CPDD vehicle ,car or truck, you're looking at the same method to remove your rear drums. It was a 'feature' of Chrysler rear axles in those days.

Edited by DodgeKCL (see edit history)
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I would not recommend using alternative methods due to the following caution as written in the repair manual.

Caution....Do not use knock-out type pullers or strike end of axle shaft to lossen hub. This may damage the rear wheel bearings, thrust block and opposite brake support plate.

Other methods may do the job but at what cost is the question one must ask..most OTC parts store have these on loaner program..recommend you go that route if possible.

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Then there's the old trick of loosening the axle end nut slightly and rolling back and forth a bit in the driveway until the drum pops free.

I've never needed to try it, but I've seen that in a number of places and it sounds rather safe and non-destructive. Worth a try?

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Just to jump in here with a quick comment:

I have always heard that there should NEVER be any lubricant put onto the tapered axle shaft. It would stand to reason there should be something on that contact area (especially after the battle that always seems to ensue when removing these drums :P ) but that is not true. The axle shaft, along with the brake drum, have been specifically engineered to be put together WITHOUT lubricant. If there is any lube on this area when put back together, the drum will not fit back on all the way. There will be an area of slippage between the drum and the axle even if it is only a few molecules. This movement is detrimental to the Woodruff key and could cause it to shear off. The idea here is that all three of these parts fit tight and do not move around during the numerous accelerations and decelerations a car does while being driven. ;)

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The smear of silicone grease would be almost invisible to the eye. I don't know how it would hold the drum from climbing all the way onto the axle? But in any case I've been doing it for over 40 years now after I was introduced to silicone grease in my geophysical engineering days. I also smear silicone grease on the threads of wheel nuts/bolts to make them come off easier. I use military grade silicone grease on many areas of my antiques and daily drivers. I've had nothing but great success over the years and have none of the 'stuck' brake drums or rusted in place wheel nuts. At least not after the 1st removal and clean up of the part.

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