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bofusmosby

'37 Pontiac Frozen front brake drum

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A few weeks ago, I replaced the rear wheel cylinders, and all went well. On one of the wheels, the drum was loose, but it took about an hour to remove it. I figured I'd replace the front wheel cylinders today (yea right) so after removing the right/front wheel, I went to remove the brake drum, and nothing! The wheel turns fine, but the drum seems to be fused to the spindle. I fought that thing for over 2 hours, until I finally put the wheel back on and retired for the evening. I don't think it has anything to do with the brake shoes binding with the drum, because if it was, I should be able to get a bit of play at least. Also, the wheel turns fine. I sprayed some PB Blaster on the wheel bolts, and the center spindle, and tapped about on the drum trying to free it, but it wouldn't budge. I also tried to pry it from behind, and again, still stuck.

I am wondering if I might have to remove the spindle nut and the berrings to get the drum off. If I do this, I will still be faced with the same problem of removing the drum. Any ideas? I was hoping to get the front brakes done this weekend, but I am beginning to wonder now. Any opinions and/or advice will be appreciated. I know that I could beat the heck out of the drums, break them into pieces, then it would be off, but for me, this is not an option.

Thank you for your responses!

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Jim,

In most cases, you must remove the spindle nut and the outer wheel bearing first.

then the hub and drum (as one unit) will slide off of the spindle. Be careful of the inner wheel bearing and grease seal (you will likely want to replace the seal which you should be able to match-up at NAPA).

When the bearings are off, you should clean them thoroughly in a parts washer with kerosine or even with gasoline (but carefully). LET THEM AIR-DRY, AND NOT WITH COMPRESSED AIR.

Reassemble and re-pack the bearings with a good quality grease. I use "Long-Fibre Wheel Bearing grease". Gently tap the new grease seals into place after inserting the re-packed inner bearing, and slide it onto the spindle. Then insert the outer re-packed bearing, flat washer, and spindle nut. NOT TOO TIGHT -- snug it up, and then back it off just a hair so that you have just a few thousands of "rock" to the assembly. As long as you can feel a slight bit of up and down motion it should be OK. then insert the new cotter pin to hold the adjustment.

If any questions, call my cell 504 - 452 - 1955

Best regards,

Marty in New Orleans

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O boy, this is an easy one! The brake drum does not come off the hub, it all comes off as an assembly. Very easy.

Here it is in detail:

1) Jack up the wheel. Use a jack stand or blocks MAKE SURE THERE IS NO CHANCE OF A MISTAKE HERE! You can be squashed if you make a mistake.

2) Take off the hub cap and pry off the little cap in the center of the hub. Straighten out the cotter pin and pull it out. Unscrew the nut but not all the way. Leave it flush with the end of the spindle.

3) Grab the tire and give it a wiggle. The bearing will pop out. The nut keeps it from falling in the dirt.

4) Take off the nut, the washer, and the bearing. Put them in a safe place.

5) Take the wheel off, hub brake drum and all.

6) Fix the brakes.

7) Take the inner bearing out. The easiest way to do this is to lay the wheel on some blocks (to get it off the ground) reach down inside the hub with a brass drift or piece of wood and tap the inner bearing out with a hammer. The grease seal will come out with it.

8) Wash off the bearings with cleaning solvent. Blow them clean with compressed air if you have it. DO NOT spin the bearings with the air. I know it is fun to hear them whizz but it can damage the bearing. Inspect the bearing for wear. If the bearing and races are clean and shiny they are OK. Pack with grease and reinstall the inner bearing with a new grease seal.

9)Put the wheel back on. Now put the outer bearing in with the nut and washer. Tighten it snug, and give the wheel a spin to squish the grease out. Adjust the bearing clearance according to manufacturer's instructions. There is different method for ball bearings and roller bearings, I don't know which your car has. Ball bearings usually you adjust so there is a trace of play, the wheel should move about 1/16" at the tire. For tapered roller bearings tighten peachy keen tight (barely tight) then back off enough to put the cotter pin in. O ya, buy some new cotter pins when you get the grease seals, you are not supposed to reuse cotter pins.

Hope that helps. This is from 40 years of working on old cars and is not specific to a 37 Pontiac, but more or less generic. If anyone has more knowledge I expect they will chip in.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)

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Marty and I must have been typing at the same time. I didn't know he was answering. At least we agree so that's good.

Should have added, use a small block of wood to tap in the grease seal to avoid bending it. A piece of pipe or a big socket works well too.

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Rusty,

Thanks - I type with 2 fingers - slowly -

Your advice is right-on, and added detail I should have included.

By the way, a few years back I had a '63 Impala whith front brake drums which actually were separate from the hubs, but rarely see this type.

Jim is getting a real education--

This being Fathers' Day weekend, I have to give the credit for my auto-education where it really belongs: My Dad has been gone since 2003, and I often think about how much he taught me - glad to pass it on; to my son and daughter, my grandson Nathan, and anybody else who needs some advice.

JIM: I strongly suggest replacing all 3 flex brake hoses at this time. Last week I drove the '37 buick on the Founders Tour. First day out, after about 30 miles, I noticed a lack of acceleration, then at the 1st coffee break I noticed that the rear wheels were more than warm (but not the fronts). The parking brake cable was not sticking, but the car would not roll. I used a 3/8" box wrench to crack a rear brake bleeder with the parking brake off and the car in gear. It moved slightly, relieving the pressure from the rear brake cylinders. I repeated this process about every 30-40 miles throughout the tour all week long. My best guess is that the hose developed a bubble or flaw internally since these brake hoses are essentially a hose within a hose, and it was acting as a CHECK-VALVE, not letting brake fluid/pressure return properly. This was a personal choice, rather than withdrawing from the tour since I knew the problem and the fix. Now that the tour is over we will replace the rear, as well as both front brake hoses.

Good luck with your project, and you might want to get a Motors Manual, and read-up on repairs before you pry things too hard - my Dad gave me that advice, saying that there would be no "Sledge-Hammer Mechanics" in our family.

Marty

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LET THEM AIR-DRY, AND NOT WITH COMPRESSED AIR. Marty in New Orleans

Just curious as to why you would not advise using compressed air when Rusty advised to use it. He mentioned not spinning the bearings that it could hurt them. I would be concerned about blowing the solvent back into my face.

An interesting thread for sure. :)

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Many thanks for all the help. After I made this post, I spoke to my brother-in-law up in Georgia, and he said the exact same thing. As far as "banging" too much, well, this I didn't do. I tapped around, tried some prying, but was afraid of hitting things too hard for fear of causing damage. I wish I had some brake hoses handy, but that will have to wait. All the hoses were supposed to have been replaced about 10 years ago, so I am in hopes that they will last a bit longer. Its been years since I packed any bearings, but I guess its like riding a bike. I should have done this from the beginning. I don't know why I didn't. I was sitting there looking at the nut (when I removed the grease cap) wondering why I just don't remove the nut and washer, and go ahead and re-pack the bearings.

I am concerned about NAPA having a grease seal in stock. So far, they are batting a 1000, and have had nothing that I needed. I know that these berrings were re-packed 10 years ago, so if the grease seal looks OK, I might have to use the one on the car. I'll call them up tomorrow to see if they have what I need.

Thank you so much for your detailed instructions on this. I shouldn't have any problems what-so-ever! You guys (and gals) are the best!!

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If the grease seal is good and not leaking it can be reused. Also, if the bearings are full of fresh grease they do not have to be repacked. Often I will wipe off the outer bearing and pack some new grease in and let it go at that. Provided it did not fall on the floor and get dirty, and provided the bearings have recently been greased. I gave you the full treatment just in case.

It does not hurt bearings to blow them clean and dry but it can hurt to spin them with the air. They could even fly apart although I have never seen this happen.

By the way there is a lot of cheap grease out there that melts and runs out into your brakes when it gets hot so buy a good name brand grease.

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Susan, Jim, Rusty,

The only reason I mentioned not using compressed air to dry the bearings is that:

1. All too often the bearing will spin, and the uninitiated may let it spin, potentially damaging the bearing, or the race surface.

2. Sometimes the compressed air source will not have adequate dryers, resulting in moisture being introduced into the bearing surface, leading to short-term failure of the bearing. Just an extra precaution drilled into me by a dear, and departed Master Machinist, Wilfred (Willie Guillot, who, in addition to my Dad, taught me so very much about this wonderful hobby of ours.

By the way, my suggestion of "Long-Fiber Wheel Bearing Grease" is a strong suggestion - I've always had success, and have seen other grease liquify.

You might also try Auto Zone and RareParts.com for bearings and seals.

Jim, have you joined AACA and a local Tampa-area group?

Marty

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Thanks Marty. I have found this thread to be very interesting and just wanted to make sure why you didn't recommend using compressed air. Turns out it is basically for the same reason that Rusty cautioned folks about if they did use it. :)

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Well, here's an update.

First of all Marty, I wen to join today, but I see that I have to give a credit card # on the computer. I feel very uncomfortable about doing this, so I will call them tomorrow morning, and give my card info over the phone. So, this time tomorrow, I will be a national member. I will also tell them that you twisted my arm.:D

Ok, here is how it went. First of all, I want to thank every one who posted on this thread. Your instructions were better than looking up the answers in the back of a book! :) Piece of cake! Its a good thing I decided to replace ALL the wheel cylinders, and not just the one that was leaking. The left/front was starting to leak a little, so it would have only been a short while before I would have had no brakes! I also found out that both outer bearings (and traces) were bad. I went ahead a re-packed them after cleaning, but this is just temporary. I will order new ones tomorrow, after checking with NAPA first. The inner ones on both sides are fine. I also had to remove both ends of the brake hoses, because there wasn't a "pivot" connection, and the entire hose had to spin when I removed the wheel cylinders. I did see another problem (bad king pin bushings), that I will start another thread on. You guys are going to get sick of all my questions!

I'm still not happy with the amount of brake pedal (or lack of) that I have. I bled all the wheels a number of times, so I don't believe that air in the line(s) is the problem. Maybe they are just out of adjustment. I'll have to look into this further. All in all, things went very well. No unexpected problems with what I was doing. I must have spent at least an hour or two just trying to remove the caked on grease on each wheel/linkage assembly. I must have removed at least a couple of pounds of that junk!

Thanks again for all your help. I really appreciated that!

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Jim,

First, you are very welcome. Sharing advice and experience here is one of those wonderful parts of this great hobby. We are delighted to know that the Pontiac has completed its cross-country journey, and is apparently in good stewardship. Many of us are anxious to see it on tour in the future.

When you set up your brakes, use the starwheel to loosen the adjustment, then tighten it to where the shoes lock the brakedrum. then back off the adjustment so that the drum just barely turns without contact -- repeat at each wheel. You probably should have had the drums checked, or turned on a brake lathe to ensure that they are not out-of-round. All this is done with the parking brake released.

When you bleed the hydraulic system, after replacing all THREE hoses, start with the wheel cylinder farthest from the master cylinder (usually right-rear, then left-rear, then right-front, then left-front) making sure that you top off the master cylinder in between so as not to introduce air. Even if the hoses are not immediately available locally, a good commercial hose/hydraulic shop should be able to make the hoses for you from your originals.

You should then get a good brake pedal -- Bleeding gives you a good firm pedal; adjustment gives you a good high pedal.

Phone me if you have any concerns or problems - also any of the folks in your area whose names I sent you previously.

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The non turning brake hose is common. The solution is to unbolt the wheel cylinder and then unscrew it off the brake hose. Break the connection loose before you take the cylinder off. Of course, it is always a good idea to replace the hose if it is dried out and cracked.

Now that you have pumped the brakes a few times it may be necessary to readjust the brake shoes. Also, air can get dissolved in the fluid when doing a job like this. Let the car stand overnight and the air will come out, bleed the brakes once more and you should get it all.

Finally do not judge the brakes until you drive the car. The pedal can feel "funny" sitting in the garage, just because you are being critical. The road test tells the tale.

You may also need to adjust the brakes after they break in, in 2 or 3 weeks. Then they should hold their adjustment for years.

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Thank you Rusty. I took the car for a test drive, and it was then that I found that I really should have more pedal. Its really storming down here right now, but sometime this week, I'll bleed the brakes again and see what happens. I'll start with the wheel furthest away from the mater cylinder, and work my way to the closest. I'll let you know if there is any difference.

As far as removing the wheel cylinder, thats exactly what I did. Un-bolt the cylinder (after breaking loose the hose connection first) spin the cylinder to get it unscrewed, but then I disconnected the other end of the brake hose to re-connect the cylinder.

The brakes had been done about 10 years (2000 miles) ago, and all the shoes looked to be in new condition. The insides of the drums were all smooth, with no grooves.

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One more thing guys, because I am a bit confused. I know that you have told me that when I bleed the brake system, start with the furthest wheel (right/rear) and work my way until I get to the closest wheel to the master cylinder. Got it! So far, we have been getting a lot of bad weather, so I haven't bled the system again yet. My confusion is that I was reading the 1937 Pontiac shop manual, and it says to bleed the system the opposite way. Start with the closest wheel (left/front), and work my way to the furthest wheel (right/rear). :confused: Which do I do? I would like to do things by the book, but maybe there was a lot of info that was found out since 1937. Should I follow the book, or start at the furthest wheel?

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In cases like this I would follow the factory recommendation. They know your car best. Personally I always start with the nearest wheel. I don't think it makes any difference in the end, but it does give you pressure sooner.

A vacuum brake bleeder is a great thing if you can borrow one. Most parts stores lend or rent such tools .

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O boy, this is an easy one! The brake drum does not come off the hub, it all comes off as an assembly. Very easy.

Here it is in detail:

1) Jack up the wheel. Use a jack stand or blocks MAKE SURE THERE IS NO CHANCE OF A MISTAKE HERE! You can be squashed if you make a mistake.

2) Take off the hub cap and pry off the little cap in the center of the hub. Straighten out the cotter pin and pull it out. Unscrew the nut but not all the way. Leave it flush with the end of the spindle.

3) Grab the tire and give it a wiggle. The bearing will pop out. The nut keeps it from falling in the dirt.

4) Take off the nut, the washer, and the bearing. Put them in a safe place.

5) Take the wheel off, hub brake drum and all.

6) Fix the brakes.

7) Take the inner bearing out. The easiest way to do this is to lay the wheel on some blocks (to get it off the ground) reach down inside the hub with a brass drift or piece of wood and tap the inner bearing out with a hammer. The grease seal will come out with it.

8) Wash off the bearings with cleaning solvent. Blow them clean with compressed air if you have it. DO NOT spin the bearings with the air. I know it is fun to hear them whizz but it can damage the bearing. Inspect the bearing for wear. If the bearing and races are clean and shiny they are OK. Pack with grease and reinstall the inner bearing with a new grease seal.

9)Put the wheel back on. Now put the outer bearing in with the nut and washer. Tighten it snug, and give the wheel a spin to squish the grease out. Adjust the bearing clearance according to manufacturer's instructions. There is different method for ball bearings and roller bearings, I don't know which your car has. Ball bearings usually you adjust so there is a trace of play, the wheel should move about 1/16" at the tire. For tapered roller bearings tighten peachy keen tight (barely tight) then back off enough to put the cotter pin in. O ya, buy some new cotter pins when you get the grease seals, you are not supposed to reuse cotter pins.

Hope that helps. This is from 40 years of working on old cars and is not specific to a 37 Pontiac, but more or less generic. If anyone has more knowledge I expect they will chip in.

this gives me a very clear idea,,but i think it would be better with photos in it.. Edited by kurtdaniel (see edit history)

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this gives me a complete idea,,but better if it has visual aids..

With all due respect, if you read this thread and still can't figure it out, you might be better off not working on cars.

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What are the options if the adjuster is frozen? I am taking apart a front drum

assembly for a 50 Oldsmobile? The shoes seem to be toally stuck to the drums. The other side came apart but with a separated lining from one of the shoes. Thanks.

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Greetings, and welcome aboard!

I am new to the "old Car" hobby, so I wouldn't want to advise you on this.

I suggest that you start a new thread about this subject. I am sure that you will get a lot of valuable answers and info.

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Can you back off the adjuster? Is the car moveable? Backing off the adjuster should free the brakes. If not sometimes cutting the brake line or opening the bleeder to let off pressure will help. If the drum is still stuck trying to move the car back and forth will sometimes break it free, or vigorous pounding with a big hammer.

If you try the hammer you have to be careful not to damage the brake drum. It's a matter of vibrating the shoes loose if they are stuck.

Often the drum has a ridge around the inside. In that case you have to back the adjustment way off to get the drum over the shoes.

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Many thanks. Problem solved.

The assembly is off the car; it is intended for putting larger 88 size brakes on the front wheels to support a V8.

After applying generous amounts of penetrating oil. The adjusters freed up and the whole thing came apart. The linings separated from the shoes. The adjuster is shot but I need to rebuild the all four assemblir before putting them on the car.

Thanks again.

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