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1924 DB Roadster wheels locking up

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1924 Dodge Bros Roadster

Driving forward, wheels will randomly lock up. Car is fully immobilized and can not go forward. Engine strains and will stall unless clutch is disengaged. Unable to push forward even in neutral or with clutch disengaged. 

 

Shifting to reverse allows the car to move backward without restriction. After doing this, you can put the car in a forward gear and move forward without  restriction. The first time this happened, I heard what sounded like a clunk coming from beneath the floor. It was followed by a smell of burning rubber. That may have been due to tire skid, I don't know.

 

Once it starts moving forward, everything seems to operate smoothly until it randomly happens again. 

 

Looking under the car, there is nothing that appears to be grossly out of place.

 

Any ideas of what I'm looking at here? E brake link? Transmission? Clutch? 

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Just to be clear, what brake systems are on the car? Foot brake on rear wheels, contracting? Hand brake on rear wheels, internal?

 

First thing to do is to find out which system is locking up.

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Spinneyhill, Foot brake on rear wheels contracting. Hand Brake linkage goes to rear wheels and then disappears inside so I'm assuming internal. 

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The smell of rubber is the tyres locking and skidding.

the external shoes should be held off the drum in three places

one at the top, one at the rear and the adjustment at the front so they should not be able to pulled on without mechanical leverage.

the hand brake shoe is a single spring return shoe cast in one piece these can crack which could allow the shoe to catch and be pulled on by the drum rotation.

pull the rear wheels off and inspect the internal shoe for cracks as a first step.

i would also not discount the diff locking up.

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Posted (edited)

My first thought was that, since the lockup seems to be 100% until you reverse,  something is wrong with the rear axle/differential.  I know virtually nothing about a 1924 anything but a rogue part inside the rear housing could be getting jammed between the ring gear and the case, the ring gear and the pinion, etc.  I'd get inside that rear axle and take a look (if that's not terribly difficult) to avoid a possible catastrophic failure.  I once saw what happened to a Buick Skylark rear axle when something got loose and jammed the ring gear against the case at 60 mph.  Wow, not pretty.  And then there were the two rear tires flat-spotted down to the cord! 
Can you easily disconnect the driveshaft and raise the rear wheels to listen for unhappy noises in the rear?

Edited by Pete in PA (see edit history)

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Adjusting the brake bands can be difficult at best.

It's very difficult to explain but I'll give it a shot.

Adjust the lower portion of the band first........this is where the "keyway" formed into the band and the "key" that limits the band travel within the "keyway" comes into play.

I think you'll figure out how that works and the relationship to the top portion.

THEN adjust the top portion of the band so that the entire band is making contact around the drum.

Also VERY important are the flat "lifter" springs on top which lift the band off the drum when not braking.

Mind you there is VERY little clearance and the band will likely have a tiny amount of drag on the drum.

After a short drive carefully feel the drums to check for heating.

A bit of heating is normal but anything more needs further adjustment.

 

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I will make it simple. Block the rear off the ground, disconnect the drive shaft , spin the wheels and listen for unusual noise. Drain a little bit of oil from the diff and check for filings. Hold the pinion with one hand while turning one wheel back and forth for free play in the pinion and gear . There is a possibility that some part in the gearbox might be broken. Worth to remove cover and inspect 

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