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1934/35 Cadillac Brakes


pmhowe
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I’m curious about the brakes on my 1935 Cadillac. When I got the car the brakes had been relined with new shoes.

 

The brakes apparently had been adjusted by an expert. (I say that because the braking system on a 1934 -1935 Cadillac is awesomely complex, and this car stopped when it should, and didn’t squirrel even slightly.)

 

However, these brakes are a bit spongier than I like. For those of you who drive extremely modern antique cars (1960s, say) these brakes feel like hydraulic brakes using silicone fluid - just not as stiff as one might like. It may be the servo assist which does make braking impressively easy, or it may be the way the linkage is set up, or it may be something else. Is there a way to make them less spongy? I’m happy with stopping distance, so that is not the issue.

 

Thanks,

 

Phil

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You beat me to the post. I am having the same issue with a 32 Cadillac 370 B. All adjustments have been made according to the service manual and still can’t get a firm pedal. My rear brakes lockup and very little action from the front brakes unless I adjust too tight. The only problem I can find is from the previous owner. The PO had the shoes relined with ¼ inch lining on the upper and 3/16-inch lining on the lower. The manual calls for 3/16 lining. I will reline the upper shoes with 3/16 lining and report any results.

Edited by Alex D. (see edit history)
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Hi Alex,

 

I would recommend you do not change the thickness of the brake lining - yet. I think the problem lies elsewhere.

 

In the shop manual for my 1935 Cadillac, the brake thickness specifications are indeed different for the floating and fixed shoes. Here is what the manual says: “The floating or upper brake shoes are energized with the forward motion of the car and do most of the braking. For this reason, they are made of aluminum alloy and are provided with a thicker lining (1/4-in.) than the lower shoes. The anchored or lower shoes are energized with the backward movement of the car. As these shoes do less braking they are made of steel and are provided with thinner linings of 3/16 in. thickness.”

 

The 1932 manual does not make that claim and I infer from reading it that the two shoes should have the same thickness  (3/16”) on yours. It may be that our brakes are perfectly fine, and we are just not used to what Cadillac thought was appropriate for vacuum assisted brakes at that time. It would help if we had input from some other Cadillac owners regarding what their car’s brakes feel like in standard operation.

 

Regarding the rear brakes locking up and the front brakes doing nothing, I think that is an adjustment problem. When I first got my car, I found that the rear brakes were dragging to the point that I couldn’t turn the rear wheels with car rear end raised and transmission in neutral. After adjusting the rear brakes, the wheels turn freely and the car stops fine, with no squirrelly-ness. It’s just that the brake pedal doesn’t feel  firm the way I would expect.

 

I’ll be exploring further, and hope you will, also.

 

Phil

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My MoTor's  manual from 1935 shows that Cadillac had a mechanical system still, not hydraulic.   I'm not suggesting that the complicated brake system in a Cadillac is anything like the simple system in my Model A Fords.   But worn out parts can lead to a spongy feel in the pedal.  My '29 roadster's brakes were in bad shape when I got it.  Every friction point (clevis pins, clevises, shafts, bushings) were worn out to the point where there was lots of play at every joint.  Stepping on the brake pedal would result in lots of lost motion while the  slack was taken up before the brake shoes  would move.  And then, as more pressure was applied, more movement in the worn joints produced a spongy feel in the pedal.  Check every spot where something moves in the system for wear.

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Phil

The service manual for 1932 is vague on their descriptions and procedures. I will leave the ¼ inch lining in place for now and focus on an adjustment to centralize the cam bracket that I may have done wrong. The manual states “loosen cam bracket locking nut and apply brakes firmly to centralize cam bracket. Tighten nut before releasing brakes”. That is what I have done, but I did not loosen the larger nut on the backing plate that attaches the cam assembly. I believe just loosening the small nut as per the manual had little to no effect on the cam position.

 

Pete O

Clevis pins have been replaced along with shoulder bolt and bushings so I think I may be able to rule that out.  

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  • 5 weeks later...

Due to the excessive turning of the drums on my 32, the upper and lower shoes have been relined with 1/4-inch woven lining as opposed to the 3/16 lining per the service manual. While I was relining the shoes, I cleaned, polished and greased all links, anchor pins and cams. I now have good brake action with a much firmer pedal.

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