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Help Needed!!! replicating a Miller brake adjusting tool


RoadsterRich
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In my obessession I have been searching for materials that might be suitable to fabricate a modern equivalent of the Miller brake adjustment tool for performaing the "Major" adjustment on my Chrysler Roadster.

My drums are 14" drums. It looks like some AWWA C905 DR25 14" Nominal PVC Water Transmission Pipe might do the trick. Based on its exterior dimension and minimal wall thickness it should be 14.076" or less on the inside diameter. This is very close to what I need (14" was original, the max allowed turning was .030", making the max diameter 14.06") for fabricating a functional equivalent of the Miller adjusting tool.

Does anyone know where I might find some 3" or so scrap pieces of the AWWA C905 DR25 water transmission pipe? Any help (particularly donations!) is greatly appreciated.

I have a plan, now I need the parts... the fun part will be turning the multi-angled taper to match the spindle and center the tool.

Look for any input or help. My general idea is to turn a hub to match the spindle, weld on a pair of cross supports that will attach to the PVC pipe, and voila, one modern equivalent of a Miller brake adjusting tool... at least in theory. Centering will of course be a pain... unless ya'll know some good tricks to teach me!

Rich

PS: I'll try to scan a picture from and advertisement of the tool this evening so ya'll can see what I'm trying to make...

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Rich,

Somebody posting on the P-15 / D-24 website just picked-up a mostly complete Miller MT-19 brake gauge set "for a lot less than the Ammco 1750 gauge is going for"...I would interpret that to mean "under $200..."

You might turn one up on E-bay...the whole set was in a tin tool box about the size of a 50 cal. ammo box (?) and had a whole bunch of adpater sleeves, plus the drum gauge...

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would it not be easier to get a hold of an old brake drum and cut a couple of holes in the outer edge? or the Packard drums have a small slot in the outer face (about 1/2" wide* 3/8 high)to slide the feeler guage through the front and into the shoes to do the major adjustment.

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I've been considering the same various options. First warning that came to me is NOT to cut holes your using brake drums. These presumably were designed to dissipate heat and resist distortion using all the metal the manufacturer placed there. You can run into much trouble if you start to modify previous engineering.

On the other hand, centering your welded pipe assembly over a hub with little runout will be very difficult. You almost certainly will need a lathe to turn the id true to the hub, and this will be a big lathe.

I have come "this" close however to plasma cutting a scrap brake drum mounted to hub and using this. I can get them final turned after cutting. I also am close to using a tool similar to the pdf posted in the previous note but using a spare hub to mount the gauge. Of course I will need either two hubs (front and rear) or an arbor to make one fit the other.

A Dodge Bros club member loaned me a tool he made out of wood, claiming it worked just fine, easy to make, etc, but the bore wasn't for my cars. This was a swinging arm set up with a bore at one end for the hub and a post on the other to run over the face of the shoes against which you adjust the shoes. The post was somewhat adjustable to account for several drum diameters.

Since I have six Victory Sixes to adjust, perhaps I can look for that Aamco gauge if anyone can give me a part number or explain the websites noted a few posts above.

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The Ammco tool that us post-Depression guys have been seeking is the Ammco 1750...don't know what range of diameters it will accomodate...

Most of the guys on the "www.P15-D24.com" website have found theirs on e-bay...

I'm thinking of finding some scrap drums&hubs to use as arbors for the tool post...

Saw one identical in concept to Steve Boetger's PDF, except it was made from scrap hardwood moulding & a piece of all-thread for the tool post...

Another lucky chap on the Plymouth & Dodge website mentioned above actually found a Miller MT-19 brake gauge set on e-bay, mostly complete too...

I think that slotting my drums will be my last resort.

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Here's my two cents worth. My '37 Chrysler's brakes were in such a sad state that complete disassembly & refurbishing was necessary. When it came time for reassembly, my manual also referred to the Miller Gauge but also included the desired clearances in 1000ths of inch. I fearlessly took an eighth inch drill bit and drilled a series of holes where the braking surface meets the front of the drum. Using a small flat file, I connected the holes to create a slot about a half inch wide. Using feeler gauges, I worked between the two adjusters until I obtained the desired clearances at both the heel and toe. I did find that adjusting the heel affected the clearance at the toe and vice versa.

I used this procedure on all four drums and am still driving and stopping well. Heat disapation should not be considered a problem by making this small slot. Many newer cars with smaller drums have larger slots in them for adjustment. Also, off-road racers drill hundreds of holes in their drums do help sand escape and they drive and brake harder than any of our old cars!

Forget spending big bucks on the Miller Gauge (unless you love old tools as much as old cars) and use your drill & file.... the results are as good or better. My Chrysler has toured hundreds of miles and have experienced panic stops as well as riding the brakes down long hills following older cars with mechanical brakes. I can honestly say that I have NEVER had any kind of braking problem! grin.gif

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Ron,

So you got to the "fish or cut bait" point, eh ? wink.gif

Did you put any sort of plug or cover in the slots (like the ones found in backing plates on some cars?)

You mentioned some panic stops in your Chrysler...will it lock-up the wheels on hard pavement? (just curious...don't try it just to satisfy my curiousity ! shocked.gif )

I get the feeling that my '41 De Soto will not do so, at present (I do need to re-adjust the anchor pins); but I allow generous stopping distance so that hopefully I won't have to find out the hard way!

Also, what model is your Chrysler?

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No, Frank, I did not put any plugs in the slots as they are much smaller than the ones found in backing plates and the slots are covered by the rim. What I based my reasoning on was that many GM cars of the '60s & '70s used punch out slots in the outer surface of the drums, never had plugs installed and worked fine for thousands of miles. My intention was to dispell the worry about heat fade due to this small removal of metal. If you want to worry about something, measure the inside diameter of the drum. I'll bet their are many out there turned beyond the maximum diameter but, because they are smooth and look nice, motorists run them thinking all is well.

No, my 1937 Chrysler Royal C16 Sedan will NOT lock up the brakes in a "panic stop". Again, my intention was to show that the creation of a 1/8 by 1/2 inch slot was not enough to inhibit heat dispersion and create braking problems.

I'm not trying to create an arguement, I'm just trying to point out that there is a cheap alternative to the Miller Tool. I made my modification about 3 years ago and have had no problems at all!

The other thing to be aware of is that the Miller Tool assumes you have a drum that has not exceeded the maximum diameter spec. Since the Miller Tool measures the distance from the spindle to the outside diameter of the shoes, if your drum is too large, so will your lining to drum clearance be. This will result in a low pedal and poor braking. If you think finding a Miller fixture is hard, try finding drums that are within specs!

Probably (I honestly haven't measured them) my drums are outside the maximum diameter but my adjustment procedure has resulted in a good brake pedal that has performed well in the real world. crazy.gif

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Ron,

Thanks!

Not trying to provoke anyone either...since you had taken the plunge and modified your drums (which I considered doing six years ago when I rebuilt the brakes on the '41 De Soto), I thought I'd poke a little further and see how it had worked out for you... grin.gif

How's your 228 six holding up?

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The Miller tool I see in their catalog for 1929 Dodges is reversable in that you first measure the ID of the drum and then by flipping the eccentric gauge over you take this measurement to the hub to adjust the shoes.

Anyhow I have a set of junk wheels (spokes rotted) and decided I will use these hubs with a steel bar attached. Hole at far end for a post to use to gauge the shoe location. Measure the existing drum ID and then with feeler gauges and shims and adjust the shoes. I'll advise if this works.

Incidentally, the original Lockheed 4 wheel hydraulic brakes will lock wheels and apply four nice skid marks on the road panic stopping from 60 mph on the 1928 Dodge Victory Six when properly adjusted.

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OK, I surrender! If you guys out there are looking for a Miller Tool on eBay or wishing to fabricate some type of fixture to adjust your brakes by, have at it! After over 30 years in the auto repair business I have seen many tools and fixtures that work well on paper but fail in the real world. If you spend big bucks for a Miller Tool and you still have a low brake pedal, I promise not to say I told you. smirk.gif

Unless I am wrong, the desired result is to obtain proper shoe to drum clearance for optimum braking performance. For the sake of arguement, suppose the desired clearances were .006 at the toe with .008 at the heel. If your car didn't brake to your satisfaction at these settings, how would you decrease these settings with a standard tool or fixture? With my method you can adjust clearances only limited by available feeler gauges and what works in the real world. By this I mean that, theoretically, you could decrease clearances to .001 on the toe and .003 on the heal. Unfortunately, heat expansion would probably decrease these clearances to the point of locking up the brakes.

As is the case with many old car problems, utilize the K.I.S.S. principal... Keep It Simple Stupid! Cut a slot, make your measurements and live goes happily on! shocked.gif

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Rich,

My two cents, I agree with JB-ed and fordee9r, don't waste your time on the Miller tool, there are much simpler and equally as satisfactory ways to adjust those brakes, I have done it on (3) 1928 model Q Plymouths, '32 Custom Imperial, 29 Model 75, 46 Dodge dump truck GVW 13,500lb (which I have registered commercial and it often has a load of 3 tons on and will stop on a dime), 49 plymouth, 51 Desoto.

Jb eds slotting is a great idea, in fact the 32 Custom Imperial (all 31, 32 and 33) have built in slot with a metal cover screwed on to drum, my 46 truck also has factory slots (not covered) the only thing that would be really important is to drill (round) the ends of the slot as this prevents a stress point from which a crack can grow, As far the heat issue, that is negligible, I would be more concerned when putting a heavy coat of paint on the drum.

Here is the simplest and an accurate way to get proper brake adjustment.

1.) back off shoe adjusting cams (top).2.) bring BOTH anchor pins to adjust them to get the shoe heel at minimum extension (farthest from the drum).3.) Make a punch mark on the anchor pins on the back side of each for reference ( or you can slot them for using a screw driver to turn, I have seen both, and some will have arrows too). 4.) Install the drum and start with one anchor pin and adjust it until the shoe drags lightly and then back off just a hair, note your reference mark, take the drum off, and tighten the anchor pin lock while holding the anchor pin. 5.) do the same for the other shoe. 6.) with the anchors adjusted and the drum on, adjust the shoe toes, by turning the adjustment cams, turning from the top (12 o'clock to 3 or 9) down brings the shoe out, move out until the shoe drags and then back off a hair. you are done, should take you less than 15 min/wheel. Drag, what I mean is a full contact drag that is the drum isn't just hitting some high spot, making a shhinng----shhinng ----shhinng as you spin, but a steady constant drag, not enough to lock it though, In fact when you are done some slight high spot noise is ok, because that will wear in, in fact 9 times out of ten if adjust the brakes to have no noise you will find your pedal low.

PS be sure you have the master cylinder rod adjusted right so it gives about 1" free play at the foot pad, you may have to go a little less to get a good pedal to compensate for worn clevis pin / loose pedal bushing.

Forget the fancy tool , A liitle common sense will go a long way wink.gif

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Thanks, 56, I have done that adjustment. It's explained in the Raybestos book. I was perfectly happy with that until I rode in a car adjusted with the gauge and felt the thrill of all four wheels locking and I WANT THAT too. It was the factory setting I have been not able to achieve with the "toe-heel" back and forth process you described.

Just to clarify from a comment two items previous, I was not the one who advocated cutting holes in the original brake drums.

I already have the swing arm mounted to a front hub and I can't imagine how this simple tool can fail. I mounted the actual drum to be used and move out the toes of the shoes to contact point and this becomes my reference diameter for the "tool." I ought to be stopping by the weekend.

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Yep, my mistake that was fordee9r who drilled the holes. I am surprised that you could not achieve a wheel lock (although skidding actually actually has a lower coefficient of friction and thus it takes longer to bring the car to a stop: hence the reason for anti-lock brakes)by that adjustment I can get that on all the cars I mentioned having done.

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  • 8 years later...

Roadmaster. I know this post is 8 years old. I hope you are still on the site, as I am new to this site. I now have a 55 Custm Royal Dodge sedan. My 39 Chrysler Royal with Lockheed brakes would lock up without a second thought, release and go just fine down the road again. I toured Vermont's hills without fear. The method of adjusting the anchor bolts you mentioned above was how I was taught at 8 or 9 years old as I was learning to drive farm trucks out in the field at that time. Now that I am 30+ years older, I use the same method with no problems. Pulling the drums shows even wear of the shoes. I do see some folks throwing new shoes in and cranking the middle cam/adjuster to get the feel without adjusting the anchor to insure full shoe arc contact. We sometimes would also mark the shoe with a pencil and then use a rasp file onthe high points as we did not have a shoe grinder for fitting drums. The slightest high point removed makes such a difference. The tools are great but expensive. I am surprised no one is making and selling a retro tool for those who want one. Happy motoring!:D

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I would say have a good old brake shop "Arc" the shoes to fit each drum. Leave the anchors at the stock arrow positions. Just adust up the minor cams. After a couple thousand miles re-adjust. Pedal should be high and hard.

It seems no one realizes you need to have each shoe set that has a perfect arc radius matched to each drum. How can you get 100% lining to drum contact if the shoe radius is not the same as the drum! One drum might be .020" oversize while another could be .060" OS. You can Adjust the anchors and cams all day long-you still will not get full lining to drum contact and a hard high pedal till you grind the shoes to fit the drum on these fixed anchor Lockheed brakes. Arc the linings and it will make adjusting fast and easy. Generally you don't need to use the 1750 or the MT-19 either as long as the anchors are at stock positions-arrows point to each other on single wheel cylinder brakes and point to each single cylinder on dual wheel cylinders brakes.

I have done a lot of brake jobs on these Mopars. Arc em and it will save you a lot of time and grief IMO. And yes there still are shops around that can arc the shoes. Most brake linings today are non asbestos. Anyone relining shoes can arc them.

I have all the special tools and hardly ever need the Miller/Ammco tools for a good firm high pedal.

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  • 4 years later...

There is another way. Rather than making a fancy tool to measure the drum, put the drum on and adjust one shoe using the cam to just touch the drum. Remove the drum and that shoe tip is your reference. Set your simple tool to that reference and set the other locations using that reference minus your clearance allowance, i.e. put a feeler gauge under the reference at the other locations. They should be pretty correct this way. Arc the shoes to the drum first, of course.

 

My tool was made out of a plastic kitchen cabinet foot with a screw-in height adjustment. The inside diameters were such I could set it to fit on the taper in two places and it was stable to set the brakes. I bolted on a piece of flat and put a rod in the flat for the shoe height.

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  • 9 months later...

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