66 Monaco Wagon Preservation

Ross Wooldridge

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Well, if you buy NOS drums from Craig @mobileparts you won't go wrong. He'll sell you the proper shoes too.

I'm sorry you are striking out regarding the arcing, but it's the ONLY way to properly prep the shoes to fit the drums. Perhaps if you go with Craig, he can get someone local to him to arc the shoes to fit the drums, and THEN send it off to you.

I am a firm believer that arcing is the only way to maximize the performance of a drum brake system, and I am positive that many people are turned off drum brakes after going through them and spending a lot of money (like you're doing), only to get substandard performance because the shoes are not contacting the drum fully. Of course, no one tells them about arcing, because in modern cars drums are only on the rear now, and do the rear brakes do 10% of the work compared to the front brakes. The industry expectations are the rear shoes will wear in over time and no one will even notice.

I call :bs_flag: in a big way with that attitude in the industry for classic cars with drums all around...

If you place the new shoes in the new drums you'll see where they don't contact the drum's surface - and those high spots need to be ground off to permit maximum swept area. Most replacement shoes are made bigger than the originals, because they figure the drums are cut oversize as well. Keep in mind that NOS shoes and NOS drums stand a better chance of needing less arcing because they're designed for assembly line work where arcing was not in the picture.

Keep looking for someone who can do this for you. Get your parts and don't stop until the shoes are properly arced. A good drum brake system such as what you've got has the potential for performance that in most situations will equal a disc system, except on the highway where a disc system will perform much better after repeated applications due to their ability to cool better. That's the only place where a drum system falls down.

Of course, you can also attempt this on your own with a good belt sander, some varying grades of sanding belts (coarse to medium fine for finishing) and protective breathing gear. Again, see where the high spots are on the shoes while sitting in the drums on the bench, and grind the shoes in those areas, a little at a time.
 
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Ross Wooldridge

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This place advertises Brake Arcing service:
Brake Materials & Parts

The unfortunate thing is that they're in Fort Wayne IN (14 hour drive), but at least you know where to send things to get the job done. LOL!!

Another place is in McHenry IL (another 14 hour drive) - https://www.jgrelining.com/

I'm seeing indications that brake shoe arcing is frowned upon by the EPA, so that may the reason that some places won't do it regardless.
 

mobileparts

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As Ross Indicated to you, and I got an alert , which brought me to you now,
I have *** N.O.S. *** U.S.A. made *** Front & Rear *** Brake Drums... & Everything else *** U.S.A. made ***
Brake Hydraulics & *** ASBESTOS BRAKE SHOES ***
Where you have a pile of Chineseum (items)......

Keep in mind, that that car can have ---
11" x 3" -- or -- 11" x 2 3/4" Fronts. &
11" x 2 1/2" -- or -- 11" x 2" Rears.......

I would gladly leave my phone number, but as per forum rules, you need to P.M. me if interested..... Craig.....
 

Ross Wooldridge

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@mobileparts - Craig, can you offer a connection to a local to you arcing service that perhaps people whom are buying drums and shoes from you can take advantage of? Even if Don doesn't go for this, perhaps this can be something you can provide to others in situations where the arcing service isn't available to your buyers in their areas...
 

TxDon

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OK things have improved a bit and I am making progress. After taking my front drums to FOUR parts stores I finally found someone who decided not to read the corporate fine print and cut them. They were in great shape with no distortion and only needed a light cleanup. (by the way, NAPA corporate stores don't do ANY cutting any more!) This is a big relief because every listing I looked at for new drums did not include the hub and I have no clue how that could have been transferred. I pulled the rear cylinders when I pulled the axles, today I removed the old seals and did the really dirty cleanup of the greasy backing plates and axle bearings. Taking advantage of a couple of very warm days here I'm hoping to get the front hydraulics apart tomorrow and start trying to figure out the best way to do the dual master changeover.

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Ross Wooldridge

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Hey Don, I have found a guy locally who arcs shoes. All he needs is the inside dimension of the drum and he can arc them to fit.

Let me know if that's something you're interested in– you can send me your shoes and I can get them done for you, or I can just put you directly in touch with the guy and he can do it as per your instructions.
 

TxDon

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Progress on this job is very S-L-O-W and frustrating. I have ordered the new rear drums, got new rear axle gaskets and seals (two tries to get the right seals!) and now have run into the ridiculous design nightmare of the front wheel cylinders. They are attached with two 1/2" bolts that are so close to the spindle that you cannot get a wrench on the front one. Found another thread here, apparently my two choices are grinding down a box wrench to fit or loosening up all the backing plate bolts (that also hold the spindle to the LCA!) to gain clearance. I will try the grinding after I get a sacrificial box wrench, if that works I'll try to replace the bolts with some stepped ones with smaller heads in case I ever have to do this again.

As I have been attacking this I realized that I have not done a full brake job in almost ten years. I'm sure my age is contributing to my frustration but I don't remember having anywhere near this amount of difficulty on that last brake job. I hate to say it but I can understand why many car guys just write the check...

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TxDon

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After a number of holiday related delays and general laziness I have gotten back at it and have made some progress. I did modify and old box wrench which worked well and the front cylinders are off. I got new rear drums from Craig and also got his asbestos lined shoes front and rear. Other than the master cylinder all old parts are now off and I have switched from disassembly to assembly:
  • I successfully repacked the rear axle bearings with my Alemite manual grease gun and a small needle fitting. This was very time consuming but simple.
  • I cleaned the backing plates removing lots of accumulated gunk and scraped off incorrect paper gaskets on the back.
  • I bought new rear axle seals and correct metal and foam gaskets for the backing plates. I also bought a reasonably priced seal installer kit from Lisle, this made seal installation very easy. Both rear axles are now back in, next I will start installing the new brake parts.

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TxDon

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And the world's slowest brake job continues. Both rear brakes have been fully assembled and my shiny new finned brake drums installed. I did the rears first because they are more of a challenge due to the axle hubs in the way and the E-brake pieces. They did not disappoint, every operation took two or three tries before they were buttoned up! On to the fronts this week, hopefully I will also receive the materials and tools ordered to connect the new dual master cylinder and get the hydraulics done.

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TxDon

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I now have all the brakes reassembled and installed. I ran into a problem with the new front wheel cylinders I had, they came with a smaller diameter and much longer bleeder screw which was impossible to use with the tight clearances at the front spindles. I decided it would be easier to just rebuild the ones I had. On disassembly they were in excellent shape with no corrosion so the rebuild was easy. The bearings were all repacked and new seals installed easily with my seal driver. All four drums have been adjusted to a slight drag, I will wait to adjust the parking brake until after the linings are bedded in.
Next I will be making the new lines to attach the dual master cylinder, I will be using Cunifer line from Federal Hill with all new fittings and have purchased a double flare tool kit.

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TxDon

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An interesting side note on this car:

I've had a small You-Tube account since 2011, mostly videos of cars I've owned and mostly very little interest from the public. Except: I posted a 1 1/2 minute video when this car arrived in 2018 showing it being backed out of the trailer. For some reason unknown to me this has been very popular, with 19,955 hits and a 96.9% rating as of today! I think it shows a lot of interest in the tin woody style cars but I am still mystified.

 

TxDon

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Still waiting for my tubing bender to show up, hopefully tomorrow. I did receive the Federal Hill tubing and fittings. Fiddled today using some 12 gauge solid wire to rough out patterns for the two new lines.

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TxDon

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The tubing bender showed up and I have made my two new master cylinder lines. The bender tool makes things very easy and the bends look quite professional for me. Cunifer also is easy to bend by hand so adjustments were simple. The other great thing about Cunifer is its nickel content, a little polishing makes it look like stainless. The flaring tool worked OK but I had to hand dress some of the flares so hopefully they will be leak free. As predicted, I forgot to put the last fitting on before flaring and had to it over. I bench bled the master and the air bled out quickly. Next is connecting the lines and on to bleeding. Any tips on what bleeding method works the best?

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TxDon

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So as usual I was over-optimistic in my last post. After assembling the new master cylinder lines I flushed the system, rear first than front. After getting clean fluid at all four wheels I closed all the bleeder screws and stood on the pedal a few times to check for leaks. All was good except for a big leak at the new rear line into the union fitting. I tightened it twice but the leak remained - SHIT. I knew it was a bad flare, the flare tool I had bought (first photo) did a pretty poor job.

I sent that tool back for a refund (Thanks Amazon) and bought a much better tool from Eastwood. I got it a few days ago and remade the new rear MC line - what a difference! It truly does make perfect flares and is much easier to use. Rehooked all the lines and retested - no leaks now. Next will be bleeding....

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TxDon

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I know you will find this hard to believe after all my kvetching but for the first time since December 1, 2021 my car is on the ground, outside of my garage and it actually HAS WORKING BRAKES!!! After my last post a month ago I still had a problem with a leak which turned out to be a defective union fitting that connected the new rear master cylinder line to the existing rear supply line. Note to self - throw away all sketchy looking used brass fittings and buy new! Once I was finally leak free I bled the system myself with an inexpensive check valve bleeder bottle which was easy to use and very effective. To solve the hard to access front bleeder screws I sacrificed a 5/16" ignition wrench and bent it in the vise, this gave me the access needed and worked well.

Yesterday I cleaned the mountain of junk off the top of the car, put the wheels back on and took it off the jacks. I started it up and tried the brake pedal, it went down quite a bit but not all the way and held the car when I put it in gear. Today with fingers crossed I took it out for a ride. It stopped but pedal travel was too much although there was no "pump up" effect signaling air in the lines. I drove it for quite a while on the local subdivision streets making many stops and dragging the brakes slightly to seat the linings, then I backed it up and tapped the brakes to activate the adjusters. The pedal travel improved and I noticed some pulling to the left. Some more driving, another back up adjustment they were better still. Took it for a short ride on regular streets stopping from higher speeds, then another adjustment, this time they were locking on the taps. After that the pedal felt very good and the pulling had stopped. I'll do more driving tomorrow but the brakes feel better then they ever did since I got the car.

Thanks to all who commented, helped me with parts and information sources and general encouragement!

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TxDon

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In addition to my long brake replacement I also did some suspension work while the car was up in the air for 3 1/2 months. If you have followed this thread you know I haven't been happy with ride the or stance of this car since I got it, always thought it was too low in the back. All the springs and torsion bars are stock original. When I got it had bad Monroe shocks all around with load leveler shocks on the back. I replaced them all with similar but new Monroes - the car rode a little better but was very stiff and harsh over bumps yet it porpoised and bottomed out on big road dips. The front Monroes failed quickly so I bought a full set of KYB's, the fronts were installed and felt better but still too harsh. I decided I would remove the rear load leveler Monroes and put on the KYB's with the addition of some clamp on style rear helper springs, which I did recently. (first photo) When I took it out for the first test drive it was the worst ever! Terribly harsh and noisy and bottomed so bad on a dip I was afraid I had damaged something.

At this point I was really pissed. I went back and re-read some posts on here plus did searches on ride issues plus googled and You-Tubed. Finally a memory clicked in my brain back to the early 1970's when I owned a 67 Plymouth GTX. In typical fashion back then I was trying to fit bigger wheels and tires and in the process I clamped the rear springs and cranked the torsion bars up higher. I remembered the car rode terribly and all those mods came right off and the stock suspension worked the best as designed. So, I removed the rear helper springs and then did something I should have done when I got the car - measured the front end height exactly as described in the shop manual. You do two measurements on each side, one at the bottom of the ball joint and the other at the bottom of the torsion bar adjuster blade. The maximum difference between those two points should be 1 1/8"...MINE WERE ALMOST 3", CLOSE TO TRIPLE THE CORRECT HEIGHT! I cleaned the adjuster bolts and soaked them in WD-40, then loosened both sides 5 full turns. This was a total guess but it actually got the height down to within 1/2" of correct. The car is now level front to back as the factory intended. (second photo)

Results are everything and my next test drive was amazing. With factory ride height and suspension travel restored this car is now a pleasure to drive. It is smooth and noise free. Sharp bumps still are felt but the shocks actually do their job to minimize them. Yes the car is a bit floaty especially over dips and leans a bit in corners but that is exactly what was expected and delivered back in 1966. That is what I have been after all along so I'm happy.

I do think there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding out there about ride height, torsion bar adjustment, and especially any suspension mod that reduces suspension travel in any way. All I can say is try it first with the factory settings before immediately jumping into mods, Mopar engineering has always been the best.

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