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Old 09-14-2009, 07:03 PM   #1
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2005 16' International CCD
Ogden , Utah
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Having Trouble Adjusting Electric Brakes, Need Some Help

After servicing the wheel bearings on my 2005 16' CCD I tried to adjust the electric brakes - remove the plug in the back plate, adjust the star wheel with the special brake tool, until they are tight enough that the wheel won't turn, back off 6 or 8 clicks until the drag is just barely noticeable.

The road side went fine.

The curb side won't tighten so the wheel stops turning - dozens and dozens of clicks on the adjusting star wheel, and no difference. Took the brake drum off to inspect the adjusting star wheel and make sure I'm going in the right direction, put it back together, and the brake shoes still won't tighten against the drum.

When I first took the drum off it was covered with the black dust from the shoes and the brake drum is shiny where it's supposed to be, so the brakes must have been working on that side, even tho' they don't seem to be adjusted out where they should be.

The only things left I can think of are
- new brake shoes so the lining is thicker (tho' they seem to have plenty of thickness remaining),
- replace the star wheel assembly (can those strip out so they turn round & round without actually moving the shoes)?
- replace the whole backing plate, brake assembly, magnet, etc as a pre-assembled unit (better to be safe than sorry).

Is there some way to test the brake to see if it's working on that side despite the appearance that it's out of adjustment?

Obviously I'm missing something or doing it wrong - any advice or suggestions?

TIA
Bob
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Old 09-14-2009, 07:16 PM   #2
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Bob, have someone get in the tow vehicle, attach the umbilical, turn on the TV (may have to to energize the brake circuit) and have them step on the brakes while you rotate the wheel. That ought to tell you whether the brakes work. You may be able to hear the magnets energize when someone steps on the brake pedal even if the shoes aren't making it to the drum. It is easy for me to forget which way to turn the star wheel with my special tool called a screwdriver.

Black dust is normal. Are the linings on both sides the same? Magnets only last 20,000 miles according to what I've read on the Forum—so maybe one side has failed first. But the star wheel ought to lock the brakes; maybe you did something to it when you had the hub off.

Depending what you discover, it may pay to buy new backing plates. Now you can get them with self adjusting brakes from Dexter.

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Old 09-14-2009, 07:21 PM   #3
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Remove the star wheel and turn it in your hand. It should extend. If it extends then try to push, not turn, it back down. Wiggle it a little as you push. if the threads are gone it will close down.

If it were mine I would replace the star wheel and readjust.

A separate problem I had with brakes, The glue holding the pad on the shoe (metal) gave up. I had one pad depart the metal and floated in the wheel, two others had one end flapping. I deduced the problem was from condensation getting under pads and freezing, breaking the glue seal. Inspect the pads closely.
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Old 09-14-2009, 09:07 PM   #4
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I have never heard of a star wheel stripping the threads let along 2 at the same time.

I would remove the drum and run the star wheel out by hand to a point that is hard to replace the drum and adjust from that point. Once the drum is on you can see through he adjuster hole to see what the star wheel is in fact doing.

If you have self adjusting brakes, there will be a metal piece ridding on the inside of the star that is connected by a cable to the upper part of the brake mechanism, you have to release the self adjuster in order to turn the star wheel. Without doing this you will hear and think you are adjusting but you are not. To release the self adjuster you have to insert a thin screwdriver in over the star wheel and push the self adjuster off the star while using the adjuster tool.
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Old 09-14-2009, 11:21 PM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions - especially about the new Dexter self-adjusting brakes. Some on line research shows I can replace the whole brake assembly for less money than buying the replacement shoes, magnets, and adjusters - so I'm thinking I'll just buy the new self-adjusting assemblies and be 'good' again for the next few years.

Still going to troubleshoot the problem assembly, once it's off, to see if I can find out what the problem is - an enquiring mind thing......
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:15 AM   #6
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I agree with HowieE, I have never seen an adjuster wheel strip and I"ve worked on drum brakes on vintage cars for years. If the lining is still good on the shoes you have, I can't see the need to replace both backing plates. That would be my choice if I needed magnets and shoes. Pulling the drum, expanding the shoes till the drum won't go back on and then adjusting so it will just slide on will get you close. When I do that, it only takes a few clicks o the star wheel for final adjustment.
Let us know what you find.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:21 PM   #7
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Here's what I found out when I went into the brakes again -

The star adjuster was not stripped - it was just totally out of adjustment, like it was threaded ALL the way in. I followed the suggestion to turn it out until the drum would just barely slide back on, and I had to turn it out on the threads a looong way before I got there.

The distressing thing is this - I didn't do the bearing job last time - was recuperating from some surgery so the bearings were done by a shop. Wow.

When I pulled the drums the first time I noticed I didn't have to back the adjuster off at all to get them off.

So I've been towing with brakes not even close to being adjusted correctly. Maybe the fact that I'm pulling a 16'-er with a 2500 Dodge helped mask the condition - the truck by itself has lots of braking capacity that maybe helped make up for the trailer brake issue.

I believe I'll switch to the Dexter self adjusting brakes - my shoes and magnets probably need it in another year or two anyway, and self-adjusting might have corrected the original problem 'automatically' - but I don't know if even self adjusting could have made up for this situation.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions!
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:03 PM   #8
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Bob, when I repacked my bearings last spring, after about 8,000 miles of towing, my drums came off easily. Didn't think much about it since I was then focused on the bearings, but when I finished that (and checked the brake assemblies) and adjusted the brakes, they weren't doing much of anything. It's hard for me to believe they wore that much in that many miles, but maybe they do. If not, the factory didn't adjust them correctly and the dealer didn't catch it either. Best to check them frequently.

I am also thinking of getting self adjusting brakes over the winter and can't understand why something that has been normal on cars and trucks for decades is just now available for trailers.

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