A '66 would have drums all around. Be sure you have your edition of the Bentley ('63-'67 models) at hand. Note that you have a speedo cable in your LF spindle.
Rebuilt shoes are available, but examine and measure them very carefully and compare to your old BEFORE you start the job. Check the emergency brake arm (rear) to see if it needs transfering to the new shoes and if it can be transferred, use a new retaining clip. Some are peened and may require a shop assistance.
An overhaul is within the range of the home mechanic, but is never as easy as the shop manual makes it look. First, the axle nut and other hardware has very high torque settings, and then will have rusted or froze on so getting things off is part of the battle. You will need appropriate size sockets and a big ratchet -- or prefereably a very high capacity impact wrench. Break loose the axle nut while the vehicle is still on the ground. You also need a torque wrench for reassembly that goes to the 215-250 ft-lb. required of the axle nut.
Since the drums will have worn, they will develop a lip. You will have to back off the brake shoes as much as possible. Again, sounds easy but often the star-wheel adjuster is frozen or balky at backing the other way. After removal you must measure the drums for wear. Specs are usually engraved in the drum and are in the Bentley. This is difficult and requires a special guage like I'll mentioned later. You can turn drums to eliminate the ridge (not really required), or if rough &/or out-of-round beyond specs, but the wear limits are typically only 1.5 mm so a typical drum turning will wipe out half that, and may take you below specs. DO NOT let the drums get worn beyond the limits -- it forces the wheel cylinder and adjusting star wheel to work outside their design capacity.
I'd suggest you invest in some specialty brake tools. The shoe retaining springs use a cute little screwdriver with a cup end tool and the odd-ball looking brake pliers are useful. Both are available at the discount parts stores. Unless you're doing a lot of them, the cheapo brands are fine. You'll also need needle-nose pliers, preferably Vice-Grip for some of the tugging and pulling of springs and cotter keys. Personally, I like the drum brake measuring gauge to check drum wear and to do the pre-adjustment of the new shoes, but it's not necessary if you don't plan more brake jobs. Worse case, take to a shop or parts store and ask them to measure for you -- most will.
Before you start disassembling, a suggestion -- do only one wheel at a time so you have the other as a reference when reassembling! Sounds stupid, but what looks so "make sense" when you take them apart, doesn't when you are putting them back together. "Which spring goes where and which way do they hook in?"
I'm not going to go into step-by-step detail because it's all in the Bentley, but here's a couple of assembly hints:
Lube the brakes -- I know, sounds crazy, but certain mechanical parts do require lube. The star wheels for one; even if on a later model with automatic ajustment the adjuster and star wheel must be clean & free moving. The place where the shoes make metal-to-metal contact with both the star wheel adjuster and the brake cylinders can be rough and not let the shoe recenter. Check for burrs, polish and then lube. Don't get crazy. I like a tiny touch of anti-sieze or polyethylene; then wipe any excess away.
Brake hardware: I recommend changing the hardware each set of shoes. Many models are avialable from VW as a kit. Springs get weak, bent or distorted. Ditto the retaining pins. If your model has the horeshoe-shaped clip to hold the emergency brake arm onto the shoe, DO NOT reuse; get a new one as you don't want it or the arm coming loose during a trip.
If it's been a while, you will probably want to repack the front wheel bearings at this time. You should definately replace the seals. Adjust per the Bentley upon reassembly.
Often, when you pull the brakes, you find the hoses, bleeders or cylinders are due for overhaul or replacement. Flexible brake hoses get old, and swell inside. They can then act like a check valve -- plenty of power to get them pushed out, but the springs won't overcome the resistance to get them back in so brakes drag.
Bleeders have a fragile seat and bleed hole in the bottom. Over-zealous mechanics can tighten the bleeder to the point they crush the hole or damage the seat. Remove yours entirely and inspect.
Cylinders are a wear item and take quite a beating between the abrasive dust of the shoes, heat & moisture. It's not uncommon for them to need overhaul or replacement when you open things up. Overhaul on such a critical part requires special tools and extreme care. Many go for new cylinders.
Although you do not break the hydraulic lines unless changing hoses and cylinders, read the topic post on brake fluid changes; there are a number of other hints and considerations there.
I am thinking about doing the brakes on my 85 westy. I did not realize that the fronts had been below the wear indictor for more than 1500 miles. This is about how many miles I have driven since I bought it. Coming home from Cape Cod last weekend I noticed a slight squeal from the front. Several stops later it was a growl and by the time I got home.... My fault, I should have looked at the brakes.
They felt fine . Thinking about it the parking brake required a little extra tug. So,I am in for all four and likely a rotor.
My question is the same as above. Are there any other considerations for an 85? Also, this will be my first brake job (not my westy but rather me). Furthermore, do you suggest geting all my parts from the VW dealer?
The fronts on an '85 are discs, and quite easy. First measure the rotors for thickness. They should have 11mm thickness left. If not, replace BOTH. If OK, check run-out (warp). Up do .1mm is allowable and at that stage you will feel pulsing, usually at slow approaches to a stoplight. Even that's OK as long as within those run-out specs.
Replacement of the pads and/or rotors is described in the Bentley, Sections 46 & 47. Check to see whether you have Teves or Girlings before buying parts. An expander tool is required -- there are some inexpensive ones at most discount auto stores -- and you will need a torque wrench capable of the 253 ft-lb. to remount the calibers & rear drums.
The rears are much the same as the earlier post except they have an automatic adjuster worked by the parking brake. This makes backing them off more difficulty, but not impossible.
There are posts on lock nuts/bolts and impact wrench alternatives under the TOOLS forum that may interest you.
As to VW OE -- VW doesn't make any of their brake componenets. They use several suppliers. I prefer Ate for both rotors & pads, though find the Brembro rotors equally good. I have used Jurid & Textar pads, but like the compromise of wear and cold-braking ability of the Ates better. Too many go for the extra long life, not realizing that it usually makes the pads 'cold' -- needing to warm up for best braking ability. I want maximum grab when cold, the normal condition for emergencies. When that idiot runs the red light in front of me, I don't have time to warm up my brakes. I do NOT like the metallics and most other aftermarket pads -- metalilics often add excess wear to the rotors and I'm uncomfortable with the quaility and handling characteristics of pads not designed with the VW's high weight for it's size.
VW pads do not have those 'screecher' wear indicators so if you have them on your present set, they are aftermarket. Most pads do have a groove down the middle that disappears at the 2mm limit of pad life. Pad life is sufficient that the inspections during tire rotations are adequate so a sensor is a little superfluous.
Disc brakes that squeal excessively usually do so because of a vibration of the pads, which float and can therefore vibrate at a high enough frequency to sound like metal-to-metal rubbing. Assuming metal-to-metal damage is NOT the cause, there are a number of tricks that reduce squeal. One is, with new pads, file or grind a small 1/8" bevel on the pads' leading & trailing edges. By the time they have worn off that little bevel, they will have bedded. Most disc brakes call for a thin sheet-metal shim plate between pad & piston which absorbs vibration. Permatex and others make a sticky spray compound that goes on the back of the pads to buffer vibration there. Always emery cloth or Scotch Brite the rotor surface and then clean them with brake cleaner to remove any glaze or contamination. After installation, brake quite hard several times during the test drive to help bed the pads to the pistons and square them up with the rotors.
I looked at my brakes and determined that I have Girlings and did a visual of the rotors.
The rotors do not have any grooves and appear ok. I thought they would be damaged. Anyway if the thickness is greater than 11mm and if I can measure the run-out while the rotors are still on and its ok, can I get away without having them resurfaced? I do not know what normal practice is here. The Hanes manual for my Toyota said in general resurface the rotor when changing pads. I am trying to avoid getting into the wheel bearing assembly if I did not have to.
Forget that darn resurfacing; if it's damaged, or warped beyond specs, replace! If I had a brand new rotor that needed turning, I'd be screaming at the brake/parts people. If it's half-worn, resurfacing finishes it off. Either way, resurfacing is NOT to be done as any sort of "routine" and NEVER to be done if there's nothing wrong! Even concentric grooves don't hurt a rotor.
You have to remove the rotor to resurface, so just check the thickness with an ordinary micrometer.
Warp: Look, if your pedal isn't pulsating bad, you don't have warp. It takes a dial run-out gauge to measure warp. Usually a magnetic base with arms that let you position the gauge so that it rubs on the rotor while you spin it. As the rotor turns, any warp registers as in & out on the gauge. There is a picture of a run-out gauge being used on page 13.15 to measure camshaft runout. Same principle with the brakes. No pulse -- forget it. Pulse, then measure. If measure shows warp outside specs, replace the rotors unless very new (maybe >12.5mm thickness).
Don't be too afraid of the bearings. They have to be repacked every 30K anyway, so you might as well learn. As long as the bearings are OK, you don't need the press. A new seal can be installed with a block of wood & mallet. Adjustment is pretty easy per Benltey 40.11. To me, the worst part of bearings is having to remove the caliper to get the hub off.
Haynes manuals are kinda nice with their numbered steps and better than nothing, but there's a reason VW uses the Bentley. The Bentley, although it allows resurfacing to 11.5mm, does not call for it if the rotor is otherwise in specs.
If your rotors are looking good, within thickness specs, and no pedal pulse, changing pads is simple and about a half-hour job. Pay attention to some of the cautions like removing some brake fluid from the master cylinder before pushing the pads back.
There are a couple of good threads under TIPS on brake fluid. Also follow the TIPS Cross-Reference post for some others on torque, tools & locknuts. Both are applicable in brake work.
Caution: Measurements here are for the model in question. Consult your dealer and current shop manual for specs for your vehicle. -- Capt. Mike
Transferred from another post to consilidate similar topics.
Hard Petal No Brakes
barry, Junior Member, 02-18-2001 08:57 PM
I got my 1972 westy running after setting for 9 years. My problem is my brake pedal is hard but i have no brakes. The engine is a 1700cc. Plus how do i get the rear brake drum to come off? it turns free by hand and i took off the 2 little bolts and backed the shoes off but it wont budge. I dont have the bentley manual yet, Its ordered.
My question is what size socket to use on an 85? I have asked 2 VW parts/service departments and been told a 46mm and a 30mm socket. I can see the castle nut is approximately 46mm but I would like to be sure before I purchase the socket.
VW has used only about 4 sizes of axle nuts and the 46mm was the most common of the large ones. The next down is 36mm, so the difference is very obvious. You should measure them with a vernier, but 46mm is ~1.81" and the 36 is ~1.42" -- close enough to measure with an ordinary ruler.
30mm is common on the front axles; I've seen a few 27mm on non-Westy models.
In October I posted a message about doing the brakes on my 85 westy. I decided to put it off until spring since I would be storing it for winter anyway. Yesterday, I got started on this project.
Well, I took off the front wheels and found that on both sides the pads were dragging on the rotors. Should the pads restore to the original position via spring force? My guess is that they have been dragging since I bought it and prematurely wore the pads. I have driven 1500 miles since I bought it but until the brakes started to growl, they seemed fine. Braked well and my gas mileage (not measured) did not seem to be bad.
I decided not to take anything apart until I know what I am up against.
Pads on disk brakes do not 'retract' in the sense the old brake shoes did with springs. Pads, with the pressure relieved, just float on the rotor. The contact has no force so there is no perceptible wear.
IF you are not getting retraction such that there is still drag, you have one of a couple of problems. The calipers do require cleanliness and free movement of the pads. Thus the previous posts on polishing and lubricating the slide contact areas. Also, old and spongy brake lines will work fine in applying brakes, but act as a check valve in relieving pressure so the pads will then drag.
An '85, with unknown history or apparently poor brake condition may well be due for the precautionary overhaul. Calipers are relatively straightforward, basically amounting to inspection and new seals unless you find severe corrosion. If your caliper has the seal on the piston, the cylinder bore must be smooth. If it is the type with the seal in the cylinder bore, piston must be smooth. Minor pitting in areas that do NOT have contact with the seal are not important.
I've seen some decent prices aftermarket on the flexible hoses connecting the caliper and if yours appear anything less than perfect, I'd change them out as well.
Myd 85 is low miles and no winters which makes me think my ignorance is the biggest problem. The pads are well worn but I do not believe that they are draging with any force since they are easy to turn by hand. They do not spin like my bicycle wheel is all. Everything is very clean and corrosion free. The calipers are not wet with fluid. I think I am making something out of nothing.
Transferred from other posts to consolidate similar topics.
Replace Self-Locking Caliper Bolts?
pablow666 Member # 328 posted 04-30-2001 02:18 PM
For my 87 Westy, Bentley's says "new self-locking bolts MUST be used when refastening brake caliper housing". I have mentioned this to several mechanics and they all say that they have never done this. Should I insist that it be done?
Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 05-01-2001 08:30 AM
Don't confuse the caliper mounting bolts with the brake pad carrier mounting bolts. The caliper mounting bolts -- the ones torqued to 200 ft-lb. -- don't need to be replaced.
The ones for re-attaching the brake carrier -- torqued to 26 ft-lb., page 46.5 of the Bentley -- do.
The bolts are of the type mentioned under the topic in the TOOLS forum that have a locking compound already on the thread. They come with the new set of pads -- at least any of the quality OE and OEM pads.
The locking type is required due to their use at low torque in a high vibration application. It's possible to apply Loc-tite to a used bolt but then you face the uncertainty of which type Loc-tite -- there are about a dozen formulas for specific applications. The brakes are a high-temperature application which compounds making the right choice. If you use one too 'locking' you'll have trouble getting it out without damaging the holding nut on the other side. Too 'loose' and it may not hold.
If doing rotor work without changing pads, you can lift the whole caliper off, pads included, without removing those carrier bolts.
New Rear Brake Drums
lono Member # 148 posted 07-07-2000 05:52 PM
We detected a scraping noise from underneath
the Van on our '85 Van. The rear drums were loose. The mileage was 125,000 We also
noticed that the brake pedal had excessive
travel befor the brakes engaged.
The rear drums were replaced by the local
VW dealer and the problems were fixed.
Labor 270 at $90/hour
Drums pn 251-609-615 413.00
Nuts pn N-901-496-01 35.26
Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 07-08-2000 10:00 AM
Sure glad I don't live in CA; we're only US$60/hour here. I don't want this to sound like an "I told you so," as I deeply sympathize for what was probably a preventable repair bill. I get a lot of flak about "over maintenance" but such things as torqueing all nuts to specs, never reusing a lock nut, being sure all cotter pins are in place and not rusted, etc., does pay dividends in the long run. For those nuts to come loose, with a locking cotter pin, seems very likely to have been improper installation after the last brake job or something. But it's also something that should have been checked every tire rotation about 6,000 miles.
Your misfortune has inspired me to start work on a postable maintenance schedule. I've used a full checkout & recording of data style form for years that incorporates a lot of my extra checks. Maybe it would be of interest to other site readers. It'll take a while, but watch for it down the road.
Vanagon Maintenance Schedule posted.
My Vanagon Maintenance Schedule is now posted on my pic site, linked from the home page, under the "Technical Diagrams" folder.
Troy Junior Member # 1568 posted 07-12-2001 02:08 AM
I have replaced the rear brakes on my 89 Westy. The brakes still remain soft. They seem to be hitting on the top of the shoes only, about 1/4 inch. And, this is on both sides. I have bled the brakes several times. Does anyone have any suggestions as to why it wears on the top of the shoe only. I have tried several mechanics in my area, but to no avail. Would replacing the spring kit help? I am a fairly new Westy owner, and this is my first brake job. Any help would be appreciated.
I just finished having a trusted mechanic replace all my brakes - they were all below spec. He has not worked on a Vanagon before, and after much cursing over the german way of doing drum brakes (he kept mentioning "TWO springs" and he is much wiser now) he has a concern. In my home town of Sacramento, CA, we have many weeks of tempuratures above 95 and 100 degrees Farenheit. He noticed that there seems to be little ventilation on the drum brakes and he is concerned that they will not dissapate heat well. Has this been a noticalbe concern for other Westie owners in higher temperature areas such as Arizon, California, and New Mexico?
The older drum brake Westies had some fade but fade in the newer front disk models is pretty rare except for the most extreme use. Even then it is usually a problem with fluid choice (Use only DoT 4!) and if fresh (change every 2 years).
The rear drums, which do only a small portion of the vehicle stopping, usually don't fade and heat dissipation is not much of a problem providing you haven't blocked ventilation of the wheel cutouts or spokes with full cover hubcaps or Kleen-Wheels type internal shrouds.
GONZO Junior Member posted April 02, 2003 02:49 PM
I bought an 86 Westy about 2 months ago and I have to do the rear brakes, one of the cylinders is leaking. I've tried taking that big nut off (46MM), I started working on the left rear wheel. I've soaked with penetrating fluid and I just finish snapping the head of off my craftsman ratchet. I have the Bentley but it doesn't specify this. I know that on older Dodge vans some of the lug nuts unscrew the opposite way. My question is does not left rear wheel nut unscrew counterclockwise like a normal nut or does it unscrew clockwise. Is this thing just frozen on there. I really want to get the Westy out on the road so you guys help would be appreciated. Thanks.
TJ Hannink Member posted April 02, 2003 06:30 PM
REAR BRAKES ON 86 WESTY
There is a small 13mm bolt that holds the brake drum on when the wheels are taken off, the 46mm nut only needs to be removed when accessing the wheel bearing housing.
You will need to back off the brake adjusting star wheel to remove the drum. Also the drum might stick/rust to the rear hub, a few good whacks with a hammer should get it loose.
Thanks for the information. Maybe I misunderstood the Bentley but it led me to believe that if you wanted to raplace the pads you had to take of the big nut in order to take off the plate to get to the hardware. I didn't try taking off the drum. I need to replace the brake cylinder so I hope I can do that without taking that nut off. Since I'm in there, I'm going to do a complete brake job so I don't have to worry about it since I don't know how well maintained the van was by the PO. I still would like to know how to get that big nut off if anyone knows. Its on the left rear wheel. Thanks again for the info, you have a great site and a great looking vehicle.
You can replace the rear brake cylinder without taking the axle nut off; the cylinder is attached to the backing plate. You will have to take the drum off; the cylinder is mounted with bolts from the back side of the backing plate.
krchoquette Junior Member posted April 29, 2003 12:59 AM
I have looked through existing posts and nothing points to what I believe I have happening in my 1989 Westy, 4 speed manual. If I am wrong I'm creating a new post I am sure the appropriate brandishing will be quickly administered.
The story starts the same as many of the others. I have a knocking noise in the left rear of the van that sounds very metal on metal. The knocking has gotten progressively worse since it first occured and happens under a variety of conditions. The left turn is the most reliable, and free-wheeling the van is the best way to get rid of the noise. Currently it is happening almost all of the time, which is why I am writing. The knocking is rhythmic and varies with wheel speed, although it is not a perfectly linear relationship as it does seem to slow somewhat when I shift up to the next gear. Think "tack tack tack tack"
I thought I had this thing fixed, but I can't seem to get it right.
When the noise first showed up it was on an LA to Durango CO non-stop 14-hour charge. It had me freaked out- "transmission is toast, or CV joints are gone" I was thinking.
After the van sat for 6 months (I was travelling) I brought it to a mechanic to check those very things, fully prepared to drop a wad of cash to get my baby into good health. Nope, CV joints are fine, as is the transmission. However he identified the rear brakes as making the noise. He applied some lubricant, which he said had some Moly in it, to the backing plate and the part of the pad that contacts it. Cool, I spent $50 and the noise was gone! For 2 days... then it was back.
I called him and asked what was up and he pointed me in the right direction to do some of my own investigation as he was sure it was still the brakes and that it wouldn't be too harmful. (hmmm...) So I pulled the drums off and took a look, first thing I noticed is that the return springs weren't even attached, (on both sides!) they had been placed on backwards and had undoubtedly lost their tenous hold on the center anchoring points. (this was a previous mechanics boo boo,my mechnic did not notice it though) Sweet, I thought, that has to be the problem. So I re-attached the return springs the right way and gave it a go. Fixed! For 2 days... Aye!
While looking at the brakes I had noticed that the push/adjusting rod for the self adjustment system on the left side seemed a bit worn on the female side of the device. It wasn't truly round. The male side's threads were well worn out as well. Well.. that must be it! I ordered a replacement part, just put it in, along with some more lithium grease between the pad and the backing. Nope, the noise is still there.
Here's where I am now. Each time someone has accessed the brakes I believe they were likely to back off the push/adjusting rod (at least I did) so that they could get more movement from the pads. I believe that relief allowed the pads to remain out if contact with the drum. Not coming in persistent contact with the drum is what allowed the noise to disappear. However, after the hand brake was used enough time to get the brakes "self adjusted" the noise returned.
I believe the pads are adjusting themselves to be too tight, or I have some loose part.
Additional Info- The pad wear on the rear pad is especially odd, it seem to be focused on the top of the pad. The rear pad is worn much more than the front(all of this in reference to the left rear brake system)
The brakes are brand new, they were replaced just before I bought the van.
I can make the exact same sound that I hear when I drive by pulling the rear pad (again we are focused on the left rear side of car) away from the backing and releasing it.
Does anyone know what is going on and how I might go about fixing this? Just when I think I'm getting pretty good at sh*t like this... I get schooled.
Is it possible your brake drum is out of round?
krchoquette Junior Member posted April 30, 2003 11:26 PM
I suppose there is a chance that I have a drum which is out of round but I would expect that there would be some sort of mechanism that would have made it so, and there was not.
I just looked at the bentley manual and am beginning to wonder if it is a matter of having the adjusting rod and the parking brake set improperly. I have never managed that side of the operation so I am going to start there.
I am also starting to think this is now becoming a CV joint issue, or maybe it was all along. Perhaps as the CV joint loosened up the new pads began to get hung up on the inside wall of the drum, hence the strong racket when I trun left. I am now hearing a new noise which is most upsetting. It's a real grinding noise and it happens all of the time, even if the van is just barely moving. It almost sounds like I've got a metal grinding machine back there.
Garyo Member posted May 01, 2003 01:12 AM
If your drum(s) are not out of round (this could be caused by overheating or maybe?? even sitting for long, long periods with the emergency brake on?)
If you feel confident that the shoes are installed and adjusted correctly, then you should get the CV joint(s) checked by a different wrench.
I had the same sounds coming from my '65 Beetle a couple of years ago, ended up finding that one of the shoe hold-down pins had broken, which allowed the spring to get between the shoe and the drum making the same clunk, clunk sound. My rear drums were out of round, guess that might be why it wasn't a constant grinding sound.
I hope you get it sorted out shortly and that it's a cheap surprise.
krchoquette Junior Member posted May 01, 2003 01:42 PM
Off to Precision Auto, the So Cal mechanic listed on this site, today. We'll see what they have to say. Hopefully it will be a cheap surprise... but I'm afraid that isn't too likely. I'll report on what they find.
krchoquette Junior Member posted May 02, 2003 01:24 PM
Problem solved!! Maybe. I'll report on whether the fix lasts or not, but I adjusted the parking brake. Yes, just that easy. I believe there was so much play between the cable and the arm which connects the brake pad to the parking brake cable that the arm was banging around. The bentley manual mentioned that there needs to be no play in this arm, section 42.11 (I think) maybe 46.11. The bentley manual rocks. Anyway, for now all is good. If the problem comes back, so will I.
Since I use this site for just about everything related to my Westy, I thought it is time to give something back! I am a novice wrench turner, just a guy trying to save some bucks doing it myself (and i actually enjoy learning how to do repairs).
So, if you are like me and don't know much about repairs, this may help you out. So, I jacked up the van and took off the tire (hey, i think i breathed in some brake dust...any suggestions?). You will see your caliper. Your pads are inside. Use something narrow to knock the pins holding the spring inside the caliper toward the van. when you back them out of there, that spring will come off and then you can start to work the pads out. When you get the brake pad out, you will see a circle inside your caliper. This is the piston that presses against your pads and your pads press against your rotors, then you stop. Well, when you take your old pads out, your piston will be pressed in toward your rotor so far that your new pads won't fit in that space. BEcause that is a hydraulic piston, you can't push it back into place because of the pressure. So, I opened up the brake fluid reservoir (see hydraulic repair) and then went back to the piston and now I could push it in with my fingers. NOW my new pads slipped right in. assemble the spring for the pads and put the pins back in.
I have fineshed doing the front rotors, pads and wheel bearings on my 85' westy and am now eyeballing the rear. It has 174mi and is in desperate need of new rear wheel bearing as well. My question is, can I accomplish this myself at home with limited tools and know-how? I have a 46mm heavy-duty socket and breaker-bar with a 4ft aluminum fence post for leverage and a standard 19mm socket for the wheel bearing housing (not sure about the size??). Can those inner and outer wheel bearings be removed and installed properly without a press which is called for in the Bently manual? Also, do you recomend that I do the job with the wheel bearing housing in place or should it be removed from the trailing arm before attempting any work? Thanks for the help.