I recently did a rear brake job on a 94' Escort with drum brakes.
Everything went well except I'm not clear on how the automatic brake
adjuster system works on the newer Escorts (since 1991). The service
manual doesn't really explain it in detail. What is the function of the
oddly shaped part on the top rear of the backing plate where the
adjuster arm exits through a rubber dust boot? This part has a coil
compression spring on it which seems to serve the purpose of keeping the
part in a certain position but I don't see what this assembly is
supposed to do. It doesn't seem to interact with any of the other
adjuster parts in that area. The brakes work fine but I'm not sure if
the self adjuster is functioning properly because of the mystery part.
It doesn't do anything, and I don't really know what its purpose may have
been in the distant past. Treat it like your appendix, and don't worry about
If the adjuster on your 94 is similar to the one on my 97, then it works by
allowing the stepped cam part of the parking brake lever to move to a
higher step whenever there is sufficient clearance between the shoes and
the drum. When it moves to a higher step, the overall length of the lever
increases, moving the shoes closer to the drum. The adjustment occurs
when you brake the car as it's going in reverse. The manual also implies
that this adjustment occurs when you apply the parking brake, but I can't
see how that happens myself.
Make sure the pivot (rear) part of the parking brake lever moves freely.
Often, it rusts up with age, and you'd think by looking at it that it was
meant to be frozen in that position. A little penetrating lubricant, a pair
of vise-grips and some brake cleaner, and it will be free in no time
(maybe 10-15 minutes of working & cleaning it).
Thanks Bob. I noticed when I was doing the work that one of the adjuster
arms was frozen at it's pivot point because of rust. I got it free by
working the joint back and forth with a generous dose of PB Blaster.
My concern now is I might not have the parking brake/adjuster assembled
properly in the area of that mystery part with the coil compression
spring, near the dust boot on the outside of the backing plate. The end
(tip) of the adjuster arm outside the dust boot is currently resting on
the flat surface of that part where it projects inward toward the bottom
of the strut. I don't see how that part could be induced to move against
it's spring tension as it is now. I can't find any details of that area
in the service manual to check the assembly. If you still have your 97'
Escort I would greatly appreciate it if you could take a look at the
assembly of the parts in question.
BTW- I don't think this is a particularly good design since some of the
parking brake parts are located outside the backing plate where they are
subject to corrosion and eventually fail to function properly. The older
Escorts located everything inside the backing plate and drum assembly.
I just did the rear brakes on my 97 Escort a couple of weeks ago, so it's
still pretty fresh in my mind.
The pivot part of the parking brake lever goes thru the slot in the boot
(with a little bit of tugging and stretching) and just sits there. The
spring attaches thru a hole in the end sticking out of the boot, and the
other end attaches to a projection on the rear side of the backing plate
(not the one at 12 o'clock you're talking about). The spring attaches
below the lever, not above it. The rectangular end of the parking brake
cable fits into the U-shaped end of the lever. There's very little of the
lever exposed to the elements. I can't imagine any other way of
installing the lever. Make sure the lip of the boot is still fully attached
to the ridge on the backing plate.
Come to think of it, I suspect you have the pivot part of the parking
brake lever 180 degrees out of position, and are trying to pass the
short end thru the boot and attaching the thin U-shaped end to the rear
brake shoe. Check out the other side to see how it should be
assembled (but don't take it apart until the other side is back
together!). I made a similar mistake with the other end of the
lever (with the stepped cam) swung all the way forward instead
of all the way around to the back. Fortunately, it's just about
impossible to get the drum back on if you don't reassemble
When I did the right side, I put a little grease on the pivot to keep
it from rusting up, but after replacing the parking brake cable on
that side (which had seized up), I heard a Sprong! when I had
everything back together and applied the parking brake firmly.
I suspect the retainer at the pivot point either popped off due to
the grease or loosened sufficiently so that I can't get a firm
brake on that side with the parking brake applied.
Something to look at again this weekend.
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