1967-1982 Corvette Parking Brake Rebuild

When you apply the parking brake in your 1967-1982 Corvette, you expect that the car is going to stay put. But that’s not always the case. This is a typical problem for all 67 to 82 Corvettes.  The design of the parking brake allowed the cables to stretch and the shoes and levers to become rusted, grease covered or worse yet, frozen so that the whole system was inoperable.  The parking brake in our project 73 was not working properly so we contacted Zip Corvette Parts.  They supplied us with a complete rebuild kit, which replaced our worn cables, pulleys, brake shoes and levers.  All of the brake shoe levers, springs and brackets are done in stainless steel so the problem with rust is eliminated.  No more frozen levers or adjusters.

A complete rebuild including cables, shoes, levers and pulleys will take approximately 3 to 5 hours depending on your ability.  It’s a good idea to have a shop manual for your particular year available which Zip can also supply.

Follow along as we rebuild the parking brake assembly in our 73.  With the new parts installed, you will not only have peace of mind, but your Corvette will stay where you parked it. 1967-1982 Corvette Parking Brake Rebuild:

Step 1

01: Here are all the new parts Zip Corvette Parts supplied:  cables, pulleys, brake shoes, all the brake shoe levers, springs, retainers and adjusters, parking brake handle slider and a parking brake spring tool.  You will also need a Phillips and flat blade screwdriver, electric drill, 2 pair needle nose pliers, 1 pair standard pliers, nut driver, sockets and ratchet, masking tape, marking crayon, and lubriplate or white lithium grease.

Step 2

02: Place your car on 4 secure jack stands as per your shop manual.  Release the parking brake lever fully inside of the car.  Now go under the car and remove the rear nut from the cable stud at the equalizer.  This will allow the cable to hang down.  Go inside of the car and remove the parking brake lever cover.  You will have to push down onto the seat to get to all of the screws.

Step 3

03: Remove the cover and slide the lever seal out.  If you have power windows, remember to disconnect each wiring connector from each switch.

Step 4

04: Carefully remove the parking brake warning light switch.

Step 5

05: Loosen and remove the four bolts that hold the assembly to the floor.  Lift the assembly forward and upward and turn it on its side.  Take a pair of needle nose pliers and remove the cable from the assembly.  Now go under the car and carefully pull the old cable out.

Step 6

06: We replaced the cable pulley and bearing while we were at it.  The pulley sometimes becomes cracked or chipped and the original bearing sometimes freezes up.  When you replace the front cable, it is always a good idea to replace the pulley and bearing.  This is really cheap insurance against future problems.  After the pulley is installed, re-route your new cable and reassemble the lever in the reverse order.  Let the brake cable hang.  Do not install it into the equalizer until the rear brake shoes are installed.  After the lever is re-installed, do not install the lever cover.  You will want to do this as the very last step after your entire parking brake assembly is installed.

Step 7

07: After you have re-installed the lever and cable, you will move onto the brake shoes.  Start by removing the rear wheel and brake caliper.  You do not have to disconnect the brake line from the caliper.  Remove the line clip at the control arm and then suspend the caliper assembly above the disc with a piece of wire or coat hanger.  Before you slip the caliper off the rotor, it is a good idea to place a 1 5/16″ thick wood spacer block between the pads so that the entire unit can be re-installed over the disc without moving the pistons.

Step 8

08: Mark one wheel lug and draw a circle around it on the rotor.  This will allow proper location when you replace the rotor back on when you are finished.  You will also need to loosen the brake shoe adjuster.  Turn the disc until you can see the adjuster through the adjusting hole.  Engage a flat blade screwdriver in the adjusting hole and onto the adjuster teeth.  Move your hand toward the floor to loosen the adjuster.  If the adjuster is frozen, try some penetrating oil.  If this does not work, you will need to heat it with a torch or use a chisel to free it up.

Step 9

09: Your rotor now has to be removed.  If it is still secured by the factory rivets, they will have to be removed.  Use a 5/16 drill bit and your electric drill to drill them out.  The remaining rivet pieces can be removed once the rotor is off. These rivets will not have to be replaced.  They were originally installed for manufacturing purposes.  Since the wheel lugs will hold the rotor securely in place when the wheel is installed, they will not be required.  After the rivets are drilled out, carefully remove the rotor.  Sometimes a rust ridge or a frozen adjuster will prevent the rotor from being removed.  You will then have to chisel or use a torch to cut the adjuster through the adjuster hole.

Step 10

10: After the rotor is removed, the parking brake assembly is accessible.  Start by spreading the shoes at the bottom and carefully prying out the adjuster assembly.  Disconnect the adjuster spring using needle nose pliers and remove it.  Rotate the axle shaft flange plate until the access hole lines up with the head of the hold down spring pin.  Reach through the access hole with the needle nose pliers and grab the head of the retaining pin.  Depress the spring retainer cup with a small flat blade screwdriver.  Rotate the pin with your needle nose pliers 90° and release the spring retainer.  Now remove the spring and retainer.  If you purchased the spring removal tool, you can do this with one tool instead of two which is what we did and is pictured.  Now do this for all of the hold down springs and retainers.

Step 11

11: Separate the shoes at the top anchor pin and lift the shoes up and out.  Carefully allow the straight section of the shoe return spring to pass between the outer end of the anchor pin and the axle flange plate.  Now separate the shoes and remove the spring.

Step 12

12: Disconnect the parking brake cable from the lever at the top of the backing plate.  Remove the “E” clip at the hinge pin holding the lever and strut together.  Remove the strut and discard it.  Swing the lever out of the backing plate like you would remove a “fish hook”.  Now discard the lever.  New levers and struts are included with the Corvette Parking Brake Kit from Zip.

Step 13

13: Apply a thin coat of lubriplate or white lithium grease to all of the brake shoe contact points.  Clean all of the these surfaces before you apply fresh grease.

Step 14

14: Install the parking brake cable lever first.  Place the hook of the lever through the slot in the backing plate while holding the part at an angle so that it slides past the axle flange with a minimum of force.  The hinge pin must face down.  The L or R must face up.

Step 15

15: Now install the thin flat washer on the pin and mate the strut to the lever.  Install the “E” clip into the groove on the hinge pin.  Squeeze it into place with your pliers.  A touch of grease will help the “E” clip slide on easier.

Step 16

16: Attach the shoe return spring onto the two shoes and then place the shoes in position on the anchor pin guiding the straight section of the return spring between the anchor pin and flange plate.  Notice that we also covered the shoes with masking tape.  This will prevent grease and oil from contaminating the shoes during assembly.

Step 17

17: Install the rear shoe to the trapped hold down pin.  Use needle nose pliers to hold pin into place.  Install the spring and retainer with another pair of needle nose pliers. This is where patience comes into play.  There really isn’t any trick to do this … Just time and patience.  After you have installed the rear shoe retainer, go to the front shoe retainer.  Swing the front shoe partly back out so that the front hold down spring and washer can be squeezed between the shoe and axle flange from the outside.  Slide the spring and washer over the center hole of the shoe.  Guide the front hold down pin into the shoe hole and through the spring and slot in the retainer washer from the rear of the backing plate.  Use a second pair of needle nose pliers from outside of the axle flange to push down on the retainer washer, turn the retainer 1/4 turn and secure it to the pin.  Now swing the shoe back into place.

Step 18

18: Hook the adjusting spring into the lower hole of the front shoe and stretch the spring and place it into the lower hole of the rear shoe.  Place a small amount of lubriplate or white lithium grease on the adjuster stem and screw the adjuster together.

Step 19

19: Now install the shoe adjuster.  Spread the shoes at the bottom and carefully install the adjuster.  NOTE:  Always place the star wheel of the adjuster toward your RIGHT HAND on both rear wheels.

Step 20

20: Remove your parking brake retaining clip and remove the parking brake cable.  (Do this if you are replacing your cables.)  After the cable is installed, connect the parking brake cable to the parking brake cable lever.

Step 21

21: Zip also has the correct Corvette Park Brake Cable Retainers and Cable Clips.

Step 22

22: Re-install the rotor assembly.  Place the marked wheel lug through the marked hole in the rotor.  Temporarily attach two lug nuts to hold the rotor in place.  Turn the disc until the adjust star can be seen through the adjusting hole.  Install a flat blade screwdriver in the star wheel teeth and turn the adjusting star expanding the shoes.  Move your hand up away from the floor for both wheels to expand the brake shoes.  Adjust the shoes until the disc will not move, then back off 8 to 10 notches.  If you have installed new cables, connect the front cable to the equalizer and rear cables.  Now move inside the car and apply the parking brake lever 2 notches.  Tighten the brake cables at the equalizer so that there is a slight drag.  Try turning the rear rotors by hand.  You should be able to feel a slight drag.  Now release the lever.  Turn the rear rotors again.  There should not be any drag.

Step 23

23: Re-install your caliper and wheels.  Go back inside the car and re-install your lever cover and slider.  You will now need to burnish your new parking brake shoes. (See Notes)   With your new parking brake system installed, you should enjoy years of trouble-free service.

Chevrolet always recommended that you burnish (break in) your new parking brake shoes.  Here are two different methods:

With the car traveling at 50 mph, apply the parking brake lever until a light drag is felt 6 to 10 notches.  Operate the vehicle for approximately 50 seconds at this speed.  Now return the handle to the full released position. Your new shoes are burnished in.  When you park your car, apply the parking brake to see if it holds sufficiently after it has been burnished.  Sometimes you may have to readjust the shoes after break in.

Apply the parking brakes three to five times at approximately 40 mph, slowing to 20 mph each time.  Allow a cooling period between applications.  As the applications progress, apply the brakes more gradually, since the brake effectiveness improves and wheel lock-up will occur more readily.  Readjust parking brakes after the burnishing operation.

How To Rebuild The Parking Brake On A 1967-1982 Corvette: Parking Power

Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632

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  1. Admin

    What was changed in the Corvettes brake system? The brake pads, the calipers, the rotors… or any combination of these? Are you sure the emergency brakes worked before the modification? Regardless, someone is going to have to go back into the park brake system and actually look at the parts that are involved to see what is wrong.

  2. Admin

    To clarify more. The emergency brakes and the brakes are two different systems. If the park brakes worked before you changed the rear calipers you could have knocked the park brake cable off, it is located next to the rear caliper on the inboard side, you will need to check that. If it is in place, a caliper replacement would not have affected the park brakes. Most older Corvette parking brake systems do not work do to their age.

  3. Steve Barusso

    Watching your instructions for replacing rear emergency brake rear rebuild kit, I found this too much for this i4 year old to follow. For the average guy it is no doubt they would have no problem. I will have to live with this project or leave it for the pros.

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