How to Rebuild the Front Brakes on a 1953-1962 Corvette

In last week’s edition of, we tackled the rebuilding of the rear brakes on our 1957 Corvette. In this second of a two-parter, we’re moving to the front. In the same format as last week, we’re skipping the disassembly of the brakes and detailing just the assembly with the new components from the 1956-1962 Corvette Drum Brake Hardware Kit available at Zip Corvette Parts. In other words, I am going to show you how to assemble the new brakes instead of disassembling the old ones.

The front brakes are a little easier than the rear brakes. You will need the same tools – 1/2- and 5/8-inch wrenches, 3/8 line wrench, flat-bladed screw driver, and a good set of needle nose pliers, preferably ones with a 45-degree angle. Once you have everything apart, you will need to clean the parts very well. As you can see with our project ’57, we have already cleaned the spindles and the backing plate before we started to assemble the new brakes. This is also a good opportunity to look at the inside of the drums themselves. If they have deep grooves, you will need to replace them. Even if they don’t need to be replaced, it would be a good idea to get the drums “turned” at your local machine or parts store. It’s a fairly inexpensive procedure that will prolong the life of your new brakes and give them greater stopping power.

The front drum brake rebuild procedure should take around 30 minutes to an hour per side. How to Rebuild the Front Brakes on a 1953-1962 Corvette:


Step 1

01: Once you have the old brakes off and everything is cleaned up, take a look at the spindle. You want to make sure that it doesn’t have any deep grooves or other evidence that the bearing has spun. If it does look damaged, then you need to replace it.

Step 2

02: Insert the ends into the brake cylinder; making sure you lube them with a little lithium grease or light oil.

Step 3

03: Bolt the brake cylinder into the backing plate. Be sure that you are bolting in the correct side; the line will exit towards the back of the car.

Step 4

04: Notice the brake shoes are different. The shoe with the shortest material is the primary shoe and it mounts in the front. The secondary shoe, which mounts at the rear, is the one with the long and narrow material.

Step 5

05: This is the retaining pin, spring, and locking cap that hold the brake shoes to the backing plate.

Step 6

06: Insert the pin through the backing plate, then through the shoe. Once you have the pin through the shoe, install the spring and the cap. Rotate the cap a quarter turn to lock it into place.

Step 7

07: This is what you should see after both shoes are installed. Note that you also have to insert the shoes into the ends of the brake cylinder.

Step 8

08: With the shoes assembled, install the upper tension springs. These will not require a special tool, just a set of needle nose pliers and a flat-bladed screwdriver. And maybe a little extra patience too. Don’t forget to install the retaining plate before installing the springs. After both springs are on, apply a small amount of lithium grease where the springs ride on the pin.

Step 9

09: Now you can install the lower spring by simply snapping it into place.

Step 10

10: Before installing the adjusting bolt, locate the hole in the backing plate.

Step 11

11: Have a helper pull the brake shoes apart while you slip in the adjuster. Make sure you install the star end of the adjuster so it is aligned with the slot in the backing plate.

Step 12

12: Carefully thread the rubber brake line into the brake cylinder and tighten it. There is not much space between the line and the spindle support, but you need to use a line wrench.

Step 13

13: Once the line is tight, insert

the opposite end of the rubber line into the bracket on the frame. Use the U-clip to lock the line into place.

Step 14

14: With the rubber line installed, install the small steel brake line that goes between the rubber line and the brake block. Make sure you use a line wrench on these so that you can get them good and tight without stripping the nut.

Step 15

15: Here’s the completed brake assembly. Now you can install the drum and bleed the system, then set the adjuster and you are ready to cruise.

Braking Confidence: How to Rebuild the Front Brakes on a 1953-1962 Corvette

Source: Zip Corvette Parts

8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632

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