How To Rebuild The Rear Brakes On a 1953-1962 Corvette

Many times we like to go out to the garage to tinker with our Corvettes, or even attempt major overhauls on certain components. One thing that can get overlooked is the brakes. The service manual only “kind of” explains how to do it, and if you’re like me, you’d prefer to work on your Corvette yourself so you know it is done right.

To rebuild the brakes on our ’57 Corvette, we used a 1956-1962 Corvette Drum Brake Overhaul Kit from Zip Corvette Parts, 8067 Fast Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, (800) 962-9632. The kit packages all the hardware needed to rebuild the rear brakes on 1953-62 Corvettes, including front and rear brake shoes, front and rear rubber flex

hoses, new front and rear wheel cylinders, shoe hold-down hardware, shoe adjustment hardware, and a quart of Dot 3 brake fluid. In this article, we’re tackling the rear brakes.

We’ll show you how to rebuild the front brakes in next week’s edition of To rebuild the rear brakes, you will only need common hand tools and some patience. You can expect about an hour for each side for both disassembling and the reassembly. For this rear brake rebuild article, I’m changing the format a bit. Instead of detailing how to pull the rear brakes apart, I’m going to show in detail how to put the brakes back together. In order to get your brakes apart, just read the article and then disassemble your brakes in the opposite order we assembled them.


Step 1

01: Before mounting the brake cylinder, insert your pushrods into the cylinder. Spray on some WD-40 and slip the pushrod into the cylinder. This is also a good time to wire-wheel and clean them.

Step 2

02: Next, bolt the cylinder to the backing plate. Make sure you have the correct side cylinder because it is easy to bolt them on backwards. If you look at the cylinder, the brake line should screw in from the rear.

Step 3

03: If you compare the brake shoes, you will notice there are two different shoes. The shoe with the shortest brake material is the front, or primary shoe, while the other is the rear, or secondary shoe.

Step 4

04: There is a special bolt for the parking brake lever. Find the bolt that has a shoulder on it, place some grease on the shoulder, and insert the bolt through the parking brake lever.

Step 5

05: With the bolt through the lever, insert it into the secondary brake pad. Now you can tighten the nut on the bolt that goes through the parking brake lever and the secondary brake shoe.

Step 6

06: If your parking brake cable is still locked into the backing plate, go ahead and remove it now. Once you have done this, with just the cable going through the backing plate, insert the end of the cable into the parking brake lever.

Step 7

07: Now install the secondary shoe to the backing plate. Be sure to insert the shoe into the cylinder push rod first. Then install the retaining spring pin by inserting the pin through the backside of the back plate, then through the shoe. Install the small spring and then the locking retainer by pushing and turning it a quarter turn.

Step 8

08: With the shoe locked in, locate the shoe retaining plate and install it on the top pin in the back plate. Then install your top brake shoe retaining spring. You don’t need a special tool for this – you can use a set of needle nose pliers to pull it up onto the stud.

Step 9

09: This is the parking brake shoe lever that actuates the primary pad. Notice how it is positioned; this is exactly how it will be on the car. This one is for the passenger side, with the spring going toward the primary shoe.

Step 10

10: Install the primary shoe to the backing plate using the same procedure as the rear. Once the shoe is attached, install the parking brake lever for the primary shoe. With the lever in place, install the shoe retaining spring just like you did for the rear shoe.

Step 11

11: Here’s where you might need a helping hand. First, install the small shoe tension spring that goes between the bottom of the shoes, then have someone pull the bottom of the shoes apart so you can insert the adjusting screw. The star part of the screw needs to align with the oval hole in the back of the backing plate. This is how you will adjust your brakes when the drums are on.

Step 12

12: All done. You can now reinstall the drum and adjust the shoes. Once that is done, you can bleed your brakes and feel confident in your brake system again.

Braking Confidence: How To Rebuild The Rear Brakes On A 1953-1962 Corvette

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

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