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Which way to turn the star wheel?

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  • Which way to turn the star wheel?

    97 Shoreland'r tandem axle trailer with rear axle surge drum brakes. I want to try to adjust them, because they are not working. But what I can't figure out is what way I should be trying to turn the star wheel. I don't want to take the drums off yet, cause I don't want to mess with reassembly. My wheel cylinders are at the top.
    So I assume that it will be "turn the star wheel down on one side, and turn it up on the other."? But I don't know which side to turn either direction. If my question doesn't make sense I apologize. If it's so blatantly obvious, just tell me this one time, and I promise I'll not forget! Thanks.


  • #2
    Re: Which way to turn the star wheel?

    Ususally the star wheel needs to move up on the backing plate side to tighten and down to back off.... but it's either that way or the other and both wheels should be the same - unless they are not

    Any drum brakes that I've seen have star wheels with right hand thread on the right wheels and left hand thread on the left wheels.

    Some GM servo acting self adjusting brakes turn opposite to the above. If you remove the adjuster wheels they are marked with a L or r under the pivot end of the adjuster.
    Last edited by Pascal; April 25th, 2008, 02:06 PM. Reason: add info

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    • #3
      Re: Which way to turn the star wheel?

      They're only going to turn one way because of the locking device inside the drum. Turn it one way and if it doesn't turn, go the other. You're better off pulling the wheel so you can get a feel for the drag when setting up drum brakes. I believe drum brakes also self adjust when applying the brake while backing up.

      Doug

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      • #4
        Re: Which way to turn the star wheel?

        I have a magic marker arrow on my axle to remind me of which way turn the star adjuster.

        If I lost that info I would chose a direction and start turning while a friend spins the tire. If not getting any resistance after 15 clicks or so then that''s the wrong way. I

        I'm sure I would guess wrong the first try.

        Adjustments are made with the wheel on. Surge brakes, at least the ones I use (single & double axle) are not self adjusting.

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        • #5
          Re: Which way to turn the star wheel?

          If they are self adjusting, you will need to make a tool out of heavy wire to move the self adjusting lever away from the star wheel notches while you turn the wheel to back off the brakes after removing all shoe travel inside the drum. I make mine out of 1/8" gas welding rod. Make a 3/4" long end bent at 90 degrees and modify the shaft to allow it to go around the adjuster on the drum side.

          If the self adjuster lever is above the star wheel, you move the wheel up to tighten when adjusting from the backing plate side. Opposite if the self adjuster lever is below the star wheel.

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          • #6
            Re: Which way to turn the star wheel?

            Thanks for the replies fellas. As I thought it wasn't a simple answer.

            I had the drums off 4 years ago to replace frozen wheel cylinders and I don't remember there being any self adjuting mechanism. I do remember that there was a spring that the star wheel rubs against that makes turning it very difficult. Most likely I am going to to stop being a wimp and just disassemble it. I probably need shoes anyway, there might not be any adjustment to make.
            Thanks!

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