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Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

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  • Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

    SO, I had no idea when you back in the boat on the dual-axle trailer into the driveway for winter storage, you need to go forward to disengage the brakes; I tried to move the trailer today, first time since October (CT winters) and the two wheels wouldnt spin freely. I took both tires off after jacking each side up and accessed the "star" adjuster. The Star was super rusty, barely moved. I got the right side to spin (not super freely, but enough) but the left side will not budge. I sprayed WD40 into the hole where the star adjuster is, but nothing. It will not budge. I do not want to spend a ton; I barely use the trailer, just drive a mile to the marina's slip. How can I get this wheel to move freely? Any ideas? Thx...


  • #2
    Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

    WD40 won't cut it. Try some Break Free or PB Blaster, and try not to get it all over the place in there. Just on the threads of the adjuster.
    Mike
    1995 Searay 180BR
    4.3LX 4bbl, Alpha Gen II

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    • #3
      Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

      If the brakes are applied, then it may be even harder yet to get them free, but I've often just pried the star adjuster out of position and let it fall down to free the shoes, if you have one way style brake shoes, the type that won't grab in reverse, then this may still work.
      If your brakes are that rusty, then you most likely are in for far more than just a pair of star adjusters. I don't think CT winters is your problem, it's more likely salt exposure period on the Atlantic Coast. I've never gotten more than a season out of a set of surge brakes, drum or caliper style. No matter how much I flushed them or how rust proof they were supposed to be. (I have one trailer out back now with SS calipers that's never seen the water that's already got 3 seized calipers, and everything is SS. Apparently the caliper pistons are not SS).

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      • #4
        Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

        Thank you, how do I "pry it out of position" -pop the start adjuster out? Its difficult enough to even see the star, and I cannot get any leverage with a screw driver through that tiny hole?

        Appreciate the information on the reason it is seizing up; am sure you are right- question, can't I just remove/disengage the brakes all together, and have free-flowing brakes wheels? The boat is a 21 foot sea ray sundeck and I do not tow the boat far, however I do launch the boat on the boat ramp with it.

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        • #5
          Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

          You can get away with it, if you allow plenty of stopping distance. How much dose the boat and trailer weigh?

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          • #6
            Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

            The boat is 3,500 pounds. The trailer is about 800 pounds.

            Just found the paperwork for the brakes: DICO Free Backing Brakes, 12"x 2"- With the Surge Braking System.

            On the coupler, there is no place to add Brake Fluid. The pictures online show a plastic cap on top of the coupler, I do not have any such cap, can't figure out where I would check the fluid).

            Thanks...

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            • #7
              Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

              You need to get a brake spoon in there, a regular flat screwdriver doesn't work very well. I've taken a regular cheapie screwdriver and bent a 45 near tip.
              '90 Chaparral 2000SL
              5.8 Cobra
              '67 MFG Westfield Regal
              80hp V-4
              (No private messages)

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              • #8
                Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                Ayuh,... If they're frozen by rust,...
                A Good Wack with a BFHammer will many times free 'em up....
                Any Grease is Better,..... Than No Grease at All.......

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                • #9
                  Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                  Thanks to everyone for the advice so far. I think my course of action is as follows:

                  1) Get some PB Blaster and fire it at the star adjuster, might take a small torch to it as well
                  2) Get a Brake spoon or bent screwdriver and try to turn the star adjuster
                  3) Hit the outside drum with a blunt force hammer

                  I might even try to "wedge out" the entire star adjuster rod, just to get the wheel rolling; I really do not feel I need brakes.

                  One question: I know there is brake fluid for my brake system, I see the brake lines, but for the life of me cant see where it would go; there is no cap on the coupler where you would put the fluid. any ideas?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                    I see the brake lines, but for the life of me cant see where it would go; there is no cap on the coupler where you would put the fluid. any ideas?
                    Ayuh,... There's Got to be a reservoir there Somewhere at the coupler...
                    Follow the Line,...
                    Any Grease is Better,..... Than No Grease at All.......

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                    • #11
                      Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                      Yeah the BF hammer is the best idea. Smack the drum as hard as you can all the way around, and try to pry/rotate the drum using the studs to free it up. Don't pry too hard, as you don't want to break/bend the studs. It's pretty common on cars with drum rear brakes up here in Canada....what with all the salt used on the roads. The shoe may seperate from the backing, but that's rare. Pull the drum to make sure everything is okay before taking off. If the shoe has seperated you may make it a few miles before the wheel locks again...and this time removing the drum will be a nightmare. Also, if you use lubricant be certain to use a good brake cleaner to get it all off again.


                      Ian
                      sigpic
                      '08 Glastron GT205
                      '08 F150 XTR 4x4
                      Hot wife, with her hot girlfriend!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                        The Dico system I had on my old Highlander trailer had one piece drum/hub assemblies, no amount of hammering would remove the drum without first removing he bearings. You may be able to pull the drum off and force the brake shoe retainers to give way, but I've had better luck just getting a stout brake adjusting spoon or thin pry bar over or under the star adjuster and popping it out of place from between the brake shoes. No matter what you do, you need to remove the drum to remove the parts that are seized or about to be knocked loose.
                        Depending on the size of your tow vehicle and how far or fast you tow whether I'd consider eliminating the brakes in your case, that's a judgement call on your part. I tow my larger boats with a heavy one ton van with strong brakes so its not affected very much by a small trailer. None of my boats weigh over 2000lbs fully loaded and on the trailer.

                        My Dico master cylinder had a brass or cast iron plug right on top just behind the coupler right in the master cylinder. The master cylinder fill cap is just like those found on old Chevy trucks from the 40's or so. I've seen two types, the hex shaped 1 1/4" or so in diameter cap that screws into the master cylinder top, or the stamped sheet metal type that fits directly onto the master cylinder reservoir. There are several models of DICO surge brakes, thus a few different master cylinder styles. I've never considered any of the DICO systems to be saltwater suitable. The one on my Highlander had a cast iron master cylinder with a cast iron cap that would never seal right, rain water would get into the brake fluid when it rained. I finally began taping the threads with Teflon tape but rust finally got the best of the whole coupler assembly anyhow.

                        If there's a chance that the master cylinder is still applied, did you try just loosening the brake lines to release pressure? Maybe the master cylinder is just stuck?

                        Simply removing the outer wheel bearing may gain enough movement to break stuck shoes loose from the drum if their not held in place by stuck wheel cylinders or hydraulic pressure.

                        The star adjuster has slotted ends, it would need to be pushed up or down out of place, not side to side.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                          This has been very useful, this weekend I will take another look. Thank you!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                            You probably just have to pry the drum off with a pry bar. If the case is that something gets bent, the whole backing plate with all the parts are available at a fairly nominal cost. That and the replacing of the master cylinder if it also happens to be bad is really not that much money and wil have you up and running again.
                            1998 Wellcraft Eclipse 24 Cuddy
                            Volvo Penta Duo-Prop 7.4L "LK"

                            2006 Sun Tracker Party Barge 21
                            Mercury 90 4-Stroke FI
                            "Common sense is not very common"
                            "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." -- John Wooden

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                            • #15
                              Re: Frozen Drum Brakes and the star adjuster wont budge

                              I posted an update to my wrong post, so I will repost it here. JB Blaster, heat, hammer, did nothing whatsoever. Nothing budges. How do I remove the bearing? There is a cover over the tip of the axle with an oil nozzle. Do I twist that cover off with channel locks? If I want to remove the drum cover, can I do that without removing the bearing? Help! Thanks!!!

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