A Very Interesting Incident


I recently had a problem with our Volvo Amazon wagon in outback South Australia.  Somewhere around Wirrealpa Station in fact.  Not the best place to have a problem.  The brake pedal went long and the handbrake wouldn't.  I knew what the problem was because I'd had a shoe jump off the wheel cylinder on a Twin Cam Escort once (oh, how I loathe that car!), leading to almost no pedal and some interesting noises.  Knowing what the problem was meant I also knew how to fix it.  If I could only get the drum off.  If you need help in Copley I can't recommend highly enough that you go to Leigh Creek Motors, about five kilometres south, because in my experience Copley is the last place to try and get help.  Nice bakery but that's it.  I spent a full day being ignored on the forecourt of the garage of this forsaken place.  And he's the RAA man for the area!  I did manage to get on to Gerry Lister who was able to give me some tips should the correct puller not be found.  Thanks, Gerry!

I carefully returned to the Prairie Hotel and because there was no mobile signal used reverse charge to call Her Ladyship (at home in Melbourne) to see if anyone between Parachilna and Adelaide had a suitable drum puller.  She managed to tee up a visit to Ken Bayly, SA Club Captain, who had a puller.  It was Sunday and I had to be back home on Monday.  Over breakfast on Sunday I was chatting to a couple of guys whose Bash car had broken down and together we hatched a plan.  They lent me a small vise grip (a vice grip is a completely different thing...), so as not to crush the sides of the brake hose, and a handful of cable ties with which I clamped off the rear brakes (to avoid further damage or a wheel cylinder popping out).  I then set off for Adelaide and drove very carefully, using the satnav to warn of intersections and approaching  corners.  There was almost no traffic on the road and the front brakes felt strong so I was able to make good time.

Once in Adelaide and with the LHR drum off we discovered that the alloy adjuster block had fractured and the leading shoe had slipped off the land.  And the adjuster blocks had been replaced with new items no more than eighteen months ago as a precaution against this kind of thing happening!   Looking at it closely I decided that if the shoe could be anchored elsewhere the brakes would still function OK.  So I put a 10mm drill through one of the 'spare' return spring holes and through the backing plate.  An 8mm bolt with a thick washer and nyloc nut tightened, not quite fully, to allow the shoe to pivot was inserted and the drum re-fitted.  All up the repair took about an hour from jack under to jack out.  With the vise grip removed the brakes worked as normal albeit with a longish pedal, because there was no adjustment available, and a quick test proved the car pulled up straight even on a wet road.  I think in fact that the extra length of the pedal allowed better brake modulation especially with that crappy Lockheed remote booster.  I hate remote boosters.  On to the highway and after a few kilometres I found I didn't have to compensate for the repair and the jury rig got me home to Melbourne without strife.

Many thanks to Ken Bayly (and his brother) and Craig Rasmussen for their help and patience, I did boss Ken around somewhat though especially when I though he was too slow cleaning the windows and lights!


These pictures are a re-enactment of the repair.  The drill is being played by an actor.