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Why doesn't my handbrake work?

Discussion in 'Defender 90 / 110 / 130' started by rchrdm, Sep 10, 2021.

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  1. rchrdm

    rchrdm Member

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    I have a 1986 Land Rover 110 former MOD. After I bought it last spring, I had the handbrake system serviced at a local garage. They put in new brake shoes and a new handbrake cable. I bought the parts (in the US) and furnished them to the mechanic. He seemed to know what he was doing.

    When I picked up the LR, the handbrake would not hold. I even accidentally drove it a short distance with the handbrake on a couple of times. It would not "draw tight" and I could pull the handbrake lever all the way up to the stop.

    I got under the truck and followed the instructions for adjusting the handbrake. I was pleased that I was able to get good tension on the handbrake lever and could not pull it to the stop anymore. However, the manual says that the handbrake lever should be tight after two or three clicks. Not so here. It gets tight after about six or so clicks.

    Even though I could pull the handbrake lever quite tight, when I tested the handbrake, it would not hold the truck. It was fairly easy to move the LR with the handbrake up and tight.

    By the way, through all this we found that the handbrake cable adjuster on the brake drum had to be turned all the way out to get any tension on the handbrake lever. The cable seems too short. I did some research and found that I most likely had the right cable for LHD.

    I am not sure what is going on here. Why does the cable seem too short? Could the problem be that the brake drum is "glazed"? I think I heard that this can happen and results in poor braking. Could the brake drum be so badly worn that I can no longer adjust the cable properly?

    Help would be appreciated!

    Richard
     
  2. dag019

    dag019 Well-Known Member

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    My first thought on this is when they replaced the shoes the the piston and rollers in the expander have fallen out and been put back in upside down. However this is assuming the mechanic has actually fitted and adjusted the hand brake correctly. First thing I would do is us the adjuster to check you can actually lock the hand brake, and then back it off until it just freely spins, this way you know the shoes and adjustment are working and correct.

    The handbrake expander is made up of a triangular piece and two rollers against two wedge shaped pistons. as you pull the handbrake the triangular center piece moves upwards to the wider part and the rolls act on the angles pistons to push them out. It is very very easy to reassemble with the piston the wrong way around (ask me how I know) and if this is the case it will no longer move when the the handbrake is activated.

    See a couple of pics (from google) here to illustrate what I mean:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Flossie

    Flossie Well-Known Member

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    Slacken all the cable adjusters, turn the adjuster on the rear of the drum until it's locked the drum, does it hold then? If the drum won't lock up it's been assembled wrong(easy done), oil contaminated or has bits missing.
    Edit- Dag posted as I was typing :D
     
  4. ER1C

    ER1C Well-Known Member

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    Buy an X BRAKE!
     
  5. dag019

    dag019 Well-Known Member

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    They are very expensive now and I do not know how modifications work in the US as I know it has to be original to import I do not know if you can then modify it once it is in the county.
     
  6. ER1C

    ER1C Well-Known Member

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    Fair point.

    For what its worth handbrakes are notoriously difficult to get working correctly. I know there are two camps..... I had several goes at mine and could never get it right so went and purchased an X Brake, mainly as it was nearly written off when we were in Wales and it rolled down a hill. I know there are folk who say if you do it correctly and cleanly it WILL work, but there are many others who end up settling for a lousy hand brake.
     
  7. dag019

    dag019 Well-Known Member

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    I have an xbrake on the 110 because it came up s/h at a very very reasonable price but before that I had completely rebuilt the handbrake (how I know you can fit the pistons upside-down) and it was still medocre. The later style direct cable operated handbrakes are much better and I have not had the same issues with them.
     
  8. ER1C

    ER1C Well-Known Member

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    Doers the later cable style fit older 110's ? Does that avoid the whole expander pictured above ?
     
  9. dag019

    dag019 Well-Known Member

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    Yes it does I believe but it is a proper conversion, I think you need to replace the back plate as well as the mechanism (link).
     
  10. lynall

    lynall Well-Known Member Full Member

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    Normal cars used to be 2 clicks, but for the trans brake 2 clicks is not enough slack, and will cause either a hot handbrake oir a clunk as you change gear.
     
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  11. rchrdm

    rchrdm Member

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    Thanks for all of the ideas! The handbrake does work to a limited extent so perhaps the pistons and rollers were assembled correctly. I'll try turning in the adjuster all the way.
     
  12. rchrdm

    rchrdm Member

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    Also, any thoughts on why my handbrake cable seems too short?
     
  13. flat

    flat Well-Known Member

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    probably over adjusted at the cable adjustment bit
     
  14. frog hopper

    frog hopper Well-Known Member

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    The roller and wedge original system will work well if looked after. When I used to trial in comps part of the scrutineering was that the hand brake had to hold on a minimum slope of 45 degrees. Never had a problem with that as long as everything was set up properly.
     
  15. Flossie

    Flossie Well-Known Member

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    If you do decide to strip it down again, removing the whole thing is only 4 bolts and you can play with it/see how it works on the bench.
     
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