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Classic/Antique Car Repair/Emergency brake adjustment


QUESTION: Is there way to adjust the emergency brake  on a 1930 Model A ?

ANSWER: The only adjustment is at the lever, under the floor boards.  If your lining is worn, you may need to replace it.  Pulling the lever expands the lining to where it grabs the drum and rotates with the drum until the expanded lining hits the stops. It is kind of an on off arrangement.  Your lining has probably worn pretty thin. You can adjust the rods to get things even from side to side.  Make sure your lever is pulling the full amount before you take on the job of new lining.   Every time I put on new lining, I have to grind it down to get the drum on. Good luck and get back to me.
While you are under there, check the bushings for wear.   That bushing is not lubed and wears out fast . the bushing is around the shaft that the lever attaches to at each rear wheel.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Jack,
I did not find an adjuster under the floorboard. The only place I could see to make an adjustment was at the clevis on the rod for each wheel. I have the Les Andrews book and can't seem to find anything on the e brake adjustment.

When I checked the E brake arms, the passenger side has a lot of play and both of the return springs are broken.
So looks like repair is in order
I bought the truck this Sunday. I got too excited and wasn't as thorough at vetting it as I should have been. Now I am discovering some of the issues of  it sitting for three years (fuel system, seals, ETC). I have to replace the right side king pin so I'll do both.

This is my first Model A and it looks like I am in for a crash course on repair. I'm having visions of castle nuts and cotter pins and I haven't even started yet.

I wrote a short paper just for you.  It's called, "I got the A, now what do I do with it?  I'll dig it out and attach it to this answer.
Also, go to and search for jackbahm and you will find some books there that I havew written on the A.  No need to buy them, just hit the preview button and you can see the whole book.  One is "Get a Horse", Snyders sells this one.  And tips and hints for the model A.  
Also, go to and search for jackbahm and you will find many videos I have made on the A.  Don't get hung up on having to do the emergency brakes, they will be swept in when you do the main brake job.  It is a big job, but you will learn a lot.  
Now, I'll look for my write up.  jack

I got the Model A, now what do I do????

Depending upon the condition, this could be a quick check, or the start of a long process.  Many cars are restored cosmetically and the mechanicals are neglected.  You can take care of the cosmetics; I will help you with the mechanicals.  

The engine is the engine, and its condition is obvious.  It either runs or it doesn’t.  I won’t go into that.  I assume you bought an A that will run.

First, you have to make sure it is safe.  It has to stop in a decent fashion, and the steering must be sound.  Don’t drive it over 10 mph if the tires are not good.  If in doubt, ask someone who knows tires.  
(For general information, the Model A is designed to be a rear skid system.  Modern cars are designed to be front skid.  The rear brakes hold first; then the front brakes contribute to the deceleration.)
Check for slop in the rear brake lever bushing.  This is the arm that the rod pulls on when you depress the brake pedal.  It is located on the rear brake backing plate.  Try to shake it and move it laterally.  If it is loose, then you have a very big job ahead of you.  You need to install new bushings.  Not a difficult job, but a lot of hard work.  At the same time you are into the rear brake, replace the emergency brake lever bushing.  It is not lubed by design, and is probably worn out.  Fixing the bushing problem may be all you have to do to the rear brakes.  If it stops after this, leave them alone.  If it still does not stop well, then do the complete brake job.  Lining, tracks, cam, and rollers, and turned drums.
Front brakes:  Clean things up and make sure everything moves as it should and returns under the force of the shoe springs.  If the brake lever is not positioned with a slight tilt forward, then add a “pill” to the wedge to get the lever in the tilted position.  That may be all you need to do.
Adjustment:  This is a tough job and you better get someone who knows how to adjust them to do it for you.

Steering:  Reach down under the rear of the left front fender and grab the pitman arm and pull it toward you and push it away from you.  If it moves at all, you will have to put new bushings in for the sector shaft.  It is a big job getting the steering gear out of the car.  You will need help to do this, put in the new bushings and to adjust the gear.  Find a club member who knows this area of the “A”.   
Check the pinch-bolt that holds the pitman arm on the sector shaft.  There can be no looseness in this joint.

Tie rod and drag link:  Take a close look at the ends of the tie rod and drag link.  They must be firmly connected to the balls.  

Lay under the car and look at all of the wires to make sure none are rubbing on anything that might damage the insulation.  Make sure the insulation is in good shape and not worn off.  Look very closely at the battery cable from the negative post to the starter post.  It routes near the clutch and brake pedal mechanisms.  Have someone push on both pedals to make sure they don’t hit the battery cable.  No movable member can touch the battery cable.  If you have a problem in this area, you can burn you car and house up.  Jack Bahm

Keep me posted.  jack  

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jack bahm


Only repair type questions on the 1928-1931 Ford Model A.


Owned one when I was 15 yrs old, and now have owned 5. Still own and play with 2 of them.

Oakleaf region of MARC. Model A Restorers Club. I have put several Model A videos on the Oakleaf site that may be of help. Things like how to start the A, how to Time it, how to troubleshoot it.. Go to and you will find them. Also, go to and search for "jackbahm" and you will find over a hundred videos. Many about the Model A and our outings. jack

"More than you need to know about cars." Just a small book for Car Nuts. "Model A Ford Tips and Hints" "Get A Horse" (What to do when Henry's Lady quits on you.) or Snyder's Antique Parts. "Engineering Stuff" (For the Kid who likes to take things apart and get them back together). Kids book for ages 10-16. 2012 Many Model A movies that can be found on

BSME LSU, 1958, Masters of automotive engineering from the Chrysler Institute of engineering, 1960, MBA Mich State, 1976. Worked as an engineer at Chrysler from 1958 to the end of 1991.

Awards and Honors
Two patents while working in auto industry. Go to this site for my Model A videos.

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