Replaced rear brake drums/shoes and the brake pedal goes to floor, but can be pumped up

Tiny
JEFFCLANDERS
  • MEMBER
  • 2007 FORD FOCUS
  • 2.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 165,000 MILES
In order to save myself some money, which is now debateable, I changed the rear brake drums on my car. The reason for the change was that while driving one day recently, the rear of the car started to sway as if fishtailing. When taking of the left rear wheel and drum, it was clear that the bearings were shot. In addition, the race and other components of the bearings had melted to the spindle. In an effort to fix my car, I decided to replace both rear drums as well as spindles. This included replacing the brake shoes as well.
Removing all of the items in questions was fairly straight forward. Putting them back together was a different story. The spindles both went on with ease. I also replaced the ABS line going into each spindle on the back as well. This was easy as well.
The brake shoes were not bad in getting them on but took a little longer. I looked at several diagrams and pictures I took from before I removed them for guidance.
The issue arises when I tried to put the new drum over the new spindle. Most resources stated that these should slide right on. This was not the case. I triple checked that the parts I bought were the correct ones, and it appears they are. That being said, it took a rubber mallet, and basically the same amount of energy it took to get the old ones off, to get the new ones on.
The new brake shoes were always in the way. On both sides it took several attempts, of putting on and pulling off the new drums until I got what I thought was right. In the first attempts, the wheel would not even move when I got the drum all the way on. I had to use a hammer to get them off again, and actually had to purchase a new drum again because I do not have a press and purchased drums with wheel bearings included. These were damaged when pulling off the new drum, probably pulling it off crooked.
At any rate, none of the articles I used mentioned an adjuster, which I did nothing with.
When I trusted the car out for the first trial run, the rear left wheel turned somewhat while on the jack, but not nearly the one and a half turn that some resources suggested it should do. The rear right side was fine. After driving, there was a significant smell and smoke/steam coming from rear left tire. I pulled the tire and drum off again, this time by removing the spindle. Once the drum and spindle were off, the drum spun fine, so I am guessing the brake shoes are the culprit.
When I pulled all of it off on this last time, the brake drum backing plate came off as well. I tried to find another one, but could not. I put everything back together using the spindle to hold the rear backing plate on this time. I also had to replace this left rear brake line, the steel part since it broke.
The last caveat to all of this is that in order to get both rear drum s on, it required disconnecting the emergency brake. It was too tight and essentially pulling the new brake shoes. I have not reconnected the emergency brake.
As far a driving now goes, there is minimal smell from before, but it is there, and the brake pedals require pumping in order to get the brakes to work. The first push is all the way to the floor and subsequent brake pedal pushes add the necessary resistance to stop.

I know there is a lot here, but if you can decipher all I have done, that is great. There are several questions I have however related to all of this:
1) Is it okay to attach the old brake drum backing plate using the spindle?
2) How do I use the adjustor to adjust the brake shoes? (I had a hard time getting the shoes to align on the wheel cylinder)
3) how do I tell if the new bearings I put on are bad? (The smell, visually, etc.)
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 AT 5:50 AM

4 Replies

Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
More than likely you probably forgot or did not know to back off the adjusters on both sides and brake shoes were to large for the drums you also when disconnecting brake lines you need to rebleed the system. The best thing for you to do now is to take to a mechanic so he can open all the valves on the ABS unit and bleed and adjust the brakes that you have installed that should take care of it. See picture.
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 AT 6:27 AM
Tiny
JOHNNY G.JR
  • MEMBER
You replaced a brake line, there is air in system, needs to be bleed The adjusters are normally accessed through the inside of backing plate, a small slot that the brake spoon fits into, They are usually adjusted so drum slightly drags with wheel installed, Where new bearings repacked and installed properly with castellated nut and cotter pin, wrench torqued, then backed off to hand tight, cotter pin installed.
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 AT 6:34 AM
Tiny
JOHNNY G.JR
  • MEMBER
ABS system needs to be taken to a shop to address possible bleeding issues. I believe a code scanner is involved. Good luck, On this forum there are over 1,000 threads on drum brake issues.
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 AT 6:41 AM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Hey JEFFCLANDERS,

Yep it sounds like you got the rear brake show adjustment off, here is a guide to show you how to do the job.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-replace-rear-brake-shoes-and-drums

Please let us know happens so it will help others.

Best, Ken
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Saturday, January 7th, 2017 AT 11:58 AM

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