Wheels and brakes


Dismantling the old.
Dismantling the hub.
To follow shortly…


Dismantling the brake hardware.
To follow shortly…







Assembling the new.
Assembling the hub.
Will be updated when I assemble mine.


Assembling the brake hardware.
Front brakes
The backing plate (the flattened edge and the self-adjuster screw slot point towards the rear, so this plate is for the right-hand side), assorted hardware and the self-adjuster screw (thick grooves for the front, thin for the back).

The brake cylinder installed, the bolts holes only align one way with the holes on the backing plates, so it’s not possible to install a right-hand cylinder on a left-hand backing plate. The plungers pushed into the ends of the cylinder.

The brake shoes, the backing plate greased, and the shoe positioned on the backing plate. The pair of shoes consist of one long and one short. The longer shoe points to the rear, the shorter one to the front.

The self adjuster hardware:

Self adjuster bracket on the shoe, and the hold-down spring for this shoe.

For this shoe (with the self adjuster) a number 4 pin has to be used. With one hand holding the pin in place (through the back of the plate, through the shoe and the self adjuster and into the spring) use a pair of pliers to push down on the top of the spring and rotate to hold the pin in place.

The front shoe put in place and its hold-down spring. This side has a washer underneath the spring.

This little bracket plate gets put on just above the hydraulic cylinder. Then a solid bar ties this plate to the self adjuster bracket. Now is a good time to put the spring on the bottom of the self adjuster.

These two green springs are identical (no left or right). They hook onto the brake shoes and stretch to the bracket plate up top.

Now for the spring holding the bottoms of the shoes together (note that it is wrong in these pictures… instead of the rear-shoe-side of the spring being hooked from underneath, it should be hooked from the top – this is so the self-adjuster screw can actually fit). Then the self adjuster screw can be put in (better to do this before the spring), be careful of the orientation of threads on the self adjuster (right or left hand threaded). Lastly, the spring on the self adjuster bracket can be installed.


Rear brakes
The brake hardware. There is more hardware than for the front due to the parking brake assembly. Note the thin grooves for the rear self-adjuster screws.

The rear backing plate (the adjuster slot at the bottom “points” to the rear, so this is the right-side) greased. The parking cable. And the parking cable and brake cylinder installed.

The parking brake lever installed on the cable. To make it all fit the parking cable has to be pulled tight and held that way (grips on the end work). This lever fits underneath the rear shoe.

Fitting the hold down springs and pins…

More parking brake mechanisms. Note the alignment of the rear shoe and the parking brake lever underneath it. It’s also clear to see where the cylinder plungers go. The parking brake bar is pronged on either end – the wide prongs go to the shoe with the parking brake lever. The protruding section of the middle bar should stick out from the brake. The spring on the bar is oval – this should go on the shoe without the parking brake.

A bendy bar and more springs…

The self adjuster screw installed, and the last spring (self adjuster bracket):


…Fully rebuilt!

Damien Reed | 9th November 2008 at 11:21 pm

can you send me an up close picture of the rear brake shoe set up before you take it apart? i took mine apart and cant figure out how it all go’s back together it would be a real big help thanks Damien Reed in Newport Oregon USA

Martin Lum Older Car restoration | 8th March 2009 at 8:40 pm

Hi There- a nice presentation of your restoration process. This is my first foray into a late 60’s Pontiac Firebird with drum front brakes.

Have you noticed the brake return spring retainer has an egg shaped hole where it slips on the post at the top of your backing plate.? On my Bird this piece will slip off over the head of the 1/2″ bolt which attached sthe post to the spindle. which does not seem a good situation.

I’m not happy about this part and feel the egg shape is due to wear but have no confirmation such as an NOS part. The part does not seem to be serviced by GM and not reproduced.

Your comments please.
Martin Lum

Lloyd | 8th March 2009 at 8:41 pm

Hello. Thank you for your comments.

It has been a few months since I rebuilt the drum brakes but I do remember the retainer bracket you mention having an egg shaped hole. Honestly, whether this is by design or through wear I am unsure. I am certain however that the bracket would not slip off; the springs will hold it very tightly in place.

Just a quick thought… is the narrowest part of the egg-shaped hole also large enough to slip off the post? If it is then concerns over the egg-shaped hole causing the bracket to be oversized and slipping off the post are moot. If not, then like I said, the springs will hold it and I would not be worried. It is worth noting that every single component of the drum brakes, including all the brackets and both shoes, is loose and has to be held in place by springs and/or hold-down pins.

My brakes worked adequately (the shoes being almost completely worn out) before disassembly so I am not worried. Hope that helps.

Anything else and I’ll be happy to try and help.

Bryan | 15th March 2009 at 9:04 am

Hi. While working on my 67’s rear end I ruined one of the three prong retainers that holds the parking brake line to the backing plate. I am not having much luck with locating a new one, to be honest I’m not even sure what to call this piece. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Lloyd | 15th March 2009 at 10:22 am

Hi. I had to buy all new parking brake lines, including the rear section. The new line for the rear has this retainer you mention, and I have not seen it sold seperately… I don’t know how feasible a replacement would be to fit. The new line is fairly inexpensive at less than $20… and is no more work and probably easier than fitting a replacement retainer (if you manage to find one).

Bryan | 16th March 2009 at 6:31 am

Okay, that is what I was starting to think I would have to do. I was not sure if the new line would include the piece or not. I’m glad I stumbled upon this site it is really helpful and I still have a lot of work to do on this car. Thank you for your help.

Karl Kovach | 30th June 2009 at 4:43 am

On front brake, I lost guide on backing plate top for hook springs. Im looking for guide but hard to find on website or auto stores or junk. Where can I get guide ?


Ash Barnabas | 14th November 2010 at 11:48 am

HI There guys,

I am located in South Africa.
I am almost complete with the rebuild of my 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400 and am missing the following parts:-
1) Front brake lines and calipers on both sides.
2) Front flasher lamps that fit on each side of the fender extenders.
3) petrol tank (is there one that I can use from another vehicle)
4) left fender extender (drivers side)

I was driving this great car and then agreed to let a friend assist in a complete spray job. What a disaster!!! He is definitely not a friend any longer. Apart from the above missing parts that were stolen off the car, she is in great shape.

I would appreciate any assistance in locating these parts for my Firebird!

Thanks a mil


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