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Old 11-09-2007, 12:24 PM
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Long/short drum brake shoes

Can someone explain to me the reasoning for different-sized drum brake shoe linings? When researching this, I've found most references which state the longer shoe goes to the rear and the shorter shoe to the front, and I've also seen mentions of the opposite being true. So are there different types of braking systems where it's correct to put the longer shoe in front? What happens if they're reversed?

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Old 11-09-2007, 12:33 PM
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The shoes pivot at the bottom. The top gets pressed out. So, when you apply the brakes going forward, the natural reaction is for the front shoe to "grab" at the top. The rear shoe is longer to help add its share of braking, and the front shoe is shorter to prevent grabbing.
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Old 11-10-2007, 10:29 AM
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What Curtis73 said is correct for normal self-energizing drum brakes. Reversing the shoes will result in lower braking force and possibly grabbing of the leading shoe.

Older cars sometimes had different brake actuation designs, which is why you've read conflicting information. Some cars had two single-acting wheel cylinders per backing plate and both shoes pivoted independently. My 2-ton Chevy truck has a pair of double-acting wheel cylinders and no pivots on the shoes. Be careful of blind rules of thumb - you need to fully understand the design of the system you're working on.
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