Convert to Self-Adjusting Brakes

by Karl von Salzen

"Vanagon self-adjusting rear brakes on a late bay!

People have asked if this will work. I said I would try it on my 77 Westy when I needed new rear shoes. Well, my bus let me know it was time at the beginning of the week. And this weekend is half-price at my local Pick a Part.:) So I went down and I had 4 Vanagons to choose from. I picked the one with new-ish looking FF shoes and new fag wheel cylinders. Removed the hubs. Unhooked the emergency cables, they just slide out. Disconnected the brake lines. Removed the 13mm headed bolt from the back side of the cylinder. Removed the 2 17mm headed bolts at the bottom. Drove out the alignment pin from the bottom backside. Backing plates were off, complete with shoes, springs, and cylinders. I did not like the drums that came on this van, they had been turned when the brake job was done and looked a little thin. So I picked over the others til I found a pair that still had the original bevel and very little wear. All the pieces, 2 backing plates, 2 wheel cylinders, 4 shoes, 2 drums, and all the springs etc cost me $50.

I went home and cleaned up the complete backing plates with soap and water and brakekleen.

Removed what was left of my rear brakes....the right side was wasted, along with the drum.

Took me an hour total to convert over to self-adjusting brakes and I was out driving the bus! It is a bolt-on swap; as long as you get all the pieces at once. People have been saying the Vanagon center hole to reach the self-adjuster star wheel is in a horrible place, it is on a Vanagon. But when you put the backing plate on a bay, it is easy to reach and see above the CV joint. The Vanagon lower control arm is different and bigger.

The only reason I got the Vanagon drums was because I knew the right one was wasted. The bay and Vanagon drums are different along with the part number.

Bay is 211 609 615, Vanagon is 251 609 615. I did a bunch of measuring on both drums:

Both drums have the same wear limit: 9.980"
Both drums have the same width shoe surface: 57mm.
Both drums have the same outside diameter on the wheel side: 10 3/4".
Both drums have the same outside depth: 3".

The only difference is the diameter of the 1/2'' wide additional material at the bell edge.

Bay diameter is 11 1/16"
Vanagon is 11 1/4"

The matching difference in the backing plate is the width of the space between outer and inner raised lips. You can use bay drums on Vanagon backing plates; but you cannot use Vanagon drums on bay backing plates. Make sense? The Vanagon drum outside bell diameter is bigger and it will not fit inside the lip of the bay backing plate. I don't know why you would do this unless you got a deal on the Vanagon drums.... but at Bus Depot, the bay and Vanagon drums are the same price, 49.95 each.

Both bay and Vanagon use the same wheel cylinder. 211 611 047 F _at_ $15 each."

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