I spent six hours in The Garage today working on the Maxwell brakes (and other projects on the side), and I couldn't be happier at the results. So much has happened up there since my last post about the little Maxwell that I don't know where to start.
Last post I had just gone through the incredibly difficult process of getting the axle re-aligned and hooked back to the leaf springs. I was aided by new U-bolts that were fabricated for free by some colleagues, and they ended up looking fantastic. After the axle was hooked back on, now it was time to move onto the brakes, starting with the right rear (or the right, since there are no brakes on the front axle).
The first order of business was to remove the adjusting nut at the top front of the brakes. The Maxwell had an ingenious system that takes all of two minutes to understand: Rods connect the front brake lever to each of the rear brakes. Where the rod comes in, there is a pivot point. When you brake the car, it pulls the top of the brakes forward, squeezing the pads against the drum of the wheel (which, unlike modern drum brakes is inside of the pads). Springs along a horizontal rod get compressed as that top moves forward, so when you're ready to let off, the brakes spring back to normal. That's all there is to it, really.
As you can also see above, I'd been dousing the moving parts of the brakes with penetrating oil every chance I got. When I first began tinkering with the car long ago, nothing moved on the brakes. By the time that picture was taken, I could pivot the arm and thus apply the brakes slightly, but there still was not much movement.
The first order of business would be to get the tire off---something I've never done on this car before. I had attempted it long ago but soon gave up to go work on other things, as the wheel puller we have was not quite the right size to aid in the removal of this particular wood spoke wheel.
When taking the wheels off the Maxwell, first one has to remove the main lug nut and then a washer that comes off of the spindle. From here, theoretically, with some force the wheel can be removed. Not so easy in this case.
I bashed on the tire relentlessly for quite some time before attempting other methods (prying, wiggling, lubricating, etc.) until my father arrived home from work. He bashed it a few times before recommending that we try hitting it a slightly different way. The last time he had removed a wheel this old was when he was a young child and his father (the first Woodsie) restored a ~1903 Franklin. Eventually we were successful, although the locking pin inside the wheel gave much sooner than I anticipated, thus injuring my leg as it leapt joyfully from the car. This came after my father set a giant, super heavy mallet on the tire, only to have the tire rotate and send the enormous mallet crashing into my knee.
With the tire off I had an unabated view of the brakes like I'd never had before. The scene did not look promising, though. So much rust and so few moving parts meant that I would risk breaking a few old pieces if I struggled too much with them during removal. With that in mind I gathered WD40 and a newly-discovered old can of PB Blaster, alternating use between the two on whatever part I needed freed.
I also tried my hand at mixing my own penetrating oil based on some wives tales I'd heard on the internet. After gaining access to a new bottle of acetone, I found a 1980s bottle of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) and a 1960s Vlasic pickle jar in which to mix the two together. Pouring my home brew over the parts, I soon found that the combinations of my three oils were actually loosening some of the rusted pieces.
|The elements of my home brew of penetrating oil.|