My 85 CJ7 is in need of rear drum brakes. Are these moderatly easy to replace? I have taken the rear wheels off and the drum for inspection. I feel fairly confident in my abilities, but don't want to get in over my head.
If you've taken them off before, half of your work is done,
Sometimes it takes longer to get the drums off than to do the rest of the job,
just look at what is there, take a picture if need be, and put everything back as it was, just with the new parts, Pretty simple job really
I've replaced shoes several times and I'm a girl. A manual is your best friend for any repair in case you need help. Did you say you need new drums or are you just replacing shoes? Sounds like you are checking the drums before you reassemble, that will save you grief in the long run. You don't have to bleed the brakes if you don't open any line and let air in however, it never hurts to replace the old brake fluid and bleed the system if it hasn't been done for years. Adjusting the wheel cylinders to set the new shoes is done mechanically with a brake adjusting tool so unless you have suspicions about your hydraulic brake lines, don't open the bleed nipples on the cylinders and air won't enter. All in all, it's pretty easy.
Not 'Bleed' the brakes, but you might have to adjust them up once you get new drums.
DO NOT PUMP THE BRAKES WITH THE DRUMS OFF!
You WILL pop a wheel cylinder open if you do! SO DON'T DO IT!
There is an adjuster 'Star Wheel' at the bottom between the shoes, get familiar with it!
Turn it one way, the shoes come together,
Turn it the other way, the shoes get pushed out to meet the drum.
With new drums, and especially new shoes and drums, you are going to have to move that thing 'In' to get everything 'New' to fit.
Once the drum is on, you are going to have to turn that 'Star Wheel' 'Out' until the shoes are just 'Hazing' the drum, just barely rubbing the drum...
If you look on the backing plate, you will find a slot (that should have a rubber plug in it!) for the adjuster tool...
The adjuster workings and procedure is covered in your MANUAL pretty well...
(you DID buy a MANUAL, Didn't you?...)
Once the drum is on and adjusted up so you are getting just a little friction,
Get in and hit the brakes to seat the shoes in the drum,
(you don't need a wheel on for this, just do it with the wheels still off)
Then check your adjustment again... Spin the drum and see if it's 'Hazing' slightly...
Some times the shoes will become pretty loose in the drum once they seat in correctly, so you may have to adjust up a little...
Not much to it once you figure out how the 'Adjuster' works and get it going the correct direction!
Hey, at least if you accidentally do that you have an excuse to replace your wheel cylinders, which isn't a bad idea while you have that all apart anyways. You will certainly have to bleed the brakes if you replace the wheel cylinders though.
1986 Jeep CJ7 4.2L I6 T176 (restoration in progress)
1961 Willys 4x4 Wagon L-226 I6 T90 (restoration also in progress)
Another trick if your replacing brake shoes is to rebuild one side at a time. Don't pull both sides apart and then start your rebuild. That way you can look at the completed side and see if you have springs in right place and so on. Another thing is to have machine shop cut the drums to have them "in the round". They will resurface, "cut" the surface where the shoe rides so they are braking evenly.
Here is a picture I posted on another forum related to my 1948 Chevy pickup. The adjusting theory is the same for the Jeep even if the cylinder looks a tad bit different. Clockwise on the adjusting star spreads the shoe toward the drum (tightens) Counterclockwise pulls the shoe away from the drum (loosens). Each cylinder has two adjusters, one for the forward shoe and one for the rearward shoe and that is when clockwise and counterclockwise gets confusing because you generally do final adjusting when the drum and wheel are bolted back on and you are now working from a picture in your head while you adjust.
So you are adjusting through two little slots on the back of the brake flange plate. If you have a spring removal/installation tool it really helps. Brake tools are relatively cheap and you will use them again and again. A local library will have manuals you can check out. Really good advice from bigjoe, do one side at a time and use the assembled side as a reference.