After chasing this rear brake adjustment issue during four years of owning my TJ and having little or no rear brakes, pushing the pedal halfway down, sliding on wet raods, and constantly adjusting them to no end......I SOLVED MY ISSUE THIS WEEKEND.
I read many posts in this forum about TJ issues with rear brakes. My fronts would lock up in rain--many people had the same issue. One post had a guy who sold his TJ after his wife slid through a wet intersection.
Here's what I learned when I set out to settle this once and for all. After reading the countless posts in this forum about the lack of rear brakes, the near misses, and the constant adjusting to no end, I came back to post what I learned over this past weekend. I finally have FULL BRAKE PEDAL.
I'm sure this is no secret and some of you know this, but after reading all I read in this forum on this issue, I had to serve our Jeep community with the following tips. Forgive me if someone else has already posted this, I felt out of safety, I had to share what I learned.
Tip #1: Fist off, RockAuto shows two kits. One for 9" Drums, one for 10" Drums. My 97 Sport had 9". The couple kits I located in town were for 10". I had to order mine.
Measure your Drums before you order...
Tp #2: take a marker and black out the figures 9.5dd and 9.5b in sections 9-14 and 9-15 of your Haynes manual. The quality of the images do not show the detail necessary to properly show how to connect the adjuster cable over travel spring to the adjuster lever.
Af first glance, it appears to show the hooked end of the over travel spring connected to the adjuster lever facing way from you, toward the axle. This allows the arm to move away from the adjusting sprocket, allowing it to back out. When connected this way, the only thing holding the adjuster lever to the sheet metal frame of the over travel spring is the tip on the hooked end of the spring.
Upon closer inspection of the images, comparing it to the exploded view and instructions that came with the Bendix kit, I realized my adjuster cable over travel springs were installed backward. It was like "which of these things are not the same?" Finger by finger, part by part, there it was!!! I know, no major thing. But dealing with poor braking power after four years, I was relieved to have this figured out.
The portion of the adjuster lever that connects to the over travel spring must be slid between the spring and the metal assembly that holds the spring. The hooked end of the over travel spring should be facing you, not the axle. This holds the adjuster lever FLAT against the the over travel spring assembly, allowing no room to move away from the adjustment sprocket. Also, it is easier to connect the over travel spring to the adjuster lever first, then taking a screw driver and putting the adjuster lever spring over the adjuster.
When looking at it, you should see the hooked end of the over travel spring facing you, the metal frame of the over travel spring, the adjustment lever is held between the spring wire and the metal frame. If you need it, I can scan and email the diagram.
Also, I did have the TJ in at Midas for a muffler replacement in the dead of winter this year and asked them to take a good look at my rear brake adjustment hardware to confirm that they were properly installed. The feed back from the mechanic was, "yes, everything is installed correctly".
Final tip. Losen your parking break so there is slack in the line. Put your drums back on. If you adjust the shoes out, then slide the drums on, you will still be way out of adjustment. Now remove the rubber plug from the back of your drum and adjust the brakes out with a screw driver so there is a VERY slight drag to where you can barely hear the shoes touch. If installed correctly, you will hear a real good clicking while adjusting and you will not be able to turn the sprocket backwards. Now tighten your parking brake nut to were there is a good amount of drag on the drums. losen the nut two turns. Done.
You now have the best braking power you ever have had in your TJ. I know, it worked for me.
Hope this helps some of you out!!!!