Getting ready to replace rear brake shoes:
Use our instructions about inspecting Vanagon brakes to learn how to remove your drums. After you do that you should be looking at something like this: rearbrakes1
You can click on the picture to get the bigger version. Probably your version won’t look so shiny and will still have the center hub installed but I wanted to show you everything without anything in the way so I took the hub out.
Rear brake shoe removal:
First remove the two shoe retaining springs. These are the little springs that are found in the center of the shoe and have a metal clip holding them in place. You can buy a special tool for this from Sears for a few dollars. I use a pair of needle nose vise grips and I think they work best for me. Get a grip on the round clip and push it toward the shoe and give it a twist and the clip should come off allowing the spring to also come off. Remove the two studs that act as clip retainers from the rear of the backing plate. Set everything in a specific place like a small box, bag or plastic bin so that you don’t loose anything. Next use a screw driver and pry the bottom foot of the shoe out of the retainer so that it can move toward the center of the hub. Do this to both shoes. Now go to the adjuster wheel. Turn it until you have adjusted it all of the way in. You should be able to take a screw driver and pry it out of the center between the two shoes. This is located immediately below the wheel cylinder. Once the adjuster is out of the way, pry the top to feet of the shoes out of the wheel cylinder and let them come in to the center. You should now be able to reach in with a screw driver right below the wheel cylinder. You will see that two large springs attach there and they hold tension of the brake shoes toward the center. Use your screwdriver to pry these loose. The brake shoes should be almost off at this point. Go back to the bottom of the shoes and unhook the spring that goes from side to side with a pair of needle nose pliers or those vise grips. Finally take the shoe that is to the rear of the van and move it backwards away from the center until you have unhooked the arm that attaches to the emergency brake cable. Now both rear shoes should be off and you can finish removing any springs that are still installed. As I have said you want to keep everything in a box so that you don’t lose anything.
Brake Shoe Reinstallation:
Get your new shoes out of the box (hopefully you bought them from us:-). While the shoes are off take some time to clean the backing plate with brake cleaner. If your rear wheel cylinder is bad replace it now. The first step in reinstalling your brake shoes is to put that spring back that connects the two bottom holes on the shoe set. Next be sure to hook the arm back into the emergency brake cable end and move the shoes up into position on the backing plate. Now snap the two bottom feet into position. Install the two large springs that are right below the rear wheel cylinder. This is tight but you should be able to do it with a screw driver. Be sure that the little hooks on the end of the springs are to the bottom (see picture) and not at the top. Now install your adjuster. Again you should look at the picture. You want to be sure that the fat part of the adjuster arm goes behind the emergency brake handle. This is what make the e-brake work! Also be sure that the other end (toward the front of the van) the square side goes in toward the van. You may have to pry on the shoes a little to get the adjuster in there. Once it is in place you should pry the top of the shoes until you can put them in the slot of the rear wheel cylinder. If you need to you can turn the slots on the rear wheel cylinders until they line up with the shoes with a screw driver. Once the tops of the shoes are in place you need to get the posts for the centering springs pushed back into place through the rear of the backing plate. Hold the post in place with one hand and put the spring over the stud that sticks out through the center of the shoe. Now get your clip ready and push it onto the stud, compressing the spring and giving it a half turn to lock it in place. You may have to try it a couple of times but it is pretty simple. Now you just have to reinstall the spring that tensions the self adjuster arm (see picture) and you should be done.
Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!