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Old 01-27-2020, 10:49 PM #1
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Bad Axle Seal, Brakes LOCKED

Like many who post here, I have encountered a problem, and need your help. This forum has saved me many times just by searching threads. If my issue can be solved, it will be by all of you.

Vehicle details
Year: 1998
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Factory Locker?: YES

I recently started noticing one of my wheels would lock up after being parked. Like the brakes would expand/engage after being driven and allowed to cool off. I noticed something was dragging when I started to drive, but the issue would go away fairly quickly.

Decided to investigate after work the other night. Parked the truck after getting home, and saw smoke coming from the rear passenger side wheel. I knew that was likely the culprit. Allowed everything to cool off, and got to work.

Immediately upon getting under the vehicle, I observed the obvious signs of a blown axle seal. Gear oil all over the inside of the tire and brake drum.

Attempted to remove the brake drum, and that thing is LOCKED. Nothing (and I mean nothing) has worked. Pounding with hammer, nothing. The "bolt trick" ended with the threads on the drum getting stripped out. The star wheel is completely seized. And yes, I'm pushing the arm out with a small screwdriver to ensure it will back off. It's just stuck. Everything is soaked in gear oil, so I don't think it's just rusted. I even took a 3 ft long piece of schedule 40 pipe between the wheel studs and stood on it in an attempt to break free. I could have spent all day up there.

Have any of you encountered this issue with the brakes locking up like this? And any recommendations for removing the drum?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-27-2020, 10:58 PM #2
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Forgive me, but you did leave the e-brake off, right?

What happens is the shoes absorb the gear oil and expand, locking up the brakes.

I'd keep working on that star wheel. Use a hammer on it if you have to. They don't cost that much. If that doesn't back off, it will take an explosive.

I hope someone else has a better idea.
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Old 01-27-2020, 11:48 PM #3
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Hit the center hub lip and the studs with pb blaster and the use a flat pry bar and hammer and get behind the drum. If it's fused together then a huge bearing puller or a slide hammer. auto store loan a tool program. All else fails then use heat but be mindful gear oil is not flammable but will catch fire. good luck.
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Old 01-28-2020, 12:03 AM #4
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I definitely wish I had just left the parking brake on! But no, it is released.

Good info about the brake shoes and the gear oil.
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Old 01-28-2020, 12:58 AM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spartacus View Post
Hit the center hub lip and the studs with pb blaster and the use a flat pry bar and hammer and get behind the drum. If it's fused together then a huge bearing puller or a slide hammer. auto store loan a tool program. All else fails then use heat but be mindful gear oil is not flammable but will catch fire. good luck.
In my opinion, all that will do is bend your thin backing plate. $100 for a new one.
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Last edited by TheDurk; 01-28-2020 at 01:02 AM.
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Old 01-28-2020, 12:55 PM #6
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Use a pick

Make sure to use a bent pick tool to push back the locking arm on the star wheel. A screwdriver will not do that.

(in worst case scenario: a drum is much cheaper than a backing plate, why not grind off the drum at 3 or 9 O clock positions?)
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Old 01-28-2020, 02:30 PM #7
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I learned a trick off this forum when I had the same issue. I don't know how to link to the original thread but this worked like a charm for me twice... Once when the seal leaked and once when the spring broke.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cashmoney View Post
Put the rear axle on jack stands and chock the front tires. Screw a couple of lugs on just a couple of threads. Start the engine. Put the transmission in gear. Let off the brake and then reapply the brake slowly until the axle comes to a stop. Repeat that until the drum comes off. Been doing it for years. Helluva lot easier than any other method I've ever seen. Key is the lug nuts. Make sure you put them on otherwise you'll be chasing the drum down the street.
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Old 01-28-2020, 07:52 PM #8
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Have you tried taking the axel shaft off the axel housing and use a hydraulic press to push/separate the axel shaft off the backing plate where it meets the drum? I think someone above said a new backing plate is not that expensive. (I have no idea how much)

If all else fails, you can just take the drum and axel assembly off the axel housing and get a new one from a junkyard?

Last edited by 808Waterman; 01-28-2020 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 01-28-2020, 09:47 PM #9
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I would try this first, relieve the brake line pressure by removing the bleeder screw. Hopefully that could back off the shoes slightly enough to get the drum off if shoes is the issue.
I like cashmoney and JMat idea.
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Old 01-28-2020, 11:41 PM #10
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Here let me throw my two cents in too. With the rear wheels off the ground and the fronts chocked I would try to spin the adjuster down. If you can take the otherside off you can see what your dealing with.

If that doesn't work you could try grinding off the pins that go threw the backing plate or you could use a ball bean hammer round side and break the drum on the face and get to the adjuster that way. Just a bunch of ways to get into the can.
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Old 01-29-2020, 01:48 AM #11
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Manual factory locker 3rd gen? Junk. Your best bet is to sell it to me for cheap and move on with your life....

Kidding.

Star wheel is your answer. I'm willing to bet youre spinning it tighter not looser. Gotta really look at the teeth and go the opposite way.

Second best choice is to grind or chisel off the little pin heads on the back like suggested above and then probably pull the shoes and drum off together as far as ebrake cable will allow. Then turn star wheel.

Third option is to grind thru the drum across the outter width, opposite surface to where the shoes contact thereby allowing the face potion to be removed. Probably need a few grinding wheels for that as the drum is gonna be thick. Shoes are already toast anyway, and drums are cheap. I would do that before risking a backing plate or axle or e brake cable.

Keep us posted. And my offer still stands.
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Old 01-29-2020, 02:24 AM #12
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I like several of the ideas presented.

My idea is to use a chisel or drift through the adjuster slot and break the adjuster rod off the brake pads by pounding.

I really like the ďdrive it off ideaĒ, or maybe just literally drive it until itís smoking and then pull it off while still hot.
Thatís assuming it doesnít just drag the tire.
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:45 AM #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiLife View Post
I would try this first, relieve the brake line pressure by removing the bleeder screw. Hopefully that could back off the shoes slightly enough to get the drum off if shoes is the issue.
I like cashmoney and JMat idea.
The adjuster assembly is what holds the brake shoes away from each other until you apply the brake pedal. Removing the bleeder screw isn't going to do anything about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SasquatchRevenge View Post
The star wheel is completely seized. And yes, I'm pushing the arm out with a small screwdriver to ensure it will back off. It's just stuck.
Just to clarify, you are rotating the star wheel from the top of the star wheel towards you towards the bottom? (looking at it through the backing plate)
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:38 PM #14
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Quote:
Just to clarify, you are rotating the star wheel from the top of the star wheel towards you towards the bottom? (looking at it through the backing plate)
Yes, that's correct. I triple checked to make sure I wasn't just going the wrong way
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:44 PM #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMat View Post
I learned a trick off this forum when I had the same issue. I don't know how to link to the original thread but this worked like a charm for me twice... Once when the seal leaked and once when the spring broke.
I'm absolutely going to try this method tonight. Lots of great suggestions that I had not thought of here. I'll keep this post updated!
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