Ford Ranger Drum Brake Repair

Step by step repair instructions and photos for 2005 Ford Ranger rear drum brakes.

These days almost everyone needs to save money and hone their self sufficiency skills – and my house is no different.

When the brakes on my 2005 Ford Ranger started making that tell tale growl I decided I needed to do it myself this time despite the fact that it’s probably been at least 10 years since I did a brake job. Happily it was like riding a bicycle.  This repair is very similar to every other set of drum brakes that I’ve ever done, but your mileage may vary.

A shop might charge $2-300 or even more for this repair but the truth is that if you’re fairly mechanically inclined this isn’t an excessively difficult  job, and you can do it yourself with about $60 worth of brake shoes, and you won’t need any “special” tools.  Chances are that if you do any automotive work at all you already have most or all of the tools that you will need for this job:

  • Jack and jack stands or equivalent
  • Cross Wrench to remove the lug nuts
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Medium / large slot screwdriver
  • Small / medium “Vise Grip” type locking pliers
  • Locking needle nose pliers
  • Digital Camera

Expect to take from 30 minutes to 1 hour for each side unless you are already proficient – in which case you probably don’t need this guide.  If you get in a hurry and don’t read the directions – or if you run into problems like frozen or broken parts it could take quite a bit longer.  Clear your calendar for a few hours just in case. Try to have another vehicle available in case you need to make a parts run.

Brakes aren’t something that you want to foul up, and drum brakes are a lot more aggravating than discs are – so if you don’t have the patience to safely do a good job then you should just shell out the cash and let a professional do it for you.

This information may not be correct, and may cause extensive damage to you or your vehicle, and is only for information / entertainment use only.  You must agree that you are responsible for the consequences of any use or misuse.

Never work on any vehicle that is up on a jack – you will almost certainly injure or kill yourself, and damage the car.  Use jack stands or a safe equivalent like railroad cross ties or 6x6s.  Never work on any vehicle on a soft or unstable surface – concrete is best, asphalt can collapse under jack stands if you put enough weight on it.  You are solely responsible for your own safety and that of your car, passengers, other cars, drivers, and pedestrians.  If you are not 100% sure that you can safely complete this job then don’t do it.

Here is a valuable tip – do one side at a time.  That way if you get confused you can look at the other side to help you get it all together again.

Before you jack up the truck loosen all of the lug nuts while the tire is still on the ground.  Then once you have the car safely up and the tire off remove the retaining clips that the factory used to hold the drum on.  If the drums have ever been removed there won’t be any retainers so don’t worry about it, but if you have to remove them they will be damaged in the process which is OK, because they no longer serve any purpose – just throw them away.

use a screwdriver to pry the retainer clips lose and then just yank them off with a pair of pliers.
use a screwdriver to pry the retainer clips lose and then just yank them off with a pair of pliers.

Then remove the brake drum by gently tapping on it with a hammer to get it started, and then pry it off with a pry bar through the center hole.

Once you have the drums off examine them for deep scratches (like you will have if you wait too long to replace the shoes) or glazing (like you get if you drive like a mad man).  If the surface is not in good shape then you need to get the drums turned (7-10 bucks apiece) or replaced if they are too bad to turn.  Many parts stores that sell brake shoes also will turn your drums and discs.  If you don’t know what you are looking for, or if you aren’t sure, then take them to the parts store or machine shop to be checked.

Here’s what you will see once the drums are off –

Take several pictures of all of the springs and clips to help you get them all back together later.  Dont just rely on your memory!
Take several pictures of all of the springs and clips to help you get them all back together later. Don't just rely on your memory! If you don't have a digital camera then draw a diagram.

Helpful tip #1 – Put a ratchet strap, bungee cord, or giant rubber band around the outside of the brake shoes – this will help to hold it all together while you deconstruct the assembly.

Now remove the top spring from the rearmost brake shoe (the two sides are mirror imaged) by grasping it with a pair of vise grips and prying on them with a screw driver.

Don’t worry about the other top spring yet – it will be easy.

Now remove the spring from the auto adjusting lever by lifting the end of it up and off of the adjuster.

This will free up the adjuster lever which just hooks onto the end of the tensioner spring / cable and rides on the same stud as it’s lever spring

Now grasp both of the shoe hold down spring clips with a pair locking needle nosed pliers and remove it by compressing the spring and rotating it 90 degrees while you hold the retining rod from the back with finger pressure.  This is very easy to do with locking needle nose pliers and very hard to do without them.  If you don’t hold the rod from the back it will rotate along with the retainer, and make you say bad words.

Now use your locking pliers to grasp the spring that runs between the two brake shoes – stretch it just a little bit and pull the end out of the hole – note that this picture shows me holding the wrong end of the spring – I didn’t get a good shot of holding the correct end (this is on the passenger side).  Anyway, one end (the end toward the front of the truck)  will come out easily, and the other won’t come out at all without great difficulty and damaging the spring – so don’t force it.  Once you have the right end it will come right out with no problem.

Once you have the front end of the spring out just pivot the spring out and the other end will unhook.

Now take off the ratchet strap and the shoes will both come off – the front one will still be hooked to the big spring at the top but it won’t be under any tension and it will come right off.

Several parts will just come loose along with the brake shoes – like the star wheele auto adjuster –

The four brake shoes are all exactly alike except that two of them have this stud and the other two don’t.  The shoes with the stud install toward the rear of the vehicle.

The stud goes at the bottom by the way.

The rearmost shoe (with the stud) will still be attached by a soft steel clip to the parking brake lever.  You will have to bend apart the legs of the clip to remove it, and then you will have to crimp them back with a pair of pliers to install the new shoe.  Go ahead and do that.

One end of the adjuster star wheel assembly is threaded while the other end is not.  Turn the treaded end to shorten the adjuster assembly as short as it will go – but leave it loose – don’t screw it in tight and bound up.

Now you are ready to reassemble everything using the new brake shoes.

this thing is a pain in the butt
See that silvery thing under my left thumb?  That piece of sheet metal positions the cable / adjuster tension spring and is only held in place by the hole that it rides in and the slot in the shoe retractor – it’s kind of a pain in the butt. Don’t forget to position it as you install the shoes.

First rehook the big top spring to the forward shoe (it isn’t under any tension yet) and position both shoes while holding them loosely in place with the ratcheting strap or bungee cord.  Check to make sure that the slave cylinder rods, parking brake link, and star wheel adjuster are all in place on both ends – then lightly tighten the ratchet strap.

Replace both shoe hold down springs using the locking needle nosed pliers – push and rotate 90 degrees while holding the retaining rod from the back.

Use your locking pliers and screwdriver to pry the top spring back into place.

Replace the lower spring that goes between the shoes by tilting the rearward end into it’s hole in the rear shoe and stretching the spring with locking pliers to hook the front end into it’s hole in the front shoe.

Now route the adjuster tensioning cable around the shiny sheet metal braket on the rear shoe.

notice the sheet metal bracket (it's kind of blue in the picture) is only held in place by the notch in the parking brake link.

Now install the auto adjuster spring over the stud then hook the adjuster lever to the end of the spring/tensioner cable and install it over the same stud.

Now lift the end of the spring and hook it onto the adjuster lever

Remove the ratchet strap and check everything to make sure that it is all in place – slave cylinder rods on both ends, parking brake link on both ends, star wheel adjuster on both ends.  the top of the shoes should be bearing on the anchor pin that the two big springs hook to.  Also the adjuster lever should be engaging the teeth of the star wheel – if it isn’t the star wheel adjuster is probably installed backwards.  If all that looks good and you don’t have too many left over parts (any would be too many) then you are ready to re install the brake drum and the tire.

The brakes should work just fine, but they will adjust theirselves when you back the car up – so make a point of backing up and pumping the brakes a few times.  Drive around especially slowly and carefully untill you have determined that everything feels and sounds right, and the brakes work like they are supposed to.

Typical Drum Brakes - not exactly like Ford Ranger Drum Brakes but pretty close, and close enough to help you know what parts I am referring to in the article.

Drafty Windows? Whitehouse Covers Them With Plastic

While watching the news this morning I noticed in a video clip of a Face The Nation interview of President Obama that there is plastic over the windows in the White House.

That’s the best clip I can find at the moment. If I find a better one I’ll change it.  You can actually see the plastic billowing a bit during some segments.

If plastic on the windows in the oval office doesn’t make it socially acceptable to do what you have to do to control those energy bills I don’t know what will.

Basic 220 Volt Circuits

220 volt circuits (AKA 230 volt, or 240 volt) are used to supply power to appliances which draw high currents such as clothes dryers, ranges, ovens, cook-tops, heaters, air conditioners, rotary phase converters, and water heaters.

This article is for informational purposes only, and it may be entirely or partly incorrect.  Electrical work should only be performed by qualified persons. Anyone who does electrical work must always follow all safety rules and guidelines. Read the Safety Rules for Electrical work before going any further.  By continuing you agree that you are responsible for your own actions.

Parts of a 220 Circuit Continue reading “Basic 220 Volt Circuits”

Woodworking Tool Jigs and Tips

Jigs and fixtures can greatly extend the functions of many shop tools. Here are a couple that I use regularly, and find useful.

But first – Power Tools are Dangerous! Many woodworkers accidentally cut off their fingers, put out their eyes, or worse. Modifying power tools makes them even more dangerous.  These Jigs are almost certain to kill you and everyone you know. I do not recommend that you do as I do.  For maximum safety you should never even get out of bed.  Ever.  If you do, you shall not hold me in any way responsible – if you don’t agree to this then you must move along now without reading any further or even looking at the pictures.  In fact I strongly recommend that you go back to bed.

You can easily use your hand belt sander as a bench sander with a simple jig like this
You can easily use your hand belt sander as a bench sander with a simple jig like this

This belt sander jig is very useful for shaping wood, and plastic work pieces and even metal – but you should be very careful when shaping metal with power tools in a wood shop that you don’t start a fire. If you use a dust collection system, you should always disconnect it before shaping metal so that you don’t suck hot metal or sparks into a container of sawdust!  Speaking of dust collection – if you plan to do much wood working you should get a real dust collection system or you will end up with a chronic cough from all the sawdust that ends up in your lungs. Continue reading “Woodworking Tool Jigs and Tips”

29 Free Ways To Save Energy and Money at Home

You Can Lower your Energy Bills Starting Right Now! This stuff really works!

  • Turn your water heater thermostat down to 120 degrees.
  • Turn off lights, TV sets, appliances, and other electricity users when not needed. Consider plugging electronics (anything with a remote) into a plug bar/surge suppressor and turning them off with the switch on the plug bar – in order to eliminate phantom loads.
  • Change your Computer’s Energy Settings to save energy.
  • Clean light bulbs globes and shades – The cleaner the bulb, the brighter the light and the less tempted you will be to change to a higher wattage or turn on a second light.)
  • Seriously reconsider your use of things like security lights, swimming pools, and hot tubs. If you have things like this that consume energy continuously for months or even years at a time, but are only used occasionally, you should consider the real long term costs involved. By the way, putting your swimming pool pump on a timer and only running it for 2-3 hours a day can very significantly lower your electric bill, without making any real compromise.
  • Take a shorter cooler shower. In the summer time when you are trying to keep your home cool and dehumidified, a cooler shower will save energy in two ways, first it saves hot water, and it releases less warm moist air into your house. Installing a trickler valve will make it more convenient to turn the water flow off or down while you lather up or shave. Turning the water off when you don’t need it could reduce the hot water used by 50% or more. Also, cooler water temperatures help to avoid over drying your skin.
  • Don’t run water continuously for activities like shaving, tooth brushing or rinsing dishes. Run the water into the sink (or a cup) and use only what you really need – especially hot water.
  • Don’t leave kitchen or bathroom ventilation fans running any longer than needed. The conditioned air that they blow out has to be replaced by unconditioned outside air – plus the fans use energy too.
  • Whenever you have the occasion to shop for new appliances consider their energy efficiency, and look for the energy star compliance logo.
  • The most wasteful appliances are the ones that you don’t really need. If you have an old refrigerator out in the garage or basement just to keep a few drinks cold, consider getting rid of it altogether, or at least replacing it with a new efficient compact (aka “dorm room”) model, or only using it when needed, and turning it off most of the time.
  • Call your Electric Company about discounts they may offer during off-peak hours, and try to cook and wash during those times whenever possible.
  • Want to find out if your energy use is above average? If you have five minutes and your energy bills are nearby, this government Web site can tell you: Click on the “Home Energy Analysis” link. You will be asked to enter information about your home’s age, square footage, number of occupants and energy bill totals for a consecutive, 12-month period. If you don’t keep your bills, your utility company can send you a 12-month summary.

Heating and Cooling – In most homes regulating the temperature is the largest single energy expense It is also most often the main area where real savings can be made.

  • Dress appropriately for the season so that you can adjust your thermostat to save energy.
  • Adjust your thermostat higher in warm weather and lower in cool weather so your heating and cooling systems don’t have to work so hard.
  • If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, then manually change the settings at night and when leaving the house.
  • The sun is the most readily available source of heat there is – and the cheapest! So make the most of it in the heating season by opening internal doors of any rooms which get more sun than others and let the warm air travel through your home.
  • Shut the door – The biggest heating and cooling loses are from air infiltration, and leaving external doors open will sure infiltrate a lot of air. Consider putting a closer on the most often used door to your house so that it will close itself.
  • Keep draperies and shades on sunny windows open during the heating season to allow sunlight in; close them at night and during the air conditioning season to reduce heat transfer.

Kitchen and Cooking

  • Don’t use the heavy wash settings on your dishwasher or clothes washing machine unless they are really needed, instead scrape plates thoroughly and pre-soak clothes when possible. Your teenagers will be glad to hear that most modern dishwashers can handle dishes that have not been pre-rinsed. So to save hot water, don’t pre-rinse your dishes – unless it will be more than a day or so before the dishwasher is run, in which case you should probably do a bit of pre rinsing to keep it from getting really nasty in there.
  • If you have a water heater timer, run your dishwasher as soon as possible after the timer turns the water heater off. That way you will use up the residual hot water instead of leaving it to slowly cool and go to waste. Only do this if you have a reasonably modern dishwasher that will bring cool water up to the proper temperature. Watch for this feature when shopping for a new appliance.
  • In the summer, cook outside whenever possible to avoid adding heat and humidity to the house. conversely, in the winter, the heat and moisture that cooking produces is a big plus to your indoor environment during cold weather. So fire up a mess of comfort food on a cold winter afternoon.
  • Keep your refrigerator and or freezer full. A full refrigerator will cost less to operate than an empty one. Also, in the event of a power outage, frozen bottles of water that you have used to take up space and provide thermal mass will help to keep the real contents from spoiling. Anyway, in the event of an emergency you can never have too much ice or bottled water.
  • Try to think before you open the refrigerator and get as much out (or in) at one time as possible. When putting away groceries stage everything that goes into the fridge and then put them all away at one time.
  • Keeping your refrigerator or freezer neat and well organized will help to reduce the amount of time you spend looking for ingredients.
  • When using the dishwasher, avoid using the heat dry cycle. Instead open the door and allow the dishes to air dry. In the summer time, wait a few minutes before opening the door to avoid dumping all that steam into the house. In the winter the hot moist air is a good thing. If you use a product like Jet Dry and load carefully, most of the water will drain right off without any need for additional heat drying.
  • When cooking, choose the right pan size for the food and the stove eye. Cut food into smaller pieces and put lids on pans when possible as the food will then cook a lot quicker, and less energy will escape as steam. If you are defrosting food, or just warming things up, then microwave ovens are ideal as they use much less electricity than conventional ovens. Use the microwave whenever possible. For example potatoes baked in the microwave for 5 minutes are almost identical to ones that bake in the oven for an hour.
  • Regularly check the seals on your fridge/freezer to ensure no warm air is getting in – the seals should be tight enough to hold a piece of paper securely when closed.

Laundry – Efforts in the laundry room are mostly aimed at saving Hot Water. Water heating is the second largest use of energy in the home, after climate control.

  • A cheap way to save on hot water all the time is to insulate your water heater.
  • Try to have full loads when using the washing machine.
  • Use the lowest possible temperature to wash, and always use a cold rinse. The Laundry detergents available today are designed to do a good job in cold water. Another benefit is that your clothes will last longer if you wash them in a cooler temperature.
  • If you have especially dirty of stained clothes, then spot treat them with one of the many fine products available and/or presoak them.
  • When the time comes to shop for a new washing machine seriously consider an energy efficient front loader. I have seen claims of up to %40 energy savings for these machines; Plus, they use less water which results in even more savings, also they claim to do a better job in the spin cycle which means even more savings in the dryer – plus your laundry will be dry quicker.
  • Use a clothes line instead of the dryer for a 100% energy savings and fresh smelling laundry – and clothes which last longer.

Thawing Frozen Pipes and Winter Home Maintenance

The first full day of winter, and Man it’s cold.  Three days ago it was 75 degrees and this morning it’s 5.  If you’re in Minnesota I know that you’re thinking stop whining already hey, but you must admit that is an extreme change over one weekend. It catches people by surprise – “Surprise! it’s December 22, and it’s Cold!” – It probably shouldn’t but it does.

It’s a big money day for plumbers.  Anyway…

How to Thaw your Frozen Pipes – Click on the link for more information on what to do when the water doesn’t flow, and how to keep your pipes from freezing if they haven’t already.

Winter Time Home Maintenance – Maintenance is the key to avoiding expensive repairs, and keeping your home values high –  And there are some things that are best done in the Winter time.

Easy Washing Machine Agitator Clutch Repair

It’s really easy to repair the slipping agitator clutch on many washing machines – $6 in parts, a couple simple tools, and this how to article could save you an appliance repair bill. Anyone can do it, and you might even get your clothes washer fixed quicker by doing it yourself.

“The agitator in my washing machine isn’t agitating!”

Fixing our broken Kenmore Elite top loading washing machine (apparently similar to Whirlpool, Roper and Inglis) turns out to be a really simple 10 minute job.  Seriously, if your agitator is slipping don’t call a repairman for this, a twelve year old could probably do it.  It’s so easy that I would recommend that if you don’t have a socket wrench and extension (the only tools required) that you buy one rather than call an appliance repair man just to change the agitator clutch.  Also, the parts were only $6.

The agitator on our washing machine stopped agitating.
The top part of the agitator on our washing machine stopped agitating.

So, my lovely wife informs me that the washing machine is broken.  Continue reading “Easy Washing Machine Agitator Clutch Repair”

Lightning Protection for TV Antennas

Thinking about turning off the cable or satellite service to save money? You aren’t alone. Times are tough and a lot of us need to trim our expenses.  You’ll probably be surprised at the amount and quality of programming that you can get over an antenna that you can install for the price of a couple of months of premium cable, especially now that on air broadcasts are going high definition. However, if you use an exterior mounted television or radio antenna you must take some simple steps to protect your TV and home from being damaged by lightning.
I do not claim to be an expert in this field, however I have gone to the trouble to find articles on the Internet by several people who are, and I have taken their advice with very good results. At the bottom of this page you will find links to several “expert” sites on this subject.

Protection for a TV antenna which is located on a roof should be at three points:

1) Ground Connections at the Antenna The antenna, mast and lead in wires (as well as control wires for the rotator or similar equipment) should have a ground routed via the shortest possible path, without sharp bends or kinks to a ground rod which is connected to the main earth ground for the home electrical system.

2) At The Entrance to the House The antenna coax should enter the house as near as possible to where the telephone or cable TV wires enter (usually very near the electrical service entrance). This is called a single point of entry. All data and control wires should be grounded at this point with the shortest most direct conductor possible to the system ground rods.

3) At The Television A high quality surge protection device that protects both the power supply and the antenna wires should be used at all televisions connected to the antenna.

How to Choose Energy Efficient Windows

A typical NFRC window label gives you the information that you need about window performance.
A typical NFRC window label gives you the information that you need about window performance.

Picture of a typical NFRC window label – Snagged from the NFRC website.

Almost everything you need to know about windows can be found on the NFRC label that comes on the window, and your window dealer should be able to furnish you with this information before you place your window order.
What you will find on the NFRC label Continue reading “How to Choose Energy Efficient Windows”