Do they gradually get thinner until you can see the ends of the bands almost touching the drums, do they splinter at the rivets, or do they just explode? I had depleted my stock of old cotton linings, so, I installed wood in 2012 in my 15. They've been great for a year with only a couple of adjustments early on, but, last week I drove it in the Hershey Hangover Tour logging nearly 200 miles in 2 days. There must have been 200 stop signs. It was up and down hills with a run of over a mile before stopping, being the exception. Most were less than a mile before stopping to turn or cross a road-- and that seemed to often be at the bottom of a hill! I had to adjust my bands 3 times in 2 days. A portion of that was due to the worn out band washers I used when I couldn't find the new ones I bought for initially putting it together, which allowed the nut to back off when pedal was applied. I replaced the band washers today and noticed the wood is thinner than when installed. The first time I opened it up to adjust last week, there were a few splinters in the screen, but, none since. I didn't see any scratches or gouges in the drums and I've heard no odd sounds. The only other times I've ever subjected a T to that much up and down and stop and go, was a speedster with hydraulic rear breaks--no problems. I know aux brakes are important for a driver, but, that's for another thread. I want to find out from someone who has worn out or destroyed a set of wood band linings, how they told you they needed to be replaced--gradually or catastrophic?
Sometimes they fail catastrophically while going down a steep hill. Essentially, they turn to carbon and quit working.
I have been running them for 10 years now with no problems. Now I will qualify that I now have mechanical front brakes also tied to the pedal so any fears of catastrophic failure are very small.
In regards to Tom's comment, I have witnessed some number of cotton bands dying catastrophically over the years. In most of these cases it happened to people who did NOT pump their brake pedal when they could.
Your other option is Kevlar. They certainly have a "chequered" reputation with their association with broken drums when not adjusted correctly.
I feel that a skilled driver can make any of the alternatives be successful. A well set up type of auxilary brake is probably best for many drivers.
I've seen one set worn out that I made. The brake band became paper thin and the other two were still in good shape. Tom is correct in that they can be burned up with heavy braking and fail. The guy I made these for would run up on a stop sign and get after it. I like wood but I have aux brakes.
If you have ANY chatter with cotton it will be worse with wood. If your car has zero chatter with cloth it will likely be the same on wood. My experience has been with transmission wear, you may have chatter.
No expert, only seen 2 sets come out of others cars. Of those, all had worn thinner in places (as expected). One in each set had cracks or small splintered areas. I assume that was the brake band? One set had a pair of small grooves running lengthwise, the other didn't. If I ever get a chance, I would like to try a set. Just don't know if the kevlar is ever going to die on the current set. Perhaps on another car...........
These wood linings had about 6,000 miles and adjustment was used up on the brake, so replaced all the linings. You can see the wear areas, some more than others in spots.
All three linings in stacked side view, compared to each other for wear.
Brake lining wear
Ah, mess that up for sure The worn wood lining is the low band! Too much football watching today, my brain is cooked as much as that low band.
I thought when the cotton wood got old enough it turned into petrified rock!
Mine aren't old enough yet.
I've been running my wooden bands for 2 1/2 yrs and haven't had to adjust them since initial installation. Drive my car 2 - 4 times per week, usually on short (3 to 8 mi.) trips, Don.
I have almost never heard about brake drums cracking, it's usually the low or reverse drum that breaks. A sensible solution to avoid suddenly failing brake but also avoid cracking drums would be to use wood on low and reverse, kevlar for the brake band.
Since it's often easier to change lining on the emergency brake shoes than on the transmission bands, there's another option - use the emergency brake for most of your braking needs. Good training for the instance should anything break in the driveline.
Thanks guys. The bottom pic Dan posted looks like probably the source for the splinters I found in the screen. That 2 days of stop and go driving was probably equal to many years of normal driving. That was the best tour I've ever been on with a T, but, never again without aux brakes! Next years MTFCI tour is in Boone, NC--lots of steep hills there too.
I find the new wood liners go in fine through the inspection cover, but the maybe 5 years old used ones break and splinter coming out.
I roll new ones into place at the wide brake drum, then slide them forward. 4-wheel brakes mean no wear on the brake band.
On my '27 I am about to have to change the brake band. I have run out of adjustment and the brake pedal is stopping close to the floor.
Not sure what Tom means about "catastrophic failure". I've had catastrophic failures with Kevlar linings exploding drums but never with wood. Once (whilst descending Iowa Hill... a crazy, steep, winding, long canyon paved trail called a road) I used up a brake band, then low band, then reverse band, then finished by just stopping with the parking brake lined shoes and a set of 8" Bonar brakes (similar to AC). I then got to the canyon floor by tying the rear end to the front of a jeep with my tow rope... he got me down with his low gear and brakes. I found that I had charred those bands. No other "catastrophic" failures in the 18 years with wooden linings, they just wear and need adjustment until the adjustment is used up.
Tom must have had an experience similar to mine. I bought a T with wood band linings in it and drove it for a while. One day I had to make a panic stop when some dimwit passed me and slammed on his brakes to make a right turn. When I pushed hard on the brake, it felt as if the band had turned to mush. I managed to miss the other car, then went to my shop and changed that band to kevlar. End of problem.
Driving down steep hills in low is a good way to avoid burning up the brake band.
Do I hear people beginning to suggest a Kevlar brake band with wood low and reverse?
Fred -- I suppose my post might have sounded like that, but I wasn't suggesting it. I changed just the brake band after that bad experience, figuring I'd do the others later. The others were still working well when I sold the car. I always use kevlar bands and am very satisfied with them. If they're properly adjusted, there's no better band material (in my opinion, of course).
Mike - I said that somewhat "tongue in cheek" but it made a bit of sense.
People like wood bands because they are smooth and last a long time. Kevlar is great but it can crack a drum if you abuse it.
When a T is driven correctly the brake is not used very often, so why not Kevlar?
Just my opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it: If you drive a T correctly, you have very little slippage of the bands, therefore very little band wear, therefore little need for band material that will outlast the drums. Again, just my opinion.
I was at an all T show this weekend. I saw one driver back a T for a distance of probably 50-60 feet slipping the band the whole way. My first thought was "Man, I hope they have Kevlar" then my next thought was "Uh....maybe I should say I hope they DON'T have kevlar."
I agree with you under most circumstances, however, last week, coming down some of those hills with stops at the bottom were tough. I even tried coming down in low getting on and off the brake then reverse and sometimes pressing both to keep the RPMs from climbing to a dangerous level.
Hal, you can't avoid slipping the brake band if you're using the stock brake. Still wondering if anyone has seen any brake drums cracked from heat?
I'm trying old stock Scandinavia on the brittle reverse drum, wood on the low drum and kevlar on the brake drum (will add accessory brakes too) Hopefully the bands will hold up longer than with just cotton - without much risk for the drums
No doubt the brake is going to slip. It does so by definition, but using other means to slow down as much as possible before having to use it will minimize the amount it has to slip.
It's not always possible to keep your foot off the brake, but one should strive in that direction. I will admit my brake needs adjustment more often than the others.
I use wood and also accessory brakes. I have never had to replace a wood band and I drive our speedster hard. I set the wooden brakes a little softer than the Rocky Mountain brakes so it only works when backing down our driveway and out of our trailer.