BA-BF Falcon Handbrake Adjustment

After more than a couple of requests for info on adjusting the handbrake on BA/BF Falcon’s I decided it was time to steal the father-in-law’s Falcon and do a write up. Although fairly basic in nature, please read the complete article before starting this job to understand all the steps involved.

The correct way to adjust the handbrake on these model Falcons is to adjust them at the handbrake shoes inside the rear disc rotor. There is a cable adjustment underneath the car in the area of the transmission tunnel that can be used to ‘nip’ the adjustment up quickly (see diagrams below for locations) but to achieve the best result the rear wheels, brake calipers and rotors need to be removed.

BA-BF Handbrake Adjustment 005

BA-BF Handbrake Adjust

BA-BF Handbrake Adjust 1

Ok, so starting off with the wheel/s removed and looking from the inside of the wheel arch we can see the two 15mm bolts that need to be removed so that we can get the brake caliper out of the way.

BA-BF Handbrake Adjustment 003

Once the bolts are removed it is simply a matter of sliding the complete caliper backwards and off the disc. DO NOT leave the brake caliper hanging by the flexible brake hose though, sit it up on the upper control arm or tie it up so there is no stress on the rubber hose.

The next step is to remove the brake disc. For this step the handbrake must be in the OFF position and it may take a bit of ‘gentle persuasion’ to separate the disc from the hub.

BA-BF Handbrake Adjustment 004

The best way to do this is to strike the disc with a hammer on the hub part of the disc, turn it 180 degrees and strike it again and keep doing this until the disc is able to be ‘rocked’ back and forwards on the hub. DO NOT STRIKE THE DISC IN ANY OTHER AREA OTHER THAN THE AREA SHOWN – YOU DON’T WANT AN OUT-OF-ROUND DISC!

BA-BF Handbrake Adjustment 005

BA-BF Handbrake Adjustment 006

Once the disc (or rotor, depending on which school you went to!) has been removed we can see the handbrake shoe and the adjusting mechanism.

BA-BF Handbrake Adjustment 010

BA-BF Handbrake Adjustment 008

The adjustment is carried out by turning the ‘knurled’ nut clockwise which pushes the shoes closer to the inside of the disc.  Now here is the interesting part, the diameter of the handbrake shoe needs to be set to specification for correct operation/adjustment of the handbrake. Ford lists this diameter as between 189.6mm and 189.8mm measured at the middle of the shoe contact area (see diagram below).

BA-BF Handbrake Adjust 2

This measuring is relatively easy if you have access to a pair of vernier calipers, however with a bit of mucking around I’m sure it could be measured with a conventional measuring tape or ruler.

Once you have the shoe diameter to specs it is time to refit the disc, brake caliper and wheel, ensuring that both the brake caliper bolts and wheel nuts are done up nice and tight.

If you find that the handbrake is still not holding the car with the lever coming up a long way we then need to adjust the cable.

With the rear of the car jacked up and both wheels off the ground proceed as follows -

  • Adjust the handbrake shoes to specification (done that!)
  • Fully release the Handbrake lever and apply to the first ‘click’ only
  •  Tighten cable adjuster nut (see diagrams at top of article) until a very small amount of drag is felt when rotating the rear wheels by hand
  • Apply the Handbrake lever a further three ‘clicks’
  • Check that the rear wheels cannot be rotated by hand
  • Fully release the Handbrake lever and check that the rear wheels turn freely by hand
  • Go and have a beer!

A Few Observations – We have come across the occasional BA and BF Falcon that proves very hard to get the handbrake to operate in what would normally be considered a satisfactory way and if you find that after following these steps the lever still comes up a long way before the handbrake is effective you might be tempted to keep winding on the adjustment.

Be careful! Winding on the cable or shoe adjustment increases the chance of the shoes continually contacting the inside of the disc causing drag AND prematurely wearing the handbrake shoes.

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Comments
15 Responses to “BA-BF Falcon Handbrake Adjustment”
  1. Tarsh says:

    Hi. Can someone please confirm this procedure:

    I took off the wheels,

    Took off the two 15mm nuts on the inside of the calipers.

    Put handbrake to off position.

    Moved the calipers out of the way.

    Tried to remove the discs, with the use of a hammer, but they wouldn’t budge. After about 15 minutes, I gave up and put everything back together.

    Please advise.

  2. Craig Wilson says:

    Hi Tarsh,
    The procedure that you followed is correct, there are two possibilities that come to mind when the disc won’t budge.

    The first one is that after a while a lip forms on the inside of the disc where the handbrake shoes contact and this lip prevents the disc from coming free of the handbrake shoes. In this instance there is usually 10-20mm of movement of the disc off the hub before it refuses to come any further though.

    The other common issue is that rust forms where the wheel hub protrudes through the disc and it takes quite a bit of effort to loosen the two parts from each other. I imagine that this is the case with your vehicle as you say that the discs won’t budge.

    Sometimes spraying around the hub/disc join with WD-40 or similar product can help, but more often than not it is a matter of striking the front surface of the disc with a hammer continuously until you get some movement. The best idea is to rotate the disc as you are doing this and not strike it in the same place over and over again.

    Something else to look for – although the BA that we used for the article did not have any retaining screws for the disc, if your vehicle is a different model from the one shown it would pay to look for a screw head on the flat front surface of the disc.

    Regards,
    Craig

  3. brad king says:

    Hi Craig,I have a BF mk2 xt sedan it gives of a bad acrid smell from DS rear and has more heat radiating out of rear wheel & has a horrific steering wheel chassis vibration.Feels like a wheel is about to come off.My wife wont drive it.Ford dealer Grawills say it needs a new $950 booster? Thats all they can offer.

  4. Craig Wilson says:

    Hi Brad,
    Reading through your comment my initial thoughts were of a seized brake caliper or handbrake mechanism on that drivers side rear, is the smell and excess heat limited to that one wheel?

    Also, is the steering wheel/chassis vibration continual or is it only present at certain speeds or for example when braking? This could be caused by warped brake rotors, but if this is the case it is unusual for it to be constant, more often than not it will be present under braking at speed.

    If the smell and heat is limited to that one wheel I can’t see how replacing the brake booster is going to change things, if all four wheels were affected and the brakes were ‘sticking on’ constantly it might be the booster but if it is confined to one wheel I think that the brake/ handbrake components and adjustment need to be looked at before replacing the booster.

  5. David Pearcy says:

    You do not need to remove the disc to move the handbrake adjuster wheel, simply remove the rubber bung in the disc and use a medium sized flat blade screwdriver through the hole and adjust accordingly. Easy as!

  6. Jonno says:

    Hi David,

    Quick question as i haven’t performed this procedure yet, but how can you check the diameter of the hand brake shoes without removing the disc? or is there some inspection ports we can pop a gauge through.

  7. Craig Young says:

    Hi craig

    I have my dads car in the garage which , I am trying to adjust the hand brake. I have removed as you have outlined above. Problem is that the hand brake still does not grab if you put it in reverse let it roll on idle the hand brake does not stop it. I have adjusted as much as possible to the point that you almost could not get the rotor back on. In your diagram No 4 has the spring, what does this do? and could this possibly be the problem? with the rotor off and the hand brake being pulled you can see very little movement in the shoes. I’m at a loss as to what to do next, but sell my sole to the local ford dealership.

  8. Craig Wilson says:

    Hi Craig,
    The spring in the diagram is there simply to hold the shoes in place so I don’t think that is adding to the problem at all. Unfortunately getting a decent handbrake is a very common problem with the BA-BF Falcon’s even after adjusting the shoes up until the point where the disc is hard to refit. Have you tried adjusting the cable up at all? By the sounds of things you won’t get anymore adjustment from the shoes so I suggest nipping up the adjustment nut on the cable. Just be careful not to tighten it up to the point of the shoes dragging on the disc.

    Hope that helps!

    Regards,
    Craig

  9. Craig Young says:

    Thabks for your reply Craig. Yes i have had the cable as tight as it can go, but still have had no success. I have had only two clicks on the handle yet it still does even feel like it has fully extended the shoes, there certainly was no shoe drag. Is there anything in the rear of the adjuster that could be hindering the movement? If I was to remove the axle nut and the plate the wheel studs are on, is there anything behind there that could need cleaning or an adjustment? once again, thanks for your help.

    cheers Craig

  10. Kyle says:

    U don’t need to remove the disc and calliper at all unless the adjuster spindle is seized which sometimes happens. Loosen the cable adjustment right off and then adjust the spindle through the hole in the disc with a screwdriver until u can here it start to make a contact a bit but not much. Then make ur final adjustment on the cable it is not difficult. The handbrake works as basically a drum set up inside the disc and if there is any kind of lip inside the disc due to wear I are never going to be able to get a decent adjustment and still get the disc on!!

  11. james w says:

    Good and useful information information the pictures told the story of 1000 words.

    I was successful in my work. an impact driver may be useful in loosening the retaining screw

    Thanks

  12. Joseph says:

    THANK YOU!! This what I was looking for. Very useful and clear instructions! Well done.

  13. Carney says:

    Thanks heaps for this guide, i was pretty much through all these steps but it’s always nice to have confidence given by experience. Problem was and still is uneven handbraking. On teh vehical inspection for road use there was 300 (add unit here) on left hand side and 0 on right. I took the brake hub off first time to find teh adjustment screw completely closed and seized to boot. So after removal and winding out a little, i re-installed thinking problem solved, quick spinning and clicking of handbrake test found relitively good results. Day later i take it to be “re-tested” and similar result, so home again to remove and adjust further.
    This is where i really got *frustrated*
    Brake shoe twisted whilst being removed and jammed, no amountof “kind” persuation got any relief, till in the end frustration took over and i got it out (braking the wire clip off the brake shoe and pulling the car off the jack at one stage putting it into the exhaust. (Lucky i also had axle stands under car and they found significant chassis to hold or else my frustration may have “over boiled”
    Does anyone have any fantastic advise so that someone else doesn’t go through the same pain as i have just? (im thinking a new exhaust here…)

  14. matthew smith says:

    to the guy with hot rotors if it’s like mine the bakelight pistons in the caliper can crack and swell leaving the brakes on after the first application of brakes then the rotors heat up and warp and I can confirm it is one hell of a wheel shake. so replace pistons with steel ones 20/30 bucks each cheers matt

  15. brad king says:

    I was unaware Ford even fitted Bakelite pistons to their cars. Good of them and Ford Dealers to not inform us.

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