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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.