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Danam Offline OP
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I bought a set of new front brake shoes for my A50. Cleaned the drum very well. The cable is adjusted correctly, with all the force my hand is able to squeeze the brake lever, these shoes seem to just slow the bike down just a little. I figured they need to bed in before the start grabbing? So after 69 miles I’m just rolling the dice with my life. They are made of a grey solid material, not riveted. The old worn brake shoes at least made an effort, should I only use NOS shoes? What are my options?

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take them out again and see if there is uniform marking from contact on them or if they are just contacting in one small spot ........they probably just need to be profiled to fit the drum better


"There's the way it ought to be and there's the way it is" (Sgt Barnes)
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Danam Offline OP
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I removed the hub, here’s what the shoes look like. The shiner part is where the shoe made contact (lots of powder built up on the sides) how does this look?

2C22DB94-EC5A-485D-A916-5839A7236309.jpeg D3E4DB7B-AD71-4D58-B8F9-905B79832EB0.jpeg
Last edited by Danam; 09/05/20 10:32 pm.
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What year is your A50 and do you have the brake plate lever positioned correctly ?


Jon W.


1957 6T Thunderbird 650
1968 T100R Daytona 500
1971 TR6R Tiger 650
1970 BSA A65F 650
1955 Tiger 100 - Project
1971 BSA A65 650 - Project
1972 Norton Commando 750 "Combat"


"Every time I listen to AC/DC, so do my neighbors"

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Danam Offline OP
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Yes, there’s not to many way you can set it up. This is not my bike in the photo but this is exactly how mine looks

EC1F9E67-94C8-4605-8031-A887964E8CCB.jpeg
Last edited by Danam; 09/05/20 10:47 pm.
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Originally Posted by Danam
Yes, there’s not to many way you can set it up. This is not my bike in the photo but this is exactly how mine looks

I hope your cable and lever aren’t at that angle.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
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Danam Offline OP
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What is it supposed to look like? That’s how the Manual shows it
My A50 is 1970. I’ve been told I have probably an older a65 front end

7CBF2E63-D19A-4B04-98F3-E53B24883691.jpeg
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You’re showing us pictures of everything except your own brake.


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Danam Offline OP
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I disassembled it, but here it is

4AA0402D-46A0-4D9A-B03D-64054F701FAB.jpeg
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Yes, you should be able to reposition the lever to give you greater stopping power/shoe engagement.

Also, you definitely have an earlier brake. All 1970 500/650 models will have an 8" twin leading shoe setup. What you have is for 1968 A65T- A50R and earlier models 500/650 models. That also means your forks are 1968 and earlier too (except for the A65L Lighting 650).


Jon W.


1957 6T Thunderbird 650
1968 T100R Daytona 500
1971 TR6R Tiger 650
1970 BSA A65F 650
1955 Tiger 100 - Project
1971 BSA A65 650 - Project
1972 Norton Commando 750 "Combat"


"Every time I listen to AC/DC, so do my neighbors"

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Danam Offline OP
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And here it is installed with the cable adjusted (same position as the Manual) I can barely pull the lever I have adjusted so far, and I can hear the friction from the shoes without pulling the lever, yet the bike won’t stop.

EA529FC8-7B4C-4FD0-8D96-0E0593080B20.jpeg
Last edited by Danam; 09/05/20 11:34 pm.
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those shoes in the pic you posted look glazed ........but not TOO bad area of contact ......not optimum but not THAT bad.for new not profiled shoes .....the glazing will make it all but impossible to work properly.........what i would try is getting some engineers emery tape (medium grit, say 120) and carefully sand out all the glazing and other contact area.. like hold them in a vice and use a long piece of tape pulling on each end .....dont get carried away , but i bet it will make a huge difference........give it a few hundred miles then take another look if there has been a marked improvement

give the insides of the drum another good scuff up as well

and yes what others have said about repositioning the arm as well


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Remove the glaze from the inner drum surface also.


1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
1965 Cyclone Competition Build
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Danam Offline OP
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I will sand off the glaze, not sure I have the cable length to rotate the lever. Thanks guys, I will follow up after tomorrow’s 100 mile ride up the California coast

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The cable adjuster is near its max adjustment.

Remove the lever from the fulcrum and turn it over, the square is off-set so that you can get maximum engagement. The position the lever is in now is where you want to see it when the brake is applied.

The books had moc-up images in them so a lot of things you see aren't correct. Often done just to be able to get the bike ready for a photo shoot.


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68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (undergoing restoration)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

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In addition to what's mentioned above, here's a few things to try:-
- use a handlebar brake lever with a 7/8th perch, this increases leverage and makes the brakes pull on harder
- use a Teflon lined cable outer and 2mm thick cable, Venhill sell a cable making kit which is good.
- centre the shoes by loosening the pivot bolt (which is also the cable stop), pull on the brake hard, use a cable tie to hold in place whilst you retighten the pivot bolt


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1967 B44 Shooting Star
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Dig around and see if you can get some old asbestos linings, you can't beat 'em.

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My front brake was utterly useless, even though it had new well profiled shoes, until I truly cleaned the hub. Initially I gave it a rub with some emery cloth but it was completely naff until I eventually cleaned it with a wire brush in an electric drill.
That sure busted the glaze and got the brake working! actually quite well
Pretty sure I work a face mask as mesothelioma is no joke.

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Danam Offline OP
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Just following up as I promised. After about 100 miles the front brake still felt like there was not real resistance with plenty of force at the lever. I took a wire wheel to the drum and also some heavy grit sandpaper to try and get cross hatching as best as I could. Roughed up the shoes a bit too. Took it for a ride and it felt a little bit better. I guess I will never be able to panic-stop and always use both brakes if I want to stop at all!

D11D4613-56F9-40B3-8823-605E9BF44680.jpeg
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Danam Offline OP
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I found this video of some one I think had put emery cloth between the shoes and drum and ran the wheel with a motor. I guess that’s one way of getting rid of low spots!
YouTube video

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Just looking back at your earlier pictures, your shoes aren't/weren't having full contact with the drum, this will cause a big problem in reduced braking, the inner part of the shoe was having more contact with the outer. As the shoes bed into the drum the contact patch will improve, the shoes also need to bed in and this will stop when you sand the shoe again.

Take the front wheel and brake plate to a profesional brake place. they will true the drum and fit shoes of the correct size to suit the oversize of the drum, instead of generic shoes which will not be made to suit your drum.


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68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (undergoing restoration)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

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Good luck finding a shop that will turn your drum (with the wheel/tire attached) and arc your shoes. The last time I tried it 10 years ago, no one was interested. I ended up doing it my self. The drum has a taper to inside surface.


1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
1965 Cyclone Competition Build
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Originally Posted by Gary E
Good luck finding a shop that will turn your drum (with the wheel/tire attached) and arc your shoes. The last time I tried it 10 years ago, no one was interested. I ended up doing it my self. The drum has a taper to inside surface.

The US might be different to the UK, I had to take my complete wheel in (minus tyre) and he did the following, this was 8-10 years ago but the guy is still in business.


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71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (undergoing restoration)
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Hi Dana,

If you want it fixed right and are willing to spend the money, Michael Morse at Vintage Brake in Sonora will get it set up for you. He does a lot of race work and his lead times can be a bit long for some.

DJinCA

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Danam Offline OP
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I'll check it out, thanks!

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