Hand Brake Cable & Hardware Replacement

Complete Hand brake Replacement

Cost: Scott Drake Cable £80


This was going to be a fairly low priority project for me. When I started to rebuild the brakes all round I quickly became evident that this was very integral part of that process. There was no hand brake or Emergency Brake as it’s also know as on the car at all. There  was the hand lever inside the car but it was seized up and not working at all. Looking through my box of bits there was no cable, no linkage no nothing except for the big void that should have been the brakes. I was not expecting the cost of this part so early on to be honest, but when you take the brake backing plates off, drive shafts out and do all those sorts of things, it makes sense to do it now. So again, new parts to be safe and make sure it will all work.

Whats in the box:

So the eagle-eyed ones among you will spot some parts that are not part of the hand brake. The gaskets are for the rear brake backing plates, and the two bearing looking parts are in fact the axle oil seals. There are not many parts to the whole thing to be honest. The cable is by far the biggest part, the linkage arm, and the push/pull rod that connects to the linkage and the last part the control spring. Why the extra parts? It was my little haul of goodies I bought at the same time from Mustang Maniac.


This I did working backwards from the drums to the front. Once I had fitted the rear drums you then thread one side of the cable into the drum. Make sure you lay the cable out and as there is a right and wrong way. The correct way is to have the opening of the central link at the front facing down to the road. I don’t suppose it would make much difference as long as there was clearance, but, it would fill up with all sorts of rubbish and grunge and may not centralise itself at a later date. Facing down it will clog up too, but it will be a lot easier to clean out and see the issue.

Here the pictures are of the cable in the drum backing plate. The end of the cable has an attached stop which sits behind the brake shoe hand brake lever and the spring is then on the other side of the lever. I have attached some photos of the shoe with the lever attached otherwise you can’t really see it when in place on the drums.

Tip:  (Thanks to Mustang Maniac for this tip.)

When trying to fit the stop behind the hand brake lever on the shoe it is a bit of a pain. If the hand brake is already in place in the brake backing plate, use a pair of long-nosed pliers to hold the spring back on the cable while guiding the end behind the lever, then release the pliers to get the tension back. If the cable is not in place, just push the spring back up a little and thread what you need to the lever, as there is no pressure on the spring it will just slot in place. Once the lug is secure behind the lever push in the rest of the cable untill you hear the clicks when the cable is firmly home.

Tip 2:

Make sure you get the routing right of the cable, once the cable clips into place its is a real pig to get out again. It can be done, but you don’t want to do unless you have the tool for it.

OK, so now both sides of the cable are in place, the next thing is to bend the cable in fluid gentle curves as possible in order to not kink the wire and allow easy movement of the cable. Place the next holder on the wire into the bracket just under the floor pan and screw into place. The next part I found a little tricky, in the tunnel area there are two brackets each side of the drive shaft. Remove the clips from the cable points, this is where the protected wire turns into the single steel cable. Slot the cable through the mounts and pull the end into the bracket to lineup correctly. The cable should sit square to the bracket and then the clip will clip back over the fitting to stop it pulling out.  I found this difficult as the bracket on my car has been bent a bit and the holes were wider than they should be. So I had to closed them up and straighten out with some large pliers.

Linkage at the front end. Make sure the handle inside the car is fully released for this part if not already done so.

I did this on a separate process as it was a lot easier. The long linkage itself sits in a slot under the housing for the gear box. How this stays in place and works is simply beyond belief, but it works so I won’t knock it.  My process was to attach the spring to the right side of the chassis where there are two small holes. Put the spring side of the wire to the chassis so it stays out of the linkage way. It will take a little maneuvering to get in there but it does fit. Next I slide the lever into the slots and located the cut out onto the front leverage point. Then I attached the spring into the smaller hole of the lever and now it pulls back to its max. Now I put the push rod into place and removed the last nut, wind down the first nut right out-of-the-way for now.  I then pulled the central part of the cable up to the push rod and inserted onto the hole, move the central point up enough to get the nut on the push rod for now. Then I pushed the entire lever towards the front of the engine. now locate the ball end of the handle cable and thread the wire into the gab so the ball now sits firmly in the cut out “v” section. Now release the whole thing and make sure the notch is still located correctly on the front pivot point. Now you can adjust the cable and tension it correctly but moving the nuts on the push rod up or down as the case may be.


It was all pretty straight forward apart from the right side bracket being bend and out of shape. I did try to leave it as it was, but as tension was applied to the cable it sort of half moved into the hole and didn’t look to comfortable. So I had to do something about it. A big pair of pliers and a set of Beta self-adjusting grips soon sorted that out. The tricky part was getting the end of the hand brake cable behind the shoe lever arm. That was a bit of a fiddle. Applying the copper slip grease to any moving metal on metal part of the brakes at the front was not an issue, but I did forget where I put the stuff and  managed to get it everywhere. Not that it would hurt I got it on the metal, but more messy than anything.


Cable in that took me about four hours all in. Yeah it seems a long time, but it was my first time with the cable and had nothing to compare it to except drawings in a book. The second side took half as long as the first side fitting the lever to the cable. The cable is now routed OK but I do need another bracket as one is missing on the left side. It looks good, all nice and shiny and it seems to tension up as well. I wont be doing any final adjustments untill I get the brake fluid in the pot and see that it works.


A very satisfiying job once completed, A fairly expensive job I wasn’t banking on but I am glad it was done now though. This was one of the items it failed its last MOT on. Hopefully this time that will pass, as long as I have done it correctly!

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6 thoughts on “Hand Brake Cable & Hardware Replacement

  1. Great Job – I’m about to tackle the same job on my 66 – Appreciate the clear pictures ! – I was expecting a load of info on the net, but surprisingly little actually. Cheers from Dublin, Ireland.

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