Please forgive temporary problems with photos.
All N-Series Tractors–Ford-Ferguson 9N, 2N, and Ford 8N
It is almost impossible to actually wear out a set of brake shoes on one of these tractors. Rebuilding the brakes is already covered well in the official manuals. There is a right and a wrong way to putting the brake shoes back on. Make sure when moving from side to side, you don't get the shoes or springs reversed, or the cross shaft facing 180 degrees off. The manual shows one side, you have to mentally reverse the image when doing the opposite side.
It may seem odd to put rear axle and hydraulic maintenance stuff on my "brakes" page, but the Number One problem with brakes is getting them covered with hydraulic fluid from the transmission/hydraulic sump. It is very easy to overfill the sump. This will cause leaks at the ends of the axles and the excess fluid soaks the brakes.
If your brakes on one side keep getting wet, look at your parking spot. Is it level? If you park on a side-hill the fluid in the sump can overwhelm the axle seal on the down hill side. It shouldn't leak, but if simply parking on level ground solves the problem, why bother taking the tractor apart?
The correct level for the sump can easily be determined by removing the bottom bolts in both inspection covers. Let the excess oil run out and then check the level with the dipstick. The level you now see on the stick is the correct level, regardless of what the marks on the dipstick may indicate. First, make sure your engine oil and hydraulic dipsticks have not been swapped, then go ahead and make a new mark if yours is still wrong.
Brake shoes and drums can be cleaned with brake cleaner. Spray them down and wipe them off, then spray them again and let them air dry. If you have solved the leak problem, you should be rewarded with much better brakes. Update: Almost ten years after this part of the site wa written, it may be time to actually "brake" down and replace the axle seals on the 52-8N. There has been some evidence of leakage on the rear rims, and the brakes have gradually become non-functional. This might be a good place for another step-by-step for replacing axle seals, but John Smith has already done that, and I'm going to refer to his web site in order to do mine.
If correcting the level in the sump does not solve your leaking axle seals, you may need to replace the seals, but before going to all that trouble and expense, make sure your axle nuts are good and tight. The big nut on the end of the axle should be tightened to at least 400 ft.lbs. Put 100 pounds of effort on the end of a 4-foot breaker bar, then re-attach the retainer clip wire. If the nut is stripped, there is a repair nut that can be used. Check with any of the major parts suppliers.
If the hubs have been run loose they may be too worn out to stay tight. The hubs are made of softer metal than the axles. In extreme cases, the axle splines may also be worn. Now you need new axles too. It's much less expensive to fix small problems than wait until they become big problems. If the nut will not tighten, you might be able to fix a loose hub with shim material. SEE BELOW.
Tools Needed: Tin Snips, Grease, Beer(in a can), maybe several cans, and a box of Bandaids.
1—Drink a beer–save the can.
2—Cut thin strips from the aluminum can to fit grooves in the axle.
3—Glue aluminum strips into axle splines with a dab of axle grease.
4—Use bandaids to fix sliced fingers.
5—Start hub into splines and tighten axle nut to 425 ft. lbs.
6—Check axle nut torque frequently and retighten until hub stays tight.
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