Yesterday I finally got around to installing the new brake shoes on the rear of my '78 Cherokee Chief. Man, what a difference new shoes make.
There's a pressure holdoff valve inside the factory proportioning valve on the framerail in drum/disc-equipped vehicles from the '60s-'80s. What happens is the holdoff valve applies braking power to the rear wheels first, then once enough pressure is created the front discs kick in. That means under light braking almost all of your stopping power is from the rear.
My shoes had a little meat left on them, but essentially they were down to the rivets. Plus, one of my brake cylinders was leaking. I tossed on a new $10 cylinder and installed my new shoes with all-new springs/hardware from my local CarQuest. I tossed on the tires, adjusted the drums, and it stops way, way better than before. My front rotors are still pretty pitted from years of sitting and I'm betting some new pads would go a long way in making it stop even better, but for now I'm pretty happy with its ability to haul itself down from speed.
It's finally coming together. I think I'll slap a rebuild kit on the Motorcraft two-barrel to cure a leak at the power valve cover, but otherwise my confidence in this rig is growing. I'm still a little worried by the condition of the T-case, but it seems to be holding its own. Maybe I'll drive it up to LA next week for a couple work trips I need to make. My AAA is all up to date.