Brake Inspection and Service (Part Three)

in Aircraft Landing Gear Systems

Automatic Adjuster Pins

A malfunctioning automatic adjuster assembly can cause the brakes to drag on the rotating disc(s) by not fully releasing and pulling the lining away from the disc. This can lead to excessive, uneven lining wear and disc glazing. The return pin must be straight with no surface damage so it can pass through the grip without binding. Damage under the head can weaken the pin and cause failure. Magnetic inspection is sometimes used to inspect for cracks.


The components of the grip and tube assembly must be in good condition. Clean and inspect in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions. The grip must move with the force specified and must move through its full range of travel.

Torque Tube

A sound torque tube is necessary to hold the brake assembly stable on the landing gear. General visual inspection should be made for wear, burrs, and scratches. Magnetic particle inspection is used to check for cracks. The key areas should be checked for dimension and wear. All limits of damage are referenced in the manufacturer’s maintenance data. The torque tube should be replaced if a limit is exceeded.

Brake Housing and Piston Condition

The brake housing must be inspected thoroughly. Scratches, gouges, corrosion, or other blemishes may be dressed out and the surface treated to prevent corrosion. Minimal material should be removed when doing so. Most important is that there are no cracks in the housing. Fluorescent dye penetrant is typically used to inspect for cracks. If a crack is found, the housing must be replaced. The cylinder area(s) of the housing must be dimensionally checked for wear. Limits are specified in the manufacturer’s maintenance manual.

The brake pistons that fit into the cylinders in the housing must also be checked for corrosion, scratches, burrs, etc. Pistons are also dimensionally checked for wear limits specified in the maintenance data. Some pistons have insulators on the bottom. They should not be cracked and should be of a minimal thickness. A file can be used to smooth out minor irregularities.

Seal Condition

Brake seals are very important. Without properly functioning seals, brake operation will be compromised or the brakes will fail. Over time, heat and pressure mold a seal into the seal groove and harden the material. Eventually, resilience is reduced and the seal leaks. New seals should be used to replace all seals in the brake assembly. Acquire seals by part number in a sealed package from a reputable supplier to avoid bogus seals and ensure the correct seals for the brake assembly in question. Check to ensure the new seals have not exceeded their shelf life, which is typically three years from the cure date.

Many brakes use back-up rings in the seal groove to support the O-ring seals and reduce the tendency of the seal to extrude into the space which it is meant to seal. These are often made of Teflon® or similar material. Back-up seals are installed on the side of the O-ring away from the fluid pressure. [Figure 13-121] They are often reusable.

Figure 13-121. Back-up rings are used to keep O-rings from extruding into the space between the piston and the cylinder. They are positioned on the side of the O-ring away from the fluid pressure.

Figure 13-121. Back-up rings are used to keep O-rings from extruding into the space between the piston and the cylinder. They are positioned on the side of the O-ring away from the fluid pressure.

Replacement of Brake Linings

In general aviation, replacement of brake linings is commonly done in the hangar. The general procedure used on two common brake assemblies is given. Follow the actual manufacturer’s instruction when replacing brake linings on any aircraft brake assembly.

Goodyear Brakes

To replace the linings on a Goodyear single disc brake assembly, the aircraft must be jacked and supported. Detach the anti-rattle clips that help center the disc in the wheel before removing the wheel from the axle. The disc remains between the inner and outer lining when the wheel is removed. Extract the disc to provide access to the old lining pucks. These can be removed from the cavities in the housing and replaced with new pucks. Ensure the smooth braking surface of the puck contacts the disc. Reinsert the disc between the linings. Reinstall the wheel and anti-rattle clips.

Tighten the axle nut in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Secure it with a cotter pin and lower the aircraft from the jack. [Figure 13-122]

Figure 13-122. Goodyear brake lining replacement requires that the wheel be removed from the axle to access the brake assembly. The lining pucks slip into recesses in the brake housing.

Figure 13-122. Goodyear brake lining replacement requires that the wheel be removed from the axle to access the brake assembly. The lining pucks slip into recesses in the brake housing. [click image to enlarge]

Cleveland Brakes

The popular Cleveland brake uniquely features the ability to change the brake linings without jacking the aircraft or removing the wheel. On these assemblies, the torque plate is bolted to the strut while the remainder of the brake is assembled on the anchor bolts. The disc rides between the pressure plate and back plate. Linings are riveted to both plates. By unbolting the cylinder housing from the backplate, the backplate is freed to drop away from the torque plate. The remainder of the assembly is pulled away, and the pressure plate slides off of the torque bolts. [Figure 13-123]

Figure 13-123. A Cleveland brake disassembles once the four bolts holding the cylinder to the backplate are removed while the aircraft wheel remains in place. The pressure plate slides off the anchor bolts and linings can be replaced by riveting on the pressure plate and back plate.

Figure 13-123. A Cleveland brake disassembles once the four bolts holding the cylinder to the backplate are removed while the aircraft wheel remains in place. The pressure plate slides off the anchor bolts and linings can be replaced by riveting on the pressure plate and back plate. [click image to enlarge]

The rivets that hold the linings on the pressure plate and back plate are removed with a knockout punch. After a thorough inspection, new linings are riveted to the pressure plate and backplate using a rivet clinching tool [Figure 13-124] Kits are sold that supply everything needed to perform the operation. The brake is reassembled in the reverse order. Be certain to include any shims if required. The bolts holding the backplate to the cylinder assembly must be torqued according to manufacturer specifications and safetied. The manufacturer’s data also provides a burn in procedure. The aircraft is taxied at a specified speed, and the brakes are smoothly applied. After a cooling period, the process is repeated, thus preparing the linings for service.

Figure 13-124. Rivet setting tool is used to install brake linings on Cleveland brake pressure plates and back plates.

Figure 13-124. Rivet setting tool is used to install brake linings on Cleveland brake pressure plates and back plates.