This section shows work being carried out on air brake systems, the special tools used for this work and the refurbishment of brake system components. We can supply you with the tools that we use to perform air brake work and can assist you with your brake system rebuild or the rebuilding of the parts therein.

Please email Canal Car and describe the brake work that you want carried out and how we can assist you, along with your contact information.
Brake Key Removal Tools

Removal of frozen or rusted disc brake shoe keys can be a real problem, especially if the keys were put in backwards and you can't get a sledge hammer in to beat them out. The tools shown here can be a big help in removing them.

Brake Key Removal Tool

Special drift for removal of frozen brake keys. Used in conjunction with a hydraulic spreader to depress the key spring and release the key. You can fabricate this tool yourself or Canal Car can supply you with one.

Removal of Brake Keys

A frozen brake key is removed using a hydraulic spreader placed between the brake key and a piece of blocking against a solid spot on the brake beam. The spreader is pumped up applying pressure to the key. The removal drift is placed over the key and used to beat the spring down, thereby releasing the key which is popped out by the spreader pressure.

Brake Cylinder to be rebuilt

Sometimes, the condition of brake cylinders that are removed from a car during a COT&S is not the best. Believe it or not, despite the completely missing boot, this cylinder still worked fine, when removed. The threaded rods allow the cylinder cover to be disassembled without risking death or a large divot in the concrete floor.

Brake Cylinder being disassembled

Unless broken or collapsed, the spring inside the brake cylinder is 15" long and compressed under considerable pressure. One disassembly technique is to remove the bolts, cut the bands on the boot and stand back. Using threaded rods with nuts welded on one end is a little less spectacular but yields the same end result.

Brake Cylinder being cleaned up for painting

The brake cylinder can be cleaned up using a wire wheel and sand blaster. Although the cylinders are aluminum and not subject to rusting, cancer is still an issue. A coat or two of paint couldn't hurt.

Brake Cylinder Components being painted

A coat of primer and a top coat is applied to the cleaned brake cylinder parts, prior to reassembly. The paint is kept out of the cylinder by masking or blanking plates.

Brake Cylinder before and after photo

Before and after photo, showing a rebuilt cylinder next to an unrebuilt cylinder. New bolts were applied from a Brake Cylinder Assembly kit and the boot was fastened using a Brake Cylinder Boot Clamping Band, both of which can be ordered from the parts page.

Brake Cylinder Tester

After assembly, brake cylinders are tested using this tester. It also comes in handy when installing the cylinders back into the brake tongs because, with it, the piston may be extended a bit to allow the pins to drop in easily.

Hand Brake Link Installation Pin

And, speaking of brake tongs, the tongs that are operated by the hand brake may prove to be problematic. The link to the chain must be balanced on top of the tong and held there while the end of the cylinder is slipped in. I don't know how you'd do this without four hands, or a special pin to hold them in place while the cylinder is wrestled into position. Two of these pins can be made from a piece of black iron pipe and a couple of washers. Cut them short enough not to interfere with insertion of the cylinder.

Brake Cylinder Testing Tool

A stainless steel Brake Cylinder Boot Clamping Band can be easily applied to the boot using readily-available tools (a screwdriver and a pair of pliers to pull on the end of the band). The parts page has these bands for sale.