Preparing to disassemble a brake cylinder. Photo by E. Wilde, 2007 Dec 21.   Sometimes, the condition of the 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. Photo by E. Wilde, 2007 Dec 21.
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. Replacing the bolts, one bolt at a time, with threaded rods, with a nut welded on one end (essentially a long, full-thread bolt), is a little less spectacular but yields the same end result.

Incidentally, you can flip the cyliner over and put a 3/4" socket on a socket extension and chuck it into a power drill to drive the bolt, while holding the nut with a box socket wrench. This will let you undo the nuts quickly (there is a lot of thread on the rod, which is about 6" long). Photo by Eric Wilde, 2007 Dec 21.

  Brake cylinder being disassembled. Photo by E. Wilde, 2007 Dec 21.