76 Continental with frozen emergency brake


New member
Hi All,
This 76 Lincoln had sat for many years and I never touched the emergency brake but by mistake i pressed it down! Well the drums are locked good. Do I have to take the wheels off or can I just deal with the cable yoke under the car? Any help would be appreciated

Brian J. Patterson

Active member
Northern Illinois
Hello, all.

DennisT has either solved his problem or he hasn't. For those few of you reading this who are fairly new to car maintenance who have bought a Lincoln Continental, neglected parking/emergency brakes are just as bad as driving barefoot with a couple dozen frightened baby rattlesnakes in the floor of your car. Don't do it!

The foot operated parking brake found on the "typical" post 1960 Lincolns has three shielded cables. It is the neglect (or sometimes extreme wear) of these cables that causes the parking/emergency brake to "lock up" the rear axle.

The first cable runs from the parking brake pedal assembly through the firewall and underneath the car to a bracket. The cable exits the shield and continues to the rear of the car in the open, to where it meets up with the other two cables. This "meeting place" provides for adjustment of the parking brake as well as some equalization of force between the pedal and the two wheels.

The two wheel cables continue shielded to the rear wheels, each one going to one wheel. On drum brake cars, the cable continues into the drum to actuate a lever which applies the brake shoes to hold or stop the car. On disk brake Fords, Mercurys, and Lincolns; the cable continues to a bracket. It exits the shield, and activates a lever-driven jackscrew which forces the brake pad against the rotor to hold or stop the car.

On a neglected drum brake system, the "front" cable will tend to fail before the wheel cables, since the end drawn into the shield on brake application is protected by the drum, but exposed for the pedal cable. However, this is only a "slight" tendency, since brake dust can be corrosive. In some parts of the south and southwest, the wheel cables will tend to fail first since their roads aren't salt-laden like roads in the North. On disk brake systems, it's all out in the open, so it's a wash.

If a wheel cable jams on a drum brake system, the mechanic needs to back the brake shoe adjustment off as far as it will go to get the drum off to cut and remove the mechanical brake cable. On a disk brake system, cutting the cable and not replacing it creates its own issues.

In short, maintain your parking brake system according to the service manual whether you use it or not. That way, if you "accidentally" step on the parking brake, it will still release when you pull the release handle or place the car in a forward gear.

The typical parking pawl in these cars is made out of either nylon or pot metal. They do a very good job of keeping a 4500+ pound car in one place on level ground or even on a hill. But, if the parking brake is doing that job, this deep-in-transmission part will last just that much longer. And if you have a catastrophic hydraulic brake failure (frighteningly easy to have happen on a pre-1967 car) you can safely stop the car with the combination of the emergency brake and the automatic parking brake release.

Or, if "by mistake I pressed it down," you can pull the release handle and your mistake is no longer an issue. No bolt cutters, hacksaw, or brake spoons required.


New member
One of The biggest parking brake enemies is inaction. IF the car is not 30 years old and sat forever, its always good to apply and release it from time to time.
If it has sat forever, a good shot of PB blaster at all cable junction points is your friend but, not always your savior.