How good is your parking brake?
A vintage Volkswagen has excellent brakes. Hand brakes included.
Early bay window buses had excellent four-wheel drum brakes when they left the factory, and they continue to have excellent four-wheel drum brakes if you follow the damn directions. There is a good discussion on TheSamba.com right now regarding parking brake repair, adjustment, usage, and failure.
If your VW parking brake isn't holding your car on an incline, try my tried and true method:
- Firmly press and hold the foot brake. ('71+ buses need the engine on for power brake assist.)
- Quickly yank the handle straight out before releasing the foot brake. That's it.
The brake pedal on a Volkswagen can apply significantly more force to the brake shoes than the handbrake could ever dream of. By using the foot brake to apply the force and the hand brake to hold the shoes in place, you'll get better holding force on the steepest of hills. As with all things Air-Schooled and Volkswagen related, you'll get a bonus reward from this technique too: parking brake cables, handles, and pivots will all last longer. It's almost like these cars are trying to tell us something…