After a lot of advice form all of you on what to get (thanks for that by the way), I was trying to set up my new brakes yesterday afternoon. I've replaced everything in the braking system except the brakes themselves (went from suicide levers to aero levers and interupters, new cables/housing, and new pads). I've got centerpull cantilevers with the straddle hanger thing.
So following Park's Blue Book advice, I had the brakes parallel to each other (and perpendicular to the ground) and was trying to position the pads. What I found was that for both wheels, either the brakes aren't even or the wheels are closer to one side.
When I had the brakes the way the book said, I couldn't get it so that one side wasn't rubbing. I'd position the pads so there was even clearance on both sides, but after one pull on the levers (and release, obviously), there was a lot of space on one side and the other was still touching the rim.
This problem was much worse on the front than the back, but was noticeable on both and both times ended with the side that had the pinch bolt for the straddle wire (rather than the triangle shaped end of the wire) further from the tire.
Eventually, I backed the angle of the brake down so they were leaning away from the wheel in sort of a V rather than parallel and adjusted the angle and height of the pads so one side (the side with the pinch bolt) is sticking out a lot further from the brake caliper than the other side. This does result in even distance from the rim after repeated braking (at least indoors, haven't taped the bars back up and taken it for a ride yet) and even contact with the rim, but it just seems wrong to have it set up lopsided like that.
Is that really how I'm supposed to be doing it or is there an adjustment that I've missed somehow. The book said adjusting the spring tension should even out some of that, but the only screw I could find that I could reasonably envision impacting spring tension is the one that screws the brake onto the frame. I tried loosening that, saw it didn't do anything and decided to tighten that back up fully because loosening the brake's attachment to the bike seems pretty dumb (even to me and I've done some dumb stuff in my day).
I'm pretty sure my wheels are in there straight, and while I haven't measured, I don't think they're closer to one side than the other (the fender makes it hard to get too precise just from looking as that's centered over the wheel and may throw my perception off).
Or, I suppose the other option, should I just be looking for new brakes? Seems like the least efficient approach as the brakes worked (not with a ton of stopping power) before and the bike is 15 or so years old and no one (to my knowledge) died on it, but it would feed my uncontrolled desire to upgrade things (even for minimal gains - this is a heavy steel hardtail 6 speed with drops after all).
'08 Fuji Roubaix RC; '07 Schwinn Le Tour GS; '92 Diamond Back Ascent EX
There are a couple of things. There are usually 3 holes in each canti mount on the bike for the spring to attach to. This allows you to adjust the tension which will help center them (move the spring to a different hole to increase tension on the side that is too close to the rim). Some canti brakes also have a set screw for fine tuning the centering of the brakes.