Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Bikes: '81 & '09 Phoenix rod brake roadster cargo bike, '08 Santa Cruz Superlight, Jamis Eclipse
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I think sheldonbrown.com has a article buried somewhere regarding rod brakes. Also maybe Flying Pigeon LA's site too. But, frankly there isn't much to them. I actually find them easier to get tuned up than more modern brakes. Set up right they stop my bike just fine, which for some reason seems to be contrary to a lot of other people's experience/opinion.
Just make sure your wheel is sorta true, then use the screw/bolt adjuster to bring the pads in close to the wheel. Then make sure that the brake stirrup guides (I have no idea if that is actually what they're called, but I think you'll know what I mean. Those things that hold the little studs coming off the brakes) are moved to such a location that they force the brake pads to squeeze together a bit when you pull the brake lever.
This makes the pad contact the correct part of the rim, and provides the "spring" return to the idle position. Done. Good luck.