I have pushed the brake pistons all the way in and can't get enough slack in the line to run through the drum. The cable I have has 3.5" of exposed cable to work with (not including the heads). I'm not sure if this is the original cable or not.
You are doing it in reverse order at the wheel. Take the cable out of the lever on the backing plate, slip the cable outer into the lug on the backing plate and make sure the adjuster nut is all the way back to allow as much length as possible, then push the lever toward the cable with the barrel end of the cable under where the cable slips into the end of the lever and you should be able to slip the cable into it
Still can't get it with the bolt out. I've tried all variations. The exposed line is too short. 3.5"... I see common motor sell them with 4" of exposed line. PO must have used a random brake line, pads were worn out so it didn't matter.
Apparently... to be clear, they are brake shoes and it's a cable that operates the brake. Under normal circumstances, it's still a snug fit to get the cable back in place with new shoes, but as long as these bikes have been around, anything can (and probably has) happened to them in terms of replacement parts
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