A drum brake is a brake that uses friction caused by a set of shoes or pads that press against a rotating drum-shaped part called a brake drum.
The term drum brake usually means a brake in which shoes press on the inner surface of the drum. When shoes press on the outside of the drum, it is usually called a clasp brake. Where the drum is pinched between two shoes, similar to a conventional disc brake, it is sometimes called a pinch drum brake, though such brakes are relatively rare. A related type called a band brake uses a flexible belt or "band" wrapping around the outside of a drum.
A disc brake is a wheel brake which slows rotation of the wheel by the friction caused by pushing brake pads against a brake disc with a set of calipers. The brake disc (or rotor in American English) is usually made of cast iron, but may in some cases be made of composites such as reinforced carbon–carbon or ceramic matrix composites. This is connected to the wheel and/or the axle. To stop the wheel, friction material in the form of brake pads, mounted on a device called a brake caliper, is forced mechanically, hydraulically, pneumatically or electromagnetically against both sides of the disc. Friction causes the disc and attached wheel to slow or stop. Brakes convert motion to heat, and if the brakes get too hot, they become less effective, a phenomenon known as brake fade.
Disc-style brakes development and use began in England in the 1890s. The first caliper-type automobile disc brake was patented by Frederick William Lanchester in his Birmingham, UK factory in 1902 and used successfully on Lanchester cars. Compared to drum brakes, disc brakes offer better stopping performance, because the disc is more readily cooled. As a consequence discs are less prone to brake fade; and disc brakes recover more quickly from immersion (wet brakes are less effective). Most drum brake designs have at least one leading shoe, which gives a servo-effect. By contrast, a disc brake has no self-servo effect and its braking force is always proportional to the pressure placed on the brake pad by the braking system via any brake servo, braking pedal or lever, this tends to give the driver better "feel" to avoid impending lockup. Drums are also prone to "bell mouthing", and trap worn lining material within the assembly, both causes of various braking problems.
Brakes are used on the cars of railway trains to enable deceleration, control acceleration (downhill) or to keep them standing when parked. While the basic principle is familiar from road vehicle usage, operational features are more complex because of the need to control multiple linked carriages and to be effective on vehicles left without a prime mover. Clasp brakes are one type of brakes historically used on trains.