This time I get to post about a solved problem!
Just over 2 months ago I bought some Shimano CX brakes (front & rear), and I've been having trouble adjusting them ever since. I found that in order to keep the pads clear of the rims, I had to adjust the tension screws and clamp the brake cables so that the cables were a bit loose and I had to pull the brake levers well over 1/2 the way to the handlebars to apply the brakes properly. Today I found out why.
The silver metal rod just to the right of the main black brake body was perpetually loose, and frequently slipped off the small bolt on which it rests. This naturally caused the brake pads to move in and start touching the rim, which was very frustrating.
So I decided to try bending the rods (i.e on both sides of both brakes). I did this simply with a pair of pliers, bending them outwards (i.e. away from the rim) by 5-10°. They now put much more pressure on the brakes. After re-clamping the brake cables and adjusting the tension screws, I can now apply the brakes with only minimal movement of the brake levers.
If I'd known it would be this bloody simple, I would have done it at least a month ago.
This should also mitigate (or perhaps even remove) the problem where the brake pads stuck to the rims' wear indicators. This was occurring because the pads wore either side of the rims' wear indicators, causing the pads to get a ridge down their middle, which tended to get stuck into the wear indicators. There's now more spring pressure pulling the pads outwards (I can feel it when pulling the levers), so the pads may not get stuck any more. I've also been filing the ridges away when I spot them, which helps.
I'm a happy chappy today.