: Brake Repair Fail - rant



turbojimmy
03-30-11, 08:57 AM
So I spent 3.5 hours repairing the brakes on the limo yesterday. The net result was a bigger mess.

I had two issues: a leaky wheel cylinder that soaked the brake linings on the left side AND a leaky union ahead of the left rear wheel.

The wheel cylinder job went well. The lines broke loose without a problem and they came out easily. I replaced them both because the bleeder on the right side was snapped off. I replaced the union, the shoes and put the drums back on.

Pumped up the brakes and there was fluid everywhere on both sides.

First, the frickin Autozone wheel cylinder on the right side is trash. The bleeder wasn't seating in the cylinder and it was puking fluid everywhere. Manufacturing defect. I replaced the bleeder with the one good one I had off the old left side cylinder. I thought that fixed it, but I later realized it didn't. Time for another trip to Autozone for another cylinder. Trouble is they don't normally stock them. They ordered 2 for me and a "spare" to have in stock. Hopefully that spare is still there. And hopefully it doesn't leak.

Second, the new union I put in place was leaking worse than the old one. There are several splices in the brake lines. Some, I assume, are the result of rust. Others are the extension put in by the coachbuilder when they stretched the chassis. The one in question was spliced in back by the rear wheel and runs up to the rubber line that feeds the distribution block on the pumpkin. The flare that someone put on it was crappy. I hacked the end off it and put my own crappy flare on it so it still leaks but not as much. Now I have to replace the whole line because I'm out of room to attempt another flare. Now I'm wondering if the other side of the union might be leaking, which means I'd need to splice in another section of line or attempt another flare on that side. The auto parts store flare kits leave a lot to be desired.

The only success was the left side, leaky wheel cylinder. The Autozone replacement is good and I have all new shoes. Thankfully all my leaks are external to the drums and aren't soaking my new shoes.

Going back to the drawing board today...I need the car for a trip to the airport Friday morning!

outsider
03-30-11, 09:17 AM
hate when you get defective parts! I always go to napa. Had bad luck with VIP and autozone.

turbojimmy
03-30-11, 10:00 AM
hate when you get defective parts! I always go to napa. Had bad luck with VIP and autozone.

I called Autozone and of course the "spare" they ordered doesn't exist. They were going to try to get me one from their "hub" this afternoon, but I don't have time. My local NAPA has 2 in stock and they're $3.50 cheaper. Plus, it's a different brand so I might have better luck with it.

Gonna swing by there and get a section of line, some brake fluid and start this thing all over again.

deVille33
03-30-11, 10:08 AM
I understand your frustration. I buy the unions in bagged lots of 20. They used to come in little boxes. I try to get known brands. Some of the new stuff is cheap junk.
The new flare kits are of the same quality. If you go to a swap meet or someone's Spring yard sale and find an old Herband, Old Forge, Snap-On or like kit with the anvils, buy it. The other problem is that the brake lines they make today are also faulty. The metal wall isn't uniform and the outer wall diameter is sometimes too small and slips in the retainer. NAPA has a teflon coated line which is rust resistant. and may be worth the extra cost.

intragration
03-30-11, 02:01 PM
Make sure that you're double-flaring. With a single flare, the flange is too thin, and it won't seat properly. When you double-flare, there's the added thickness of the second layer of metal, and also it's a little compressible, which means that once it starts to seat and you torque it, it will all sort of compress together, versus with the single flare, where if you have a slight gap once it starts to seat, there's no leeway to take up that gap. I just redid all the lines on my '70, the previous owner redid it just before I bought it , but he only single-flared it, and it was leaking everywhere. Thankfully, it's not a limo and I was able to get a full repro set that was already flared...

turbojimmy
03-30-11, 02:39 PM
Make sure that you're double-flaring. With a single flare, the flange is too thin, and it won't seat properly. When you double-flare, there's the added thickness of the second layer of metal, and also it's a little compressible, which means that once it starts to seat and you torque it, it will all sort of compress together, versus with the single flare, where if you have a slight gap once it starts to seat, there's no leeway to take up that gap. I just redid all the lines on my '70, the previous owner redid it just before I bought it , but he only single-flared it, and it was leaking everywhere. Thankfully, it's not a limo and I was able to get a full repro set that was already flared...

Thanks....I am double flaring. Rather than disassemble that leaking union, I torqued it down as tight as I possibly could. That apparently sealed it up. I have a spare line that I can bend into shape in the event it starts to leak again.

I replaced the wheel cylinder, too, with the NAPA one. So far so good. No leaks and the firm brake pedal has returned.

Eventually I need to get under there and replace the lines. Whoever did it was a hack. They're up against the cat, the mufflers and other things they shouldn't be in contact with. None are secured properly either. But, it's come a long way since I first got it. There was NO braking action in the back at all when I drove it home. Smoke billowed from the front wheels at every stoplight.

intragration
03-30-11, 02:53 PM
The lines that you tightened down and stopped the leak, those are the original mild steel ones? Another fun thing to deal with is stainless lines. They're generally harder to work with, and they require particular care when torquing, to make sure they seat properly. Generally, you have to torque them to just this side of destruction. On the plus side, they're pretty sturdy when you're trying to snake them into the spot they're supposed to go.

turbojimmy
03-30-11, 03:04 PM
The lines that you tightened down and stopped the leak, those are the original mild steel ones? Another fun thing to deal with is stainless lines. They're generally harder to work with, and they require particular care when torquing, to make sure they seat properly. Generally, you have to torque them to just this side of destruction. On the plus side, they're pretty sturdy when you're trying to snake them into the spot they're supposed to go.

The line coming from the front and into the union appears to be factory-ish. The bends are tight and professionally done. The line on the other side, the one I had to torque down really hard, appears to be a mild steel line bent either by hand or with a cheap tubing bender. It would be cool to get stock lines back under there. I would just have to insert a straight, 44" extension in the middle to compensate for the extension.

jayoldschool
03-30-11, 05:28 PM
These "unions" are flared, correct? Not compression fittings? If they are compression fittings, cut that line out ASAP and replace the whole thing. If it were me, I would cut the line up at the frame under the driver's footwell, and at the back by the frame kick up. Run one long line (buy a coil) from front to back. Flare both ends, flare the original lines, add unions, and bleed.

turbojimmy
03-30-11, 08:24 PM
These "unions" are flared, correct? Not compression fittings? If they are compression fittings, cut that line out ASAP and replace the whole thing. If it were me, I would cut the line up at the frame under the driver's footwell, and at the back by the frame kick up. Run one long line (buy a coil) from front to back. Flare both ends, flare the original lines, add unions, and bleed.

Welllll.....there is this one compression fitting by the master cylinder. I know, I know...it's a risk. It's on the to-do list.

The rest are flared unions. 3 in total. I need to run from the master cylinder the whole way to the pumpkin with as much uninterrupted line I can fit. It's all hack work at the moment.

deVille33
03-31-11, 09:12 AM
It is also important to have the lines secured along the lenght of the run, about 14 - 18 inches apart. This ensures the line doesn't move around when the brakes are applied. Line flex will cause wear at any point the line happens to come in contact with with another part or the frame itself. Flex can also cause a soft pedal.

turbojimmy
03-31-11, 10:07 AM
It is also important to have the lines secured along the lenght of the run, about 14 - 18 inches apart. This ensures the line doesn't move around when the brakes are applied. Line flex will cause wear at any point the line happens to come in contact with with another part or the frame itself. Flex can also cause a soft pedal.

Yep - the guy at Midas told me that. Mine's wire-tied in random spots. It's not secured at all. I'm taking a 9-hour (one way) trip to the Outer Banks in it in July. The brake lines are on the list of things to fix before I go. I need to do the lines from the master cylinder the whole way back to the rear end.

greencadillacmatt
03-31-11, 10:03 PM
^Secure the new line down with something heat-resistant. Brake lines get really dang hot.

intragration
04-01-11, 01:41 AM
There's a possibility you could get Inline Tube to make you a custom full length line, if they don't already have one listed. If it's just like you say, a stock line with 44" in the middle, they just might be able to do it. I've always been very happy with them, I've already bought 3 full sets from them, they're always very high quality.

turbojimmy
04-01-11, 04:43 AM
There's a possibility you could get Inline Tube to make you a custom full length line, if they don't already have one listed. If it's just like you say, a stock line with 44" in the middle, they just might be able to do it. I've always been very happy with them, I've already bought 3 full sets from them, they're always very high quality.

I've gotten stuff from Classic Tube before, but they don't list the Caddy or Impala SS. I'll check out Inline Tube. Thanks!