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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys, I decided to change my calipers, pads, and rotors while I had my wheels off for the bad shocks, ball joint research/archaeology, etc.

Got NAPA Total Eclipse calipers and NAPA premium semi-metallic pads. Did driver’s side. Everything went on okay. The bleed seemed okay. But then when I closed the bleeder and test braked, I found a slow leak at the banjo bolt. I figured I screwed up and tightened the crush washers before final torquing and ruined them. So I bought some more correct-size copper crush washers today, reinstalled, removed the clamp on the hose and saw immediate leaking again at the banjo. Like dripping this time.

  • Did I put one copper crush washer on both sides of hose fitting? Yes.
  • Proper torque? Yes, 32 ft. lbs, as written in the FSM. Second try, I used two torque wrenches to be sure. Second torque wrench clicked immediately. NAPA doesn’t provide a recommended torque that I can find.
  • Does the NAPA caliper have a bad surface under the crush washer/banjo? No, it looks good. Ridged like a phonograph record. No burrs, no poor uneven machining at the surface, etc. Hose’s metal fitting looks good too. Banjo bolt itself looks fine. I triple-checked everything before second install.
What am I doing wrong? Thanks!
 

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1999 Eldorado 1983 Seville
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145 Posts
Sounds like you did everything correctly. You might want to put a straight edge (metal ruler) across the caliper contact point for the banjo using a light behind it to see if the caliper contact facing has been machined a mite off. You are using the old banjo on the brake hose so it wasn't leaking before on the old caliper thus the new caliper is suspect. Only thing I can think of as your description of the prob was complete. Another thought... Can you determine which crush washer side of the banjo is doing the leaking? Hard to tell, I know but could shed some light on the issue.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Scooter. The new calipers come with a new banjo, which I used. Good idea about the straight edge. I’ll try that.
I took it apart and inspected. The crush washers are hardly crushed at all. Barely indented by good-looking circular grooves on caliper surface, on hose block/fitting, and on banjo head underside. All those groove-making grooves look good; however, the washers ain’t crushed. They’re basically flat. So to answer your question: I think it’s probably leaking everywhere.

Old crush washers I just pulled out are very groovy. Deep and distinct grooves, basically matches on all faces for the grooves on bolt, block, and caliper surface.

I could torque more, but banjos seem like something you definitely don’t want to overtorque. Maybe the copper isn’t malleable enough? Do people with this problem blowtorch them to soften?
Thanks.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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1,084 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
p.s. I checked the other caliper. That mating surface is totally flat, unlike the leaking - but grooved - caliper. I appreciate that flat is bad. It actually had a little plastic plug jammed into the banjo hole that covered it up. You had to yank the plug out with pliers to see that it was flattened. I’m calling NAPA tomorrow.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #5
Called NAPA, talked to a nice purported former mechanic who works there. He said don’t anneal the copper washers with a torch, instead increase torque until weeping stops (he assumed I was talking about torching an installed washer/bolt on the mounted caliper... which seems dumb for several reasons).

Re: the passenger side caliper that lacks concentric circle ridges at banjo mating surface on caliper (and instead is just filed flat like a C minus shop project): he agreed it’s not supposed to be like that, but it’ll probably be okay. I asked him to order a free replacement and he agreed.

My feeling from internet research based on gut instinct: anneal washers till red, let cool. Lightly hammer banjo with plastic mallet while tightening with box end to encourage washer crushing.
 

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2014 ELR
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I'd just tighten more.

However, why replace the calipers? Were the pistons seized? I'd rather have a good OEM caliper on there than some sketchy rebuild of unknown quality.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Jay. I’ll try more torque.

Re: Why replace calipers? Original plan was to just replace the pads. But front calipers looked very rusty including the exposed part of the piston. I’d guess they’re factory from 1985. Braking has not been good recently. I considered inspecting, cleaning and rebuilding/resealing but then said screw it and bought new reman calipers from NAPA.
 

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It might be simplistic, but if you still have the old leak free calipers just reinstall them? If it ain't broke...
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #9
In part because that would be admitting defeat. And although the old piston isn’t seized and the old caliper‘s fitting didn’t leak, the brakes don’t work well. The rotors are warped, braking power is poor despite lots of pad material. I haven’t pushed the old piston out to inspect, but I figured there’s a very good chance it’s rusted/corroded inside like on the outside. Everything was rust welded together: spindle to caliper to pad. I think the piston was rusted to the pad. The guide pins looked like they were found in the yard. Since the calipers appear to be 35 years old and I was replacing the rotors and pads, seemed like a good time to replace the calipers too.

For general peace of mind I’m sorting out the things that might kill me. Got new tires, trying to do new brakes, then steering slop (ball joints and/or steering).
 

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1999 Eldorado 1983 Seville
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145 Posts
My thoughts would be to wait for the replacement caliper promised by the NAPA guy and see if you have the same problem with leakage. Sounds simplistic but it might establish just where the leakage issue began. I'm not in favor or any makeshift heating/cooling of almost any parts. Just for shits and giggles, ask the supplier who does the reman on the calipers; as you know, many of the reman builders only go so far as replacing the first thing they find on a rebuild as evidenced by crappy alternators that burn up after 2-3 months. That is why prices vary so much from rebuilder to rebuilder. Personally, I've had good luck with Cardone although there is always one stinker that might slip through their inspection. I'm also leery of the the box parts houses as they use the cheapest rebuilder to keep their supply going. Some might disagree with me, but RockAuto has been consistent for my reman parts and are OK with pricing. Just another 2 cents worth. Don't get frustrated with this, I think the replacement caliper is going to solve your problem and get you back on the road. :)
 

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1999 Eldorado 1983 Seville
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In part because that would be admitting defeat. And although the old piston isn’t seized and the old caliper‘s fitting didn’t leak, the brakes don’t work well. The rotors are warped, braking power is poor despite lots of pad material. I haven’t pushed the old piston out to inspect, but I figured there’s a very good chance it’s rusted/corroded inside like on the outside. Everything was rust welded together: spindle to caliper to pad. I think the piston was rusted to the pad. The guide pins looked like they were found in the yard. Since the calipers appear to be 35 years old and I was replacing the rotors and pads, seemed like a good time to replace the calipers too.

For general peace of mind I’m sorting out the things that might kill me. Got new tires, trying to do new brakes, then steering slop (ball joints and/or steering).
Something else you should consider while doing this is to completely bleed the brake fluid and replace it with new. As you are doing this, as evidenced that you are doing it correctly, complete the job as the brake fluid might be as old as the old brakes. AND, as you have found corrosion around the exposed piston area, check the color of the brake fluid while you are at it; if not absolutely clear, replace it. I'm of the opinion, if I was doing this job (I did the same last year to my Seville) that to really have peace of mind, also replace the master cylinder. It is also 30 some years old. I know, I know, more expense. But if you have gone this far, where is the next weakest link? Mostly overlooked is the working parts in the master cylinder and the fluid in the system. Then you have a relatively new brake system that should be good for another twenty years! OK, I'll stop now unless you get to the rear brakes.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #12
Back on the road? You mean cars aren’t just for admiring in garages up on stands? :)

So, I gradually cranked the banjo tighter in 5 ft. lb increments. If it leaked, I took the socket and extension off the torque wrench, seated the socket on the banjo and tapped it down with the a hammer’s fiberglass handle. Then added 5 more ft. lbs, repeated. At 50 foot lbs, it stopped leaking. (FSM says 32 ft. lbs).

Let it bleed a little, stomped on brakes three times, then held brake pedal down for 60 seconds. Still no leak. I’ll check if it weeps in a few minutes.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #13
Scooter, new NAPA calipers have a lifetime warranty, paperwork says it’s technically Raybestos, so appears they did the reman.
Master is only a couple years old. Rear calipers are 6 or 7 years old, but they seem fine. I paid a garage to do both. Rears sounds like a total PITA. I already bled the front driver brake line 100% before I noticed the weeping banjo. That fluid looks like flat Mountain Dew now.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #14
Correction: NAPA warranty says Cardone.
 

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2014 ELR
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You seem to have solved your problem. I was going to suggest that you thread the banjo bolt into the caliper without the washers or the brake line. Then you could see if the problem was with the depth and/or threads in the caliper bolt hole. A small change there would really mess up the torque required to adequately crush the washers (which seems to be the problem)
 

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1999 Eldorado 1983 Seville
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145 Posts
Good suggestion CSIMME01.. Wish I had thought of that.

scottelderado Glad you solved the problem you done good! Now back to the suspension repairs and then off the stands!
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks CSIMME01 and Scooter. I’ll check that when I get the replacement passenger caliper.
Waited a bit, no weep. Did a line bleed, repumped brakes and held them down for a minute. Still dry at banjo. Need to move the car to the other side of the garage, so wheel back on and off stand. I want to lift right side and wobble check the passenger ball joints before I dig into those driver’s side ball joints, which seems okay from the wobbling. Pitman, tie rod ends also seem okay on driver side.
Thanks for the help guys! Appreciate it.

Unfortunately I’m about to start a new thread about my sway bar...
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #19
Not yet. Wearing out my welcome in the family garage. I’ll either do a full flush later or pay the shop to do it when I get the wheels balanced and aligned.
 
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