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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #1
So I hit the brakes yesterday and the travel increased noticeably and suddenly. Stopping power seemed diminished. Parked in mom's driveway, saw nothing wrong at the master cylinder, almost full with fluid. Drove very slowly to the nearest garage. Mechanic put it up on the lift and pointed at a black puddle on the floor under the rear right caliper. "That's your brake fluid," he said. The brake line/pipe ruptured somewhere between the caliper and whatever junction it goes to. Found out later I left brake fluid puddles in my mom's driveway. Not good.

Garage replaced that brake line, said it was about 2 feet of line between the rear right caliper and a brake hose, and also replaced my master cylinder (I knew that was going bad and I had previously planned on getting that replaced today. But new mechanic noticed it had started leaking fluid, so he took care of that too). Mechanic said the same brake line on the left side is rusty looking and should be replaced. Front lines look okay but not great, he said.

I figure I should just take care of the whole brake hydraulic system, lines and hoses. What are my options? Sounds like the labor cost is gonna be high, which makes sense for custom bent and fitted lines. Questions:

1) Are pre-bent lines worth consideration? That could save a ton of money in theory. I see them listed at $155-$190 at USA Parts Supply and InlineTube.com:

USA Parts Supply here on page 12 [actually page 15]: http://www.usapartssupply.com/uploads/USA_PARTS_1971-1985_Cadillac_Catalog.pdf

InlineTube here: http://inlinetube.com/Preformed%20Lines/Web%20Line%20Listings/CA-CAT-06.htm

I recall I saw a Parts & Illustrations Catalog part list once (can't find it now) that said "cut x-size pipe to fit" so I assume that's how the dealers would have done it. Mechanic who just replaced my line segment said if I ordered the pre-bent, pre-cut lines, he'd try to make them work, but he said in his experience they often are the wrong length and need to be re-bent to fit. Is that true? Anyone have experience with pre-bent, pre-cut brake lines from those two places or other places?

2) What should it cost for custom lines and hose replacement? Mechanic who just did my line segment gave me an estimate of $900 parts and labor for custom lines and new hoses. I wouldn't hire him for the job, his garage is a basic gas-station-plus type shop that mostly does state car inspections. But I was curious what his estimate would be. I also called a high-priced recommended shop and they said it would cost about $1700 for a custom job, and they didn't even want the work because they're so busy. (And in case you're wondering, I don't want to DIY this. I'd have no idea what I'd be doing.)

3) There are two pipes coming out of my master cylinder. What happens between those two and my front and rear calipers? I really don't know. Master cylinder, lines/pipes, a hose, more lines/pipes, then caliper?
I can't find a diagram of the brake lines and hoses in my FSM or Fisher manual, nor in any of the Parts and Illustrations Catalog diagrams on the online GM parts dealer websites, which isn't helpful. InlineTube specifies a "7pc" set. How many pieces should there be?

4) What is stock brake line material?

4.5) Is stainless better? That's offered at both sites above and I see it's advertised as better for resisting rust. I assume stainless is harder to work with and bend. But I do live in sometimes snowy/salty Washington DC, so I'd like to do this once.

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5. I asked the new mechanic to get the ACDelco master cylinder if he could. He couldn't and I didn't care greatly at the time. He got a "PRD" brand master cylinder, a brand I have never heard of and cannot find on the internet. Should I keep it and return the ACDelco OEM part I got from RockAuto? Or switch in the ACDelco eventually?

6. New mechanic put DOT 4 fluid in the lines after flushing the old fluid. I believe it should be DOT 3. Should I worry about that?
 

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Replacing all the hoses AND calipers on my 79 Eldo is what is happening now, because they are too
old. Its the second time I have done it.

Any rusty lines should be replaced. If you don't want to keep doing that, get stainless line
WITH STAINLESS FITTINGS on the end. Regular fittings will corrode onto the stainless and twist the
end off. There is also a steel-copper line easier to work with, said to be very rust resistant (trying
some now). If you clamp lines any dis similar metal contact can cause galvonic action; I put some
duct tape around the clamped section.
 

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I use NiCopp line almost exclusively now. Extremely easy to work with and corrosion resistant (practically proof). I use 3 tools: A line bender, forming pliers and a hydraulic flare tool... all hand tools. Don't bother with coated steel or stainless, go with the nicopp. I also see no need for pre bent lines unless you want SOMEONE ELSE to do a perfect job, but you will be paying crazy prices if you can even find them. I get pretty much factory quality bent lines simply by using the old lines as a template and taking my time with the tools.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice on materials, guys. I don't have access to a lift and teaching myself how to cut, bend, flare and install brake lines seems very daunting. Given that I have no idea what I'd be doing, DIY brake work seems dangerous for me.

Let me simplify the question: Does anyone have experience with the pre-bent brake line suppliers linked-to above? Do they fit out of the box, at least in terms of length?
 
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