Wrong Turns

It was a beautiful fall day yesterday, perfect for crawling under the car and continuing the re-plumb of the brake lines. The right front line was already replaced, and I wanted to see what the rear brakes looked like. So, I jacked up the right rear and set to work.

Right Rear Brakes, Reassembled. Correctly.

With the rear drum off, I found what I had seen in the front: brakes that were almost, but not quite, assembled correctly. In this case the parking brake link was in backwards and the helper springs were the wrong size. The springs were so loose, in fact, that I could remove them with my fingers.

Since I’ve had the car, I’ve experienced an odd “dragging” sensation when the car is cruising at speed. I blamed the carburetor for a while, thinking it must be a surge of some sort, then the transmission–who knows what ills are hidden in there? But I never had a satisfactory answer. Weak springs and dragging rear brakes could be it. Could also explain those frequent trips to the gas station.

Old vs. New Wheel Cylinders

I replaced the wheel cylinder (It seemed fine, but this is a complete brake restoration.) and reassembled the brakes, correctly this time. Like the front wheel brakes, the fittings for the brake lines were completely frozen. Since I had new lines waiting in the wings, I took a single stab at taking it apart and when that failed, just cut the lines.

The brake line distributer sits to the right of the differential, making one short and one long run to each wheel. Disturbingly the replacement short line was labeled “left” when it should have been “right.” Even worse, the long line was labeled “right” and for an earlier model year Thunderbird. (I didn’t catch that when I took them out of the box.)

Old vs. New, right brake line. Uh, not quite.


I was working on the right side, needing the short line. Sure enough, the length was right, but the line was bent as if it were feeding into the distributor from the left side. The longer line, when I tried to match it up, was completely wrong. It bent down where it should have gone up, and there’s no bend at all where it should turn into the distributer.

I ordered these lines on-line over the summer and waited over three weeks for delivery. Returning the lines and waiting for replacements left me with disturbing visions of the car up on ramps through October. Then again, I’d hate to ruin these line trying to straighten and re-bend them, then wait additional 3 weeks for lines that I would have to pay for twice.

Left brake line wants to go under the differential. Pretty sure that’s not right.


Today’s goal is to fix up the left rear brakes (I’m pretty sure they are in the same shape as the right.) and pull out the line on that side. After that, I’m not so sure yet.

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