No Stopping Me Now

The brake system on this car is about as simple as it gets, but I find myself returning to it over and over trying to get things to work right.

My son and I bled out the brakes yet again about a week ago and went for a test drive. Good news was that the gas gauge sprang to life after filling the tank, so for the brief drive home, I saw 4 working gauges for the first time.

A Box 'o Bearings. I've never installed bearing races before, so this should be interesting.
A Box ‘o Bearings. I’ve never installed bearing races before, so this should be interesting.

Bad news was that the brakes were still spongy and low. I tested them out in an empty parking lot and in a simulated emergency stop, the car slowed in a stately manner, then eventually came to a rest. No exactly what I was looking for. Back in the garage, I was able to push the pedal slowly to the floor with or without the engine running. No leaks in the system, though some fluid is escaping out the top of the cap. It feels as if the seals in the master cylinder have completely failed.

So .  . . since brakes are important, I’m replacing yet more components. The local parts store sold me a new (not rebuilt) master and some rear brake shoes. I added these to some new front shoes I already had, then ordered new drums and new self-adjusters for all four wheels, which arrived (in a very heavy box) a few days ago.

Right now, I’ve got an impressive stack of parts waiting for me in the garage. For good measure, I also located the front wheel bearings and races I bought some months back and through them into the mix.

I find it important to remind myself now and again that this is a dashboard replacement project.

I dreaded cutting a hole in this piece, but once I got going, it was a straightforward process.
I dreaded cutting a hole in this piece, but once I got going, it was a straightforward process.

Inside the car, I have all but two trim pieces installed. One evening last week I pulled out my second best dash fascia panel and cut an opening in it for an aftermarket stereo. I used a grinder with a cutting wheel for the rough opening, then used a file and a Dremel tool to sneak up to the correct size.

Whoever designed the bracket for modern stereos didn’t count on it being mounted to sheet metal. The hold down tabs don’t hold the bracket snug with such thin material, so I shimmed it with some of the waste aluminum and epoxied the whole thing together so it won’t rattle around.

Solid brakes . . . and tunes. That’ll be nice.

2 thoughts on “No Stopping Me Now”

  1. Great write up, and nice ride! I was wondering if your new booster corrected your low brake pedal problem?

    I am starting to think it is normal for these cars, but the pedal on my 63 is scary low. I recently inherited the car from my Grandfather and it had not been driven since 1994. So as part of my mission to get this thing road worthy again, I have replaced all the wheel cylinders, hoses and master cylinder. The M/C push rod is adjusted correctly at exactly 1″. New shoes, new front drums and resurfaced rear drums. I also have all new hardware including self adjusters which had all disappeared from the car during previous brake repairs. So now, after 2 months of weekends gone, I am stumped. The brake pedal moves about 2″ before any resistance is felt. I removed the M/C and bench bled it (again) and re-installed it, leaving the brake lines disconnected. I plugged the master cylinder outlet and I still have about 2″ of travel before any resistance is felt, and before the pressure switch for the brake lights sends allows any current to flow. On the bench the M/C allows virtually no movement of the piston with the outlet plugged. I have now decided that I am losing two inches of pedal movement in the booster somehow and the pedal is bottoming out before the M/C reaches pressure.

    So anyway, I am not really asking for diagnosis here, but I am curious if your new brake booster helped your low pedal concern.

    1. I didn’t end up replacing the booster, but the one I have in the car was rebuilt a few years back. I, too, still have the low pedal–and the same amount of “dead travel” you describe. The difference with the new master is that the pedal is hard when it does engage. I think a low pedal is normal, but a low squishy pedal is not. Did you do the second part of the push rod adjustment? I found I had to run mine almost all the way out to get it to touch the plunger. It should be just touching when not actuated. If you look in the bowl, adjust it until you see the plunger just starting to move when the assembly is together, then back it off a hair. Good luck!

Leave a Reply