Out of the Driveway

Out of the driveway at last
Out of the driveway at last

After a month stuck in place, a longish crank, and a squeal of complaint from the fan belt and we were back in business this afternoon. I performed a cautious circuit of the neighborhood, then a more robust tour of the city streets. The brake pedal was firm and the car ran strong.

It had been too long. But just a few minutes behind the wheel reminded me of the less critical things I’d like to to–turn signals would be a plus, as would a fix for that flapping vent window.

For now, though, you’ll find me on the road.

Suspiciously Simple

On the face of it, replacing a brake line sounds ridiculously easy. There are only two fittings–one at each end–and there are generally only a couple of clamps holding the line in place.

New Brake Lines
Snaking the old brake line out of the car.

Looking at the line for the right front wheel, nestled back on the firewall, though, confidence dims. It’s deep down in there and the line has a complex, convoluted shape. I began by unscrewing the fitting at the master cylinder. (The other end, loyal readers already know, had to be cut off a few weeks ago.)

I had a helper at the right wheel well to guide the line out while I kept it from getting snagged in the engine compartment. My goal was to remove the existing line without bending it so I could judge the obstacles we would need to overcome when installing the new unit. I was also interested in comparing the old line with the new, to make sure the shipping bends in the new line were identified and straightened before we started the installation process.

Old brake line
Old brake line, out of the car.

I had to guide the old line around the brake booster. I also unhooked a few vacuum lines to make the removal process easier. Once past those obstacles, there was little to stop our progress. We were able to remove it in about 10 minutes, only having to slightly bend one section to clear the suspension in the wheel well. Once out, we compared it to the new line and used a tubing bender to remove the shipping bends from the new piece.

I was a little shocked at how easy the new line went in. We snaked it in the way the old one had come out. The “U” shaped bend in the wheel well needed to be tightened up a bit, but the fitting went on with little trouble. We used a little teflon paste on the threads as extra insurance against leaks.

New line, in place
New line, in place.

With that on, we tackled the other end, which looked at first glance to be about a foot too long. With some gentle bending by hand, the fitting lined right up with the master cylinder. After that, we were able to clamp the new line to the firewall with little trouble.

We bled out and adjusted both front brakes just in time for cocktail hour. A test drive is slated for tomorrow afternoon.

Stainless Steel

SS Brake Lines
Not a tangles mess, but gorgeous stainless steel lines.

Yep, a big box of stainless steel brake lines showed up today. Took a (long) while for them to ship–about three weeks!–but actual delivery was only 4 working days.

Looking forward to Saturday, when I’ll have a chance to play with these toys. When I parked the ‘Bird in the middle of the driveway a month ago, I had no idea it would be taking up all that space for so long.