Ptf72

1963 Buick Electra 225 Brake Issues

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Hello brand new to all of this so any help is appreciated. Purchased a 1963 Buick Electra 225 2 door Convertible a few months ago. Having some braking issues (hard pedal). The vehicle is now parked and I will be going through the steps to diagnose the issue. In an effort to get out in front of this Ive started to try and locate parts for the braking system and have had no problem finding the new brake lines, wheel cylinders and other basic things to begin the overhaul of the braking system. As far as new boosters and dual master cylinders I have had little to no luck finding parts that are compatible for this year vehicle. Any help on finding some of these things, parts used that weren’t necessarily for this year but were compatible or just advice from anyone who has overhauled a braking system on a 61-63 Buick Electra would be appreciated. Thanks for the help.85A4F620-33C3-4CEE-9F61-5FF03D62722B.jpeg.82b0b8234cb22e8839c9261ceef8c345.jpeg I am very new to this and just doing research. Thanks in advance.

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Did a quick Google search for 63 Buick Electra 225 brake booster and got 31,500 hits. Number 2 was Rockauto offering a rebuilt for $186.79 so they can't be that rare.

 

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Thank you for your response. I have found the rebuild option on rock auto and hemi booster.com. I guess the question I’m really trying to ask is this. I would like to upgrade to a dual master cylinder which I have found here :https://www.ebay.com/itm/63-64-65-66-BUICK-MASTER-CYLINDER-DUAL-CONVERSION-lesabre-wildcat-riviera-/281117664759.    In the item description it says it will fit the vehicle so I am assuming it will fit the existing booster? Will there be a need for a proportioning valve? If keeping drums all around I shouldn’t need one right? Thank you.

Edited by Ptf72 (see edit history)

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If it were my vehicle I would leave the brakes as original but if you do change the master cylinder etc., start a book and list exactly the year, make, model and part number of any/all parts that you change.  Carry this book in the car at all times.  Don't try to rely on your memory when something goes wrong later.

PS....Confirm the year, make, model and number of the changed parts.  Don't just rely on a suppliers say so.

Happy motoring.

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4 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Did a quick Google search for 63 Buick Electra 225 brake booster and got 31,500 hits. Number 2 was Rockauto offering a rebuilt for $186.79 so they can't be that rare.

 

RockAuto is only offering a rebuild service of the buyer's original booster. They do not sell exchange or rebuilt boosters.

 

As for a dual circuit master cylinder, the M/C from a 1962-66 Cadillac should bolt to your original booster.  Of course you will need to change the brake lines to accommodate this, so buying pre-bent lines for your car is not a good idea.

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If the brake pedal is hard like the brake is when the engine is not running check for vacuum at the booster by removing the vacuum hose at the booster while the engine is running at idle. Engine should stall immediately due to the large vacuum leak, check that the hose is not soft and sucking shut while the engine is running. If vacuum is not present or only a slight leak look if there is a one way check valve in the vacuum line (some look like an inline filter) , if there is none in the line and the engine stalls when the line is removed check the connector at the booster, it may have a built in check valve. I have seen these go bad and you may get one power assist but if you let off the brake and press it again the pedal is rock hard.

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I would agree to stay with the stock system and single master cylinder.  Rather than converting to a dual system, spend the additional dollars on replacing the brake line and wheel cylinders and everything else.  With a dual master cylinder system, it's just as important to check the fluid level on a regular basis.  Dropping fluid levels may indicate a leak or just evaporation or need to adjust the brakes.  

 

I've owned may old and new cars over the past 40 years and have had brake failures (loss of brakes).  All but one were on a dual master system!  When a MC goes out it's gone.  No matter if it's a dual or single MC.  The failure on the single MC car was also the MC.  I don't live in the rust belt, so rusting out of brake lines is not an issue.  Rubber hose failures tend to collapse the inner lining of the hose and cause the brakes not to release.  That stops you and the car.

 

And remember that you also have an emergency (parking) brake that should stop the car if adjusted correctly.

 

Spend your money where it matters.

BTW  Beautiful car!  Remember a neighbor having the same car with a white top.

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Hard braking can also be frozen wheel cylinders from the debris/corrosion DOT 3 causes over the years. Another reason those who use DOT 3 should flush their system every 2 to 3 years.

 

I too have had the pucker factor from brake failure on dual master cylinder vehicles. From bad master cylinders combined with rusted line failures. Just because you have two hydraulic circuits does not mean you notice when one of the circuits fails. But, oh boy, you notice when the second one fails!😨

 

Just like I've repaired the "no low beams" complaint by replacing both low beams.  When the first one burns out, no one notices in city driving....

Edited by Frank DuVal
More info (see edit history)
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I just did the dual master conversion on my 1963 Pontiac and it was relatively easy; the only changed part was the master itself and a few lines.  I used a dual master from a 1967 Chevy with drum brakes and it bolted to the existing brake booster perfectly.  The ports into the new master were a different size from the original Pontiac lines so I had to buy two short lines and fittings to hook them up but no proportioning valve (only needed for discs).  I would recommend the swap and it is pretty easy, good luck, Todd C   

 

PS--getting a master for a 4 wheel drum application is important, the later GM masters used with front disc brakes are different.  Joe Padavano is correct that the 1962-66 Cadillac part is probably a bolt-in but my 1967 Chevy piece is too.  It looks just like your Ebay unit and I got mine locally at Auto Zone for less than $40.  

Edited by poci1957 (see edit history)

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There's one other factor of which you need to be aware. Back in the day I had a '66 Buick Riviera (now have two of them). Your car may have the same master cylinder and booster setup. Anyway, in 1972 the master cylinder failed and I had to put a new one on. When I did, I had an extremely hard brake pedal -- too hard. The problem was the adjustable actuating pin on the vacuum booster that extends into the MC piston. It was correctly positioned for the original MC, but was screwed out too far for the replacement, which had a slightly different receptacle for the pin to fit into. As a result the brakes were activating before the booster could kick in. In fact you couldn't push the pedal down far enough to activate the booster. I screwed the pen in several turns (shortening it), reinstalled the MC and now the brakes would instantly lock with the lightest pressure on the pedal -- couldn't keep from locking the wheels. So I removed the MC again and turned the pin until I found a happy medium. Brakes were perfect from then on. 

 

By the way, I ran into the same problem with an '89 Mercury Sable. Told the mechanic about the '66 Riviera, and he said the modern boosters no longer had an adjustable pin. I took the car home, removed the MC, and sure enough there was an adjustable pin. Fixed the problem myself.

Edited by jrbartlett (see edit history)
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One other very simple thing that may cause your booster not to work is failure or omission of the rubber o-ring seal on the back of the master cylinder where it fits into the booster. I learned this when doing a dual master conversion on a 63 Riviera years ago.

 

Regarding the conversion I did that successfully on my Riv with a 1967 drum brake master. I did have to re-pipe and add a fitting for the fluid activated stoplight switch, I assume your Electra would be similar. They did use two different booster / master suppliers, the trick is that your new master has to match the type booster your car has now.

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Thank you everyone for the responses and assistance. Brake booster was rebuilt and put back on the vehicle and the system was flushed and bled. The vehicle stops very well now. Going to enjoy it for the rest of the season while considering upgrade options over the winter. Thank you all again.

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Moral of the story. It is always easier AND CHEAPER to FIX it than to change it.  

Lots of newcomers to old cars are very quick to condemn old car designs and want to "upgrade" rather than repair. 

 

The best place to start with any old car project is catching up on all the deferred maintenance first.

Only after the car is functioning as designed, should 'upgrades' be considered.  

Enjoy your car and welcome to the hobby. 

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Back again. The brakes seem to not want to release now. when You apply the brake the pedal does not want to return. If you rev the engine it seems to come back. Other than that you have to move the pedal back manually. Any and all help is appreciated. Thanks potentially the rebuilt booster is malfunctioning?

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I will assume that the rebuilt booster is functioning properly, and that you have a quality vacuum source

Is the rubber line plugged? or collapsing? the engine should run very rough and likely stall when it is removed from the booster.  

 

If the pedal does not (or has trouble) returning, check the pivot for the pedal. (way up under the dash) It might be stuck/sluggish. 

Look under the dash find where the booster rod connects to the pedal and disconnect it. The (now free) pedal should swing as easily as a child in a park.

 

If it does not, there is a BIG pivot pin for the brake pedal that can be slid/pushed out after removing whatever retainer clip it has. (spring clip? cotter pin?) NOTE: sometimes the pivot pin is part of the pedal assembly and you slide the entire pedal to the side to remove. There are likely nylon bushings on the pin/shaft and in the support bracket that is holding up the pedal. I have had the nylon bushings stick to either the pin/rod and/or the support bracket. Clean everything up and lubricate the pivots. (I have used a light lubriplate type grease) and reassemble. Again the pedal should swing freely. 

 

I think your Buick brake light switch is hydraulic and on the master cylinder, but sometimes the switch is mechanical connected to this linkage. If so, then of course it should not be binding either. 

 

The other problem that can be checked is the adjustment of the intake/compensating ports. 

Remove cover from master cylinder. Look into it as someone pushes the pedal. As the system is pressurized you should see a small 'squirt' (or stream of bubbles) in the fluid coming from the smaller of the two holes in the bottom of the reservoir. Release the brakes and every time the pedal is pressed you should see this little squirt. (Note: if you slam the pedal hard it should be a big splash - maybe splash in your face - that can make a mess -but then you know it is functioning) 

 

If you are not seeing this squirt (bubbles?) consistently, then unbolt the master from the booster and shorten the rod that leads from the booster into the master. (its screw adjustable and it should not take more than a full turn. (maybe even a half turn) reattach the master and again check for the splash with each pedal push. 

Edited by m-mman (see edit history)

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