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BRAKE PROBLEM - Pedal gets hard, tight, locks


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Marty, As Jeff suggested, check that your vent hole on the fill cap for the master cylinder is not plugged. Somebody painted mine shut on a 57 Roadmaster and as the engine compartment heated up in a parade, the brake pedal got hard and the brakes locked up. I drilled out the vent hole and have had no further problems.

Stu Allen

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I do not think that heat is an issue, especially since the car had gone a very short 3-4 miles yesterday before getting to the dealership where the brakes locked.

Aaron, and 55 Survivor,

I have checked with NAPA - they carry a kit for the 1-inch bore, but not for the 1-1/8 ", same with AutoZone, Pep Boys, Car Quest, and Advance Auto Parts - I did not get to check with O'Reilly's yet - but will continue.

Stu,

We have checked to assure that the vent hole in the M/C cap is free and breathing.

We removed the check valve this morning. The brake pedal is a bit lower than before, but the system seems to be functional. I can pump up a higher pedal, as you would normally expect. I drove 7 miles to pick up items for our AACA Chapter Xmas party. Drove it back another 7 miles - all stop and go city driving. Tonight we drove 30 miles of Interstate at 50 - 60 mph to the party. The pedal seemed to get slightly higher, but the brakes did not drag, and the rear wheels felt only marginally warmer than the fronts (didn't bring the laser temp gun). stayed at the party less than 2 hours. Drove 30 miles home on the I-10, never using the brake until exiting to the traffic light. Brakes seem completely functional without the benefit of the check valve.

Tomorrow we'll drive to and from the AACA Region Installation of Officers - 115 miles each way, and will observe prake pedal height, wheel temp, and brake drum temperature, and will report back.

Thanks again for all of the advice and ongoing support.

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Looks like you found the culprit.

I know this goes contrary to orthodox restoration, and probably not what you would ever want to do, but there is an alternative to replacing the check valve in the master cylinder (Even if only for test purposes).

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With drum brakes a ten pound valve is used to compensate for return spring tension in the drums. Features 1/8” pipe thread inlet and outlet you must a brake line adaptor sold separately. Most residual valves are color coded blue for 2 psi and red for 10 psi. An RPV DOES NOT cause brake drag, or cause the rear brakes to lock-up first!

For in-line use in drum brake applications. 1/8" female NPT inlet/outlet. 835-2601876 Instructions (PDF)

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The problem is NOT solved, but is diminished..

Check valve is out of system - car stops well.

Drove 75 miles saturday night. -- Pedal slightly higher - wheels turn freely.

Drove to Installation Banquet - used brakes to stop 6 times gently within first 3 miles, then 110 miles without having to use brakes on highway, using brake only at exit stop sign and at restaurant. Brake pedal was moderately higher. All wheels remained cool ( 65 degrees at home - just a bit warmer after 113 miles of highway driving.

After two hours, got back into car - brake pedal slightly higher. - Drove highway not needing brake - after 30 miles I decided to check brake prior to getting into higher volume of traffic - pedal was much higher, so I pulled into a travel plaza. Wheels were not locked, and wheels were cool, but pedal high and hard - Opened bleed screw - did not gush as when system locked - just dribbled a bit, and pedal returned to normal - drove 80 miles home.

Removing check valve is a big (TEMPORARY) improvement, but not the solution / not the final answer.

Will next pull rear wheels and brake drums to check return springs and to see if anything in hardware is amiss.

Still don't know if I should just replace M/C, because this one appears excellent, or should get another kit to rebuild this one again

Just found out - this M/C is not the original, it is a WAGNER

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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OK, -- latest update -- it appears that this WAGNER Master Cylinder was rebuilt with the kit, but that the kit is actually designed for the DELCO unit, and there are differences internally.

We are going to send the unit off to an expert who will do yet another rebuild, and will test it before returning it to me.

I'll update this thread when we get some results, but it may be a few weeks.....

Wish me luck,

Marty

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Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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A possible "AH-HA" moment came this weekend ---

While reassembling the Master Cylinder with its check valve, prior to shipping it off, I actually participated in the dis-assembly / re-assembly process for the first time. It had always been done by someone else in the past.

I commented that it seemed a bit strange that the push rod with the flattened ball end would push against a matching dished washer, and for that washer to then push against the piston in the M/C. I felt no free-play in the pushrod to M/C.

I suggested reassembly, but reversing the direction of the washer so that the dished bulge was outward instead of inward, and that the pushrod be inserted into it from behind the washer, but acting directly upon the piston. In this position there seems to be the slightest bit of freeplay in the rod-to-piston.

Of course this could just have been an improper reassembly a few weeks ago.....

As soon as we purge the cylinder, reinstall on the car, and bleed the system, I'll try it out again....

I'll let you know if we have found the culprit, if we have an "ATTA-BOY', or just another "AW-SHUCKS".

Edited by Marty Roth
C.R.S. (see edit history)
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Marty; you may still have some air in the lines,bleed all 4 wheels,one at a time, you can bleed it yourself, place a hose in a jar,leave the bleeder open,just let the pedal "return"slowly.Pump about a cup out of each cylinder. I love your pics,you have a beautiful car!! I think you got a handle on the problem.

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Yes, bleeding the entire system is still to be done -- our available time is the factor.

Once the re-assembled master cylinder was installed Thursday night, there was a leak at the union which distributes fluid to the front & rear lines, necessitating a quick run to 4 parts stores until we could find proper-sized copper washers to get a good seal.

The big Roadmaster stops straight and true, but I suspect that once we bleed the entire system, starting with the right-rear, then left-rear, right-front, then left-front (longest distance from the M/C, and working toward the shortest line), the pedal feel will be even better. If it were at all questionable, I would not have driven the car any distance except down the driveway.

It actually felt good, so we met Old-Car friends in town from Albuquerque to take their family on a Gulf of Mexico Christmas-week Cruise, and took them to our local club's party, and on Sunday drove up the River Road to enjoy great food and the Louisiana sights. The big Buick performed flawlessly - just as you would expect. Picking up the VMCCA couple from their downtown hotel, we "touristed" the Garden-District and St. Charles Ave's palatial homes. After breakfast at Camellia Grill it was on to the Norco Spillway, the Destrehan and the San Francisco Plantation homes. Next we viewed where the Grammercy and Lutcher residents build their Christmas Bonfires on the river levee to light the way for Pere Noel whose batteau is pulled up the river by ALLIGATORS. Where else but Louisiana would you find Santa Claus being pulled by, what did you say, alligators.

Yes, the legend is of Papa Noel (Santa), his batteau (boat) or pirogue (smaller boat - like a flat-bottomed canoe) pulled by eight alligators and guided by one white alligator.

Names of the gators are, Gaston, Tiboy, Pierre, Alcee, Ninette, Suzette, Celeste, Renee and Lead by Nicolette.

You know that in years or centuries gone-by, Louisiana kids would have a hard time relating to snow, a sleigh, reindeer, etc. - but the fires originally were to light the way home from midnight mass on Christmas Eve when the warm waters and cooler night air created fog along our rivers and bayous. The fires are traditionally built "Teepe-style" with seven upright poles joined at the top, and filled with firewood to last the night, and to blaze skyward, lighting the waterway.

On to Hymel's restaurant for Chicken Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Oyster and Shrimp Po-Boy sandwiches, maybe a taste of Abita Amber (a local brew for all but the driver), Tezcuco and Houmas House Plantations, and cross the Mississippi River at the Sunshine Bridge, named in honor of the late Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis who wrote the song "You Are My Sunshine". Now on the west bank of the "Big Muddy", we drove down-stream to Oak Alley Plantation whose double row of 28 magnificent Oak Trees lead from the river to the exquisite restored home and grounds.

The drive back to downtown New Orleans by way of the Superdome was uneventful, save for the thumbs-up of thousands of football fans heading to the San Diego vs. Univ. of Louisiana - Lafayette New Orleans Bowl Game.

Next, picked up relatives in from Nova Scotia for a drive out to Kenner, LA for Oysters on the half-shell, and Crawfish Bisque with more Abita Amber (again, none for the driver), and a return to the Riverbend-area of New Orleans before heading the big Roadmaster to her comfy quarters for a good rest.

I got way off topic here, but will drive the Buick more this week and keep a close watch on the braking system. We may have de-bugged, and hopefully resolved the issues.

Thanks again for all the advice, comments, and good wishes expressed by so many of you.

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I've been following this thread, but have not commented up until now, partly because I saw that you were getting a lot of good advice, and also, I was not 100% sure of what was the cause of your problem. I have a good friend that calls me from time to time with a mechanical problem, and years ago I told him, "When all else fails, look for something that is small, stupid, and obvious. Something that everyone assumes is correct, and overlooks." This small bit of advice has gotten him out of trouble many times. Looks like you have found it. And that Marty, makes you smarter than the car, and the proceeding mechanics. :D Dandy Dave!

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Did you check the pushrod ....................................................

Danny

Hey Marty,

Now that the old girl doesn't seize up anymore, how about all those that mentioned "pushrod" get to come over to your place and you take us for a spin around the block once or twice and then on for a bowl of Gumbo . :D:D:D

Danny

(I wish :))

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Y'all are welcome any old time -- and the gumbo will be waiting.

Danny, I'll drive her by your place just as soon as they build that new bridge from New Orleans to Sydney, but do I need to convert her to right-hand drive?

Dandy Dave, thanks for the comments, and I really do appreciate your thoughts, but some very sharp folks have worked on it, and it was probably just dumb luck that I happened to spot the reversed stop plate and the pushrod on the "wrong" side of it - only noted it because there was no free-play while off the car, after reassembly before shipping to another expert.

Dave, I also follow your comments on the early Buick, since my B-37 Touring is essentially the older sister to your C-36 Roadster. Aren't these great cars?

I'm still holding my breath, and am not yet ready to declare victory, but am encouraged by Saturday's 185 mile drive into town, and along the Great River Road. We'll do more this weekend, 'cause Santa certainly likes your Buick, but Pere Noel might enjoy going out for some Gumbo, Jambalaya, Etouffe (Ay-too-fay, a stew, in French), in one of ours.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah and a Happy & healthy New Year to all, and thanks again for all the advice and good wishes.

See y'all down the road....

Marty

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Dandy Dave, thanks for the comments, and I really do appreciate your thoughts, but some very sharp folks have worked on it, and it was probably just dumb luck that I happened to spot the reversed stop plate and the pushrod on the "wrong" side of it - only noted it because there was no free-play while off the car, after reassembly before shipping to another expert.

Dave, I also follow your comments on the early Buick, since my B-37 Touring is essentially the older sister to your C-36 Roadster. Aren't these great cars?

LOL... I've been accused of being a Genius from time to time. But, the truth is that I have chalked a lot of my Mechanical Wisdom up to "Dumb Irish Luck." The secret is, when you find the problem, remembering what the cure was years down the road when it pop's up somewhere again. Being of a stubborn, and persevering nature helps.

Also, You are so Right, the C and B series 36's, and 37's, are great cars! A lot of fun to tour with also. :D Dandy Dave!

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  • 4 weeks later...

It seems that the problem is solved.

I happened to spot the reversed stop plate and the pushrod on the "wrong" side of it - only noted it because there was no free-play while off the car, after reassembly before shipping to another expert.

Thanks to all who took the time to offer advice and support.

The 1937 Roadmaster convertible sedan is mostly original, and drives like it did when it was in Parade service for the City of New York for Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, and in so many "Ticker-Tape" Parades.

We are still looking for photos of the car with VP Harry Truman, FDR, Gen. Eisenhower, Gen. MacArthur, and Winston Churchill.

Marty

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Marty,

1) Franklin D. Roosevelt, Governor Herbert Lehman, and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia on an election campaign tour, 1940

Kheel Center, Cornell University

2) Closeup of Howard Huges (no mustache!) and Theo 1938

3) IKE and Theo 1945

4)</O:p

<TABLE style="WIDTH: 400.7pt; BORDER-COLLAPSE: collapse; mso-yfti-tbllook: 1184" class=MsoNormalTable border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=534><TBODY><TR style="mso-yfti-irow: 0; mso-yfti-firstrow: yes"><TD style="BORDER-BOTTOM: #f0f0f0; BORDER-LEFT: #f0f0f0; PADDING-BOTTOM: 0.75pt; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent; PADDING-LEFT: 0.75pt; PADDING-RIGHT: 6.25pt; BORDER-TOP: #f0f0f0; BORDER-RIGHT: #f0f0f0; PADDING-TOP: 0.75pt" colSpan=2>Original caption:Howard Hughes, his crew of round-the-world fliers and a bevy of city officials are shown leaving the automobiles in which they rode through a Broadway blizzard of ticker tape at City Hall today for the official reception. Mayor LaGuardia delivered an address to the fliers, telling them how proud Father Knick is of their three and a half day flight around the world, but Broadway already had proved it with confetti.ffice:office" /><O:p></O:p>

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<O:p4) Ike & Theo</O:p>

<O:p</B>

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Photo #1 appears to be FDR's Presidential Car, atleast based on the Presidential Seal on the rear door.

Photo #2 with Howard Hughes is some type of Phaeton by the bars, not a convertible sedan, likely not a Buick.

Photo #3 may be in honor of V-E Day with Gen Eisenhower - not sure of the car, but not a Buick

Photo #4 - can't really make out the open cars back behind the leading units and cameras

Dwight,

Thank you for sharing these great photos. My parents saw Fiorello in the Buick at the 1939-1940? new York World's Fair when they were dating. I'm sure the cit had several parade cars, but Buick was a major source

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