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Twilight Fenrir

Braided Stainless brake lines: total conversion?

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I am replacing the drum brakes on the front of my '66 Olds Toronado with disc, and while I am at it, I'd like to replace my brake lines. Braided Stainless lines seem really appealing, much easier to install than getting all those bends and such in.

As I understand, hard lines are superior to braided. However, I suspect the difference is fairly negligable, and will still be an improvement for getting rid of the 3 OEM rubber lines that currently exist.

So, I have a few questions:

Is this a bad idea?

Is there anywhere I can get pre-made lengths longer than 60"? Speedway Motors seems to have the longest I can find at 5 feet. However, the main run to the rear is almost 10 feet. I'd really prefer to have as few connections as possible in the system.

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If it were me, I'd make the long runs with seamless stainless tubing of the correct I.D. There are companies that will make any bends necessary to conform to original routing and put the proper fittings on the ends. I'd stay away from flex lines over a long run, even if covered with stainless steel braid.

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Holy crap o.o I did not realize anyone made a pre-made kit for my Toronado... Almost nothing exists pre-made for my Toronado, lol.

The only problem there is the custom nature of my setup. I am adding a combination proportioning/metering block instead of the '69's two-part system... so, I would still have to splice it up pretty heaftily to make it fit together. I will definitely consider it a viable option however, and may just go for it anyway.

Thanks!

Edited by Twilight Fenrir (see edit history)

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Holy crap o.o I did not realize anyone made a pre-made kit for my Toronado... Almost nothing exists pre-made for my Toronado, lol.

The only problem there is the custom nature of my setup. I am adding a combination proportioning/metering block instead of the '69's two-part system... so, I would still have to splice it up pretty heaftily to make it fit together. I will definitely consider it a viable option however, and may just go for it anyway.

Thanks!

Stay away from braided stainless for brake lines. Use the stainless kits, both Inline Tube and Classic Tube will make custom modifications to your needs. Check them out online and call them up to discuss the custom part.

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The braided stainless brake lines are only intended to replace the flex hoses at the wheels, not the entire system. Most of the braided stainless hose that you see on cars isn't designed for the pressures you find in a braking system. The stuff used for flex hoses is Teflon-lined and resists expansion, but the standard braided stainless used for oil and fuel lines won't hold braking system pressure, and I don't know that you can DIY the teflon stuff, which uses specialized fittings. The only way to go is hardline. The pre-bent lines fit well and aren't all that difficult to snake into position.

You can also buy a flaring tool for not a lot of money to properly flare the lines and create your own fittings (all brake system flares must be double flares), but as Don points out, most of these companies will set it up for you if you know what you need.

Hope this helps.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)

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There are two kinds of overbraided stainless hose, rubber lined for low pressure applications and teflon lined for high pressure (~3000 psi). ONLY use the teflon lined hose for brake systems and only use as short a piece as necessary to replace the flex portions of the brake lines. The problem is that even the teflon lined hose expands slightly when pressurized, resulting in long brake pedal travel and spongy feel. if the entire system is plumbed with flex hose. That's why you want to use hard line to the maximum extent possible.

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When stainless braid brake lines first appeared in the aftermarket in the 1980s, I thought "That's neat and what I want to put on my '77 Camaro". But wiser souls advised against it. One mentioned that they did stainless braided brake lines on their race car . . . looked neat and all of that, but the inside of that braid was rubber and it would deteriorate just like a normal rubber brake hose . . . which led to leaks through the nice-looking braided stainless. Only advantage was debris-resistance from damage and a little better braking feel in road racing applications. The vendor was one of the performance brake vendors from back then, so I figured they'd be good, BUT there was a "Not recommended for street-driven vehicles" notation, which made me a little curious . . . if they were good for racing, but not street use?

I strongly recommend you use one of the pre-bent kits from Classic or Inline. They've been doing that stuff for a good time, so they should know what's going on. They might have leaned more toward muscle cars, but I believe they've now branched out to other vehicles.

Just some thougths,

NTX5467

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... but the inside of that braid was rubber and it would deteriorate just like a normal rubber brake hose . . .

And again, that is NOT correct. The braided hose for brake systems is TEFLON lined, not rubber lined. The "not for street use" warning on most of these products is from the legal department and is due to the fact that the hoses in question have not been DOT approved. Doesn't mean they aren't appropriate for the task, it just means that the company lawyers are proactively planning their lawsuit defense. By the way, for a few extra dollars, you CAN buy braided stainless hoses that have been DOT approved.

And once again, PLEASE don't condemn braided stainless based on sweeping generalities and incorrect information. Teflon lined braided stainless is far better than the factory rubber flex hose used in brake lines WHEN USED IN THE SAME MANNER. As I wrote above, it is NOT appropriate to plumb the entire brake system using only flex line. It IS perfectly appropriate to use flex hose to replace the factory rubber hose but keeping the rest in hard line.

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Did anybody notice that I mentioned "1980s" in my post??? There was NO mention of teflon linings in the literature back then, either. Just "braided hose". They'd been used on road race cars, so they might have just been a normal rubber brake line with a stainless steel "factory made" sheath back then . . . rather than what apparently came later with the noted teflon liner.

It might also have been some comments relating to a stainless steel braided fuel line deteriorating with age (leaking) were where the observation came from that the hoses really weren't any better for normal use than normal fuel lines or brake hoses (with exposed rubber). After that realization, that's the last time I considered using stainless steel braided lines on anything, with all due respect. I didn't want to spend the extra money if it really wasn't going to be any better for the use I might put it to.

Back then . . . the reason that road racers were using braided stainless steel brake lines instead of the normal rubber hoses was that the stainless braid kept the lines from bulging under higher-than-normal pressures in the brake lines in "heat of battle" conditions. This "reduced bulging/flex" would result in a more consistently-solid pedal feel, which might allow the race driver to better determine just how close to "wheel lock-up" he might be, which might make the difference between a "win" or an "also ran" situation. Plus it could offer added protection from damage from track debris which might have been encountered. NOT things usually related to normal street driving, but possibly so.

It was NOT my intention to "trash" anything, just recount my own experiences when I was thinking about changing the brake hoses on my '77 Camaro to something allegedly better . . . no more, no less -- period! In those EARLIER times, many considered stainless steel braided hose (in ANY application it wasn't factory equipment on) to be exotic and "bullet-proof" . . . which it was not in the long term, in many cases, at that time.

Regards,

NTX5467

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Did anybody notice that I mentioned "1980s" in my post??? There was NO mention of teflon linings in the literature back then, either. Just "braided hose". They'd been used on road race cars, so they might have just been a normal rubber brake line with a stainless steel "factory made" sheath back then . . . rather than what apparently came later with the noted teflon liner.

Sorry, but again I must point out that your statement is incorrect. I built several modified street and drag cars in the early 1980s using teflon-lined braided stainless brake hose. I bought the lines over the counter at Earl's Supply in Hawthorne, CA where I lived at the time. Even then, it was common knowledge (at least among hot rodders such as myself) that the teflon lined hose was the ONLY product to use for high pressure applications. Teflon-lined AN-hose was designed for aircraft hydraulic system use and has been around since at least the 1960s (and likely earlier than that).

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Has anyone tried the cunifer tubing? Neet stuff, can be bent easily by hand and is as strong as steel. Volvo and many european cars use it.

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Sorry, but again I must point out that your statement is incorrect. I built several modified street and drag cars in the early 1980s using teflon-lined braided stainless brake hose. I bought the lines over the counter at Earl's Supply in Hawthorne, CA where I lived at the time. Even then, it was common knowledge (at least among hot rodders such as myself) that the teflon lined hose was the ONLY product to use for high pressure applications. Teflon-lined AN-hose was designed for aircraft hydraulic system use and has been around since at least the 1960s (and likely earlier than that).

I'm very glad that you could find the sort of braided stainless steel product you desired. Most of the hot rodders I was around back then hadn't gotten involved in situations where they needed the BSS hose on their cars. It was still one of those "high end" things that money wasn't spent on to go fast. In many cases, it was more "show car" stuff than racer stuff. "Exotic" of sorts.

Also, considering that StratoFlex was about a mile from our car shops, there were many neighborhood people who'd worked there over the years. Obviously, they might not have been educated on all of their various products, other than what they built for General Dynamics (now Lockheed) back then. They just cut and assembled the bulk hose for the particular job. NONE of the guys who were into the car activities ever mentioned anything about teflon-lined hoses, it was just "hose" to them. In the lines they had on their vehicles, they were all secured with normal hose clamps and showed no evidence of any teflon lining material. All that I ever saw was stainless steel braid covering black rubber hose material.

Considering how difficult BSS hose was to cut without having a cut-off wheel cutter, many that originally thought it looked nice eventually went back to normal hose. That was before the end fittings were readily available down here, unlike the accessibilitiy you had at Earl's (which for us was a catalog order).

Obviously, our respective experiences in this area are different . . . which can be highly dependent upon our differing locales in that earlier time frame.

Respectfully,

NTX5467

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Has anyone tried the cunifer tubing? Neet stuff, can be bent easily by hand and is as strong as steel. Volvo and many european cars use it.

I'm using the Cunifer tubing on my 1929 Cadillac's fuel system as well as the remote oil filter unit. It is indeed easy to bend and work with, flares easily, and is naturally resistant to kinking (although it does kink if you abuse it). I haven't found any downsides to it that wouldn't be there with steel or stainless lines, or even copper. I can wholeheartedly recommend it, as it was recommended to me here on this forum.

There's only one place to get it in the US, apparently: FedHill Brake Line - Where to buy brake line, fuel line, brake line flaring tools, brake line nuts and brake line fittings

Good stuff, and they just marked down the 25-foot coil by 25% (now $61 instead of $85)!

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Considering how difficult BSS hose was to cut without having a cut-off wheel cutter, many that originally thought it looked nice eventually went back to normal hose. That was before the end fittings were readily available down here, unlike the accessibilitiy you had at Earl's (which for us was a catalog order).

Obviously, our respective experiences in this area are different . . . which can be highly dependent upon our differing locales in that earlier time frame.

Respectfully,

NTX5467

Yeah, being in SoCal at the time, one could buy pretty much by any automotive component you needed. I bought the -3 Teflon hose in rolls and stainless steel end fittings and assembled the hoses myself. I didn't really have a problem cutting the hose with a hacksaw.

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I'm using the Cunifer tubing on my 1929 Cadillac's fuel system as well as the remote oil filter unit. It is indeed easy to bend and work with, flares easily, and is naturally resistant to kinking (although it does kink if you abuse it). I haven't found any downsides to it that wouldn't be there with steel or stainless lines, or even copper. I can wholeheartedly recommend it, as it was recommended to me here on this forum.

There's only one place to get it in the US, apparently: FedHill Brake Line - Where to buy brake line, fuel line, brake line flaring tools, brake line nuts and brake line fittings

Good stuff, and they just marked down the 25-foot coil by 25% (now $61 instead of $85)!

Wow! That stuff looks pretty neat! I'm going to have to look into that stuff. I could replace the lines on all 6 of my cars that stuff looks so easy, lol. Thanks for the tip!

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I can add to Matt's kudos for Cunifer, I used it to replace all the fuel lines on my 32 Cadillac, very easy to work with and it even polishes up to look like nickel plating! If you use it for brake lines you would need to double flare everything and it would need protection in an area that could be exposed to road debris. Fedhill is great to deal with and they have all the parts you would need.

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Whew! That flaring tool is expensive though... The tool costs more than the entire brake system would, 2 times over! Can you use a normal IFF flaring tool? I've never used one, though I hear they are a pain. Still, $350 seems awefully steep...

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Good tools are worth their weight in gold.

However, a standard double-flare tool will work just fine with the Cunifer, and I bet you can rent one locally for not a lot of money. The advantage of the Fed Hill tool is that it's practically brainless in operation. As I can attest, even making single flares for my oil and fuel systems, sometimes it doesn't go as planned, and I have a rather expensive Rigid flaring tool. Practice on some scrap first, but I don't think you need the expensive tool to make it work.

Here's a shot of my newly plumbed oil filter on the Cadillac (it's a vintage-looking canister with a modern spin-on filter inside), and you can see the lines after polishing them with some 00 steel wool before installation. They have a nice satin finish with just a touch of gold in the color. Very vintage-looking and not high-tech like polished stainless and not plumbing-supply-store-looking like copper. And no, the lines are not flattened on the bends, it just looks like that in the photos for some reason. I used a good bender and it made nicely radiused curves with no change in the tube cross-section.

Thanks for the recommendation, Don, I'm sold on the stuff!

post-31138-143138901563_thumb.jpg

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