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PLS

How can I clean & shine brake & fuel lines?

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I have a '60 Chevy Impala 2 door hard top that I bought in '62 and have been in the restoration phase more years than I like to admit but in the last year I have got serious and I am about a month from the paint stage. I am about to tackle the job of cleaning and shining the brake and fuel lines and would like to know if anyone has this task under their belt. I know that I could buy new lines but I am trying to keep the car as original as I can. I thought that the lines were stainless steel but they are steel of some kind. Before trying to sand, clean or polish I wanted to know what to do because after all this time they have not rusted only gotten dirty from around 20 years of driving. Is there a coating on them that I could take off by sanding or brushing which would allow them to rust later? Any help would be appreciated. Also I posted about trying to reinstall some trim above the side windows about 4 weeks ago and it is down on page 4 or 5 now and it is listed as "1960 Chevy Impala trim installation". If you would take a look and see what I have posted about that and if you know anyone that may know anyone that could help please reply. PLS

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The original lines were similar in finish to modern brake lines. They have a type of galvanized finish that will eventually break down and rust. I think it would be useless to try to clean and polish your old lines when new material would save you tons of work and will look better and last longer with no real compromise on originality.

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I agree with jpage. however, if you are just dead set against new lines, you could try some Comet { or similar } gritty cleaner and use a Scotch Bright pad or some coarse steel wool.

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All new pre-bent line sets are available from Inline Tube and Classic Tube for very reasonable prices. If you are looking for a total original look, buy regular steel lines and coat them with a matte finish clear before installation. If you want custom shine buy stainless steel.

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Have you checked out a company called "Trim Parts" in Lebanon OH. They make car parts for 1949 through 1974. They also make carpet formed to just drop into your car. I have nothing to do with the company other than living about 12 miles away.

Check our their catalog web page at. Trim Parts

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One thing to consider is that after 50+ years your brake lines may have corroded inside. A new set of brake and fuel lines is a cheap part of a nicer restoration, and would be a shame to put all that time and money into your 60 only to have a brake failure and destroy it.

I would stick with regular steel. Stainless lines will last forever, but I had a hell of a time getting some of the flares to seal on a 64 Olds Starfire.

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Certainly, I've used some red scotchbrite to polish some underhood aluminum and steel lines, with very good results. I didn't opt to coat them with any kind of clearcoat, though, so they needed a little touch-up a few years later.

ONE thing to consider, which you might not have thought about, is the coiled protector sections. These are there to protect the lines from road debris and such. NOT very easy to clean, other than with some sort of detergent, possibly. If you bent new lines, they'd need to be transferred to the new section of tubing.

IF you were going for a full 100 point restoration to be judged in a national concours show, then taking all of the existing lines OFF of the car, cleaning them on a workbench setting, and then reinstalling them would be the best way to do it. This way, you could clean and polish, then use the recommended matte clearcoat (I've used spray Battery Protector with good results to preserve underhood decals and labels . . . it seems to be a clear lacquer type of paint) to coat and seal the finished product. THEN carefully reinstall them on the vehicle with new or refurbished attaching hardware. Additionally, this will give you the clearance and accessibility (with them off of the vehicle) to paint, refinish, and/or undercoat the areas adjacent to where the lines are situated. Trying to do all of this with the lines still on the vehicle would be an exercise in frustration, futility, and "missed areas", I suspect.

If you intend to keep and drive the car regularly, then putting new lines under it can offer the increased peace of mind of not having a line that might look good but has a hidden, interior problem that might surface at an inopportune time. Plus, you can still clean and clearcoat the new lines (especially if you choose "steel" rather than "stainless steel") before they are installed. Take off the old ones and hang them on the garage wall rather than wad them up and chunk them in the dumpster!

Remember, too, that the cold-rolled steel lines for brakes and fuel are really a flat piece of metal, rolled into a tube, and then welded. Where the weld is, if the line doesn't receive any coating, rust can happen there . . . inside or out. In many cases, you can see the one seam.

Personally, unless you're heading for the judging arena, I'd opt for the replacement lines in your choice of materials from a reputable vendor.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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I have tried to save several cars original systems. If you can purchase pre bent lines with new rubber hoses and are able to get the correct linings for your bakes you will love the results. I would even consider dual circuit master cylinder if the bolt in parts are available.

Good luck

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I have revived some slightly rusted areas on steel lines by spraying these areas with CRC Zinc-It gray. After it has dried for a few days, a light rub of the paint with fine Scotchbrite (green)brings up the zinc and it look as close as you'll get to original. But, as others have pointed out, if it is anything more than minor, replace.

Al

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I too always prefer to reuse original brake lines but only if they have original spring-type guards over them because thats harder to duplicate on new lines depending on the model. While I'm sure its possible, I have never seen a brake line fail from the inside when the outside looks rust free. So if the lines aren't showing rust, I reuse them. There's enough other things to spend money on.

I've done this many times even on the long line that is 7' or so. I carefully use a wire wheel on a bench grinder with a light touch not getting too aggressive. I had no problem with this method accidentally removing the galvanized or zinc coating. I tried to media blast some lines from a 66 Buick and learned they had a copper coating under the galvanized/zinc top coating so went back to the wire wheel.

Depending how clean they are when done you can clear coat them or paint them with a natural looking paint like Seymour Staineless Steel or a dull silver like Krylon Dull Aluminum.

Edited by JZRIV (see edit history)

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There are lots of products are available for the shining the brakes and fuel parts. You can use anyone products for shining the brakes. Wunda auto wash is one of the great product for break and fuel parts of the bikes.
SPAM

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I apologize for being so late in thanking everyone for your input to the brake and fuel line question that I posted (had some pressing business to take care of first). There is some very good advice and as soon as I have time I will pursue that advice. Again thank you all very much. PLS

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I know this is going to get tomatoes thrown at me, but this stuff about trying to salvage 50 year old brake lines is just false economy. Particularly on a single master car, a pin hole is all that stands between you and the telephone pole you're approaching at a curve in the road at 45 mph.

I have installed a half dozen sets of new brake lines on cars in the last year and not all because they're leaking. Lines that look seemingly ok on the outside and weren't leaking were replaced because of age, and some when they were taken out and had to be tweaked a little to fish them through, go {kink} {dribble dribble dribble}. They are just foil on the verge of giving out.

The simple fact of the matter is, lines do corrode from the inside-out. DOT 3 is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air) and is what causes the corrosion you see inside master and wheel cylinders when you replace them. If you see that going on there, I guarantee you it's going on inside your lines. As a matter of regular service, my customers get brake fluid flushes about every three years. In fact, I just did a '47 Cadillac today that I last did three years ago and guess what -- it came out orange. This car lives in ideal storage, but it's an open system and the fluid will degrade whether you want it to or not.

Don't fool yourself. Send off your originals and have a new set made. For $180 - $250 (depending on complexity) it's the cheapest peace of mind you can buy.

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Thank you Walter and all who have offered their ideas. It has been a huge help. I started out really wanting to keep the car as original as I possibly could but when I consider the big picture there are going to be a lot of things that want be original anyway because some things are passed saving or restoring, complete interior, paint, front windshield, wiring, weather seals, etc. I checked into Inline Tube & Classic Tube that TexRiv_63 suggested and it looks like I can replace them for around $150 - $180. That is cheep compared to the time, money, limb or life should there be a failure.

Thank all of you very much. PLS

PS Headed to the paint shop in a couple of weeks and still need help with my post April 20th, "1960 Chevy Impala trim installation".

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