Jim Nelson

Hydraulic Brakes on a ‘35’ Buick.

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Who has pulled axels from the third member of a 1934 /35  - 50 series car ?  I need to find out how to pull the axels.   The 1936  third member axel removal is easy.  

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And time continues.   My 35-58 Vicky is home on jack stands.   I got the original fuel tank when I got my “Vicky”.    It was a leaking sive. A new built tank is expensive.   I explored a company called “ReNu”.    They restore old gas tanks that don’t hold gas.   I loaded up the old tank and drove around 100 miles to his shop.   He explained what they did and what I can expect.   I ‘“put hands on”  a tank he had ReNu’d for a Hudson he was working on.   A calibrated eye on what tooling he had and used told me this seems to be a good repair station.   I got it back in a week.   It was less expensive than a new tank.   PLUS it fits like an original - cause it is.   I replaced the level indicator with a modern combo unit.   Gas out and level indicator.  The old system was strange design.   I got a 1939 - 1954  unit.   I needed to modify some of the holes etc.  I then put the ‘new’ gas tank back in the car.   I needed to replace most of the cobbled up fuel line from the tank forward midway to the engine.    Caught a cold - first in 3 or 4 years.   On hold - -1C964335-F3D0-4BF6-8C8E-717D71F72CF7.thumb.jpeg.25fab16fc7f38125afee489a077b36f9.jpeg

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Brakes are a well beaten topic. For some, whatever is on the car is not good enough. If you have hydraulic brakes the next guy says you need a dual master cylinder.

 

The risk of an accident caused by well maintained factory designed brakes and good driver is pretty low. I bet the risk is about as low as the risk of just getting into an accident period.

 

Given the, pretty much, equal risks, I get thinking about those TV ambulance chasers with the single number phone numbers. They are specialists at personal injury claims. Can you imagine them coming across that odd unavoidable accident where they find their client was involved with an owner modified braking system? I haven't read about it happening, but I will stick with my well maintained factory engineered equipment.

 

If the state tells me to modify my brake system I will just ask for documentation of the Senator's specific instructions.

 

I can see the court case on the evolution of brakes. And Spencer Tracy wouldn't be around to take my side. No thanks.

Bernie

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Hi Bernie,   Interesting comments on brake system.   Unfortunatly I live in an area that is where survival  is difficult.   1st.  Over a million normal (?)  drivers,     2nd.   I live in the south which gets a tourist influx that adds at least 20 to 30%  more drivers from Nov.  to. Easter every year.  That influx has increased every year.     3rd.   The additional drivers (most of them)  do not experience the high volume of cars each day driving over roads that are 6 to 8 lanes.   Plus they are disorientad and do not know “exactly” where theybare going.   Its called prior planning on how they will get there.   4th.  We have the ocean / Gulf that funnels the massive flow and provides a destination.   Parking sucks as big money bought up all the little guys and gives us high rise condo’s so you have a difficult time even the water.    5th.   We have a great numbers of accidents known as “T - bone”.   Drivers who literly run lights in the confusion of their travels.   Then throw in normal (?) ‘I didn’t see him excuses of normal traffic accidents.    Now as we drive and try to keep from getting creamed,  our old designed for traffic at the time - neet cars,  it gets hard.   My 37 Buick with the smallest brakes sold become very  -  problematic.   I give my self plenty of space BUT the guy in front of you may not be as quick as you as you plan your stop.   My last issue put me in a position to use all the braking I could muster.   Come in brake fade - - .   So my first Buick has had the front brakes up graded to Century level.   That gives me 14% better brakeing.    If you are lucky enough and have a  39 or 40 or newer,  you can install front disc brakes.    Plus, having a dual master cyl. to split the braking incase of one system failure.    I’m old enough to remember the accidents where you met the steering shaft in a very uncomfortable way.   No seat belts, running lights for evening driving.   Air bags etc all the nice survivability equipment in todays cars we take for granted.    When I buy a pre-war car it gets trucked to a very close lot where I carefully drive it home and into my garage.   It doesn’t come out untill seat belts are in place.   Enough said for us drivers of our  very nice older cars.   My cars are not dust gathers, I drive them.     My last long drive was approx 1600 miles from Tampa Fl. to Murphfrreboro Tn.  Over a week for a club get together.   No dust in my garage - -    My latest car  (and last one) is a ‘1935 Vicky.   Last of the mechanical brake cars for Buick.  Needless to say, I will eventually put hydraulic dual system in place so I can survive to a rip old age.        Of course, its just my humble opinion,     “Put your money down and takes you chances”  as an old friend reminds me.

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I guess that explains all those dead guys in Model As and Ts.

 

Oh, wait...

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Yep, and up grading brakes to 8 wheel discs with quapdruple systems will still not stop a T-Bone accident with you as the bone! 

 

I have had dual master systems fail, compete failures! Put brake maintenance at the top of the to do list.

 

You need better old car routes. Might involve moving to a more friendly area.?

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3 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

I have had dual master systems fail, compete failures! Put brake maintenance at the top of the to do list.

 

Who would have thought the fabled dual master cylinder leaves you with zero brakes if one line pops? (AKA also happened to me)

 

Personally for me, I go with the flow of traffic and people give me lots of space. I wouldn't want to hit a classic car and be sued for a ton of money!

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5 hours ago, Beemon said:

I go with the flow of traffic and people give me lots of space.

I drive a Buick. Once my Wife asked me how fast I was going in a car that had a broken speedometer. I said "Oh, just going with the flow." She said "Well! The flow is all way back there."

 

Jim, In your first entry, I thought you lived in a country like Australia where there was a requirement. I was surprised. You live in the US where people are required to ride bicycles with their back to the traffic.

 

My thoughts on modified brake system legal risks remain unchanged. My Grandfather used to say "Don't flirt with a rattlesnake."

 

Bernie

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Whoa - - - a total failure with a brake system that is supposed to have separate braking in case of a failure.   Tell me / us what happened.   It makes no sense.  The only common area was the reservoir and it has a separating wall to keep fluid separate if one system goes crap.    I'm very curious to the failure mode.  

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3 hours ago, Jim Nelson said:

Whoa - - - a total failure with a brake system that is supposed to have separate braking in case of a failure.   Tell me / us what happened.   It makes no sense.  The only common area was the reservoir and it has a separating wall to keep fluid separate if one system goes crap.    I'm very curious to the failure mode.  

 

To make a long story short, you need fluid in both sections for a dual master cylinder to work. You cannot compress air. Its a common misconception to think a dual master cylinder has separate braking - that's only possible with two separate master cylinders.

Edited by Beemon (see edit history)

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Hmmm, that was an exciiting experience.   Do you recall how the fluid got out of the reservoir ?   Very strange     

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All I had left was the parking brake. Those guys touting safety are the same guys that want you to buy their product.

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I didnt mean to sound mean but I dont understand how re engineering the brake system will make it safer. If the mechanical brakes already stop the wheels from rotating hydralics wont do it any better. Force is force it doesnt matter if its is a cable or a rod or fluid that applies it. Plus if your worried about brake fade thats something that happens on hydralic brakes not mechanical because the fluid gets hot and boils. I suppose mechanical brakes can fade but you would really have to be abusing them to make it happen. I sort of get the idea of adding discs to improve stopping in some areas but changing the entire way that the force is applied without changing the AMOUNT of force that is applied at the pavement doesnt seem like an improvement to me. Just a different way to get the same result. I was driving a friends 37 Ford in Hershey last week and every time I stepped on the brakes they were smooth and strong. Yep mechanical. He didnt go with the hype of everyone switching they're Fords to juice brakes. I honestly could not tell the difference. Pedal was strong brakes didnt pull car stopped easily and without any excitement. I would not have worried in an emergency because Im sure it would have locked up all four wheels. That says their's enough force going to the brakes already.

 

I also think 60FlatTop makes a good point about legal issues. Your worried about crashing in traffic and believe that it is common and that it will happen sooner or later because everyone else is stupid. I have to ask what will happen to you when you're insurance company discovers you have a homemade brake system? What if that system fails like Beemon? I have never seen mechanical brakes have a total failure like that but it obviously happens with hydralics. Easy for insurance to deny coverage if you did it yourself. I think good insurance is alot more important than hydralic brakes.

 

This just seems alot like re inventing the wheel. Your car your choice but I think you will spend thousands of dollars and how many hours of your time to change something and when your done it will have no real affect on how you're car works and stops and drives. Disc brakes I get but this just seems like flushing money and time that could be better spent somewhere else like makeing sure your steering and suspension is 100% or excellent tires or wheels that are true or better lighting or seat belts which will all make the car safer than this brake "upgrade." I think it is alot more work than you think to make the change. You will need an entire hydralic system from another car and some how make it fit your Buick which didnt have those brakes to begin with. Its more than just running lines and installing a master cylinder. I do not believe you can convert your mechanical brakes to hydralic just by adding a wheel cylinder inside the drum instead of the mechanical device. It is probly a very big job.

 

No more thoughts from me. Good luck with whatever path you choose and have fun with your car!!!

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Well this task is a lot easier than you think.   First, ‘35’ was the last year  for mechanicals.   Keeping them ballanced was ALWAYS a problem.  That is why all cars went to hydraulics.   Second,  I am only working with prewar series 40 and series 50 Buicks.  1936 was the first year Buick had hydraulics.   So its not re-engineering here.  Just a continuing the improvement that Buick engineers were doing.   Hydraulic’s were a simplification of how to stop your car reliably. and straight.     New pre fitted lines are a phone call away.   Flex lines are on the shelf.   Its some what like comparing  1955 Buicks to 2018 Buicks with things like dual braking systems, anti-lock system, air bags , seat belts with shoulder harnes.    I’m just moving the old system off to the side and replacing them with new and easier to work with systems.   The mod’s  I am doing are things that are invisable or unrecognisable to the average person.   My cars are not museum pieces.   For those who want that, please enjoy them as mine don’t gather dust and are found on the road.   I find that it brings a alot of enjoyment and questions about our old cars.  

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First all wheel failure of dual master cylinder to mention is the internal bypassing failure. Very common. Usually first noted as stepping on brakes very softly, like approaching a fuel pump, you are going slowly and just easing on the pedal when..... the pedal is on the floor. Luckily, if you repress the pedal it usually works at normal height  (the internal seals work with pressure on them) leading you to believe it didn't happen, ...until the next time it does. Continue to drive this way and soon you will be pumping the pedal to get any brake action at all. Steady application goes right to the floor.  That is when they showed up at the shop for repair, dual system, no brakes. This failure mode also occurs with single piston masters too.

 

Second failure is rear wheel system leaks fluid out, or a piece of dirt cloggs the inlet port for the rear wheel system in the bottom of the master(that's what happened to me, slowly dropped pedal), and you don't notice, since the fronts do most of the work anyway. Sure the pedal is lower, but, still working. Then the front line (steel or rubber flex) goes. Typically this is when you are pressing harder to avoid something, in my case it was a sudden red light. Stomp, to the floor!

 

So I steered the 70 Buick wagon through the red light, turning left through the cross traffic, using horn and lights...?  pulled into a 7-11 to calm down, using the parking brake to stop. Once composed, I drove home using the parking brake and giving looottss of room. It is a three speed manual, so leaving it in first gave pretty good speed control at low speeds. A Turbo 400 would have had different results.

 

So the lesson here is proper brake maintenance and keep aware of small issues. Back then no one heard of flushing DOT 3 every few years

 

In the Corvair world we do stress doing a hard-HARDER test every year or sooner. That is (and we don't have power brakes, those that do should probably start the engine)  step on the brake pedal, step harder, grab the steering wheel and pull yourself up to apply the most pressure possible. The system SHOULD hold. If you break something, glad it happened in the driveway! Do not fret that you broke something. I remember my dad (product of the depression) saying "don't step so hard on the brakes, you might pop a line or wheel cylinder". After the wagon incident, I WANT to break the system in the driveway!

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Thanks Frank.   Verrrry good lesson.   I guess its flush time.    What is the failure part in DOT 3 ?   DOT 4 ?    This flushing ?requirement? appeared in the car manuals but I don’t know  ANYONE who talked about it and WHY.   I have my own tale on tube tires vs tubeless.   Driving at night going home on a trip.    My car can run 65 / 70 all day long.    On the Inter State, in the left lane, passing cars.   Now the best point, I had just crested a hill and going into a decending sweeping left turn.   BANG the left front tire exploded.  I usually (all the time) drive with both hands on the  wheel.   So the steering wheel went into convultions.   I managed to keep the car in the left lane, let up on the gas and managed to move left into the break down lane. As I was stoppin I found myself  between the steel gaurd rail about 3’ away and about 18” away fron the painted left siide of of the left lane.   I turned on my emergency lights and calmed down for a few moments.   Obviously traffic on an Inter State could not see me untill it was to last for them to move into the center lane.   Got it ?    So I got out of the car and went back up the road (with my cell) to keep from becoming “road kill”.   Finally got Road Ranger to help me and a county mounty to stay at the top of the hill with his red / blue lightsvon.   People pay more attention to those lights.   My whole side wall had separated from the main tire body of the tire.   The tires were from a major classic tire mfg.   you know, it advertises looking like original tires.   Well, they all came off and got replaced with modern radial ply tires.    It had been over 50 some year and many cars since I a problem with radials so lesson learned for me.   BTW, my new tires look wonderful.   I kept one of the tires as a spare.  I need to look up the mgf construction date -   just cuz.   Isn’t life fun ?

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7 hours ago, billorn said:

Plus if your worried about brake fade thats something that happens on hydralic brakes not mechanical because the fluid gets hot and boils.

 

Brake fade is when inert gases are generated between the pad and the rotor/ drum from high heat that creates a squish zone. Has nothing to do with boiling fluid. 

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29 minutes ago, Beemon said:
7 hours ago, billorn said:

Plus if your worried about brake fade thats something that happens on hydralic brakes not mechanical because the fluid gets hot and boils.

 

Brake fade is when inert gases are generated between the pad and the rotor/ drum from high heat that creates a squish zone. Has nothing to do with boiling fluid. 

Fluid will boil and cause partial or total loss of brakes:  driving in the mountains with a front disc car and auto trans following some timid fool that was causing me to brake more often even with downshift.  The brakes started pulling to one side (fluid had boiled in the opposite side caliper and the resultant vapor would not compress).  The fluid was about 10 years old and contaminated with water over those years lowering the boiling  point.  Less likely to happen on drum brake cars.

I now flush all of mine every 2 years: suck out the master cylinder, 4 pumps to each wheel cylinder (2 ounces).

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There are 4 kinds of brake fade:

 

1) Expanding drums:

 

The drum gets bigger due to heat, the shoes have to move farther, and maybe they don't even reach. The pedal might get all the way to the floor. If the brakes are hydraulic, maybe you can take a second stab. Sheet metal drums are the worst offenders. I have also heard that large drums (like the 12" ones on my Pontiac, and on the 36 Buick) are worse offenders than 11 inch due to the larger circumference. For whatever reason, 12" all but disappeared on later cars, and they instead had wider shoes to gain the swept area back. Maybe it was just due to smaller wheel size, I don't know.  Drums also get bell-mouthed when really hot, since one side is supported and one side isn't. Presumably the shoes remain more or less square, and don't make as good of contact as they do cold.

 

2) Gas fade:

 

The brake lining literally burns, and the escaping gases prevent the lining from touching the drum. Brake linings are designed to prevent this as much as possible, but if the linings have ever been contaminated with anything that burns at a lower temperature (oil, brake fluid, etc), gas fade will happen at a MUCH lower temperature. Washing them off with solvent does not work. If you don't believe me, try playing an acetylene torch over the lining, and watch the contaminant come boiling out of the pores.

 

You can stand on the pedal as hard as you want when this happens, but there won't be a lot of stopping going on.

 

3) Brake fluid boiling:

 

Brake fluid has a high boiling point, but it attracts and absorbs water out of the air, and in addition to becoming corrosive, the boiling point drops dramatically. Regular brake fluid changes prevent this. When it happens the pedal will just go to the floor.

 

4) Some combination of the first three.

 

Gas fade (2) is by far the most common kind of fade in properly maintained drum brakes. It happens to discs as well, but they don't hold the heat in as much, and have an advantage.

 

The limiting factor on these old cars (with 4 wheel brakes) is and always has been the size of the contact patch of the tires, followed closely by the suspension, and how well it deals with weight transfer. Any 4 wheel drum system that cant do one panic stop without brake fade is extremely suspect. Something is wrong. Coming down a Washington mountain pass while using the brakes to regulate your speed is a whole different matter....

 

 

 

 

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Yup.   So true..   Except if you use the mechanicalbrakes they are not even.   At my repair shop Dose a lot of antiques the ?modern - 60’s cars, they set and adjust mechanical in their back alley..   its gravel so a mls-adjusted brake shows up right now.   They spend several hours trying to keep them in ballance.   On our black top street, it leaves nice long tire marks.   As they show me, any slightly worn bracket will make ballancing of mechanical very hard..   Pad, rotor ?  how about just shoes and drums.   And when all is said, and done,  tire construction and condition and road temps  all complete the pix.

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Bloo,  your analysis on brakes and their problems / possible solutions is well put.   The test of your brakes surviving one panic stop is great.  Of course, providing a nice cooling  time before you head back home would be nice.   Remember, its only physics : mechanical to heat.   Cannot change that.   Just the method and process.   As I mentioned,  “lays your money down and takes your chances” still holds true.    

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10 hours ago, Bloo said:

Coming down a Washington mountain pass while using the brakes to regulate your speed is a whole different matter....

 

Snoqualmie at 80 going West?

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2 minutes ago, Beemon said:

 

Snoqualmie at 80 going West?

 

HAH! I was thinking of Stevens, but any of them will do......

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