AmericanPie

Necessary to replace steel brake lines?

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Posted (edited)

Hi folks, I just joined the forum and this is my first question.

 

I own a 1965 Impala SS (owned over 30 years) and plan to rebuild the entire braking system. My intention was to also replace all the steel lines but I've been told it's not really necessary unless the existing brake lines appear to be rusty, which they do not. The car is originally from California and the underside is as rust-free as they come. But my concern that any accumulation of water in the system over a half-century could have begun a rusting process from the inside out.

 

What's the standard practice in doing brake work on a car of this age? Should I replace all the steel lines as a preemptive measure, regardless of their external appearance? I want to do the job right, but I also want to keep the car as original as possible and don't want to do work that's not necessary.

 

Thanks so much!

Edited by AmericanPie (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, AmericanPie said:

Hi folks, I just joined the forum and this is my first question.

 

I own a 1965 Impala SS (owned over 30 years) and plan to rebuild the entire braking system. My intention was to also replace all the steel lines but I've been told it's not really necessary unless the existing brake lines appear to be rusty, which they do not. The car is originally from California and the underside is as rust-free as they come. But my concern that any accumulation of water in the system over a half-century could have begun a rusting process from the inside out.

 

What's the standard practice in doing brake work on a car of this age? Should I replace all the steel lines as a preemptive measure, regardless of their external appearance? I want to do the job right, but I also want to keep the car as original as possible and don't want to do work that's not necessary.

 

Thanks so much!

Welcome AP,

 

Tell whoever told you that, HOGWASH ! That's the kind of advice that can cause serious problems !!!!!!

 

Steel brake lines don't always rust outside in. Most often they rust from inside out where you can't see it until the line blows out. Been there with cars far younger and had that sinking feeling when the car suddenly doesn't stop as well as it used to. Luckily I was not going down a steep hill and had more distance to get it eventually stopped.

 

And I spent six months in California, long enough to know it ain't dry enough to trust that there's no rust in 55 year old steel brake lines.  

 

New brake lines are cheap,...  don't you be, too !:)

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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Agree with Paul. Those lines also tend to let go in the worst possible time, the last couple times it happened to me it was because of the added stress of trailering my Model T on a modern pickup. Both times the line looked okay on the outside. Your time and money will be well worth the peace of mind IMO

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Posted (edited)

Get friendly with an outfit called Inline Tube.  They will likely have a complete set of reproduction brake lines for your car in your choice of galvanized steel or stainless.  When I played with 60's cars (1968 Pontiac GTO, 1963 Dodge Polara, 1963 Dodge 330 Post Max Wedge)  I always replaced the brake lines.  Today I am messing with cars that have rod/cable operated mechanical brakes so haven't swapped any brake lines out lately but they do rust from inside out and flex hoses rot and look perfect until they burst.

 

Dave

 

 https://www.inlinetube.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4qHT3dfR6QIVg-DICh2SWAFuEAAYASAAEgJwy_D_BwE

Edited by Str8-8-Dave
correct spelling (see edit history)

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20 minutes ago, Str8-8-Dave said:

Get friendly with an outfit called Inline Tube.  They will likely have a complete set of reproduction brake lines for your car in your choice of galvanized steel or stainless.  When I played with 60's cars (1968 Pontiac GTO, 1963 Dodge Polara, 1963 Dodge 330 Post Max Wedge)  I always replaced the brake lines.  Today I am messing with cars that have rod/cable operated mechanical brakes so haven't swapped any brake lines out lately but they do rust from inside out and flex hoses rot and look perfect until they burst.

 

Dave

 

 https://www.inlinetube.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4qHT3dfR6QIVg-DICh2SWAFuEAAYASAAEgJwy_D_BwE

Or, more commonly, the hoses swell shut only letting fluid get forced to the wheel cylinders. Then, either  slowly, or no fluid return back to the master cylinder and the brake shoes don't release properly. All while still looking fine on the outside.

 

Paul

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Three things seem to be repeat in all my car projects - do the brakes and do them well, do the gas tank and lines, and do the radiator/hoses/thermostat/water pump. 

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Posted (edited)

While you are at it replace the wheel cylinders and have the master sleeved. Now that you have done all that, fill with DOT 5 fluid. Other than an occasional adjustment you will never need to fuss with brakes again, at least not for rust or sludge issues. I did that to my 69 Vette at least 25 years ago. Only care I've given it since is to check the fluid level whenever I happen to think of it. Never had to add and it's still bright and clear.......Bob

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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Thanks for all the replies, guys. I agree that if I DIDN'T replace the steel lines, I'd always feel as though I didn't do a thorough job. Not a good thing to be weighing on your mind every time you drive your car!

 

A few more questions before I start disassembling things and ordering parts.

 

I've never done a "complete" brake system restoration like this before, with new steel lines and all. Do the aftermarket lines generally fit pretty well? Just wondering how big of a project to expect. 

 

I've heard good things about Inline Tube; according to their website all their products are made in USA. Great!

 

Classic Industries is close to me and they carry all the lines I'd need; possibly they're a also supplier for Inline Tube. Are they a pretty good source for parts, such as shoes, rebuilt wheel cylinders or rebuild kits, hardware, etc.?

 

The last brake job I did on this car was about 30 years ago but it's accumulated very few actual miles. I believe most if not all the hardware currently on the car is American-made. The rubber has deteriorated but I might be able to re-use much of my hardware, and maybe even the shoes if they haven't become contaminated with brake fluid. My wheel cylinders can probably be rebuilt; don't know about the master. Should I consider re-using some or all of these parts, or just completely replace everything, even if my only choice is new/rebuilt offshore parts?

 

Thanks again. Looks like I've come to the right place with probing questions like this!

 

 

 

 

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And if you are keeping the original single circuit master cylinder, it is even more critical to make sure everything is as good as it can be.

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I used Classic kits for 4 of my restorations. I found their kits, for the most part, right on with just a bit of massaging needed to fit. If you opt for SS it is a bit tougher to massage. New rubber lines are a MUST. Rebuilding your old wheel cylinders is a fools errand. New ones are plentiful and cheap. Not sure if you have power brakes or not so can't comment on the master cylinder. If a manual one send it to Apple Hydraulics and have it sleeved and rebuilt. Shoes/drums are a toss up. If they are good they are good. If not Chevy parts are plentiful.

If you do all that, in my opinion, DOT 5 is a no brainer...............Bob

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Master cylinders are very visible, so sleeving is a great idea if OEM is the goal. But, 65 Chevy is standard GM master of the day, with bail to hold cap on. Many new available, some look very close to original. Power and manual seem to use same master cylinder. It is the earlier 60's ones with the screw on cap or wingnut held cap that are harder to find new.

 

Lots of new choices for wheel cylinders, many brands.

 

The car might be from California originally, but if you drive it in the east, I suggest Cunifer brake lines. If a garage/trailer/high point car queen, ignore this advice.😉 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks again for all the guidance guys. So I'm on my way with this project. I've sent my master out to Apple Hydraulics for a complete sleeve and rebuild. My '65 does have the more "common" master, but all the replacements are made offshore and have a different type of casting. I want to keep the original appearance.

 

I've also ordered a new brake line kit. After some consideration and research I ultimately decided to go with Classic Tube.

 

I'll probably order the flex lines from Classic Industries.

 

While I'm waiting for the parts to arrive I can install the factory power booster kit and start disassembling the lines. 

 

The only other thing I need to decide is where to buy the wheel cylinders. If I just do a stock rebuild, I'll probably get them from NAPA. I visited one of their stores today, and they don't look bad. Anyway, they're probably about as good as I'll get.

 

But as an alternative to a stock rebuild, there's a company in Texas called "Muscle Car Brakes" that makes a drum brake upgrade with ceramic shoes that's supposed to outperform the OE brakes. They offer a complete kit using all-new products (including wheel cylinders) made in the USA and Canada, and their prices seem pretty reasonable. I've read a few positive reviews on other forums: does anybody here have experience with them?

Edited by AmericanPie (see edit history)

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I've had positive experiences with Classic, Apple and NAPA for cylinders. NAPA for shoes not so much. 

Glad to see you are approaching this in a methodical and thorough way..................Bob

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Just replaced the lines in my 63 Dodge. the rubber lines will swell in and causing hanging brakes. My rear lead was so rusted inside I was able to pull a vacuum on it for 5 minutes

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When I got my '54 Pontiac I went ahead and replaced the entire brake and fuel system. I like knowing what kind of shape they're in....perfect!

Inline was a close fit but still had to cut and flare one piece. Still happy overall.

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You can also use synthetic brake fluid.  It's completely compatible with dot 3 and 4.  I also have car with 5 which is not compatible with 3/4.

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