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mechanical brake cable lubricating


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Hi,My 35 Buick has the mechanical brake cables and I think(not sure yet) that the right front one is stuck as the car pulls bad to the left when braking. Is there a recommended way to lube them or free them up? I hate to use heat since its close to the fuel line. Thanks,Greg.

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Greg, this is what I've done:  remove the offending cable and hang it as close to vertical as you can.  I wired it to a top shelf on a steel shelving unit.  Place a drip can under the bottom.  Anoint both ends with your penetrating fluid of choice, then walk away for a day.  Then pull on one end in the direction of travel, and push back, probably using vise-grips.  Keep the lube-push/pull sequence going until the inner cable moves freely, usually only about one inch of travel.  Finish by lubing with "cable lube," using a graphited liquid, until it will run out the lower end overnight (keep changing your drip cans).  It will take a couple of days to resolve a really sticky cable.

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Another option.........clean and power wash off all dirt and grease . Get it as clean as possible. Then soak in straight evapo rust  for a week flipping it and working the cable. Often times the evapo rust will dissolve the flakes causing binding. When the cable is worked free, soak in a bucket of thin oil overnight, and let it drip dry by hanging it up for a day or two. Works several times for me.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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The original "Midland Steeldraulic" brake cables on my Pontiac had no way to lubricate them.  The literature said the design did not require any lubricant.  They lasted over 100,000 miles and 30 years.  All replacement cables have had a grease fitting in the middle.

When I could not get replacements I made up cables and used old casings.  On these I used a pump oil can and filled the cable and casing with heavy oil from the wheel end every time I repacked the wheel bearings (usually once or twice a year as I was driving the car nearly 1000 miles a month).  I think this would work once you free the cables up.

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Just today I had success in getting my 40 Olds hand brake cables freed up.  I soaked them in  a 50/50 mix of ATF and acetone for about a week, refreshing the acetone as needed because it evaporates.  I had previously tried the vertical + penetrating oil treatment with no success.

 

In the end, after the big soak, I held one end in my vice, braced my foot against the vice, and gave it a good hard pull.  The first one came gradually and a few pulls later was free.  The second one was more resistant and then suddenly let go - so plan your landing spot carefully.  But it feels so good when it's finally free!

Peter

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  • 3 weeks later...

I too agree with the 50/50 Automatic transmission fluid & acetone.  The newer ATF fluids like Dexron is about 80% base oil and 20% additives like anti-corrosion, sufficants, cleaners, etc. I keep an old plastic quart oil bottle with a nozzle on it and use it for lots of sticky issues.  The acetone is used as the transfer medium to get the ATF into the tight areas.   I also us it on locks that stay outdoors like trailer locks, gate locks, etc. 

 

Also, if you come across a lock that all of a sudden will not work and there is a possibility that someone put super glue in the lock, this concoction works great.  The acetone is a solvent for super glue and the ATF is the lubricant.

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