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Manual brake bleeding procedure 1954 Century


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SO, after pulling the Century out of a 2 year hibernation, the brake pedal goes to the floor, no resistance. Checked MC and it is empty.  Not seeing any signs of leakage on the wheels so not sure where the fluid went. I'm going to try just bleeding the brakes and hopefully that will do it. While I probably bled 200 or more brakes when I worked at a Texaco station in high school and a few of my Buicks a few years ago, just wanted check that I remember correctly how it is done (especially since my significant other (SO)will be assisting). 

 

So, is this correct.

Caaaaarefully pull back 66 year old rubber mat,  pull floor board disc, and remove master cylinder cap.  Fill MC. Starting at left front (per the 54 shop manual) attach clear rubber hose to bleeder nipple and loosen bleeder valve. After ever so nicely explaining the procedure to SO, especially the part about not letting the cylinder get too low before adding more fluid, have SO slowly pump brake pedal down and up until no air is seen coming through hose. After seeing no air plus 2-3 more pumps, on the last pump tell SO "Down and hold down"  and with the brake pedal DOWN tighten the bleeder valve. Tell SO "OK hon you're the best, you can let UP now, great job sweetie pie you're the best".  Then repeat on right front, left rear, then right rear.  I'll actually probably pump more than just enough to get the air out in order to sorta flush the system.

The part that isn't covered in the SM but pretty sure I recall always doing is to close the valve while the pedal is down. Is this correct?

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25 minutes ago, MrEarl said:

 

 

  on the last pump tell SO "Down and hold down"  and with the brake pedal DOWN tighten the bleeder valve. Tell SO "OK hon you're the best, you can let UP now, great job sweetie pie you're the best".  Then repeat on right front, left rear, then right rear.  I'll actually probably pump more than just enough to get the air out in order to sorta flush the system.

 

Funny thing is, I have been doing it in reverse order, starting at right rear.

When mine did the same after sitting awhile, I found same thing, empty. Mine had slight wetness at one line fitting on master, I had not gotten it tight enough when I installed it.

Edited by TexasJohn55 (see edit history)
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I don't do it exactly the way you explain. I don't open the bleeder first as you describe. Your way may be better but here is how I do it:

 

Have your SO pump the brake pedal several times and then hold the pedal down firmly (even if it goes to the floor). Open the bleeder while she continues to press down on the pedal as it goes to the floor and hold it there. Close the bleeder to prevent air from going back into the system. Repeat all the above until no air comes out with the fluid. This has worked well for me.

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8 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

I don't do it exactly the way you explain. I don't open the bleeder first as you describe. Your way may be better but here is how I do it:

 

Have your SO pump the brake pedal several times and then hold the pedal down firmly (even if it goes to the floor). Open the bleeder while she continues to press down on the pedal as it goes to the floor and hold it there. Close the bleeder to prevent air from going back into the system. Repeat all the above until no air comes out with the fluid. This has worked well for me.

YES.  Lamar, on our cars with the master so low on chassis, they don't "gravity" bleed as well as MC on firewall.

 

 

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54 minutes ago, MrEarl said:

attach clear rubber hose to bleeder nipple and loosen bleeder valve.

You can do it by yourself if you keep the hose under some fluid in a jar.  Open the bleeder, give it 4 slow pumps, close bleeder, move on to next wheel after filling the MC.  I modify that technique by using a 60cc (2 oz) syringe hung above the wheel cylinder with the nose down...4 pumps will expel 40 cc of fluid (less if air in the system)  I see no logical reason to do it in any set order and I don't.  Best way is to adapt a MC cap to use a pressure bleeder.

If you think you need help, never ever enlist your SO!!

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2 hours ago, TexasJohn55 said:

Funny thing is, I have been doing it in reverse order, starting at right rear.

When mine did the same after sitting awhile, I found same thing, empty. Mine had slight wetness at one line fitting on master, I had not gotten it tight enough when I installed it.

 

Rule of thumb for me was start at the wheel furthest from the master cylinder.  

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I use a hand pump vacuum bleeder.   No need to have another pumping the brakes.  

 

At any rate, yes, once the peddle is to the floor have the peddle pusher hold it there.  Then close off the bleeder screw.  Rinse and repeat until no air is seen in the flow of brake fluid after each pump and hold.      

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 I agree with above. Like TexasJohn55 I start with farthest from the mc and work my way forward. Have SO pump and hold, open bleeder and bleed into a hose submerged in brake fluid so you can see air bubbles easier.  While holding pedal down close bleeder and repeat until no air bubbles are seen.  Move on to next wheel. Make sure mc never runs out of fluid or you will need to repeat everything all over.

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Found my old 2 quart bottle with rubber hose and used that in pretty much the manner @old-tank described but with one modification, my SO did the pumping while I watched the hose for air and moved the hose and bottle. But NO JOY. Problem was that it took way more pumping than should be needed to ever get fluid (dirty) even to the first wheel (left front)  Even more to get to the right front and never got fluid to the rear. Never gained any pedal, easy push all the time. Suspecting a bad MC? If that is the case, I want to go ahead and replace the wheel cylinders and front rubber hoses too. Thoughts?

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My 55 power brake MC is the positive displacement type which does not rely on a rubber cup seal to pump the fluid, only to seal it from leaking externally. If my MC does not pressurize the lines, it would have to escape and leak externally where it would be obvious.   John

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8 minutes ago, TexasJohn55 said:

Have you done this in the past? I kinda thought the system was of good integrity 2 yrs ago.

With my memory these days, I'd have to say I don't think so. 🙄 The car was restored some 20 years ago and suspect that is the last attention that was given to it.

 

 

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If it is manual brakes, the MC can bypass. If so, sometimes you can stab the pedal hard a few times to flare the cup. If this helps with bleeding, rebuild the MC. You could remove the brake line and cap the MC to test it, it should firm up.

    My 55 book also says to start at left front wheel. I think it reads a little better than your 54 book.

Edited by TexasJohn55 (see edit history)
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13 hours ago, MrEarl said:
13 hours ago, TexasJohn55 said:

Have you done this in the past? I kinda thought the system was of good integrity 2 yrs ago.

With my memory these days, I'd have to say I don't think so. 🙄 The car was restored some 20 years ago and suspect that is the last attention that was given to it.

 

No decision to think about:  if your steel lines are in good shape, replace all wheel cylinders and hoses and re-sleeve the master cylinder (probably less than $300).  Check RockAuto for the parts or part numbers to search elsewhere.

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That

4 minutes ago, old-tank said:

No decision to think about:  if your steel lines are in good shape, replace all wheel cylinders and hoses and re-sleeve the master cylinder (probably less than $300).  Check RockAuto for the parts or part numbers to search elsewhere.

 

Yep, that's where I'm at Willie.  I think I have spare rebuilt master cylinder in the barn loft but will want to put a new kit in since no telling how old it is.

 

 

Also, for current and  future readers of this thread  courtesy of @Mudbone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After you get it working again, flush the fluid every 2 years and the parts will last at least 30 years.  I replaced 2 of mine after 35 years but the replacement Raybestos cylinders had metric bleeders and were much harder to bleed:  lots of tapping with a hammer and used method similar to Mudbone's pressure  on the pedal.

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Just use DOT 5 after the rebuild of the system, most issues go away!

 

Caveat: Just stick with that corrosive DOT3 (after it gets water logged in a few years) if:

 

You live and drive at elevations over 10,000 feet.

You like to shake brake fluid bottles.

You jamb the pedal like a machine gun while bleeding.

And now it seems, if you have a pressure switch on the hydraulic lines for the brake lights. I'm still waiting to see if is a DOT 5 issue or just crappy new switches.

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22 hours ago, avgwarhawk said:

 

Rule of thumb for me was start at the wheel furthest from the master cylinder.  

 

i was taught this same sequence from my father back in the 1940s and '50s

and I only use DOT-4 (less hygroscopic) 

unless I've already done a complete rebuild with DOT-5 Silicone fluid

Edited by Marty Roth (see edit history)
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Found two rebuilt master cylinders purchased back in 2011. Dismantled the best looking one, no rust in the top end, cylinder looked great and all the rebuild kit rubber was pliable and metal pieces bright. Put it back together and will be using it. Also found an unopened nos MC kit, opened it and parts matched condition of the rebuilt MC so sealed it back up for later. 
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so here's my Rock Auto cart, all ACDelco, hoping they will be Standard and USA  made. Any comments before I order

Edit) Click on the image to enlarge. Basically just wondering if any good/bad comments re AC Delco. I've always used AC Delco when available

 

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Edited by MrEarl (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, JohnD1956 said:

They will fit.

 

Just hoping the bleeder screw would be 3/8,  I have a 3/8" ignition wrench which helps with hose interference. but no biggy

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38 minutes ago, MrEarl said:

 

Just hoping the bleeder screw would be 3/8,  I have a 3/8" ignition wrench which helps with hose interference. but no biggy

Unless the description specifies that, then I just think it would be incorrect to assume that's what you'll get.  But there are lots of wrenches made today so finding another to address that situation should not be difficult.  The same ones, which  I had bought, all work good is about all I can definitely say.   

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Says Wednesday but I’m always surprised at how soon their stuff arrives. Summit is even more amazing, I can order from them one afternoon and it’s in my mailbox by early morning. 317EBD59-14D8-4AE9-9339-44CD6B7B6F12.thumb.jpeg.b59227c6ac464c699423911ce79362a3.jpeg

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