Tip: Rusty Brake Lines, SAVING YOUR SANITY

Just replaced my second (different cars) rusty broken line in a month..what does that say about my life! :(
Here's some good advice, I think.
Forget Autozone and the like for parts.. they'll have the flex lines but
when it comes to solid lines, Autozone particularly is near useless, they dont have everything you might need...EXCEPT for the double flaring tool which you can rent for nothing or buy cheap.
Find a parts house that supplies local shops.
1. Is the line good or bad... If it has "flaky cakerust", it's gonna go soon if it hasnt already.
2. Get QUALITY tubing wrenches, not no-names.. you shouldnt need more than two or three
***THIS IS THE MAIN POINT OF THIS POST: 3. Dont waste your time trying to get rusty fittings loose. - If it's a bad/rusty line anyway, cut it at the nut and use a GOOD six- point socket. ****NO TUBING WRENCH IS AS GOOD AS A SIX-POINT SOCKET!***** - If the whole connection is solid rust, replace that other part as well.     Example: rear line goes into flex line at body bracket, and you see a solid mass of rust, including the bracket itself. Cut the solid line, remove the entire bracket and flex line as an assembly and chip rust away to remove the clip. Replace the Flex line too.
****TRYING TO "MINIMIZE THE JOB" USUALLY ENDS UP IN YOUR REPLACING THE PART ANYWAY!!!!!!!!!!****
4. Overestimate the length of the tubing you're replacing when you buy the new one(s) or get several. Cheap enough and you can take the ones you dont use back. It's easy enough to take out excess length by looping the tubing... if you try to "stretch or short-cut" it, you may end up with broken or worn lines soon
5. Ford has a bad habit of using two sizes of fitting on the same line. Look close.. wrench size doesnt matter, it's threaded barrel size that matters. Get male/female adapters.. if it's 3/16 line, get a couple of 3/16 to 1/4
6. Bending: good brake line bends easily without kinking but always bend over a round object as the mandrel, not a sharp one. - Dont try to exactly duplicate the bends..just make sure it follows the same path and is in same area... double check for clearance and rubbing
7. Flaring. Completely replacing a front to back line is usually a bitch... and you probably dont need to anyway. The back half is usually the section that rusts badly. So you will want to splice in new...
Find the rear-most section with no rust between it and the Master Cyl, and where a splice can be made without it ending up exposed to speed bump and road trash.
DO NOT use hose or flex tubing of any kind, do not use compression fittings or single flare.. The rings will eventually leak, the single flare will eventually crack. There's VERY high pressure in these lines, so obviously you dont use hose and clamps
Most people have had bad experieces trying to double flare, and that is mainly because the tool they used was junk... the amateaur couldnt afford the precision pro type tools so ..gasp.. they bought crap and the thing usuall would clamp or the bobbin tool deformed.
Thanks to the Chinese 'Red Army, Inc' who are trying to Out-Japan Japan in terms of product quality, that's no longer always the case. The tool you rent at Autozone IS inexpensive but works well
- Google double flare for directions - Go to Lowes Plumbing Dept for the mini-tubing-cutter, must be rated for 3/16 - knock off ragged edges... dont go nuts and ream it out - INSTALL NUT BEFORE FLARING!!!!!!! - INSTALL NUT BEFORE FLARING!!!!!!! - Tighten end of clamp closest to tubing FIRST, then the other end (Leverage, ya know) Use the round bar through the wings of nut for leverage to tighten - Dont skimp on how much should be projecting from clamp, double flare takes more length than you might think. - Double check... DID YOU INSTALL NUT?!!! - Insert the mandrel, run the tool down HARD till mandrel bottoms on clamp - Remove and look.. should be a "bell" almost to the lip of the tool opening. - Finish the flare.. dont run it down as hard as the first step, just a firm resistance.. if in doubt take it in stages.
8. tighten all fittings to good snug, dont overwrench them
9. Get a brake bleeding tool - free the bleeder screw with a six point socket if it resists at all, - make sure you dont run the reservoir dry, if you have, then "bench bleed" master cyl, first... directions found by google, parts avail at store. - Bleed 'far side' brake cyl first.. till you get liquid, then the other cyl. till mostly liquid - with bleeders closed, pump brake pedal about ten times slowly. - bleed cyls again till no air comes out
10 Start Engine, apply brakes hard - Check all fitting and lines, if a connection is leaking or seeping, tighten no more than 1/4 turn, wipe off and check again. If that 1/4 turn didnt do it..MAYBE another 1/8th turn... if that didnt do it, you have a crack or dirt interfering.
Remember: Time is money, and frustration from poor planning or wrong tools breeds low self-esteem and that ends up costing you money.
Knowledge of a job well done and done right is PRICELESS!
If you could buy it... you'd pay 75 to 100 bucks and hour for it.
Yeah... like a Shrink's fee.
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Good post, BYM..... Strangely, here in small town Alberta, I have found an aftermarket store that can supply some of these oddball lines..... They wont be preformed and they might not be the right length (maybe go longer and put a vibration loop in a decent spot).... but they are there and they can work.
When faced with a rusted line, do NOT use compression fittings to replace only the obvious affected area ( brake lines can rust from the inside out). If replacing a line, follow it "upstream" (towards the master cylinder) and replace the line from "that" connection to the end.
Brakes are too important to fudge with....

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This may be a dumb question to many readers. Not to me.
WHY DO THEY USE FERROUS (RUSTABLE) METALS IN BRAKE LINES???
Isn't it practical to use certain non-corrosive metals/coatings/whatever?
I'm surprised the safety regulators haven't put the steel brake line practices under the microscope.
Thx, Peetie

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Not all manufacturers do.

Not from a bean counters point of view.

They have to an extent; back in the 60's dual brake circuits were mandated. In 38 years as a mechanic, I've never seen both circuits fail at the same time. One side failing from corrosion is no different than other parts of the brake system failing, i.e., a wheel cylinder or a hose.
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Brake lines I've seen appear to be galvanized steel. So they are making an attempt to keep it from rusting.
There's no excuse for a brake line rusting from the inside out. That's just poor maintainence.
External rust really only affects the NE. Here in the NW it's rare to see a rusted brake line that rusted from the outside in. My 68 Torino for example still has all it's original brake lines.
Copper or brass would be very unsafe to use for brake lines. Copper work-hardens and with vibration it gets brittle and will break.
I would not willingly get into a vehicle with a hydraulic brake system that used plastic brake lines. Not that I don't think it would be possible to make a plastic brake line. I just don't trust the automakers to do it. Look at the problems with the plastic intake manifolds for an example.
Of all the systems on a vehicle brakes probably carry the greatest liability. As a result, brake systems design changes at a glacial pace. There are a lot better braking systems out there. But, aside from a few minor materials changes in the pads, and the introduction of ABS, car brake systems on just about all cars today are the same as they were half a century ago. The only big change has been regenerative braking with hybrids. But, electronic braking is not new and the automakers could have put in electromagnetic brakes 30 years ago that have the same stopping power as friction brakes, even better since it's a lot harder to lock the wheels up, and gotten rid of the need for ABS, hydraulics, wearable friction pads and all of that.
Nobody wants to stick their neck out in this area. Imagine at a trial what a lawyer would say if they knew the car was equipped with a new and revolutionary braking system called an electromagnetic brake that was different than all the other cars on the road. They would claim the braking system was new and untried and that the brakes failed and that's why their client drove into the side of the building, it had nothing to do with the 25 beers he drunk 4 hours earlier. Juries being as stupid as they are, you would probably get some jury comprised of non-mechanical types somewhere that would believe it and award a big settlement.

They do, but these coatings don't hold up, and can make things worse - trapping the water for long periods of time under the coating. Galvanizing is the only thing that will hold it back, and that only works well if the zinc layer is thick -and you only get that if the steel part is hot-dipped. The electroplate galvanizing that is used on fine materials like tubings only slows down the inevitable.
Ted
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our autozone has the metric fuel lines also. they are coated and look green.. btw..good tips op..lucas
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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