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  #1  
Old 05-07-2013, 06:16 PM
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Default Basic brake overhaul on '59

And one more on the brakes. I did not either bleed or inspect the brakes sofar. From the first drive I can only say, they are not effective at all. I brought a set of new brake shoes with the car but as I need to put another order from Europe just now, I'd like to ask if the brake cylinders are worth buying new or if they can be easily cleaned/repaired. I noticed that on RockAuto.com is a pretty cheap brake cylinder repair kit available.

Any experience on the brake cylinders? And maybe anything else worth ordering for the brakes?

Thank you.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:37 PM
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Don't bother trying to clean your brake cylinders. Most likely they are scored past the point of being useful. You would have to rebore them to a larger size and get oversize kits. Just buy new ones. You should also buy all new flexible hoses and new hardware for the drum brakes. I also recommend installing self adjusters. The '59 brakes did not come with them. They are inexpensive and easy to install. You will want to order ones that fit 1961 and up Thunderbirds. If your master cylinder is the original I would replace that also. If you have the underdash booster the master cylinders are available.

John
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:57 PM
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Good to know, thank you John! Are these the self adjusters you are writing about? Do I get it right that I need two front and two rear kits?

And the brake cylinders - there are several manufacturers on the the RockAuto.com - Dorman, Centric, Bendix, Raybestos, Wagner - which one to chose?
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:07 PM
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Yes, they are the correct self adjuster kits. You will want two of each one. Just make sure they are installed on the correct side. They should be marked. As for the brake cylinders the Centric are the least expensive I believe. I have at least one of them on my car and it seems to fit and work fine. The only difference is that it has a metric size bleeder valve instead of the standard size found on the other makes. Other than that they seem identical.

John
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  #5  
Old 05-07-2013, 07:37 PM
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I highly respect John's mechanical ability and his experience of over forty years. But... The only time I change cylinders is if the old ones are broken. For instance, if the bleeder screw is broken off, it's not worth my time to drill out the old and buy new bleeder screws.

Usually, there is a small rubber ridge inside the bore that can easily be sanded out using wet sandpaper with brake fluid. If you find that water has rusted deep pits inside, it's time to replace them.

I am not a big fan of original Thunderbird brakes. They are inadequate for the car and shoe brakes tend to pull, fade and they take forever to dry out. I would NEVER pull a trailer with those drum brakes.

The self adjusters come in left hand and right hand. Get the set for 11 inch brakes, both front and rear.

The last time I bought self adjusters and rear wheel cylinders, I also bought the rear brake line hose:


Again, this is just for the rear because we fit the front with disk brakes. The boxes on the left are self adjuster kits. the boxes on the right are wheel cylinders. - Dave
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:02 PM
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Dave,

When I was just learning how to do brakes my father would say the same thing. "Just sand them down and they'll be fine". It was only after doing two or three and having them leak anyway that I came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth it. Also the new cylinders only cost a few bucks more than the rebuild kits so to me it doesn't pay. There are lots of other places on the car that I can use my elbow grease. Nothing wrong with trying to rebuild your old parts. To some mechanics it's a sacrilege to buy a new part. It's just that most of the cylinders I see after 50+ years have the pistons frozen in the bore and the brake fluid turned to powder. Also after rebuilding my entire brake system with new parts my '59 stops on a dime and has absolutely no fade with drum brakes. Just my point of view.

John
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jopizz View Post
Don't bother trying to clean your brake cylinders. Most likely they are scored past the point of being useful. You would have to rebore them to a larger size and get oversize kits. Just buy new ones. You should also buy all new flexible hoses and new hardware for the drum brakes. I also recommend installing self adjusters. The '59 brakes did not come with them. They are inexpensive and easy to install. You will want to order ones that fit 1961 and up Thunderbirds. If your master cylinder is the original I would replace that also. If you have the underdash booster the master cylinders are available.

John
One more thing John - you say to replace the new hardware for the drum brakes. What does it mean exactly - every piece that is inside every drum?
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:34 PM
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I'm referring to the springs and hold down hardware for the shoes. If they are rusted I recommend new ones. Here in the states they are easy to find and are only a few dollars. If yours look ok you can probably reuse them since you may have trouble finding them locally. You will also need four of these springs if you decide to go to self adjusters. They do not come in the kit. Most of these parts are much cheaper if you get them from Rock Auto than from Mac's.
http://macsautoparts.com/ford-thunde...0R3CHL1118049/
Rock Auto has the same spring for $1.71 for a pair. The Wagner part number is H412. The self adjuster kits are about half the price also. The Wagner numbers are H2512 and H2513.


John
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Last edited by jopizz : 05-07-2013 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jopizz View Post
...Also the new cylinders only cost a few bucks more than the rebuild kits so to me it doesn't pay. There are lots of other places on the car that I can use my elbow grease. Nothing wrong with trying to rebuild your old parts. To some mechanics it's a sacrilege to buy a new part...
Cost is a concern. I would never run a bad part but sometimes the old parts are just as good as new or maybe better. When I get new wheel cylinders I immediately open the boots and slide the pistons out. I once had a rear wheel cylinder on a new Pontiac with no hydraulic hole drilled, so the shoe never moved (or wore). This happens with production parts at times. I have no reservations about replacing bad or worn out parts.

I have only replaced two sets of springs. Both times, some idiot overheated his brakes which it took the heat treat out of the springs. If the originals are tight there is no reason to replace them with the same thing. New springs are clean and freshly painted but they don't work any better than the old ones.

Rock&Roll Firebird, check the pads on your backplates. That is the part the shoes ride on. If they have deep grooves worn into them take them to a welder to be filled-in and ground flat. There is no need to buy new back plates. - Dave
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyconnected View Post
I have only replaced two sets of springs. Both times, some idiot overheated his brakes which it took the heat treat out of the springs. If the originals are tight there is no reason to replace them with the same thing. New springs are clean and freshly painted but they don't work any better than the old ones.
I also never replaced a brake spring until I was doing my '59 and a rusty spring snapped and hit me in the face. That changed my mind real fast.

John
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