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Thread: Original brake lines... can I just flush 'em??

  1. #1
    Junior Member Mark J's Avatar
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    Original brake lines... can I just flush 'em??

    I have a 1957 CJ3, dead in the garage for 24 years now. The brake fluid all leaked out. I have an entire kit for new original brakes I'd like to install. My question is - can I just flush the heck out of the lines and keep the originals? Or is there the chance that gunk in the lines will mess up my new wheel cylinders? I tried looking this up on the forum but keep getting "database error" all the time.

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    Senior Member bmorgil's Avatar
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    There seem to be some issues on the forum today. I am having trouble also.

    No problem as long as your brake lines are solid. I use a pressure bleeder. On older vehicles I always flush out the lines until I see clean fluid. Brake fluid is a pretty good solvent. It will clean out the lines. It eats paint. Brake fluid has a way of absorbing water. Usually not a problem in a closed FULL system. But if a little air gets in, condensation will form. The water will boil under high heat and, corrode the heck out of the system from the inside out.

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    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    Just remember, the brake system is a single reservoir system. You or I would be well prepared to act accordingly if there was an issue, but what if our children or spouse was driving it to town? Is it worth the chance to have a line blow out from an internal weak spot. I call myself cheap, but new brake hardware is good insurance. I'm going to change out the cheap Crown master cylinder in our 2A for a Wagner master cylinder. Two pumps are annoying to me.

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    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    Brake Lines

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark J View Post
    I have a 1957 CJ3, dead in the garage for 24 years now. The brake fluid all leaked out. I have an entire kit for new original brakes I'd like to install. My question is - can I just flush the heck out of the lines and keep the originals? Or is there the chance that gunk in the lines will mess up my new wheel cylinders? I tried looking this up on the forum but keep getting "database error" all the time.
    We tend to worry about getting our Jeeps to run, but getting them to stop is really more critical. Don't scrimp on brake lines. The old lines were empty and the hermeticity of the system was compromised. Brake fluid is hygroscopic - it pulls water out of the atmosphere. Water sitting in old steel lines makes rust and pitting. Just after I inherited the '48 from my Dad, I blew a steel brake line on the front end where it crossed under the radiator. The rusted spot failed, and I don't remember these 50-years later if it was from the inside or outside - but I remember the excitement of the pedal feeling like a rotten peach under my foot.

    You don't need to upgrade to disc brakes, but as GmWillys suggests, a dual reservoir master cylinder isn't a bad idea if you can work it in.

    A couple of weeks ago we went through the discussion of brake fluid and the consensus of the group is that the new compatible DOT5.1 fluid is the best choice for Jeeps that will sit a lot. It is non-hygroscopic and if you get in a pinch and have to add DOT-3 fluid, it is compatible with it. Yeah, it's expensive, but you don't need all that much and you change it every 5 or 6 years.

    As the phone commercial talking about "pretty good" reminds us; If the brakes don't work, something will stop us.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bmorgil's Avatar
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    The "OK" Mechanic

    Quote Originally Posted by LarrBeard View Post
    As the phone commercial talking about "pretty good" reminds us; If the brakes don't work, something will stop us.
    I love this commercial!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLGTqeU12l8

    Depending on where you are in California, the lines might be "OK". Note the commercial "OK Mechanic". I did restore a 1959 Chevy when I lived out there. The humidity was always low in the California desert where the Chevy lived. All the fluid had leaked out. It was totally rust free everywhere. Those brake lines were good. The master cylinder was clean inside, no rust anywhere. The important thing here is you stated "all the brake fluid leaked out". This is a key to the condition of the system. As LarrBeard pointed out, the brake fluid absorbs the water. No brake fluid no water. If the corrosion got a start however, all bets are off. It can be a pain to redo the lines, I understand the desire to leave them. If you are uncomfortable with the decision, replace the lines or tow it to a good brake shop for a second opinion. I would not tell you it is "OK" without looking at it.

    I always live by this saying on several fronts... "When in doubt, throw it out".
    Last edited by bmorgil; 07-02-2019 at 07:42 AM.

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    Junior Member Mark J's Avatar
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    THANKS EVERYONE!
    Hmmmmm decisions...
    Decision made when I heard
    "If the brakes don't stop it, something will."
    Fluid is definitely out but the jeep has been inside the garage all this time. Still, after reading this thread three times, and hearing those lines - I think it's dumb for me NOT to change out the lines. I've rebuilt the transmission (30 years ago), so I can probably squeeze in new brake lines.
    Thanks again.
    Last edited by Mark J; 07-07-2019 at 06:03 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bmorgil's Avatar
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    If you can rebuild a tranny, the lines will be no trouble. I went with a ready made set. It came with all the clamps, shields and screws. It fit perfectly and required very little bending.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Mark J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmorgil View Post
    If you can rebuild a tranny, the lines will be no trouble. I went with a ready made set. It came with all the clamps, shields and screws. It fit perfectly and required very little bending.
    Is Omix ADA the "best" brand? Seems it's the only brand. When I last worked on my jeep, there weren't half the aftermarket parts available today.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bmorgil's Avatar
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    Mark, there is a ton of suppliers out there now. I think you will find there are a few vendors making parts for a lot of suppliers. I have been using Kaiser Willys almost exclusively. Their price is usually very close. If it is not the cheapest, I have had to investigate the quality of the "cheaper" suppliers. I have found that KW's quality is always premium. Their customer service has been phenomenal.

    On your brake lines, get the most complete kit you can find. Having the clamps and sleeves and the hardware is nice.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    I concur that the brake lines are exceptional through Kaiser's. The problems arise when I go the cheap route using the Crown master and wheel cylinders. The bleeder valves are 8MM, then the mount holes do not line up with the original dust shield at the wheel cylinders. Also the inlet line hole has to be indexed for the line to match. After some research, the American made Wagner wheel and master cylinders fit right the first time. I've had the Crown items installed for at least 4 years, without much issue except for the constant two pumps for every stop.

    As a note, there is an outfit out there that makes a check valve that you can put in line that retains some line pressure to aid in not having to pump the brakes each time.

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