Studebaker interuptions

My JT project has been delayed by summer chores and events and a brake problem with my ’54 Champion. As part of the new 185 engine project for the ’54 Champion I upgraded the front brakes to 11″. I put them together with new everything. But I started having problems with the right brake grabbing. I pulled the drums and found that the backing plate paint had been bubbled by a leak from near the wheel cylinder – on both sides. You can just see the track of the brake fluid down from the lower end of the wheel cylinder.

First thing to blame of course, was the wheel cylinders. Closer inspection showed that the leak was coming from behind the wheel cylinder between the wheel cylinder and the backing plate.

It appeared that small amounts of brake fluid leaked out from between the brake flex hose and the wheel cylinder over the winter. So I removed both flex hoses and replaced the copper washers that fit between the hose and the wheel cylinder with a new pair.

Then it was just a matter of sand blasting the shoes to remove any contamination and reassembling the brakes. Pretty straight forward. Job done.

One brake reassembling bug-a-boo is trying to get the top springs to go over the center pivot. I have been using a small set of vice grips to grab the spring and then pull enough to get it over the top post. This time I found a much better way. It involved using a small wood crafting chisel.

I have a complete set and from it I chose one with a shallow curve to it. I slipped the chisel through the loop end of the spring and then hooked the curved end over the center post. Using a screw driver doesn’t work that well. It tends to slip off the center post. Using the chisel as a lever the spring slipped into place quite easily, didn’t slip off and I didn’t even damage the chisel!

This is an item I picked up a few years ago. Just loosen the bleeder screw, attach the hose and using the magnet, attach the bottle to the bottom of the brake drum on the outside. Works a charm. Just pump the pedal enough times to fill the bottle to between half and three quarters and you have cleared out most of the old fluid from the lines as well as the wheel cylinder. The brake fluid remains in the line when your done so that no air gets back into the wheel cylinder.

I’ve been using DOT 3 fluid for years, but I think it’s time to change. When I’ve used up my reserve of DOT3 I think I’ll move to either Dot 3 synthetic or Dot 5 full synthetic if I’m at a point where I’m redoing the complete system.

Next it’s time to dial in the bell housing – when I get a bit of time!

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