58 Brake Problems

Vacuum Brake Booster in the '58 Truck

November, 2015

This truck was originally set up in the late 90's
with a remote vacuum booster mounted under the floor...
The original '58 master cylinder was kept, and is used
to actuate the remote mounted booster, which then
operates the four wheel disk brakes I had installed....

it has worked well for 17 years, was rebuilt about 5 years ago,
but is sensitive to all the heat generated by the headers

I like to go ocean paddling in a Hawaiian style outrigger one man canoe. 
It's a really good workout, and I love being out on the ocean....

I haul this canoe around on my 58 truck...

....And was headed down to the beach to go paddling recently, when the brakes decided to go out....
Using reverse and low gear and the emergency brake I was able to safely get off the road...

Called a buddy at a local tow company for a ride home....
We pulled it up on the bed backwards, an easier hookup that way,
and an easier unload when I got back to the shop....

I broke down right in front of the sugar mill where I had worked for the last 40+ years....
Got lots of comments from my buddies about that !!

The brake pedal went down all the way to the floor all at once,
in traffic, with no warning, no brakes at all, except for the "parking brake",
which doesn't do much !!!.  I was able to run off onto the shoulder,
downshifting through 2nd and 1st to get it slowed down, without hitting anything,
and eventually using reverse to get it stopped when I had slowed down enough.
The hand brake was pretty worthless, didn't make much difference for slowing me down!

A thorough inspection of the brake system revealed no leaks, a full master cylinder,
and no mechanical problems anywhere in the system.  When the truck was pulled
off of the tow truck, the brakes were fully functional again....

Since I had recently rebuilt the exhaust system, with new headers that sit quite close to the
brake system under the truck's floor, and had even installed a sheet metal heat deflector
between the headers and the brake system, it seems that there was just too much heat
for the master cylinder and/or the remote vacuum booster, probably causing the brake
fluid in the piston bore to boil away, leaving me with nothing to push when I hit the brake pedal !

I got some high heat protective exhaust wrap and wrapped the exhaust header
on the left side, in the vicinity of the master cylinder, to protect it from that heat,
checked the fluids and checked for leaks, all looking good, road tests checked out just fine,
will drive it and keep a careful close eye on it....

More later....

More on the remote mounted vacuum brake booster, page 2

More on the remote mounted vacuum brake booster, page3

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