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Kelly, I replaced the entire brake system about 7 years ago and at that time I converted to a dual bowl mc. The pedal always felt a little spongy but it would stop the car and not go to the floor if I stomped on it. This Spring as I was test driving some new upgrades the brake pedal went to the floor with no resistance and no amount of pumping would get it back. I got a replacement but couldn't get any pedal with it and I could not see any fluid squirting from the ports at the bottom when observing the the mc bowls so I gave up on it. Maybe I gave up too soon but I still have it so it could go back in. The current mc is made by Centrex.

When I refurbished the brakes years ago I got new SS lines, wheel cylinders, mc, hoses and the rest. Everything was purchased out of catalog chosen for price, fit and expediency. The suggestion that my hoses may be the problem resonates for me as I'm sure they are a cheap quality. I just did a little search for braided SS hoses and see bewildering amount of choices, can anyone point me towards something that would work for my original configured system.

Thanks everyone who has taken time to offer help and suggestions.

Gregg
Hmm, are you noticing the fluid level going down at all when you just leave the car sitting for a couple of days? I would be really surprised if you had two bad master cylinders in a row, though it is possible. I would be giving the flex lines the hairy eyeball for sure, especially if your fluid level is not going down. Hard lines are not prone to suddenly weeping, usually they are either fine or they leak like hell. Beyond that, checking the wheel cylinders for leaks might be something to check off the list, just in case you haven't already.

What about the distribution block? Can you take some photos of your setup so we can see how things are routed? Maybe something will flag someone.

As far as braided SS lines go - these ones by Russell are listed as being compatible with drum brakes: BRAKE LINE KIT, BRAIDED STAINLESS - #2078-10 - National Parts Depot

A nice benefit of the braided SS lines is that they are made with a PTFE inner liner, which will never wear out - so they should be good for life or until you destroy one by crushing it somehow or something.

If you really want to eliminate parts of the braking system, piece by piece, you could get some steel plugs and first plug the ports in the MC. If your pedal is hard with the ports plugged, the MC is not the problem. Then move downstream and plug the outgoing ports in the distributor block and repeat test. If it passes, then you know that the problem resides within one of the brakes. You can pinch off the flex line for each front brake with a pair of vice grips to test each of the front brakes. Same with the rear flex line going from the body to the axle (though you can't test the rear brakes individually). If blocking flow to any of these brakes causes your pedal to get a lot better, then you've found the culprit.

Feeling your pain. I’ve been fussing with poor pedal feel for months now. AT LEAST 1 1/2 gallons of fluid and I still can’t get it right. I try something and go through the entire bleed process and find no improvement It is frustrating but lucky for me I can just walk away from it for a few days at a time. At my age with poor close up vision and hands that hurt all the time just adds to it. My latest thought is that the car needs to sit more level. I’ve had it on jack stands so that I can easily get u see it, maybe being level will let some trapped air out.
Like I said feeling your pain. Drive on!
Post-pandemic, please let me know if you still need help and I would be happy to assist. At least another set of younger eyes might be helpful!
 

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That’s very nice of you Kelly_H . I’ll keep your offer in mind. For the time being the outside temperatures are too great to be doing much of anything in the garage. And then there’s the whole covid thing... But thanks for the offer.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Myke, I'm doing that. Over and over again....

Kelly, I think I'll order the braided lines, sounds like a good upgrade whether or not it solves my problem. Once i have them and some plugs I'll disconnect individual runs, test and install the new lines as I move through the system. Unfortunately the weather this weekends looks to be against me. If you're ever in Long Island I could also use some help.

Thanks for the help.

Gregg
 

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Discussion Starter #24
PS. I can feel the wheel cylinders working while I'm bleeding them, but the pedal never gets firm. I'm not seeing any fluid loss in the mc after leaving them for a period of time.
New lines on order.
 

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Here's how I bleed, it's easy and fun;

Check your bleeder screws carefully before attempting to bleed. They are often collapsed from 1000's of tightening sequences. Have new ones on hand. Used ones will almost always have oval-shaped passages. If there is fluid in the system quickly clean and reinstall them. If the bleeders are good they should seal with finger tightening or very little force at this point.

You will need approximately 2 feet of vacuum hose that will fit over the bleeder nipple. It the very common size you probably already have. Now loosen the bleeder and fit the hose over the bleeder. I tighten the bleeder slightly with just your fingers and then make if just barely loose so there's a tiny bit of play. You will have to finesse the hose a bit to get it to sit there without twisting on the bleeder.

Now take a glass jar and pour just enough brake fluid in to cover the bottom with a quarter-inch of fluid. A tall glass works well because you can see layers of old dark fluid and bubbles easily. But I usually spill tall glasses. You just need one end of the hose submerged in the jar and the other end on a very slighly loose bleeder.

Fill the master cylinder reservoir. Gravity will pull the fluid down and air will come out the bleeder and bubble from the hose in the jar. At first, it may be very slow. Once you see a few bubbles check that the reservoir is nearly full and walk away from the car for at least 30 minutes. Go eat lunch. Whatever you do, don't go near the car.

When you go back to the car you might be surprised. If it's having trouble getting started slowly step on the brake pedal and slowly let it up. As long as the hose stays submerged air can't get sucked back through the bleeder. You shouldn't need special equipment or two-person struggles. When big bubbles have stopped and the fluid looks clean tighten the bleeder moderately and do this at each brake.

Because the bleeder screw is slightly loose, there may be a tiny air leak that may allow a small stream of tiny bubbles to come out of the hose even though the brake is perfectly bled. These bubbles originate above the sealing surface of the bleeder and are not air coming out of the caliper or cylinder itself. The fluid can suck these harmless bubbles sometimes. You can get on your knees and pump the brake pedal with your hand and look under the car to see the jar on the passenger side.

I usually attempt to let the gravity bleed and sometimes it takes a few pumps to get it going. I go around the car twice, testing for a firm pedal between sessions. Before the final tightening of the bleeder screw, I pump the brake pedal about 7 times. That amount of pumps will not drain a reservoir.

This method has never failed me on many many cars old or new.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
It's worth a try, that not the first time I saw it suggested. I can even do that on a hot afternoon when I just can't do anything else.
 

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I started with bench bleeding. Then I installed speed bleeders, and used 16ft of clear tubing back to the MC. I just opened the bleeder 1/8 - 1/4 turn, sat in the car and slowly pumped the brakes until I could no longer see any bubbles passing through the tubing, then moved to the next one and so on.

This is the easiest, least messy way of one person brake bleeding. I’ve tried all the gadgets and gizmos claiming easy one person brake bleeding, but all of them were messy, and a hassle to use.

Speed bleeders and clear tubing is the easiest hands down.
 

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Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anything about adjusting the shoes. Unless the shoes are ALL properly adjusted, you'll get a ridiculous amount of pedal travel.

Tighten the brake until you can barely turn the wheel with a lot of effort. Back off one click at a time until the wheel turns easily, with slight drag. Repeat on the other three wheels.
 

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Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see anything about adjusting the shoes. Unless the shoes are ALL properly adjusted, you'll get a ridiculous amount of pedal travel.

Tighten the brake until you can barely turn the wheel with a lot of effort. Back off one click at a time until the wheel turns easily, with slight drag. Repeat on the other three wheels.
THIS^^^^^

I just installed my new 9" with 11 x 2 1/4" drums and I thought I was going crazy trying to bleed my brakes, granted one brand new wheel cylinder was bad(missing an inner seal, quality control?) not getting any pedal. I had to readjust both my emergency brake and shoes. It was time consuming but it was not air in the system as it was not properly adjusted brakes.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Yes brakes were carefully adjusted upon installation per the Ford Shop Manual. New shoes, front and back, new drums in rear.
 

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I guess if you wanted to check if it was your drum adjustment vs. some other problem in the system, you could adjust all your drums TIGHT (so the wheels won't turn) and then see if your pedal response is any better. I'd guess that it'll still have the same problem based on what you've said in other posts, but that would be a good way to eliminate drum adjustment as a problem, even if it would be a PITA.
 
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Yes brakes were carefully adjusted upon installation per the Ford Shop Manual. New shoes, front and back, new drums in rear.
The Ford Manual procedure depends on the perfect function of the self-adjusters to do the work for you. Now go back and do it the way my Grandad taught me. That method works perfectly even if your self-adjusters are not working, or if you have an older car that didn't have them at all.
 

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Unless the shoes are ALL properly adjusted, you'll get a ridiculous amount of pedal travel.

Tighten the brake until you can barely turn the wheel with a lot of effort. Back off one click at a time until the wheel turns easily, with slight drag. Repeat on the other three wheels.
That's the way it we did it back in the day.

ex-Global West GM
1991-1995
 
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Discussion Starter #34
Wow, I'm overwhelmed by all the replies and help. Unfortunately I probably won't get to very much this weekend, we have the house up for sale and I got a long honeydew list. But there are a lot of good suggestions and failure is not an option.

Gregg
 

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I agree with @GT289 I never bench bleed either. I fill with fluid after it's in the car. To bleed, I pump the brakes a couple times. I don't know if it does anything or not. Then I have a piece of 2x4 that I put between the pedal and front seat after I have pushed the pedal down. Then I crack the flare nuts . Once the bubbles are gone, I'm done. I do the same for the calipers or drums if I have to bleed them. Works great for me. I don't need a second person.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
I got out there this weekend and started working through your suggestions and I am delighted to report that the problem has been resolved.

I ordered the braided lines that Kelly suggested, it seemed that it could be the solution to my problem or a good upgrade at the very least. This weekend with the new lines in hand I figured I had nothing to lose by pinching off the individual hoses one by one and checking pedal feel. The first hose I pinched was the front left, immediately the pedal got hard. Pinching the other two lines in sequence or any combination either had no effect or only improved pedal fell when the front left was closed. I replaced my old lines with the braided steel lines bled out all the bubbles and still no pedal feel. Honestly when I said I had adjusted the brakes according to the Shop Manual I had only done the rears when I recently replaced a wheel cylinder and cleaned, lubed and adjusted the E brakes. The fronts were completely refreshed years ago and I assumed everything in there was OK. They were not OK.

When I opened up the front left cylinder the entire adjustment mechanism dropped out on the ground. I popped it back in and adjusted it out far enough for the shoes to drag a little when spinning the drum. Before I buttoned up this side I noticed that one of the rubber boots was not secured on the wheel cylinder, the piston was in place and it wasn't wet with brake fluid inside the brake assembly so I just popped it back on.

The right front was also lacking any adjustment but all the parts were in place so I just had a lot of adjustment to make.

As soon as I sat in the seat and pushed the pedal I could feel the improvement. The pedal went down about 1 and 1/2 inches and then it was like it hit something hard. It hasn't felt this solid since I started the restoration eight years ago. I am over the moon pleased with how it feels now. The first time out they pulled pretty hard to the left but after a few miles I can barely feel it.

After the Arning drop and the suspension refresh it's like driving a different car, I couldn't be happier.

I want to thank everyone that took the time to offer suggestions, I listened to all of them and was fully ready to to try each and every one to them to get this problem fixed. But in the end it was probably my own fault for being so sure of myself that I just didn't do my due diligence by checking my own work.

You guys and gals are the best. Gonna go for another drive.

[][][](o)[][][]

Gregg
 

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thanks for sharing. enjoy the ride. :)
 

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Glad to hear that you got it sorted out! And hey, now you have some fancy new flex lines that will never go bad on you, so you can eliminate those as a problem down the line.

Enjoy the rest of your summer driving!
 
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