Maintaining the Fleet and More Ferrari Brakes

Maintaining the Fleet and More Ferrari Brakes


I spent today working on all three of my cars trying to get them ready for Spring. It was time to bleed the brakes on my Sunbeam Alpine, and while I was at it I bled the Mustang Fastback as well. Even though my daughter is 6 years old, I’ve been teaching her how to help bleed the brakes. She’s a little short to fully reach the brake pedal, but she manages to lie down in the seat to get the job done. I think my wife is out of a job!

A couple of weeks ago after I drove the Mustang, I saw some coolant on the passenger floor mat. It’s usually the sign of a leaking heater core, but it didn’t seem like that long ago that I rebuilt it, in fact I remember mentioning it on this website….10 and a half years ago! You can see proof of the rebuild here. Can you believe this website’s been around that long? It’s been around longer than blogs were blogs!
heater core

When I pulled the heater box, my suspicions were confirmed with a small heater core leak. I’m kind upset the first heater core lasted over 30 years while the second one only lasted 10 years. Let’s hope I get some more service life out of the new one I bought.
Brake equalizer

Now onto the Ferrari Brakes. I soaked my equalizer unit for week in penetrating oil while I waited for a 41mm 6 point impact socket to arrive in the mail. I’ve been getting some different advice from several experienced sources on how to get this unit apart, and I’ve been trying them one at a time without success. Some people advise a lot of heat, some people advise very little or no heat. After trying to remove the big nut without heat to no affect, I’ve been slowly adding heat, but still no movement.

Here’s one of the helpful pieces of advice:
The units do not really stick. You can confirm this by removing the rubber boot on the end of the unit (if it’s still there), and have someone step hard on the brake pedal. The piston actually moves out of the unit as the pedal is modulated. You can measure the protrusion of the piston, then try and get it to stick. Even with the front brakes locked up you will notice that the piston protrusion is at its normal resting position.

What is happening is there are two flat spots on the piston itself, one of them must line up with the inlet port to the booster. The clearances in the booster are very tight, so even with the piston at it’s resting position, if the flat is in the wrong place it will cause the seal to deform and cover up the inlet port. The flat spot gives the seal an area where is can relax and not block the inlet port.

There are only two seals in the unit, a donut seal on the piston (available from T. Rutlands), and a seal that seal the end of the piston coming out of the cylinder, which is not available, I take a different size donut seal and modify it. If yours is not leaking you can probably just clean it and reuse it. I recommend the use of Simple Green to clean off brake parts/seals, as it doesn’t damage the rubber of the seal.

To get the end cap off, clamp the unit in a good vise with some aluminum soft jaws (to keep from marring it), there are flat spots on the body where you can clamp it. Get a good six point socket that fits well (I think it’s 41 or 46mm) and give it a good hit with an air gun. I would not heat the unit. The housing is very thin in the area where the end cap screws in and will crack very easily.

I don’t recommend removing the unit, as it is there for a reason, but if you eliminate it, most people just cap off the end where the piston comes out. If you do this, make sure to gut the unit (removing everything inside, or it can cause some funky braking problems, don’t ask me how I know).

The brake saga continues…

Mark the date! Saturday, May 8, 2010 will be the Third Annual Radcliffe Motorcar/ Spring Event.

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