400GT Flex Lines
400GT Flex Lines
As I was changing the left rear hub bearings on the 400GT, I noticed the rubber flexible brake lines were hard as a rock and had probably never been changed on this car. The proof was the original plastic factory clips were still on the lines. Having something this old on a car made me me call the owner to discuss what to do. I explained to him the brakes felt O.K. but the old lines were well overdue to be changed. Normally, replacing the soft lines on a car is pretty straightforward and a no-brainer on going ahead with the job, but on this particular brake system found on 400GTs, it had the potential to be painful. Ferraris from the early 70s to mid 80s used a dual circuit brake system that had two hydraulic lines feeding each caliper. I don’t believe there was much benefit from this over complication because no one uses this system today. Unfortunately, on the Ferraris with this dual system, access is tight, the securing nuts are often seized, and getting the soft brake lines installed can sometimes cause more time than one would expect. I warned the owner that what starts as a simple job had the potential to be several hours of skinned knuckles, cursing, and extra labor. It was not a job I was looking forward to, and was not really volunteering to do, but for the sake of safety, it was prudent to do this job now.
Unfortunately, with a 400GT, the cost of repairs is the same as it is for a Half-a-million-dollar-Daytona, so the motivation is different. That is often the case with lower prices Ferraris: the labor and parts to keep them running is the same. The owner of this 400GT is committed to making his car right, and does not want to short-cut the maintenance, but one can understand the struggles. I see this problem all the time at the shop with other cars that have recently gone up in price. A perfect example is the 330GT. Series II 330GTs have gone from being $120K cars from 2 years ago to $250-$300K cars today. This fast rise in prices has brought a lot of cars onto the market, but some of them were maintained much like the $40K cars they were 15 years ago! I often inspect cars being offered for top dollar that look shiny and new, but underneath show unrestored suspensions, leaking seals, and a whole host of problems in their engines. When these 2+2s were cheap Ferraris, their owners didn’t all maintain them with a budget commiserate to a much more expensive car. I have no problem with people paying the rising prices for good Ferraris, but they need to watch out for the cars that may look like good cars, but hide a whole lifetime of deferred maintenance.
I started the brake line replacement at the rear of the car, and found the easiest way to get the lines out was to cut them out.
Installing the new lines requires some specially bent wrenches and some well placed swear words directed to the engineers that had no care for the mechanics that work on these cars! You can see in this picture of the front brake lines how limited the space is to get a wrench on the brake lines. Access from the other side is limited because the engine is in the way!
After putting in the new brake lines, I reassembled the left rear hub and brake assembly. Changing out the axle bearings required disconnecting the parking brake cable from the brake shoes, so I had to get that all hooked up again. It took a little bit of fiddling, but I eventually got everything back in place and working safely.
Save the Date! The 7th Annual Radcliffe/Tomyang.net Spring Car Show Saturday May 3rd 2014 celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Introduction of the 330GT!
Spectators are free, but Registration of show cars are limited for a small fee. Details can be found on the Radcliffe Website.
You can also Richard Garre at:
12340 Owings Mills Boulevard
Reisterstown, Maryland 21136
Reminder: If you have a Ferrari related project, car, or idea you’d like to explore, I’d love to talk to you. I can also help if you’re thinking of buying or selling. This website represents what I love to do, and now it’s how I make a living, so if you’d like to do something together, let me know. It all begins with an e-mail!
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