View Full Version : Things to do when the brake booster is out.

08-23-2009, 12:55 PM
Another "how a half-hour job can turn into an all-day ordeal" type of post:

Working on the Avanti I got from Bob Peterson. It was apparent the day we loaded the car on my trailer that the brake booster was leaking vacuum in a big way, so I had planned on replacing it. This past week, I took a spare disc brake style power booster from its resting place in the barn, and dropped it off at a rebuild shop in Calgary. Picked it up on Friday, all done, for $275. I figure that's a decent price, and the service is excellent.

So yesterday morning, I figured I'd pop it into the Avanti. Removed the old booster. That was a piece of cake, except for the nut on the lower left that resisted all the way off, and could only be moved fifteen degrees at a time with a box-end wrench. At least I could work on my suntan while wrenching.

With the booster set aside, I had a dandy view of a grungy steering box and frame rail. I also noticed that the cable from the starter solenoid to the starter was routed wrong, passing between the steering box and the exhaust manifold. Might as well fix that, eh?

So I jacked up the corner of the car, and put a block of wood under the front tire to protect me if the jack should let go, and got under there and removed the cable from the starter. Surprise, surprise! Another one of those nuts that fights turning until the last thread is freed. Fortunately, the stud in the starter stayed put. Well, it was a steel nut, and it had a rusted and burnt look to it, as did the eye terminal on the end of the starter cable. Sort of explains that hard cranking that Bob had mentioned to me.

With the starter cable out, I found it was missing insulation for about two inches where it had passed by the exhaust manifold, and the wire was green and crusty. And it was too short, at least too short to be routed the way it's supposed to be. I went into the barn, where I have starter and battery cables hung on nails driven into one of the posts (one of my better efforts at organizing used parts). A brief perusal of the wares on offer found a cable two inches longer that was in fine shape. I recognized it as the one that had come out of the '56 Commander I'd parted out a couple of weeks ago.

I shined up the terminals with a wire brush, applied a little black tape to one end where the insulation had shrunk back from the terminal, and taped up a thin spot in the fabric loom covering the wire. Not pretty as new, but 100% serviceable. I also found a brass nut and a shakeproof washer.

Before installing the "new" starter cable, I got a can of solvent and a brush and putty knife, and cleaned as much crud as I could reach off the steering box and adjacent frame rail. Followed that up with a shot of black spraycan paint on the inner fender, where some of the car's original gold paint still showed. I guess when the car was repainted they left the booster in place.

The new starter cable fits perfectly, and now goes through its proper clip on the frame just aft of the steering box, which I topped up with fresh oil while the booster was out, too.

I got the new booster installed, which went very easily because I didn't have to fight crusty threads on the studs. I noticed that there was no return spring on the brake pedal, nor did there appear to have ever been one. I took the pedal out of the car, polished some rust off the pivot pin, and used my drill press to drill a small hole in the arm just below the point where the push rod connects. Sprayed the modified pedal arm with nice flat black trim paint while it was out. With the arm reinstalled, I found a suitable spring in my junk box, and hooked it from the newly-drilled hole to the rear edge of the pedal support structure. Works perfectly, too.

Back under the hood, I got rid of a crappy yellow ground wire from the added-on Chrysler electronic ignition module to the brake booster, and cut an existing ground wire, and put eye terminals on each cut end, fastening them under one of the mounting screws for the module. Just to make things a little neater under there.

Job d

08-23-2009, 01:05 PM
I've heard it said before, Gord, You're having too much fun when your not in the oil patch.

Tom Bredehoft
'53 Commander Coupe (since 1959)
'55 President (6H Y6) State Sedan
....On the road, again....
'05 Legacy Ltd Wagon
All Indiana built cars

08-23-2009, 01:26 PM

Yup! Hear you loud and strong, but that's why we love this hobby.:D



08-23-2009, 06:05 PM
Heh - is it EVER as simple as you think it's gonna be??? I wonder why I keep deluding myself into that outlook. "Oh yeah. 15 minutes and I'll be cruisin' again!"[}:)]

1957 Transtar 1/2ton
1963 Cruiser
1960 Larkvertible V8
1958 Provincial wagon
1953 Commander coupe
1957 President two door

08-23-2009, 06:30 PM
Gord maybe when we have those days when things arent going as planned maybe we should just go on to something else like cutting the grass ;)

08-23-2009, 11:39 PM
You know, there IS grass to be cut. But I was having fun. It's part of the game. I got several issues on the car fixed, and didn't lose any skin in the process. And I'm not working to a deadline, so no reason to be frustrated.

Today I pulled the left front brake caliper apart. Pistons were rusted into the bores, which explains the hard pedal. Lots of meat on the pads, though. I got the pistons out, with some effort, and glass bead blasted all the parts. Some deep pits in the cylinder bores. I had another set of calipers in a box, off another black '63 Avanti, curiously enough. They had been glass-beaded as complete units. I disassembled the left one, and re-blasted the components. While there are some pits in the bores, I think they will work for the time being. The badly-pitted cylinder will have to go out for resleeving. Any recommendations for for that service?

Before I put the "new" calipers on, I will pop the rotor off, and clean and repack the front wheel bearings, which should be a standard part of a brake job, anyway.

Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

08-24-2009, 11:28 PM
Back at it today. Took the backing plate and caliper bracket off the left side, and glass-beaded and painted them with some black satin trim paint. The dread "might-as-wells" struck again, and I cleaned and degreased the spindle and suspension arms, and painted them as well. They actually were already quite clean; must have had work more or less recently. I also chipped about half a pound of road tar and gravel out of the front fender.

The bottom panel of the left frame rail had separated at a number of the spot welds, so I clamped it tight and MIG welded it back solidly at several places, then ground the welds smooth. Then I hit the frame rail and suspension with the black satin paint. It now looks pretty nice again.

Reassembled the caliper and got it mounted again, and repacked the wheel bearings, and mounted the rotor, too. While doing the wheel bearings, I made an interesting discovery: some previous owner had replaced the standard castellated spindle nuts with "micrometric nuts." You used to see these advertised in magazines like Motor Trend and Mechanix Illustrated. They are a two-part nut, consisting of a thin inner hex nut with a shoulder on the outboard face. This shoulder has dozens of very fine splines on it. The outer section is a round collar with internal splines to lock over the ones on the inner nut, plus a drilled cross-hole for the cotter pin. In use, you tighten the inner nut to the desired point, then fit the collar on over the splines, with the cross-hole lined up with the cotter pin hole in the spindle. They were sold on the premise that you did not have to compromise a "perfect" bearing adjustment in order to make the castellated nut line up with the cotter pin hole in the spindle.

So now the left front brake is all done, except for bleeding it, which will have to wait until the right front is also done. I am well along there, with the brake disassembled and all the components through the bead blaster, and the suspension and frame rail cleaned and painted. But I still have to reassemble the caliper and pack the wheel bearings.

This car was apparently in a front end collision at some time. The bumper brackets are all new, and have never seen paint. And the right front frame horn, forward of the crossmember, has been bent, and sort of straightened. Still has a kink in it about 2" ahead of the crossmember. I think eventually I will cut off the damaged portion (about one foot), and replace it with a good piece cut off a Lark frame. Access to this area is actually pretty good, but I have a 4-post hoist ordered, and putting the car on the hoist will make that job a whole lot easier. The frame back of the crossmember looks fine, as do what I can see of the hog troughs.

Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

08-25-2009, 04:33 AM
quote:Originally posted by gordr

I think eventually I will cut off the damaged portion (about one foot), and replace it with a good piece cut off a Lark frame.

Isn't it GREAT you can do that, and not have to get some high-zoot Avanti-only part?[^]

Robert (Bob) Andrews- on the IoMT (Island of Misfit Toys)
Parish, central NY 13131

08-25-2009, 09:45 AM
Right, Bob. There really are a huge number of Avanti parts that are shared with other Studebakers, and that's a good thing.

I've been thinking about the frame damage, and before cutting the frame horn off, I may try straightening it in place. I have one of those "duck bill" spreaders in a Porta-Power kit, and if I cut an opening in the bottom skin of the frame, it might have enough power to spread the collapsed area back to spec. Certainly worth a try.

Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

Skip Lackie
08-25-2009, 10:52 AM
Dave Thiebault (sp?) does a nice job rebuilding Stude calipers. And White Post Restorations (Virginia) does a big resleeving business.

Skip Lackie
Washington DC