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StudeNewby
06-25-2016, 09:25 PM
Last Saturday my wife April, her friend Lisa, and I took off in Stuey, our trusty 64 Champ, to enjoy the bargain hunting found in the 100-Mile Yard Sale lining US 301 near our home. One deal we found was a cement mixer at an antique store in Lucama, NC. We didn't get it at the time, but April, the fixer-upper/construction guru in the family, wanted to go back today and see if it was still available.

So this morning she and I crawled in Stuey, fired him up and started backing down the driveway. It was then that it happened. As we were maneuvering between my daily driver and my daughter's car, I went to tap the brake...and the pedal went to the floor. I pumped it quickly a couple of times to test not only the brakes, but also my own senses...was I dreaming? Instinctively I pulled the emergency brake to halt our (thankfully) slow backwards drift and announced the obvious to April.

It was just moments later that I realized how fortunate we were. There had been no warning that the most important system on the vehicle was nearing a complete failure. We could have been anywhere and at any speed when it let go, and even worse, it could have been my wife, by herself, behind the wheel, as she often runs errands on Stuey.

I share this with you first to publicly thank the Lord for protecting us from harm. My second reason is to encourage all of you to not put too much trust in what are now at least 50-year-old safety systems. Even though my mechanic and I had inspected the lines previously, I had not done a complete check of the drums, calipers, etc. (I still don't know what happened, but my MC is all but dry. Have found no puddles, either.) Don't take undue chances: You may not be in your driveway when the brakes fail.

RadioRoy
06-25-2016, 10:22 PM
Please let us know what failed, once you figure it out.

jclary
06-25-2016, 10:36 PM
Depending on where you park your truck, over concrete or gravel, it is possible your brake fluid could have escaped past your master cylinder seals and not left a puddle. For days now, our temperatures have been in the mid to high 90's. At these temps, what brake fluid that did leak out, could have been vaporized. As you probably know, leaking wheel cylinders usually leave signs on the inside of your wheels and tires.

Speaking of counting your blessings, discovering it, as you did, is a blessing in itself.:!: Since I've never owned a Studebaker as new as a '64, I'll reserve comment, on the specifics, for those with first hand knowledge.;)

dean pearson
06-25-2016, 10:48 PM
Well thank goodness you and yours are safe!
It's a good thing like you said it was you driving and it didn't happen to your wife driving through city streets.
You are lucky it could have been terrible. I too am interested to know the cause.

Dean.

sals54
06-25-2016, 11:58 PM
Ditto folks. I went on a jaunt in my GT several years ago with no problems at all. On the return trip, I was coming to a stop sign, just two blocks from home when the MC went out. Pedal to the floor.... nuttin. Luckily, it was a 4 speed car, so down shifting I went... rather rapidly, then e-braked my way home. Yeah, we gotta be on our toes with these cars, thats fer sher.

studeclunker
06-26-2016, 12:17 AM
I used to have a '59 Rambler Custom. I was driving into downtown Santa Ana one afternoon on an errand and, approaching a red light, started to brake. Nothing the pedal went to the floor with zero resistance. Nothing at all. Talk about nearly having a heart-attack! Thankfully there wasn't anyone in front of me and I zoomed through that red light. Also thankfully there wasn't any cross-traffic either! I stamped on the parking brake and the rear wheels locked up, upon which I pressed the P button on the transmission selector. The car slammed to a stop, right in front of a brake shop. I then pressed the button for first gear and crawled into their parking lot. It was pure Providence that the people who owned the shop were pretty decent people. They said all the car needed was a new MC. However they also suggested a complete brake overhaul and offered me a very good deal on the process (everything, rebuilt wheel-cylinders, new flex-hoses, MC and all). So, I emptied all my piggy-banks to pay for it and was broke for a few months. I think Mummy-Dearest also chipped in a hundred dollars or so, feeling it was a good investment. Same thing as Stuey, no warning, no indications of any kind, just out of the blue, no brakes at all. All the rest of my vehicles either had squishy brakes or some kind of warning first.

StudeRich
06-26-2016, 01:09 AM
A '64 Champ has a Firewall mounted Master Cylinder, so it would be pretty easy to not notice fluid running down the firewall under the M/C almost out of sight and it has a long way to travel before dropping to the ground, so a lot of it will cling to the Truck Cab instead of falling. The Main rubber cup on the end of the Spring in there, may be bi-passing Fluid.

GrumpyOne
06-26-2016, 05:26 AM
I've suffered two brake failures, both on my old Avanti. One was a caliper lock up that decided to manifest itself when out of state and the second when a line burst that also occurred out of state. In both cases, I "nursed" the car back home.

Not an experience I wish to repeat...

1954khardtop
06-26-2016, 06:55 AM
Glad you're OK, and that it happened where and when it did.

Pancho
06-26-2016, 09:54 AM
I'm always happy to hear folks who can find the good in a bad situation. This story confirms the modifications I'm making to my car.

Robert Crandall
06-26-2016, 10:05 AM
I am slowly converting my relics to dual master cylinders with the hope that only half of my brakes will fail at one time. If trucks were like cars, then 1964 would have a dual master cylinder, so if a complete failure can still occur, then that makes me interested to find out what would cause both chambers to empty at once.

ddub
06-26-2016, 11:06 AM
64 Champs came with single MC. I have had mine converted to dual MC.

swvalcon
06-26-2016, 11:13 AM
Good reason to convert to a dual system and always be sure to see that the e-brake works.

rstrasser
06-26-2016, 01:34 PM
A few things I have noticed with dual cylinder brakes. When a brake line breaks the pedal goes to about 1 inch from the floor before you have any brakes. By that time your pants are wet or worse.
Another thing on some cars with a dual cylinder brake system, the fluid reservoir is common between them. I almost think my old Dakota is that way even though it has two filler caps. Not sure what a dual system is good for when you loose all the fluid.
Ron

StudeNewby
06-26-2016, 01:53 PM
Thanks for the kind thoughts and words. I'll be looking into the issue this week and will post my findings. While I may not be able do it immediately, switching to a dual MC and upgrading to front discs is on the list.

jclary
06-26-2016, 02:21 PM
A few things I have noticed with dual cylinder brakes. When a brake line breaks the pedal goes to about 1 inch from the floor before you have any brakes. By that time your pants are wet or worse.
Another thing on some cars with a dual cylinder brake system, the fluid reservoir is common between them. I almost think my old Dakota is that way even though it has two filler caps. Not sure what a dual system is good for when you loose all the fluid.
Ron

While I have experienced brake "malfunction" with dual master cylinder vehicles, I've never had total brake "failure." I believe there's a distinction. The worst total brake failure I ever experienced, was back in the 1970's. I was much younger, of course, and still clinging to the lingering "invincibility" foolishness that wanes with the fading ignorance of youth, and as wisdom accumulates with age.:whome: It was at a meet, over two hundred miles from home. I proudly arrived in my jet black (No air-conditioner) '62 Four Speed GT Hawk. My long suffering hot wife, and on that day, prickly heat suffering daughter, along for the ride.:(

As I pulled in, I steered toward a nicely restored, polished, flock of Studebaker vehicles, including a few Avanti's. As I attempted to slow, to my horror, brake pedal found the floor with no sign of slowing. I quickly grabbed the hand brake, and turned the wheel simultaneously. Managed to avoid the cars, and feigning cool...as if "I meant to do that,":rolleyes: and guided the car to a stop at a nearby picnic table.:) Remembering this, is nothing to be proud of.:o Because, in the trunk was a bag of tools, bottle of brake fluid, and a spare master cylinder. In less than an hour, although my back was soiled with sand and pine needles, I was back in business with another master cylinder.;)

What that indicates...is that I already had warnings that the brakes were suspect, and a mature, caring, father, would have never left home until it was OK from the start.:oops:

As for dual chamber master-cylinders...they provide an extra level of safety. Most of the ones I've observed, even the ones with elongated common covers, have fluid chambers separated by baffles. On common reservoir types, they have clear or opaque chambers, clearly marked to view min/max fluid levels. Having dual chamber master-cylinder, and the extra level of safety they provide, does not mean they can be neglected. The same attention to detail, as required for a single cylinder system, still applies.

On the original poster's situation. I had not considered the firewall mounted brake cylinder. I have had malfunctions on firewall mounted brake, and hydraulic clutch, slave cylinders. On those, if it is the main master cylinder plunger seals, they can leak fluid inside, behind your carpet, insulation, and sound deadener material. When that happens, it can go on for some time before you notice. Even then, you should feel the pedal creeping forward under pressure, and/or detect the odor of brake fluid.

Flashback
06-26-2016, 04:58 PM
Thanks for sharing. I removed everything on my brake system on my 53 and started new. dual M/C (and there are 2 fluidd compartments), all new lines , disc brakes front and rear, all new hoses. Still could have a failure. Dad told me they couldn't hurt you if they didn't start , but they could if they didn't stop. Thanks for the public acknowledgement or our Lord's protection.

1oldtimer
06-26-2016, 08:58 PM
Remember to check everywhere carefully, I lost a brake line on my '60 El Camino in a drive thru (lucky , because I live on a STEEP hill next to a freeway). Towed it to work and found the the line rubbed though on the rear end under a factory clip, the only way to see it before it went was to pry the clip open, pop the line out and inspect it.

One memory I have is watching a old suicide door Lincoln hit cars on the bottom of a long downhill in a intersection in the 80's. I was walking home from school and was almost at the top of the hill on Coast Hwy, when I heard a loud boom......never will forget it.

StudeNewby
06-26-2016, 10:15 PM
...As you probably know, leaking wheel cylinders usually leave signs on the inside of your wheels and tires.

And we have a winner! This afternoon I had my first chance to crawl around to peer for evidence. Sure enough, I found the proverbial smoking gun...in the form of a fluid-soaked left rear wheel and tire.
So now my questions begin. I've only worked on disc brakes previously and then only changing the pads. What do I need to be aware of when I open up this drum? As always, your sage advice is welcome. Hopefully I can do most of this work myself, learning as I go, and not endangering anyone with the finished product! :o

studeclunker
06-27-2016, 01:50 AM
On mine, when I've had leakage problems with the wheel cylinders, I've replaced them. Usually all four at once, then bled the system. Found a really Cracker-Jack vacuum pump for bleeding brakes at Kragen's.

Mrs K Corbin
06-27-2016, 07:03 AM
I '07 I had a rear wheel cyl blow-out on my '50 2R5 within blocks of the SNM while coming up to a red light. it soaked the brake linings and so no-ebrake either. unable to downshift with the O.D. Tranny.
Yanked it over into a fairly empty parking lot and let the 'drifting' begin. You know, it can get downright interesting 'drifting' a '50 Studebaker pickup..

the good news is that I was only doing the speed limit, so maybe 35... Couple donuts and it was slow enough... Once I got over the Heart-Attack, I walked to a brandX dealer and got some fluid. Nursed it to the show field and cleaned it up. Left it for the show and bought some new cylinders and brake shoes while there.

I had stainless lined cylinders and Dot-3 fluid. From now on, it's DOT-5 (silicone) fluid and plain wheel cyl.

StudeNewby
08-10-2016, 09:28 PM
UPDATE: It's been a drawn-out process, but a good one in which I learned a lot. This afternoon I adjusted the new rear brakes and took the Champ out for a succesful test run. When I got back, my wife joined me for an ice cream date at McDonald's. (I take her to all the best places.)
My thanks to everyone here for your advice, but especially to Jamie McLeod (starliner62) for his help in getting the drums off and his expertise!
Next step...a dual master cylinder!

GrumpyOne
08-10-2016, 10:48 PM
UPDATE: It's been a drawn-out process, but a good one in which I learned a lot. This afternoon I adjusted the new rear brakes and took the Champ out for a succesful test run. When I got back, my wife joined me for an ice cream date at McDonald's. (I take her to all the best places.)
My thanks to everyone here for your advice, but especially to Jamie McLeod (starliner62) for his help in getting the drums off and his expertise!
Next step...a dual master cylinder!


Converting to a dual M/C on a truck is an easy task with some added piping and correct M/C. Jim Turner can provide both info and materials...

StudeMichael
08-11-2016, 05:19 PM
I had a 1964 Champ and day I rounded the highway and my then 8 year old son flew right out of the truck onto the rod because the passenger door latch did not hold. Thank God he did not get run over by the car behind him!!