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hydrovac delete?

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  • Brakes: hydrovac delete?

    My car is a 1955 President Y series four-door. I passed the first year of ownership a few days ago and plan on keeping and driving the thing for a long time.
    Its a excellent running car, a pleasure on the road except I have lost confidence in the power brakes. I am on the third unit since this spring. The hydrovac is working, I just want to eliminate the thing.
    I would like to find a non-power brake pedal to convert to standard brakes. To do this I need:
    536141 brake pedal (non P/B)
    535189 return spring (non-P/B)
    534901 rod, pedal to master cylinder (non-P/B)
    NOS parts would be nice but used would be acceptable.
    I suspect pedals from a Lark might fit up to the changeover to suspended pedals. I have no idea how much earlier a pedal would work.
    I have contacted what I consider the major parts suppliers, Steven Allen, S.I. and Chuck Collins with no luck. Well, the return spring is out there from all three suppliers but thats all.
    I have a feeling most of the hydrovac units being rebuilt may have been rebuilt once too often. The last unit I installed the machined (cast in?) concentric rings on the brake fluid inlet casting (where the banjo fitting copper washer seats) were galled and I had a hard time getting a tight seal.
    Before someone suggests the new (not rebuilt) units that was the first thing I tried. It didn't work.

  • #2
    Jim, it is to be hoped someone here comes through with your needed parts, as three failures would sour anyone on hydrovacs.

    Having said that, there were millions of hydrovac units used on trucks and cars over a long span of time. There is no fundamental reason they can't function as designed. The first unit on my pickup was still working after more than forty years and it was only rebuilt as part of a complete brake system rebuild and it's been good for another twenty years; so far, so good.

    If I'd paid the asking price for a new or rebuilt hydrovac and upon installation it had problems, I'd be asking the vendor to replace it with one which works as it should.

    jack vines


    • #3
      The standard (long) brake pedal was the only one used on all cars before 55, there are plenty of them around, as well as the actuator rod. I think the spring was the same on both types.
      64 GT Hawk (K7)
      1970 Avanti (R3)


      • #4
        It will be a safer car sans Hydrovac. The one on our 58 Packard failed in a big way; abig puff of white smoke ( brake fluid pulled out of booster into the engine and suddenly no brakes) My 61 Hawk that I've had since 1970 had PS & PB. Sometime in the 70's replaced it with a NOS Newman & Altman booster ( $25--those were the days!) The new one enentually needed a rebuild. A few years ago I found a correct non PB brake pedal in the junkyard and deleted the %*# thing. The brakes are far better now than they ever have been. The important thing is to find the correct brake pedal. It is longer and I believe it might also offer greater mechanical advantage. Do not delete unless you replace the pedal. Oh, forgot that the booster failed on the Avanti failed many yrs ago sending into the back of a Rambler station wagon. Not a scratch on the AMC. Several grand on the Avanti. You will be happier and safer without it.


        • #5
          Thanks for the comments.
          Jack is right, there probably isn't a reason the hydrovac shouldn't perform as designed.
          However, working behind a local NAPA affiliate counter in the early to mid-sixties I can well recall my bosses shudder whenever a Bendix (rebuilt) unit went across the counter. The return rate was high and so was the customer irritation level.

          The second unit failure was very close to the situation Jeffry has described with his 58 Packard, a run down the Maine Turnpike/ US95 for ~ 125 miles at highway speed and forty some miles of stop and go to my garage with no braking problems. The next morning, not a sign of any brakes or fluid in the M/C. When I removed the hydrovac there was fluid in the vacuum line to the intake manifold. The supplier replaced the unit, it had around 2000 miles on it.
          Unfortunately Studebakers and junkyards (salvage yards) don't seem to co-exist any more, but it seems like there should be a pedal and rod kicking around someplace.


          • #6
            I am quite sure that Tom Karkiewicz in South Bend Indiana would be able to help you, (574)287-5834, evenings.