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  • Brakes: New but soft and spongy brakes

    Hi All,

    The 53 is officially a driver now. We're trying to get the brakes as firm as possible but having some trouble getting rid of the "spongy" pedal. Would love to hear what you've encountered when replacing the brake system and your solutions.

    Regards,
    John Brayton

  • #2
    Congrats on getting that Stude on the road! There are several reasons for the brakes to be spongy but there are two most common. The first is air in the lines. Air is more compressable that brake fluid. The second is new brake shoes. If they are new and especially if the drums/rotors were not turned, it will take to usage for the shoes to wear to the drums/rotors.
    1948 M15A-20 Flatbed Truck Rescue
    See rescue progress here on this blog:
    http://studem15a-20.blogspot.com/

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    • #3
      Hi John,

      Thanks for the response! The drums were turned and we've bled the lines. I'm assuming (silly thing to do) that the shoes need to wear into the drums but am surprised just how soft the pedal is. We're trying to speed the wearing in process by riding the brakes as we do the test runs. Although they have firmed up a bit I would NOT want to be driving in traffic.

      Regards,
      John Brayton

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      • #4
        Unfortunately, all these measurements are subjective. If you are used to driving vehicles with power brakes then a non-power brake vehicle will always feel spongy... In this modern day world where we are used to the higher speeds and stops and the old vehicles seem inadequate. Part of the process of newly owning and driving these old vehicles is to re-learn and accommodate their deficiencies. I have learned to brake a little early and to be careful where I put my brake foot (the brake pedal is very close to the accelerator pedal)... Maybe you could drive it around more in less traffic to brake those shoes in and get used to it?

        If you do drive one of these oldies on a regular basis and feel that it is spongy then you must have a problem with the brakes somewhere...
        1948 M15A-20 Flatbed Truck Rescue
        See rescue progress here on this blog:
        http://studem15a-20.blogspot.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          I have a 55 and replaced all the lines, shoes and cylinders. Mine are rock solid and it still takes time to stop compared to my Acura. Like John M15 stated, I start braking much earlier and don't panic stop. I think the 53/54 had smaller brakes than the 55. It takes concentration to drive these cars. I'm lucky I haven't burned a hole in my pants from all the times the cigarette went flying while I was trying to concentrate on stopping my car. It takes a lot of effort to stand on the pedal. If your's are still soft, there has to be air in there somewhere. Good luck.
          Dave Warren (Perry Mason by day, Perry Como by night)

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          • #6
            Bleed, bleed & bleed some more!

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            • #7
              What Skyway said. Also...

              I've found that there are two ways of adjusting brakes. When I got my car from the (thoroughly reputable ) rebuilders the brakes were soft and wanted to pull to the right. I dickered with both front brakes until they were balanced.

              Later I heard (and time had passed and I wanted to make sure my brakes were OK) that you adjusted the star wheel until you couldn't manually turn the wheel then back it off 8 clicks.

              I did this and about went through the windshield the first time I had to hit the brakes. No pull and all the brakes I wanted. This was on my '53 with '55 Commander brakes all around.

              When I was prepping my '55 for driving, (power brakes left off to see if I needed them) I adjust ed the brakes the same way. They take a little more foot pressure (pedal leverage is shorter) but the car still will make a panic stop.

              But you gotta do a lot of bleeding.

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              • #8
                Hi Guys,

                This is exactly the type of information I'm looking for....real life experiences with older brake systems. I'll have the 53 back on the lift Monday or Tuesday next week will bleed it again and adjust the brakes as well. Taking the 53 to Joseph, Oregon for the Oregon Mountain Cruise on June 8th. and do not want any brake related mishaps.

                Regards,
                John Brayton

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                • #9
                  If you have the hill-holder option, you will need to bleed the no-roll valve. As I recall from when I owned a 51 Commander it was not easy to get at.
                  Dan Peterson
                  Montpelier, VT
                  1960 Lark V-8 Convertible
                  1960 Lark V-8 Convertible (parts car)

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