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Old 01-22-2009, 05:59 PM
1953 Homer's Avatar
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Rambler brakes

OK, I need some brake help. I have rebuilt many brakes on new and old cars and trucks, but this one has be baffled. My '62 Rambler Classic with Wagner manual drum brakes was scary to drive. The pedal felt form enough, but I could not lock the tires if my life depended on it.

Here's what I did:
1. Replaced all hoses, replace all wheel cylinders, cleaned all parts, inspected shoes, drums, etc (all good)
2. Adjusted all wheels to drag slightly, bled all wheels to remove all bubbles and flushed lines until clear fluid came out.

Here's the results:
1. The brakes still suck. I know the M/C (dual system) was rebuilt the year before I bought the car (last year), but I suspect it is bad; leaking internally.
2. I had the wife step on the pedal while I turned each wheel. Braking force did not stop the wheel until the pedal was near the floor. I have lots of M/C displacement before and wheel force is applied.

A Wagner M/C is very expensive so I have not replaced this yet.

My questions are:
1. I can get a Bendix M/C much cheaper, (1/4th the price) will it function properly in the Wagner system?
2. Can I substitute a power M/C for the one in my manual system?
3. Should I give up and install a Nova or Mustang M/C and replumb it. I would like to keep it stock, but I really need it to stop. HELP!!

Mike K

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Old 01-22-2009, 06:07 PM
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Can you buy a kit for that M/C?
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:12 AM
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Master cyl

Since you are familar with the Mustang master (in your '53 Ford?) use a NEW '67 Mustang master(not rebuilt) for a drum brake car and check push rod length,I see pics on websites where the pushrod is included with the master,then you should be in business.
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Old 02-08-2009, 12:48 PM
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You can get a kit for the Wagner MC, but if the bore and some of the other hard parts are worn it's not much good. I've rebuilt one before then had to turn around and replace it.

A Bendix MC works just as well. Some of the Wagner MCs have stepped bores, but a constant bore Bendix MC will work just fine. Your 62 Classic has a straight 1" bore, so that's good. Unless you really want to keep it all original I'd replace it with the easier to find Bendix MC. One from a later model Rambler (67-69 American) or Hornet (70-72) will work fine. The Mustang MC mentioned should work also, as long as it has a 1" bore.

Looking at the service manual, it lists the following for a low pedal:
1. Brakes in need of adjustment -- This is a possibility! I know it has self-adjusting brakes (or should), but are you sure they are adjusted right and working? you might try adjusting the brake shoes manually, then try the self-adjusters. The self-adjusting mechanism only works when backing up then applying brakes, not on forward movement. If the brakes are way out of adjustment (shoes too far from the drum), the self-adjusters may not work right.

2. Damaged brake shoes - distorted -- this should be obvious on inspection.

3. Air in system -- I think you've covered that!

4. Fluid leaks -- would be obvious.

5. Defective primary cups -- these are the seals in the MC.

6. Low on fluid -- I'm sure you've checked that out!

7. Defective rear piston cup on secondary cylinder -- also seals in the MC.

Other than possibly mis-adjusted shoes, it looks like the MC should be replaced or rebuilt.

If you change to a Bendix MC, you will need to change the brake lines to the MC. Wagner MCs use large flare nuts, usually two different sizes to prevent crossing the lines, but I have seen one with one large and one standard flare nut. Just disconnect the lines at the junction block and replace the short length from there to the MC. The back line may need to be cut and flared -- some of them go way back before there's a break or junction. Might be a good time to replace the line all the way to the rear though, it IS old!

I don't know if the 67 Mustang MC has a place for a pressure brake light switch or not, probably does. If not, just put a T in the line to the rear brakes and screw the switch in there. That also makes a nice breaking point to run a short line to the MC. Or you can pull the wires from the switch inside to a pedal mounted switch. A normally closed momentary push-button is all you need. Mount it so that the pedal pushes the button down when up, and releases the button when the pedal is pressed, closing the contacts and completing the circuit. If you keep the pressure switch that's fine, but don't use those generic parts store switches. They are okay for an occasional driver, but for a daily driver they last 6-8 months. Best is to get one from Ron Francis. Their's lasts! It costs 2-3 times what a generic will run, but you won't need to replace it ever 2-3 years either (or 6-8 months if a daily driver).
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