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Brake lines, fuel lines and bears, Oh My!!!

mikeinri

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I apologize in advance for this long post, but you''ll probably agree it's amusing if nothing else...

I really need help determining a good reason NOT to finally give up on my 94 Exporer. This could double as a "How's this for a bad day story."

Currently, the truck has 279,000 miles. Original motor and A4LD. I've replaced the normal wear and tear stuff, but u-joints were just about the most extensive repair this truck has needed.

This is our spare vehicle. It gets parked in the back yard (over dirt/grass). The rust underneath is starting to get worse. It doesn't get driven more than a few thousand miles a year (if that) anymore.

Currently, the front wiper isn't working (probably the ground), and the heater isn't working (probably a combination of the motor and speed control resistor). The windshield is cracked, and the inspection sticker is way overdue.

The "big" problem (as of this morning) was that the brakes have been sort of "mushy" since the last brake job I did (about 2 years ago). I just couldn't seem to get a firm pedal regardless of how much bleeding I did. It was OK, so I thought that was just the way the truck was.

I've been driving my 2004 Explorer as my primary vehicle, so I really noticed the difference in the pedal feel. I thought that I should bring this in for a "professsional" opinion before I spend any money on the issues mentioned above.

SO, I took the 94 to Sears today for a brake system diagnosis. Before I left, I was staring at the master cyliner, nice and dry and full. Followed the lines down to the ABS module, no leaks in sight.

On the way to Sears, the brakes performing were just as they have been for the past several weeks: low, but functional and holding (some) pressure. Sadly, I have a lot of experience with full-on leaks (wheel cylinders, broken hard lines, etc.), and this did NOT feel like that AT ALL...

The truck was in the service area for less than 5 minutes, and the manager tells me that as soon as the mechanic touched the brake, it went right to the floor (funny, it didn't do that to me when I drove it in and parked it for them), and the master cyliner is leaking and all my lines are rotted and leaking. They wanted to keep it overnight and work on it tomorrow. I said, no just give me an estimate and show me the leaks...

Nope, we need to put it on a lift first. Next thing you know, they show me a major leak coming out of the rear supply line (runs along the rail from front to back), and a major leak at the Tee on the rear differential. When I saw this, I'm thinking, How did I have any pressure getting here? More on that later...

I sort of won them over when I said, look guys, this thing has 280,000 miles, I can't spend a thousand dollars to fix this problem. Then they pointed out a rusty fuel line and tried to scare me into thinking it would burst at any moment and turn me into a comet on the way home...

As a point of reference, my rusty fuel line had less rust than DeRocha's in this thread: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1011134

One of the mechanics was genuinely looking concerned about all the rust in general, so I asked if it was serious, as in frame damage, or cosmetic. I didn't see anything that looked catastophic, but he said it looked more than cosmetic in a few spots.

They never showed me any leak at the master cylinder (it was still dry when I got it home).

So, I tell them to wrap it up and I'll pay the $15 inspection fee that I agreed to when I got there. They agreed. I went back to the waiting area. One of the mechanics comes out, whispering to the manager and they go off to talk to someone else. The manager comes back a few minutes later, gives me my keys and says I'm all set. I asked about the fee, he said don't worry about it, but he was looking nervous.

I get in the truck, pedal goes RIGHT to the floor... NOT how I brought it in there.

Knowing I'm srewed and have no way to prove it, I managed to drive it home with no pedal (THAT was no fun). Just when you're having a bad enough day, it started sputtering when I stopped in front of my house to check the mail. Started up my driveway (decent hill), and it stalls. Coasted back down the driveway, managed to stop sort of on the side of the road...

Smoke is coming out of the hood. The cap loosened on the power steering fluid, and that appears to have spewed out onto the hot exhaust and engine...

Did I mention the gas gauge isn't working? No gas in my garage gas can, so I'm off to get gas in the (nice, clean) 2004 Explorer. Of course, even though the gas can is tied down (been through this before), it turns over on the way home and spills gas into my cargo bay. I stopped immediately and it "only leaked a little" and it's supposed to rain/snow tomorrow so I really can't leave the windows open...

GOOD NEWS!!!??? Put the gas in, the 94 started right up and I was able to put the thing away for the night.

NOW WHAT???

Seriously, is it worth the time, aggravation and money to replace all the brake lines (they all look awful), and what about the fuel lines? If I can see rust on one fuel line, in one section, should I be worried about the rest?

I've done brake line jobs before, and I know how little fun they are, everything rusted solid together, all the fittings rounding off when you put ANY sort of tool on them, etc.

I've seen the posts here about how much of a bear the fuel line fittings are, and since I'd be under there, I'd take the time to do it right and I'd drop the tank to finally fix the gauge.

IS IT WORTH ANY OF THIS WORK?????

Remember, 279,000 miles, lots of rust, lots of fluid leaks, but runs great!

Mike
 



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mikeinri

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One other question, even if I fix the brake lines, I'm not convinced that the mushy pedal will go away. I really think there's a bigger issue (master cylinder or booster), but I don't know how to troubleshoot those parts, which is why I took it in...

Mike
 






fordnut71

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fixing brake lines are very cheap to make up. thats if you have a good flairing tool an know how to do them. part of the mushy peddle feeling could be comming from the weak lines or a master leaking. check under the carpet under dash an drivers floor are for fluid.
me personally id make them up with new lines an new flex lines while i was at it, seeing as this is what im planning on doing for my ex in a few months once it gets warm out.
but if you feel the ex isnt worth the time for replacement, thats up to you.
 






TedJ

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I doubt sears did anything bad. My parts truck did the same thing, they always rust out in the back where it goes into the flex line to the rear axle. It was fine one day, few weeks later I got in and the line popped as soon as I put my foot on the brake pedal. The mechanic probably pressed down hard on the pedal and that was enough to pop it.

If you want to fix it is going to depend on what it's worth to you and how much of the work you can do yourself. Brake tubing is not expensive, but there is a decent amount of labor involved. It seems like everything else is working ok, so brake lines should not be a huge deal. For the fuel lines and anything else, get a can of that rust converter spray paint (it says converts rust to black primer on the can) and use that so they stop rusting so much.

I think the main problem here is parking on grass, the moisture makes everything rust 100x faster, especially when it just sits there.
 






marragtop

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I suggest you soak the bleeder screws on all four wheels with PB Blaster for a couple of days. If you can get the bleeders open then replacing the lines won't be that bad. If you bust the bleeders, then you may be looking at replacing wheel cylinders and potentially calipers which is extra work and $$.
 






DeRocha

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I wouldn't worry too much about the fuel line being rusty. As the pic of mine was 5yrs ago and I haven't changed it yet ;) Actually the fuel lines are stainless steel and never rust. The rusty line in the pic goes to the evap canister and carries fuel vapor. I just replaced (Nov '08) the rear brake line on my X as the '04 repair lasted 5yrs.. Going mudding left part of the brake line sitting in damp mud which caused the line to prematurely rust.. AS mentioned brake line is cheap, its the labor/time involved which can be costly..
 






mikeinri

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fordnut: What's a "good" flaring tool? How hard are they to use? They look pretty easy, are there tricks? As an aside, I do have a tubing bender, so that should help.

marragtop: I hear that. I'm not too worried about the bleeders, because the calipers (I think) and cylinders (for sure) were replaced the last time I did a brake job, maybe 2 years ago. Man, my memory is starting to suck...

DeRocha: That's good news. My rusty fuel line is also the top one. If it's just vapors, that means no pressure? Essentially a vent line of some sort? Maybe this is a stupid question, but would it make sense to replace that fuel line with a stainless one?

How long did it take to do all the brake lines? I'm figuring the better part of a very long day, right? I do have a garage, but don't have access to a lift, just jacks, jack stands and ramps.

I'm starting to talk myself into attempting this...

Mike
 






wood1

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You can just buy preflared brake lines with the ends already on them and bend them to match the rotten ones. That way you won't have to buy a tool and learn how to flare. Not that it's that hard, but it can be annoying and time consuming.
 






mikeinri

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That's what I've done in the past (purchased with fittings already installed). I did see some posts here that said that the rear feed line (front-to-back brake line) is longer than you can buy pre-made. Is that really the case?

Here's a stupid question: Without functioning brakes, I'm not going to be able to use ramps, am I???

Mike
 






DeRocha

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fordnut: What's a "good" flaring tool? How hard are they to use? They look pretty easy, are there tricks? As an aside, I do have a tubing bender, so that should help.

marragtop: I hear that. I'm not too worried about the bleeders, because the calipers (I think) and cylinders (for sure) were replaced the last time I did a brake job, maybe 2 years ago. Man, my memory is starting to suck...

DeRocha: That's good news. My rusty fuel line is also the top one. If it's just vapors, that means no pressure? Essentially a vent line of some sort? Maybe this is a stupid question, but would it make sense to replace that fuel line with a stainless one?

How long did it take to do all the brake lines? I'm figuring the better part of a very long day, right? I do have a garage, but don't have access to a lift, just jacks, jack stands and ramps.

I'm starting to talk myself into attempting this...

Mike

Expensive flairing tools make perfect flairs every time with little effort on your part. Inexpensive flairing tools (~$25 ) require effort on your part to ensure the tools is centered correctly so that it make a well formed double flair. Each time I need to make double flairs I practice making them on some of the old brake line I removed. Replacing the fuel tank vent line with a hard line is something I eventually plan on doing so go ahead and tackle it at the same time if you're up to it..

A tubing bender can come in handy, but most hardline you buy at the autoparts store can be bent with your hands without kinking.

It would take a day (maybe 2) depending if you get stuck dropping the fuel tank, or trying to figure out some bends. All of the bends are easy, but sometimes it can be hard to envision them and use the tool at the same time (which can waste a few hrs of time).

BTW I would Max out the brake fluid reservoir and plug the brake lines with a tapered rubber stopper (something along the lines of a rubber golf tee). This will help prevent the MC from running dry and introducing air into the system.
 






mikeinri

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Well, if I do the brake lines, I will be dropping the tank to fix the gas gauge while I'm under there.

I don't care if the replacement lines are bent perfectly to match the old ones, I'll just make sure they aren't stressed anywhere.

And, since I'll have it apart, this would seem to be a good time to replace the MC. That's something I haven't done before, but it doesn't look too hard. Are there tricks, and should I expect to have to do the booster too?

BTW, Anyone got a good picture of a "double flare"?

Mike
 






DeRocha

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...BTW, Anyone got a good picture of a "double flare"? Mike

How to make a Double flare

RealFlaresideview.jpg
 






fordnut71

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i have a rigid flairing tool. twice the price of a cheap flairing tool but worth it for less headakes.once i cut the tubing to size use a drill an bit to ream it out, much easier then reaming tool. a 3 1/6th line takes a 1/8 bit.most times you wont need a tube tool for bending small 3 1/6 line.just take it slow bending them in your hands.
 






mikeinri

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Thanks guys!

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this old trick, good advice for any tubing bending (without a tool). Always use a soup can or something similar that somewhat matches the curve diameter you're trying to create (basically, a solid cylinder), rather than just bending in your hands.

Bend the tubing around the perimeter of the solid cylinder, keeping it as tight to it as possible. This helps avoid kinks.

Mike
 






mikeinri

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Hey guys,

Anyone here have experience with Eastwood products? I was doing some searching, and came across this nice little toy. Check out the video too:

http://www.eastwood.com/professional-brake-tubing-flaring-tool.html

That does seem like a pricey item, but sure looks fun and easy to use. Almost idiot-proof too!

This company also sells stainless tubing stock and fittings. Would it be overkill and/or cause other problems to use stainless on the Gen 1 Explorer brake lines (dis-similar metals with the wheel cylinders and other fittings)?

Mike
 






marragtop

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For the front to rear long line, you will need 2 straight runs and get a coupler (double female) to join them together. Also, I'm not sure if you have ABS, but if so there may be a special bleeding process you need to follow. There are many posts on this in the forum.
 






fordnut71

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For the front to rear long line, you will need 2 straight runs and get a coupler (double female) to join them together. Also, I'm not sure if you have ABS, but if so there may be a special bleeding process you need to follow. There are many posts on this in the forum.

you wont need that if you a 25' of tubing. only if you buy the premade tubing you will.
 






mikeinri

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Just to clarify, I know that I can buy pre-made lines and not need the tool. That would certainly be the easiest way to go (I've done this on other vehicles), but I was under the impression (from searching here) that you can't buy a pre-made line that's long enough to go from front-to-back.

The idea of using two short lines and a coupler isn't appealing to me, because that's one more fitting to leak some day...

As for the ABS bleeding, I can't make any sense out of the searching I've done here. This is a 1994, with ABS. Most threads say you don't need a special tool, a few posts say that you do.

Is there anyone here that can definitively answer whether doing a brake system bleed requires a special tool/procedure for doing an ABS bleed on a 94?

Mike
 






DeRocha

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Just to clarify, I know that I can buy pre-made lines and not need the tool. That would certainly be the easiest way to go (I've done this on other vehicles), but I was under the impression (from searching here) that you can't buy a pre-made line that's long enough to go from front-to-back.

The idea of using two short lines and a coupler isn't appealing to me, because that's one more fitting to leak some day...

As for the ABS bleeding, I can't make any sense out of the searching I've done here. This is a 1994, with ABS. Most threads say you don't need a special tool, a few posts say that you do.

Is there anyone here that can definitively answer whether doing a brake system bleed requires a special tool/procedure for doing an ABS bleed on a 94?

Mike

Correct you'd need 2 or 3 pre-bent lines to go from the ABS HCU all the way back.. That is what I did and never had a leak at any of the unions. While I understand how the Solenoids within the ABS HCU work I have never had to bleed it.. I would just bleed the brakes in the normal manner and only look into the ABS if you can't get a strong brake pedal.
 



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mikeinri

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Thanks DeRocha.

I'm starting to wonder if that was my problem the whole time (air in the ABS, therefore no firm pedal after the last full brake job).

So, how do I do an ABS bleed at home, or do I need to take it to a shop? I saw one post here that said take it on dirt and play with the ABS. There has to be a better way...

Mike
 






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