Disc Brake Project – Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

After installing the wheel end of the brake parts, I moved into the engine compartment to finish off the master cylinder and brake lines.  I was temporarily derailed twice during this stage – once by the cheap bleeder kit that came with the master cylinder, and again by an oddball brake line fitting.

In order to install the master cylinder, I first had to install the proportioning valve, clamp the assembly into my bench vise, fill it with fluid, and bench bleed it.  To do this, the manufacturer provides some plastic fittings and tubing that route from the output ports back into the fluid that allow trapped air to pumped out when I stroke the piston with a screwdriver (yes, I chose those words on purpose).  In this case, the fittings weren’t airtight and allowed air to be sucked back in on the piston’s return stroke.  A trip to the parts store the next day for a better bleeder kit solved that problem.

After bleeding the master cylinder, I used some threaded plugs to block off the outlets, snapped the lid back on, and carefully hung it from the studs protruding from the vacuum booster.

Next, I was miraculously able to gently coerce the original brake lines into position so that they lined up with the ports on the proportioning valve, which the car didn’t originally have.  The rear line threaded right into the hole in the valve, but the front presented a problem.  Despite being standard 3/16 line, the fitting on the end was a massive 1/2 inch nut instead of the expected 3/8.  Another trip to the parts store the next day resulted in 2 adapters coupled together to step down from 1/2 inch to 3/8.  I tightened everything together and threaded the whole mess into the proportioning valve, with only a small amount of brake fluid spilled.

The next night, I was able to get the rear shocks and springs installed with little difficulty.  The only remaining assembly task is the steering linkage, which requires a new drag link.  In a fit of “get this done already” momentum, I spent my lunch hour driving up to Summit Racing and back with a new drag link – which you may recall I was concerned wouldn’t fit.  I eyeballed it at Summit and thought it would work, but after an hour trying to position it under the car I determined that it just won’t; it wants to clunk against the grease fitting on the left inner tie rod and the spacing of the tie rod holes is a little off as well.  I should have investigated this sooner so that I wouldn’t be waiting on the correct part to ship, but I apparently use up all my project management skills at work.

My arbitrary deadline of June 1 is fast approaching, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get the correct part installed, the brakes bled, and the engine started in time without some divine assistance.  Despite that, I’m happy to officially be in the home stretch – I realistically only have maybe two evenings worth of work left before I can head to the alignment shop and call this finished.

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