An update on the saga of my bird's brakes

Roboplex

Registered User
So I'm in the process of troubleshooting my brakes, specifically the ABS. I've narrowed it down to the accumulator, but it's almost impossible to find a new one.

The one seller that sells them new (for cheap) is indefinitely out of stock, and I don't want a used one what wouldn't last. So I emailed my grandfather, who worked on various cars throughout his lifetime.He said that I would be better off converting the car to hydro-boost brakes instead of replacing one part after another as each inevitably fails. The only problem is that it's expensive. The one kit I found costs like $500 new, $300 rebuilt. And I'm not going to be installing it myself like I could the accumulator. I just don't have the skill yet. So then there's labor costs.

I'm just in a pickle at the moment. I'm not sure if I should just pay $250 for another accumulator (the expensive one that I found IN STOCK), or just pay to get the whole system converted.

Thoughts?

Link to the hydro boost conversion kit: http://powerbrakeservice.net/new-1989-1992-ford-t-bird-hydroboost-brake-booster.html

Link to in-stock (expensive) accumulator: http://powerbrakeservice.net/bracforlimav.html
Link to out of stock (cheaper) accumulator: http://spinningwheels-sc.com/hydacaccumulatorballs.aspx
 

KMT

Registered User
You'll be in a bigger pickle without your car?

Used is fine for the short term while you wait for Victor. You can practice doing the swap. The expensive link said something about used/like new, so you may want to ring them up.

I think I used to pay less than $10 for used at the yard. Went thru a couple, then Victor came to the rescue.

The hydroboost change over seen here recently sounds like an alternative, but yeah....not cheap. I prefer ABS, tho, and so far I've been able to keep that system going on my '90 SC.
 
Last edited:

Roboplex

Registered User
You'll be in a bigger pickle without your car?

Used is fine for the short term while you wait for Victor. You can practice doing the swap. The expensive link said something about used/like new, so you may want to ring them up.

I think I used to pay less than $10 for used at the yard. Went thru a couple, then Victor came to the rescue.

The hydroboost change over seen here recently sounds like an alternative, but yeah....not cheap. I prefer ABS, tho, and so far I've been able to keep that system going on my '90 SC.

Have you had any other parts fail besides the accumulator? I think what he's worried about is I replace this, then something else (like the pump) breaks, and then something else and I'll end up spending a boatload of money. Of course I'm going to make sure the brake fluid leak is just a rusty brake line or something and not leaking from the pump before I make any purchase. But, has your system overall been reliable besides the accumulator failing?
 

KMT

Registered User
Have you had any other parts fail besides the accumulator?

Besides the accumulator, ABS related fails/consumables have been the pressure switch at the pump, both relays and the ARC pressure switch. The only time I had a hard pedal was when the relays acted out and that happened in the driveway on a cold morning. The only leak I've had has been at the ARC pressure switch. Replaced the accumulator when the pump couldn't keep up, but no issue driving/stoping. Replaced the main pressure switch on spec.

All with over 100k miles, same as any brake system's issues at that point in time, I think - fixing ABS just takes a different skill set is all. Thanks to Duffy for putting the details online in the past. I have spare pumps should the need arise.

I've upgraded to stainless braided lines, new calipers, black anodized/vented/slotted rotors and KVR carbon fiber pads (great instant grab and low dust yeah!). The ABS has saved me at least once in dramatic fashion, and the only thing I'm still trying to solve is brake fade after repeated/abusive high speed stops. I would never go back to non-ABS ;)
 
Last edited:

slowpoke

Registered User
although i suggest conventional i do have 2 full assemblies that i can part with. pm has been sent
 

Roboplex

Registered User
Besides the accumulator, ABS related fails/consumables have been the pressure switch at the pump, both relays and the ARC pressure switch. The only time I had a hard pedal was when the relays acted out and that happened in the driveway on a cold morning. The only leak I've had has been at the ARC pressure switch. Replaced the accumulator when the pump couldn't keep up, but no issue driving/stoping. Replaced the main pressure switch on spec.

All with over 100k miles, same as any brake system's issues at that point in time, I think - fixing ABS just takes a different skill set is all. Thanks to Duffy for putting the details online in the past. I have spare pumps should the need arise.

I've upgraded to stainless braided lines, new calipers, black anodized/vented/slotted rotors and KVR carbon fiber pads (great instant grab and low dust yeah!). The ABS has saved me at least once in dramatic fashion, and the only thing I'm still trying to solve is brake fade after repeated/abusive high speed stops. I would never go back to non-ABS ;)

Sorry I'm just trying to price this out for the long run. How much did those other repairs cost you? I'm trying to factor everything (present and future) into the equation that is my T-Bird xD. I know that being a new driver, and in a fast car like the SC, I could really benefit from having antilock. Especially during wet stormy days here in Florida. But I'd be willing to give it up (and try to drive extra careful) if the price is right.

I actually contacted Scotty Kilmer (a mechanic for 47 years, runs a Youtube channel) and asked what his opinion was. He said that if I was planning on keeping the car, I should convert to Hydroboost. I do plan on keeping it, but I'm not sure I want to put so much money into it yet. There are other things that need fixing, and I don't want to pour all of my money into one issue. Plus, I like to keep anything I own as stock as possible. Maybe not minor things like new brake lines or better calipers, but anything major like the whole braking s, I just like to keep stock. It's just a thing of mine xD.

So I think my plan is to figure out where the brake fluid leak is, if its from any major ABS component I'll just do hydroboost since it would probably come out even. But if it's not I might do what you did. There's a 90' Jaguar XJ6 in the salvage yard near me that I could check for a semi-charged accumulator (as well as a 91' Town Car), and just run that until Victor gets new stock. If after a few months he doesn't, by then I will have saved enough money from my new job (or got some help from my parents) to just bite the bullet and convert to hydroboost. Maybe I'll just drive over to where he's at (if he even has a storefront) since I live only an hour from where he is. It's also reassuring that this forum is always getting parts in to sell. I completely forgot about that xD.

Does that sound like a good plan? I'd love some suggestions from anyone if they'd like to chime in. Thanks!
 

KMT

Registered User
Just on repairs, to keep my ABS going:
- accumulator: $155 parts + shipping $15? = $170 / labor me
- relay: $8 / labor me
- scavenged ARC pressure switch: $3 / labor me
- brake fluid: $10

Total to date: $191 - not all at once...over at least the last 2 years and not counting the $5 each used for accumulators that kept me going 5 years ago. And as I said, the main pressure switch (and one of the relays) was done just because...figured it was time to do them - add another $151 for it and the special tool and $8 for the other relay, labor me.

I've pulled complete ABS units & pumps and accumulators from wrecks, and it wasn't fun (accumulators are easy once your get the cowls out of the way and break the unit loose), but that was with hand tools in a junk yard, so... At least I got to learn while doing.

Sounds like, given the cost, etc., that hydroboost is an option to keep in your pocket for now based on what you're saying. If I understand that site's info, the cost going in is at least $600, then you'd have to add labor on that...4 ~ 6 hours? Not sure you could get it done for much less than $1000 in that case.

If you can keep yours on the road for the cost of an accumulator now, it would maybe buy you lots of time to plan, budget and spend later. Also depends on what other costs come up and how long you want to keep the car.
 
Last edited:

Roboplex

Registered User
Just on repairs, to keep my ABS going:
- accumulator: $155 parts + shipping $15? = $170 / labor me
- relay: $8 / labor me
- scavenged ARC pressure switch: $3 / labor me
- brake fluid: $10

Total to date: $191 - not all at once...over at least the last 2 years and not counting the $5 each used for accumulators that kept me going 5 years ago. And as I said, the main pressure switch (and one of the relays) was done just because...figured it was time to do them - add another $151 for it and the special tool and $8 for the other relay, labor me.

I've pulled complete ABS units & pumps and accumulators from wrecks, and it wasn't fun (accumulators are easy once your get the cowls out of the way and break the unit loose), but that was with hand tools in a junk yard, so... At least I got to learn while doing.

Sounds like, given the cost, etc., that hydroboost is an option to keep in your pocket for now based on what you're saying. If I understand that site's info, the cost going in is at least $600, then you'd have to add labor on that...4 ~ 6 hours? Not sure you could get it done for much less than $1000 in that case.

If you can keep yours on the road for the cost of an accumulator now, it would maybe buy you lots of time to plan, budget and spend later. Also depends on what other costs come up and how long you want to keep the car.

Well crap. So I went to check on the car a few minutes ago, turned the power on, and the ABS motor was cycling on and off rapidly. It then just started leaking like crazy. I got out a flashlight, and I think it's leaking from the seal at the motor, or somewhere around there. It was pretty wet. So I guess now I'll have to figure out if this is just the rubber hose, or if its an internal leak. I was really hoping it was something more simple xD.
 

KMT

Registered User
Well crap. So I went to check on the car a few minutes ago, turned the power on, and the ABS motor was cycling on and off rapidly. It then just started leaking like crazy.

A chronically weak accumulator can make the pump run too long/cycle too often....running too long will burn it up. Not sure that's your root cause, but you get the idea.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
A chronically weak accumulator can make the pump run too long/cycle too often....running too long will burn it up. Not sure that's your root cause, but you get the idea.

Okay so I did an experiment with it. It only starts dripping real hard (and the pump cycles on and off rapidly) when I depressurize the brakes, then turn the power on. After I turn the power on, the pump starts clicking on and off real fast and it starts dripping real fast. It will continue dripping for a while, even after I turn the power back off. After like an hour I checked on it again and it had stopped dripping entirely. It could be that I added too much brake fluid while the system was pressurized, but it's leaking more fluid than I even put in. I noticed an exposed bronze part of where a hose connects the master cylinder to what I assume is the pump. It, and the surrounding area was wet with brake fluid, but that isn't where it was dripping from. It was somewhere farther back. I just need to take it to a mechanic honestly. I'm a real cheapskate, but I know my parents could help me out if I needed. After all, it is the brakes. But I'm not confident enough to start dismantling the whole ABS system to find/fix the leak. I couldn't even reach enough to push that hose flush with the gasket. It was really tight on there anyways.

I might be going into the hospital next week anyways so maybe I'll just bring it to a mechanic before I go in, and see what they think. I don't think it was dripping from the accumulator, it was farther down.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
Just on repairs, to keep my ABS going:
- accumulator: $155 parts + shipping $15? = $170 / labor me
- relay: $8 / labor me
- scavenged ARC pressure switch: $3 / labor me
- brake fluid: $10

Total to date: $191 - not all at once...over at least the last 2 years and not counting the $5 each used for accumulators that kept me going 5 years ago. And as I said, the main pressure switch (and one of the relays) was done just because...figured it was time to do them - add another $151 for it and the special tool and $8 for the other relay, labor me.

I've pulled complete ABS units & pumps and accumulators from wrecks, and it wasn't fun (accumulators are easy once your get the cowls out of the way and break the unit loose), but that was with hand tools in a junk yard, so... At least I got to learn while doing.

Sounds like, given the cost, etc., that hydroboost is an option to keep in your pocket for now based on what you're saying. If I understand that site's info, the cost going in is at least $600, then you'd have to add labor on that...4 ~ 6 hours? Not sure you could get it done for much less than $1000 in that case.

If you can keep yours on the road for the cost of an accumulator now, it would maybe buy you lots of time to plan, budget and spend later. Also depends on what other costs come up and how long you want to keep the car.

So after doing some research, I have the understanding that it's pretty easy just to remove the assembly to try to fix the leak, if it's the rubber hose. My understanding is that it pretty much just slides out after unbolting the bolts behind the brake pedal, and undoing the brake lines. Is that correct? I really want to find this leak, and I'd love to do it myself if it's simple. Would I have to bleed the brakes or anything when I put the assembly back in? You really seem like you know this stuff well. Thanks!
 

KMT

Registered User
So after doing some research, I have the understanding that it's pretty easy just to remove the assembly to try to fix the leak, if it's the rubber hose. My understanding is that it pretty much just slides out after unbolting the bolts behind the brake pedal, and undoing the brake lines.

As I said before...it's not fun.

Not much room to work, takes more than a few cheap hand tools, not something you want to learn on and yes, you'd have to bleed the brakes when done. You need the right tools to break the fittings loose without doing damage - twist one metal line and you have more work than when you started. You have to work under the dash. You have to disconnect several harness points. It's heavy when assembled. Brake fluid eats paint.

I'd want to know exactly where the leak was first, so I wouldn't encourage you to pull the unit just to find out. The hose you think is leaking isn't normally under pressure, I think. If you get it out and find other issues, then what do you do? Can you let the car sit while you figure that out? Why not just pull the accumulator and check/replace the o-ring, which by the way needs to be a certain material. Sorry if I missed it, do you have any idea of what work may have already been done on the brakes in the past?

Seen the pics in this thread?

http://www.sccoa.com/forums/showthread.php?136852-Early-ABS-Unit-For-Sale&highlight=abs+unit
 
Last edited:

Roboplex

Registered User
As I said before...it's not fun.

Not much room to work, takes more than a few cheap hand tools, not something you want to learn on and yes, you'd have to bleed the brakes when done. You need the right tools to break the fittings loose without doing damage - twist one metal line and you have more work than when you started. You have to work under the dash. You have to disconnect several harness points. It's heavy when assembled. Brake fluid eats paint.

I'd want to know exactly where the leak was first, so I wouldn't encourage you to pull the unit just to find out. The hose you think is leaking isn't normally under pressure, I think. If you get it out and find other issues, then what do you do? Can you let the car sit while you figure that out? Why not just pull the accumulator and check/replace the o-ring, which by the way needs to be a certain material. Sorry if I missed it, do you have any idea of what work may have already been done on the brakes in the past?

Seen the pics in this thread?

http://www.sccoa.com/forums/showthread.php?136852-Early-ABS-Unit-For-Sale&highlight=abs+unit

Oh. Yeah that's a bit above my pay grade xD. I'm having enough trouble trying to get this damn accumulator off. It's just really on there tight. I'm afraid to really wrench on it because I don't want to bend/break the slot it's seated in. The ball was bending back and forth slightly as I was turning. I just started with an 8mm Allen key, and now I'm realizing that it's gonna take a bit more force to get off. I'll revisit your thread you posted about how to remove it, or maybe use a chain wrench and socket wrench/ breaker bar like someone else mentioned. Just looking with a flashlight, I think I'll have a much better view, and access to the leak with the accumulator removed.

It stinks because I'm the first person in my family to want to fix a car, so we have a puny collection of tools. I'm pretty much making daily trips to Harbor Freight and Sears. I don't believe anything has ever been done to the brakes in the past.
 

KMT

Registered User
I wouldn't bother trying to remove an accumulator that's been in for years with anything less than a longish 1/2" breaker bar. Just be sure the hex socket has a full purchase down into the hole - clean it out with compressed air and a pick if you have to. You won't break anything, just keep applying steady torque until it loosens up (don't whack on the bar to to turn it), then you might be able to do the rest by hand.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
I wouldn't bother trying to remove an accumulator that's been in for years with anything less than a longish 1/2" breaker bar. Just be sure the hex socket has a full purchase down into the hole - clean it out with compressed air and a pick if you have to. You won't break anything, just keep applying steady torque until it loosens up (don't whack on the bar to to turn it), then you might be able to do the rest by hand.

Alright, I'm gonna just go out today and buy the correct tools, and pick up the "new" accumulator from the junkyard.

This is a dumb question, but I just want to make sure I'm getting the right tools. Would a 3\8in Breaker bar work instead of 1/2in? I couldn't find any 1/2in hex sockets that were any less than like $35. I did find a 3/8in breaker bar and hex sockets for like $16 total at Harbor Freight. Would that work just as well?

Thanks!! I'll let you know how it goes.
 

KMT

Registered User
Would that work just as well?

Depends...

With a cheater pipe on it, I guess. Keep the receipt so that you can take it back when you break the crosspin in the drive head, and don't mention the pipe.

Or understand the 1/2" bar will come in handy over and over again, making it more of a long term investment rather than a short term expense. Right tool for the right job. And be thankful for HF - you don't want to know how much SnapOn tools would cost in this case, but it's true when they say you get what you pay for.

Working on any car means spending money. The SC is no exception. Stop now if you can't deal with that and good luck.
 
Last edited:

TbirdSCFan

Registered User
Let me throw my $.02 in on the topic.

I have sitting in my garage at this moment :rolleyes:, 5 spare Teves 2 ABS units in various stages of repair/disrepair. I have worn+used motors assembled/dissassmbled, pumps, 1/2 dozen pressure switches (new+used), main valves, 4 used + 1 new accumulator.. I have labelled each component's condition with "working", "bad" "capacity as-of", etc..

This is all so that I can put together known working units and install them in my set of 3 SCs. This, quite frankly, takes a lot of patience, time and willingness to rebuild/install/test/clean, etc.. what most owners would never bother with, and for good reason.

While I have managed to keep my SC going and working very well with the Teves units, it has NOT been easy or simple. The effort is increasingly more difficult due to the fact that suitable parts are getting harder to find. But the BIGGEST issue right now is pump motor seals. After 25 years of brake fluid soaking the motor, most all of the used motors now have a weak or soon to fail shaft seal. A EDPM seal is not to be found, so rebuild is a toss up.
While I will continue, for the short term, to patch and repair, I don't think that works for many others out there.

If someone were to come up and ask me "Hey.. I understand you know how to make these things work.. what do you think?"
My response would probably be "LOL You'd probably be better off converting your brakes to conventional" :eek:
 
Last edited:

Roboplex

Registered User
Depends...

With a cheater pipe on it, I guess. Keep the receipt so that you can take it back when you break the crosspin in the drive head, and don't mention the pipe.

Or understand the 1/2" bar will come in handy over and over again, making it more of a long term investment rather than a short term expense. Right tool for the right job. And be thankful for HF - you don't want to know how much SnapOn tools would cost in this case, but it's true when they say you get what you pay for.

Working on any car means spending money. The SC is no exception. Stop now if you can't deal with that and good luck.
So I installed the new accumulator. $5 from the junkyard. The lights went out, and its braking like a charm. However, the leak is still pretty bad, maybe even worse. I'm just going to take it to a mechanic when I get back from the hospital. It's weird though. Sometimes it leaks, sometimes it doesn't. It either leaks really bad, or not at all. It seems to be triggered by the pump. I'll press the brake pedal while the engine is off, then when the pump kicks in when I turn the car on it leaks. Not sure what to make of that. I'm sure the mechanic will though xD.
 

KMT

Registered User
Sounds like $5 well spent, at least in the short term.

Not sure what to make of that. I'm sure the mechanic will though xD.

Not unless they're already intimate with the SC...

Did you use a new (correct compound) o-ring on the accumulator?

Did you get under the car and see if the pump itself is leaking badly?

Is the ARC pressure switch leaking at all?

Linking this in case you haven't seen it already:
http://www.sccoia.org/articles/anti-lock-braking-system/
 
Top