An update on the saga of my bird's brakes

Roboplex

Registered User
The Teves system does give really good, solid pedal feel, which I like. And it's technically interesting (not that it matters too much on a daily driver!). I have had failures of the ABS relay and the pump motor. So I can't say it's trouble free. But I have kept it (doing the work myself) because it was the simplest way to get the car working again, kept it original (again, this may not matter), and wasn't all that expensive.

To me, fixing it was the best option. But in your case, it may not be. I don't know the status of your accumulator, pressure switch, and pump motor brushes. If it was my car, I would replace and rebuild all that at the same time, because it's not actually a fun job to pull this MC and pump out. That adds up (about $100 for the switch, $150 for the accumulator, and say $200 for a motor rebuild). So there's $450 for everything. Also, the motor rebuild does take a little time to ship out and get it back.

(Hmm, I just found a NOS pump & motor & pressure switch on eBay for $495. This is a good find! They don't come up that often. http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-OEM-For...ash=item25b51e790f:g:r2cAAOSwCypWnntM&vxp=mtr)

In your case, if the pump motor, accumulator ball and pressure switch are working, you could leave those and just do the pump motor seal for about $5 plus labor. (By the way, I just received my order of these yesterday ... I still need to look them over and check the material, and then they will be available for SCCoA members.) But think of the mechanic's labor costs if you have to pull the system out again in 6 months to fix the next part.

The hydroboost system looks like it's about $600? If so, I would say that system is a decent option. But you would lose ABS, I think?

The vacuum conversion is a decent way to go as well ... but again, you lose ABS.

So think about it and let us know what you decide.
At this point, I'm thinking I just want to get rid of the ABS. I do value the originality of the car, but I also value actually driving the car, not constantly fixing the ABS. That's not something I'd want to fix myself, and I don't want it to become a money pit, dragging down the car, and my wallet. The accumulator is bad as stated earlier, and while I did find a junkyard one, I'm not sure how long it'll last. If it's around $450 to fix the whole assembly, I think it would be worth it just to spend the extra $150 for the Bosch hydro boost system. I'm a bit uneasy on sort of frankensteining a vacuum system together from different vehicles. With the hydro boost system, it would be backed up by Bosch if it broke. The same company does make a vacuum conversion kit for cheaper, that could be an option.

Im trying not to obsess over cost. My parents have assured me that they will take care of the repairs, since I need good brakes to drive safely, and I can't work right now. I just want to make it as painless, and as cheap as possible for me, and for them. But again, I need to remember that sometimes it's best to spend more, and be done with it.

Thanks for the help! I'll talk it over with the mechanic, and see if he can do it.
 

S_Mazza

Registered User
At this point, I'm thinking I just want to get rid of the ABS. I do value the originality of the car, but I also value actually driving the car, not constantly fixing the ABS. That's not something I'd want to fix myself, and I don't want it to become a money pit, dragging down the car, and my wallet. The accumulator is bad as stated earlier, and while I did find a junkyard one, I'm not sure how long it'll last. If it's around $450 to fix the whole assembly, I think it would be worth it just to spend the extra $150 for the Bosch hydro boost system. I'm a bit uneasy on sort of frankensteining a vacuum system together from different vehicles. With the hydro boost system, it would be backed up by Bosch if it broke. The same company does make a vacuum conversion kit for cheaper, that could be an option.

Im trying not to obsess over cost. My parents have assured me that they will take care of the repairs, since I need good brakes to drive safely, and I can't work right now. I just want to make it as painless, and as cheap as possible for me, and for them. But again, I need to remember that sometimes it's best to spend more, and be done with it.

Thanks for the help! I'll talk it over with the mechanic, and see if he can do it.

No problem. FYI, if you do end up keeping the Teves system, remember that the accumulator ball can be swapped from the top without disturbing the MC and pump. With a special tool (thin wall 36mm socket), the pressure switch can also be removed while leaving the pump in the car. So those things are not such an issue to change later.

The pump and motor require more work to change. So I would worry about pulling out the motor to replace the seal and putting the motor back in without checking the brushes.

But, to be honest, I hadn't looked at the mileage of your car before now. I found your other post that says it's just about 80,000 miles. This is pretty low mileage, and the motor brushes should be good until around 200,000 miles (unless the motor gets stuck on because of a pressure switch or relay problem, which wears them down sooner). So you might be ok just replacing the motor seal.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
No problem. FYI, if you do end up keeping the Teves system, remember that the accumulator ball can be swapped from the top without disturbing the MC and pump. With a special tool (thin wall 36mm socket), the pressure switch can also be removed while leaving the pump in the car. So those things are not such an issue to change later.

The pump and motor require more work to change. So I would worry about pulling out the motor to replace the seal and putting the motor back in without checking the brushes.

But, to be honest, I hadn't looked at the mileage of your car before now. I found your other post that says it's just about 80,000 miles. This is pretty low mileage, and the motor brushes should be good until around 200,000 miles (unless the motor gets stuck on because of a pressure switch or relay problem, which wears them down sooner). So you might be ok just replacing the motor seal.

Oh. I was thinking they all just start to wear and break after 26 years. You said earlier that you sourced some replacement seals to buy? The pump is doing its job, it's pumping, but it just leaks. So it could very well just be the seals. I already swapped the accumulator, and it fixed the pump running too frequently, but it still leaked. I have no idea how long it was run with a bad accumulator before I bought it. I've personally been driving it for 3 months with a bad accumulator. Could that have worn out the pump extra quickly? Could the brake fluid from the leak have damaged the pump even further? Either way, we're gonna have to remove the pump to proceed from here. I'll have the mechanic open up the pump and check the seals/brushes. It shouldn't be too much trouble after the pump is already removed, correct?

Let me know about the seals. If you know anywhere to buy them, or when you get them in, just let me know! I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Also, I may have brought down the price on the hydroboost system. It doesn't need any special master cylinder from my understanding, and I believe a regular one from a stock T-Bird would work. So that shaves about $100 off the $600 price of buying it all together. The master cylinder off the hydroboost website was like $125, while a 90' Tbird LX one of Rock Auto is only $20. But if labor is already going to be expensive, I might just do the hydroboost instead of inevitably paying that hefty labor cost twice when the Teves system breaks later down the road. I'd rather pay $1000 once than pay $500, but have it break again later on.
 

TBirdJKC

SCCoA Member
Also, I may have brought down the price on the hydroboost system. It doesn't need any special master cylinder from my understanding, and I believe a regular one from a stock T-Bird would work. So that shaves about $100 off the $600 price of buying it all together. The master cylinder off the hydroboost website was like $125, while a 90' Tbird LX one of Rock Auto is only $20. But if labor is already going to be expensive, I might just do the hydroboost instead of inevitably paying that hefty labor cost twice when the Teves system breaks later down the road. I'd rather pay $1000 once than pay $500, but have it break again later on.

You can't use a non ABS Thunderbird master on an SC. It has a cross braking setup. That's why everyone uses a 93 Crown Vic master. Its best option to avoid heavily modifying your lines.
 

dthompson

Registered User
You can't use a non ABS Thunderbird master on an SC. It has a cross braking setup. That's why everyone uses a 93 Crown Vic master. Its best option to avoid heavily modifying your lines.

That is inaccurate. See my previous post and link on page one showing how this is done.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
You can't use a non ABS Thunderbird master on an SC. It has a cross braking setup. That's why everyone uses a 93 Crown Vic master. Its best option to avoid heavily modifying your lines.
I was just generalizing. Thanks for the tip though! I was just trying to say that I could find a master cylinder from another store and save $100 instead of buying it directly from the company that sells the hydroboost unit. But if I do decide to do it that way, the Crown Vic MC would be the way to go? Mostly plug and play? The site says the hydroboost unit can accept master cylinders from 15/16" to 1 5/8" bore sizes.

Thanks!
 

TBirdJKC

SCCoA Member
That is inaccurate. See my previous post and link on page one showing how this is done.

My mistake. I didn't realize there were 2 different masters on the base/lx model in 89-93. I am only familiar with the later 93 unit that has proportioning valves mounted directly on the cylinder and to my knowledge there is no way to make that unit work without line modification.
 

S_Mazza

Registered User
Oh. I was thinking they all just start to wear and break after 26 years. You said earlier that you sourced some replacement seals to buy? The pump is doing its job, it's pumping, but it just leaks. So it could very well just be the seals. I already swapped the accumulator, and it fixed the pump running too frequently, but it still leaked. I have no idea how long it was run with a bad accumulator before I bought it. I've personally been driving it for 3 months with a bad accumulator. Could that have worn out the pump extra quickly? Could the brake fluid from the leak have damaged the pump even further? Either way, we're gonna have to remove the pump to proceed from here. I'll have the mechanic open up the pump and check the seals/brushes. It shouldn't be too much trouble after the pump is already removed, correct?

Let me know about the seals. If you know anywhere to buy them, or when you get them in, just let me know! I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Also, I may have brought down the price on the hydroboost system. It doesn't need any special master cylinder from my understanding, and I believe a regular one from a stock T-Bird would work. So that shaves about $100 off the $600 price of buying it all together. The master cylinder off the hydroboost website was like $125, while a 90' Tbird LX one of Rock Auto is only $20. But if labor is already going to be expensive, I might just do the hydroboost instead of inevitably paying that hefty labor cost twice when the Teves system breaks later down the road. I'd rather pay $1000 once than pay $500, but have it break again later on.

The motor brushes don't really go bad with age, as they are made of carbon and are very stable material. Use is what wears them out. Depending on how long the accumulator was bad, it could have resulted in some noticeable wear. It's hard to guess how much it was in reality. If I was betting (and I offer no guarantees), I would guess that you probably have at least a couple years' use left in the brushes.

You are right that the pump should come out to remove the motor. Even if you can unbolt the motor with the pump in the car (and I don't know if you can), putting it back in would be hard, as there is a drive "puck" between the motor and pump that would be hard to hold in place while the motor was horizontal.

The commutator and brushes are on the end of the motor where the wire harness connects. I don't think there is an inspection port that will let you check the brush wear from the outside. The motor end cap is staked in place, so you wouldn't want to open it unless you had already decided to rebuild the motor. (I hope this is making sense!) Short answer, yes, it would be trouble to check the brushes. So I would say, just decide whether you want to rebuild or roll the dice, and then proceed accordingly.

The seal, you can see easily after you unbolt the motor from the pump. But I am not sure that you could judge wear by eye. The location of the leak is the real test of the seal. If it has been leaking from that little plastic vent on the bottom of the motor, then the seal must be leaking. There's no other way for fluid to get into the motor. If your mechanic can refill the MC and watch that spot, he should be able to confirm it.

I actually have the motor shaft seals, as of last night. They look good to me. All I want to do is double-check that the rubber is compatible with brake fluid before I send any out. (You can't tell all rubber types apart by eye.) I will test these and get back to you soon.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
The motor brushes don't really go bad with age, as they are made of carbon and are very stable material. Use is what wears them out. Depending on how long the accumulator was bad, it could have resulted in some noticeable wear. It's hard to guess how much it was in reality. If I was betting (and I offer no guarantees), I would guess that you probably have at least a couple years' use left in the brushes.

You are right that the pump should come out to remove the motor. Even if you can unbolt the motor with the pump in the car (and I don't know if you can), putting it back in would be hard, as there is a drive "puck" between the motor and pump that would be hard to hold in place while the motor was horizontal.

The commutator and brushes are on the end of the motor where the wire harness connects. I don't think there is an inspection port that will let you check the brush wear from the outside. The motor end cap is staked in place, so you wouldn't want to open it unless you had already decided to rebuild the motor. (I hope this is making sense!) Short answer, yes, it would be trouble to check the brushes. So I would say, just decide whether you want to rebuild or roll the dice, and then proceed accordingly.

The seal, you can see easily after you unbolt the motor from the pump. But I am not sure that you could judge wear by eye. The location of the leak is the real test of the seal. If it has been leaking from that little plastic vent on the bottom of the motor, then the seal must be leaking. There's no other way for fluid to get into the motor. If your mechanic can refill the MC and watch that spot, he should be able to confirm it.

I actually have the motor shaft seals, as of last night. They look good to me. All I want to do is double-check that the rubber is compatible with brake fluid before I send any out. (You can't tell all rubber types apart by eye.) I will test these and get back to you soon.
I'm still thinking actually. I called Ford and let them know about the hydroboost system, and they're getting back to me on labor costs. If it's only a few years until the other stuff will probably fail, I might just convert it now. I'll be going to college in 2 years, and I'm planning on having this car as long as it runs. I love this thing xD. I don't want to have to deal with that while I'm away, if it goes bad while I'm away at college. I know I'm really looking ahead, but honestly, I'd like to fix it for good while my parents are still picking up the tab. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful, but I guess what I'm trying to say is, while I have stable (sorta, i.e. my parents) funds to fix it, I'd like to just fix it and be done with it. My parents have told me over and over again just to quit fretting about it and let them put down the money to fix it for good. I might just take them up on that offer after sitting on it.

Can you relate? I suppose labor costs, and the willingness of the mechanic to preform the repairs are the only variables now. If it's gonna cost a lot to get that motor out just to change the seal, I might as well just convert the whole system over and end it there. I'll let you know what Ford says about the labor.
 
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dthompson

Registered User
convert it and be done with it. its really the only practical answer for someone not willing to rebuild and service these units themselves. hydroboost or vacuum... i chose vacuum. its cheaper, less complex, and easier to install. hydroboost works too.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
convert it and be done with it. its really the only practical answer for someone not willing to rebuild and service these units themselves. hydroboost or vacuum... i chose vacuum. its cheaper, less complex, and easier to install. hydroboost works too.
Yeah that's most likely what I'm going to do. Well, that IS what I'm going to do. I'm tired of this whole ordeal xD. I read something about there not being sufficient vacuum to use the vacuum assist brakes, and hydroboost was the best option. Was that marketing BS or is the hydroboost actually better and worth it?

There aren't many good junkyards around me, and I don't think I could salvage the parts I needed out of junker cars. So I'm aiming more towards the kits that Powerbrakeservice is selling. They sell hydroboost and vacuum conversion kits. They said the hydroboost is better, but it's also $200 more expensive. I'm not sure if anyone on here has used these systems exactly before, so I don't know which would be better to choose. Thoughts?

If anyone has used the hydroboost or the vacuum kit, I'd love to know how it worked out.

Here's a link to both:
Vacuum: http://powerbrakeservice.net/1989-1992-ford-t-bird-super-coupe-vacuum-brake-booster.html
Hydroboost: http://powerbrakeservice.net/new-1989-1992-ford-t-bird-hydroboost-brake-booster.html
 

RalphP

SCCoA Member
You can't use a non ABS Thunderbird master on an SC. It has a cross braking setup. That's why everyone uses a 93 Crown Vic master. Its best option to avoid heavily modifying your lines.

Uhhh ... You can, if you a) plug the extra port and b) pick the right one.

You don't HAVE to cross front rear with it.

And by picking one that didn't have the proportioning valves screwed into it (one for a system that has the inline valve), you can actually just screw in the fittings you have, given you actually realign which goes where.

That's what I did, anyway.

RwP
 

dthompson

Registered User
I read something about there not being sufficient vacuum to use the vacuum assist brakes, and hydroboost was the best option. Was that marketing BS or is the hydroboost actually better and worth it?

I run an aftermarket cam and only get 14-15" of vacuum compared to about 20" of vacuum stock. I have no problems with my vacuum brake system not having enough vacuum.


There aren't many good junkyards around me, and I don't think I could salvage the parts I needed out of junker cars. So I'm aiming more towards the kits that Powerbrakeservice is selling.

You can source all new parts for this project and it is not expensive. I listed part numbers in my article. you dont have to go to a junkyard if you dont want to go.

They sell hydroboost and vacuum conversion kits. They said the hydroboost is better, but it's also $200 more expensive. I'm not sure if anyone on here has used these systems exactly before, so I don't know which would be better to choose. Thoughts?

I cant compare them, I sure they both work well. my observation here is simple... if vacuum brakes did not work well, then nobody on this forum would be converting to them. If there were problems with it, I suspect more people would do the hydroboost. Some folks with really big camshafts may need something like the hydroboost because of the lack of vacuum. but as mentioned above, 14-15" is plenty.



Im pretty sure that I spent a lot less than that on converting to vacuum brakes, probably $150 in parts and another $50 in tools.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
I run an aftermarket cam and only get 14-15" of vacuum compared to about 20" of vacuum stock. I have no problems with my vacuum brake system not having enough vacuum.




You can source all new parts for this project and it is not expensive. I listed part numbers in my article. you dont have to go to a junkyard if you dont want to go.



I cant compare them, I sure they both work well. my observation here is simple... if vacuum brakes did not work well, then nobody on this forum would be converting to them. If there were problems with it, I suspect more people would do the hydroboost. Some folks with really big camshafts may need something like the hydroboost because of the lack of vacuum. but as mentioned above, 14-15" is plenty.




Im pretty sure that I spent a lot less than that on converting to vacuum brakes, probably $150 in parts and another $50 in tools.
That's what I was assuming about the vacuum brakes. Why would anyone use it if it didn't work? If vacuum brakes are good enough for everyone else, then i shouldnt pay the extra money for hydroboost. But I actually wasn't able to access your article, not sure why. Could you give me another link or something so I can get the part numbers? I'm pretty sure I can just get Ford those parts and they can put them in no problem.
 

dthompson

Registered User
That's what I was assuming about the vacuum brakes. Why would anyone use it if it didn't work? If vacuum brakes are good enough for everyone else, then i shouldnt pay the extra money for hydroboost. But I actually wasn't able to access your article, not sure why. Could you give me another link or something so I can get the part numbers? I'm pretty sure I can just get Ford those parts and they can put them in no problem.

A $15 membership to SCCOA will allow you access to this article. If you plan on keeping the car for the long haul, this membership is a small price to pay for valuable information like this.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
A $15 membership to SCCOA will allow you access to this article. If you plan on keeping the car for the long haul, this membership is a small price to pay for valuable information like this.
Ah. I'm sorry I didn't even realize there was a membership avaliable. I might subscribe to it later but I think I'm just going to go with the vacuum conversion kit. Unless the hydroboost is THAT much better. I just want to be done with it. My mechanic said he'd install it for 500 labor. So that's like $800 in total. I REALLY don't feel comfortable doing it myself. Does that seem like a fair deal?
 

dthompson

Registered User
Ah. I'm sorry I didn't even realize there was a membership avaliable. I might subscribe to it later but I think I'm just going to go with the vacuum conversion kit. Unless the hydroboost is THAT much better. I just want to be done with it. My mechanic said he'd install it for 500 labor. So that's like $800 in total. I REALLY don't feel comfortable doing it myself. Does that seem like a fair deal?


If you don't feel comfortable doing the work, then it has to be a fair deal. You have been provided plenty of information to make an informed decision.
 

S_Mazza

Registered User
That's what I was assuming about the vacuum brakes. Why would anyone use it if it didn't work? If vacuum brakes are good enough for everyone else, then i shouldnt pay the extra money for hydroboost. But I actually wasn't able to access your article, not sure why. Could you give me another link or something so I can get the part numbers? I'm pretty sure I can just get Ford those parts and they can put them in no problem.

One could also ask why you paid for a Thunderbird when you could have gotten a Hyundai Excel cheaper. They both work. ;)

But seriously - You know your situation best. I am sure you will pick what is best for you.

I think there are advantages to each system mentioned here.
- Teves has ABS. Already in car. Strong assist with short pedal travel, and solid pedal feel.
- Hydroboost has a relatively small booster. Strong assist with short pedal travel, and solid pedal feel.
- Vacuum is simple and relatively cheap. Can give good pedal feel, but needs proper parts selection and adjustment to do that. (Article here can help make sure you get parts that work.)

If Ford will do the vacuum swap for $500 labor, that sounds fair. I would get the article, read it, understand it, and discuss it with the mechanic before he starts. If he has to go back in to adjust the pedal rod or mess with fittings after the fact, he will get very cranky. Or try to charge you more.
 

fstcoup

SCCoA Member
As was mentioned earlier ......you would save yourself, or your parents lots of cash by getting it out of the Ford dealer. The three belts and pulley they installed netted them over three hundred bucks for at most a 45 minute job. Ford dealers really don't have your best interests at heart, they will do as you ask in most cases for a substantial fee that's why they're in business and have those shiney dealerships.
I understand you have to have brakes and you feel comfortable with this dealership so keep in mind the vacuum booster from an 89 LX and the master cylinder from a 93 Crown Vic police package will do the job for less than $200.00 and you can get them at most auto supply stores. To have them searching or mix and matching isn't good and will in the long run cost considerably more than taking your car somewhere the rates aren't as high and the interest in your vehicle and the quality of work are genuinely apparent.
Best of luck.
 

Roboplex

Registered User
As was mentioned earlier ......you would save yourself, or your parents lots of cash by getting it out of the Ford dealer. The three belts and pulley they installed netted them over three hundred bucks for at most a 45 minute job. Ford dealers really don't have your best interests at heart, they will do as you ask in most cases for a substantial fee that's why they're in business and have those shiney dealerships.
I understand you have to have brakes and you feel comfortable with this dealership so keep in mind the vacuum booster from an 89 LX and the master cylinder from a 93 Crown Vic police package will do the job for less than $200.00 and you can get them at most auto supply stores. To have them searching or mix and matching isn't good and will in the long run cost considerably more than taking your car somewhere the rates aren't as high and the interest in your vehicle and the quality of work are genuinely apparent.
Best of luck.
I get it. The dealer said the cost was so high because the pulley is really far back and hard to reach. But I think I'm going to have a hard time getting my dad to let me bring it somewhere else (on his money at least). I'm definitely going to go to Ford for the brake conversion just because $500 seems pretty fair, but even to me, $550 for 3 belts and a pulley is a lot. My dad assured me that we could "talk him down" on the price. My dad REALLY likes/trusts this Ford guy. He seems nice, but I think my dad trusts him a bit too much. When I suggested taking it to one of the mechanics you all suggested to me in Ormond, he just said "take it to Ford, they won't screw it up."

After thinking, im just going to subscribe to SCCOA and access that article. If it really is that simple when you get the adjustments right, then it's no use buying a kit that costs more. I'd rather pay $15 to get a good description than pay an extra $400 for hydro boost plug and play. I was under the impression that you needed a bunch of different parts that weren't sold anymore like special proportioning valves and such. I wasn't willing to go on a wild goose chase around different junkyards to maybe find a part.
 
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