... it amazes me that you are so not willing to just rebuild your own calipers yourself. The seals are cheap and available and there is nothing simpler on a car than a brake caliper, absolutely nothing. You could have all 4 rebuilt in 2 hours (max) and brakes bled in another 30 minutes. Sure they won't be painted or plated but otherwise will be perfectly serviceable.
Your comments prompts me to write an essay. I should be writing government papers for the PM advisory committee on a different approach to housing, but any excuse to procrastinate is welcome.
One of the things I learned with Alfas is the Kiwi Rule that every 30 minute Alfa job takes three months when you live in paradise (aka New Zealand).
Things go wrong. The parts are unavailable in New Zealand. Searches on the Internet involve time zone delays where each question then waits 24 hours for a reply. Shipping can become a problem - a $3 part is sent using a $50 courier. The right part is ordered, the wrong one arrives. Installing it results in unanticipated problems that tend to snowball.
In addition, when one ventures into unknown territory, the obvious stuff is not obvious the first time and much of the collective wisdom on AlfaBB presumes prior knowledge. My first questions are often utterly obvious to the experienced, but not to the owner who has never encountered that particular challenge before (for this reason I try to document my initiation so other newbies can find enlightenment).
In the Kiwi Rule, rust is ever present and with half-century old cars, earlier repairs done by prior owners turn out to be non-standard (such as my dual brake booster system that has only one booster).
Consider this story: After 20 years sitting, it's time to get the old girl running again. The brake pedal goes to the floor. Attempts to change the fluid are hopeless. The bleed screws are frozen. Finally getting them to work, nothing comes out. Buy a $100 German-made brake vacuum extractor. No change. Remove one of the hoses and discover that the fluid has turned to orange jelly.
Start working backwards, undoing the various connections until fresh fluid is found. Some connections are frozen on and instead of coming off, the steel tubes fail. Decide to replace the hoses as well. They won't come off either. Lock nuts rusted on. Every simple 60 second removal takes about 30 minutes and great care has to be taken to not bend or break the adjacent mounting parts.
Try to find new tubes. Go on line, ask AlfaBB, look at web sites. Finally realize pre-made tubes from the US means a 4 week delay and not cheap. So, buy a $100 flare tube to learn how to flare cuprinol tubes. Take the old tubes and hoses to the local hydraulic shop (bike to ferry, 40 minute ferry ride, bike to train, wait for train, 30 minute train ride, bike to shop, repeat on return... 20 minutes in the shop involves the better part of a day, but at least all transport is free, so it is just time). Discover that some parts are metric (10/1) but the hoses are imperial and match a Hillman hose. Buy all the parts needed.
Back home, practice flaring until perfect. Then make up new lines. Work out how to run the tubes with the engine in. Finally, months later, begin to bleed the brakes. Discover that the one-year-old compressor has a cracked reed valve, so the one-person bleeder does not work; persuade wife to assist. Voila, in 15 minutes the pedal is firm and the system has new fluid. One step forward.
Then put the tires back on only to find three of the four calipers are frozen. Use vice grip to retract, wheels turn. Press brake pedal, calipers locked, won't retract. Seek online AlfaBB advice. Remove one caliper. Try to remove using air (compressor only puts out 45 pounds), no joy. Try grease, no joy. Go back to the hydraulic place (see trip required, above) to get the parts required to rig up a way to force the piston out using the brake pedal, only to discover the first piston that pops out is pitted and a complete rebuild is required including cracking the calipers.
Go on line to AlfaBB and discover that the bolts that hold the caliper together are rare and one must not break them. Alarm bells begin to ring as it is almost certain one of the bolts will fail (why? because they are rare, the car is ancient and the Kiwi Rule is operative). A complete rebuild kit is required... pistons, rubber parts, etc.
Finally someone on Alfa BB mentions RockAuto. A completely rebuilt Centric caliper for $48, plus $80 core and $30 to ship to New Zealand. Or the Cardone (fronts only) for $31 with a $10 core charge and $30 shipping (per caliper). Brake pads that cost $50 in New Zealand start at $6 at RockAuto and add only a few dollars in postage if ordered with the calipers. I could pay less for shipping by consolidating the order, but if the total attracts over $50 in customs duties (5% duty, 15% tax, $0.70 exchange rate, meaning over US$200), it gets delayed by weeks at the border and attracts an additional $47 handling charge... which is another thing to juggle.
Sure, returning the cores is a pain (shipping from New Zealand is more than the total order being sent the other way), so I either have to wait until someone is flying up (and willing to use up their 20kg suitcase limit on my cores) or find someone with old cores sitting in their garage who is in the USA. Or hope I get to the USA before September when the 6-month return window expires.
I began this job around Christmas. We are now a week away from March. All I am trying to do is get the brakes to work. So, I now will wait until mid-March for the calipers to arrive and hope they match my car.
Before that I was trying to get the clutch to work. You can do a search on my postings to see how long that one took (remember the Kiwi Rule: a half hour job takes 3 months). Turns out that the adjustment of the master has very little margin of error. Even with all new parts (ordered from England... took a month), it did not bleed until I figured out how carefully one has to set it up. I documented that one on AlfaBB as well.
The car arrived in NZ in 1997. To pass the state inspection (VIN) it required a new floor and rockers. The shop did the work, but was milking the job and damaging the car, so I gave up and brought it home. In 2004 I started putting the car back together only to discover the the transmission support had been lost by the restoration shop in 1998. I ran out of time, and it was not until 2013 that I began work on it again. I ordered the support brace from the only Alfa wrecking yard in NZ, only to find it did not fit. AlfaBB correspondence finally revealed that the 1969 model is unique. It took many calls and emails to find one in Connecticut almost a year later which I collected on a visit to California... not cheap, but I finally was able to get the transmission to bolt up. A half hour job that took almost a year... or a decade if you count when I began. I wrote up a complete documentation of that one as well, so the next 69 owner who loses their transmission brace will know what to look for.
So in 2017, I really would like to get the car to pass the VIN. Either that or get it in nice shape and sell it in the USA since the value of these cars seems to have skyrocketed and after this job I have a 1970 Bristol 411 needing the exact same process.
So, after I get the brakes working I have to start the car. Then ensure all the mechanicals work. Then put the windshield back in. Then convert to RHD lights. And install the new convertible roof I bought in 1996, and the new seat covers. Probably the new tires (vintage 1996) will need replacement. And after all of that I have to have the car pass the ($500) VIN which may turn up new surprises. It will, for example, require approved seat belts, and unless I install the roll bar as permanent, I will probably have to apply for a shoulder belt exemption. And finally, the new rockers and floor panels that remain in primer will need to be painted.
In all of this, I have to balance costs, time, and keep the surprises to a minimum.
Do I miss the USA? For the most part no. We live in a wonderful place, spectacular water views, winter 50-60 degrees, summer 70-80. An ebike ride to the ferry takes us to the center of a dynamic city. Wonderful outdoor life. Non-polarized, clean politics. Simple taxes. Very international populace. Great fresh food, fantastic coffee, casual lifestyle.
But when it comes to consumer heaven, you bet I miss America. You guys have no idea how good you have it. Need an Alfa part. Order it online. It's cheap. It arrives in a few days. If you can't find it, there are specialized wrecking yards (long may they survive) with used stuff, and of course AlfaBB and other groups. And when you fill up the car, you hardly notice the price. On my island, I pay US$6 a gallon. Of course, we have some advantages. No liability insurance on cars - we have national no fault insurance built into the registration cost which for a car older than 1977 is $52 (US$36) a year.
OK, time to get back to work.