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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My '67 Super basket case has been off the road since 1984. Sometime around then, the steel brake lines were all removed from the car. Nearly 25 years of corrosion has left them pretty much unusable. Since I'm faced with redoing the brake system from the ground up and in the interest of not wanting to pull a Seinfeld I've decided to convert to dual circuit, and will try to complete the project over the next couple of weekends. This thread will document what I've learned, and should apply to single circuit 105s - Duetto, Sprint GT, GTV, TI, Super.

First thing I've learned: re-doing a brake system from the ground up is expensive. :eek:

I learned quite a lot from this thread. Read it, and pay attention to Papajam's great diagram: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/spider-1966-up/5147-papajams-dual-brake-line-system.html

Here are all the parts (I hope!) needed for the conversion:
  • 1969 US spec brake master cylinder. This is the hardest to find, and the most important. Unless you want to convert to hanging pedals, this is a must have. I got mine from Papajam, who last we spoke has a few rebuilt and sitting on the shelf. If you have '69 Spider cores sitting around, sell them to Papajam to get them back in circulation!
  • Lots of brake line and fittings. I'll detail the lines needed in the next post, since that's where the majority of my planning work has gone.
  • 4 port brake line junction - 3 ports are 3/8", the fourth is M10. The stock junction is a 5 way, with four brake lines and the brake pressure switch. Supposedly there's an Alfa part that some of the UK suppliers have, but I'm planning on using a universal part from fed hill - part number P19-3br. NOTE: this part will not work, because the brake pressure switch is metric thread and the other ports are SAE. Not sure what I'll do about this.
  • Brake booster(s). You can use two like the '69 cars, but it's probably not necessary.
  • Two 1600 style fluid reservoirs, or one S1 1750 style. The 1600 part is BC335 from Centerline. I'll be going that route because the push-on lines used in the 1750 style scare me. From what I understand the 1600 style tend to crack around the fitting, so make sure you have new ones or good used ones. One of mine is busted, so I still need to source one.
  • Calipers, disks, pads, fluid, etc. Duh. You knew this. I'm using the original Ates, but this would probably be a good time to do the 2L spindle / brake conversion if you want to do so. This car won't have much if any track time, so I'm not bothering.
  • Flexible brake lines - two front and one rear. I think these are the same for all 105/115 Alfas. Rubber or stainless steel, your choice.
  • Proportioning valve. I'm planning on using the stock unit, once again because it's not a track beast.

I think that's pretty much it. Next post will cover sourcing the parts needed to build the brake lines.

-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Hard brake line spaghetti

The hardest part (so far - all I've really done is source parts up to this point) is to figure out what lines are going to be needed for the conversion. Keep in mind I'm redoing EVERYTHING. As far as I can tell, there are four options for doing brake lines:

1. Find someone who sells a pre-flared kit that just needs to be bent into place. Unlikely for a stock brake system, impossible for the conversion.
2. Find a mechanic willing to do the job - be prepared to spend big $$$, if you can find someone competent who's willing to tackle the job.
3. DIY with brake lines and fittings from NAPA and a flaring tool from Harbor Freight or somewhere. I've read lots of horror stories about this approach. Note that all the male fittings on our cars have non-threaded leads, which don't match exactly the American fittings at NAPA.
4. Source the lines and fittings and rent a tool from Fed Hill. They sell Cunifer copper/nickel alloy brake line, which is rust proof, easier to work, and DOT legal. You can source the parts cheaper elsewhere, but the ability to rent their pro quality flaring tool and get phone support from knowledgeable folks has pushed me in that direction. All told, the parts and tool rental came up to a bit more than $200. You can probably knock that down if you use some of your old fittings.

First, the parts needed:
  • 3/16" and 1/4" brake line. The 1/4" is for the reservoir to M/C lines, the 3/16" is for everywhere else. I bought part #T3 from fedhill - includes 25' of 3/16" and 12' of 1/4" and should be plenty.
  • (2) 7/16" X 20 male fittings. For the 1/4" line, at the M/C end. Part number P11-4 at fedhill.
  • (2) 7/16" X 20 female fittings. For the 1/4" line, at the reservoir end. Not needed if you use the early 1750 reservoir with push-on fittings. Part number P83 is a 4-pack for the same price as 2. Or PM me and see if I still have extras. :)
  • (9) 3/8" X 24 male fittings. Part number P84 at fedhill is a 12-pack.
  • (5) 3/8" X 24 female fittings. Part number P82 at fedhill is a 5-pack.
  • (4) M10" X 1.0 male fittings. Part number M1-3, I bought #13 Nut pack which is a set of 12, since this is the caliper nut and is the most likely to get stripped.
  • (1) 4 way junction block. Part number P19-3br at fedhill. This may or may not work if you're trying to use your stock lines, as I believe it uses bubble flares and some of the stock lines are inverted.

The tool rental is $25 a week, but because they cater to hobbyists they give you two weekends in the mix. So if you get the tool on a Monday, you can keep it for the subsequent weekend and the weekend after that for the first week's rent. That was one of the most appealing things to me, because I've read horror stories about cheap flaring tools creating mangled lines and leaky fittings. I realize I'm sounding a bit like a shill for fedhill, which I assure you I'm not. They just seem like the only game in town catering to weekend shadetree mechanics trying to DIY their brake lines.

Next post will document each individual line, its fittings and flares.

-Jason
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Brake line fever

CAVEAT: I haven't actually done this yet. What I have done is spend an inordinate amount of time looking at my old brake lines, Papajam's diagram, the M/C, booster, and calipers, then threading test bolts into the fittings and scratching my head a lot. I'm pretty sure it's at least close.

I use "inverted" to mean SAE / double inverted flares, and "bubble" to mean DIN / ISO / bubble flares.

  • Lines 1 and 2: Reservoir(s) to M/C. 1/4" Line (all others are 3/16"), 7/16" Male Inverted, 7/16" Female Inverted. If you're using a 1750 reservoir you won't need the female end, see the Papajam thread for ideas.
  • Line 3: Booster to M/C. 3/16" Line, 3/8" Male Inverted, 3/8" Male Bubble.
  • Line 4: M/C to rear flex hose. 3/16" Line, 3/8" Male Bubble, 3/8" Female Inverted. This is the long one, and comes from the junction block on a single circuit system.
  • Line 5: Booster to junction block. 3/16" Line, 3/8" Male Bubble both ends.
  • Lines 6 / 7: Junction block to RF / LF flex hoses. 3/16" Line, 3/8" Male Bubble, 3/8" Female Inverted.
  • Lines 8 / 9: Front flex hoses to RF / LF calipers. 3/16" Line, 3/8" Female Inverted, M10 Male Bubble.
  • Lines 10 / 11: Rear junction / proportioning valve to RR / LR calipers. 3/16" Line, 3/8" Male Inverted, M10 Male Bubble.

If you have good brake lines on a single circuit system, Lines 1, 3, 8, 9, 10, and 11 should be usable as-is. Line 2 is new, line 4 will need to be modified, and lines 5, 6, and 7 will depend on what you do for a front junction block. If you can find one that needs the same flares as the original and can be mounted in a similar location you should be OK. It may be possible to use the original 5 port junction block and just block off one fitting, but I'll leave it to wiser folks than I to determine whether that will work or not.

So there you have it - 11 lines, 22 flares, and I'll be doing them over the next two weekends. I'll try to take pics as I go and document the approximate length of each line and any fitting problems I have.

Hopefully this helps someone,
Jason
 

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Jarrington had written:

"Source the lines and fittings and rent a tool from Fed Hill. They sell Cunifer copper/nickel alloy brake line, which is rust proof, easier to work..."

It is unbelievable how easy it is to bend Cunifer lines, relative to conventional steel lines. If you are doing a complete car, then renting their tool and making your own flares probably makes sense. For just a few lines, I chose to send FedHill my line lengths and fitting specifications, and let them make the flares. FedHill's stuff is expensive, but worth it.

"....not wanting to pull a Seinfeld I've decided to convert to dual circuit..."

It sounds like you're already down the road to convert to dual circuit. Personally, I wouldn't bother. #1 you're bastardizing our car - the '69-style dual circuit system involves a LOT of plumbing and junk (dual boosters? YUK!). #2 Seinfeld's car may well have had a dual circuit system - if you don't maintain your brakes, they can fail regardless of how many feet of tubing you have installed. #3 Even if you have separate front and rear brake circuits, if you lose the fronts, you are in deep doo doo.

In my opinion, dual circuit brakes provide a false sense of security. I feel that a single circuit, with a float & switch on the reservoir that triggers a warning light if the fluid level becomes low, provides a lot more reliability than adding a whole 'nother circuit, with all the additional stuff that can leak or go bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is unbelievable how easy it is to bend Cunifer lines, relative to conventional steel lines. If you are doing a complete car, then renting their tool and making your own flares probably makes sense. For just a few lines, I chose to send FedHill my line lengths and fitting specifications, and let them make the flares. FedHill's stuff is expensive, but worth it.
I completely agree. As I said, I'm redoing all the hard lines. For just a few lines sending them out is probably the way to go.

It sounds like you're already down the road to convert to dual circuit. Personally, I wouldn't bother. #1 you're bastardizing our car - the '69-style dual circuit system involves a LOT of plumbing and junk (dual boosters? YUK!). #2 Seinfeld's car may well have had a dual circuit system - if you don't maintain your brakes, they can fail regardless of how many feet of tubing you have installed. #3 Even if you have separate front and rear brake circuits, if you lose the fronts, you are in deep doo doo.

I feel that a single circuit, with a float & switch on the reservoir that triggers a warning light if the fluid level becomes low, provides a lot more reliability than adding a whole 'nother circuit, with all the additional stuff that can leak or go bad.
You're entitled to your opinion. As I said, I'm going with a single booster on the front, and there's a grand total of one - that's right one - additional fluid line needed. Not exactly a lot of "additional stuff that can leak or go bad." Bastardize is a pretty harsh word for a pretty non-intrusive conversion. I'm not hacking in a hanging pedal system or a hydraulic clutch or anything like that, and I'm using all OEM Alfa parts. And I seriously doubt Seinfeld's '67 Fiat 500 had a dual circuit system.

I made the call to go dual circuit once it became clear I was going to need a new M/C and all new brake lines anyway. Once I'm doing the work, why not get that additional margin of safety? There's a reason the gov't mandated a dual circuit system.

All that said, I never claimed to be an Alfa guru and this could end up as an abysmal failure. But I think I've done my homework, consulted some Alfa gurus whose opinion I respect, and I feel pretty good about what I'll end up with when I'm done.

Thanks for your thoughts,
Jason
 

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Jason:

OK, well if it works for you great. I would worry about boosting the front circuit and leaving the rear unboosted (which is what I assume you will end up with, given that you don't plan to add a second booster as the factory had done). Will the front-rear bias be OK that way? Will you use a pressure limiting valve on the rear circuit?

You had written: "There's a reason the gov't mandated a dual circuit system."
I admire your faith in government - unfortunately, I don't share it. I have a lot more faith in my own ability to keep my vehicles safe than in the mandates of the bozos in Washington (and Brussels).

But hey, building our cars "our way" is what makes this hobby fun. I sincerely wish you the best of luck, and look forward to hearing how it comes out.
 
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