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Hello, I am new to this forum but not too new with Alfas Fiats and even Moto Guzzis... I recently inherited a 1988 Alfa spider from my father, I grew up working on it and other cars with him so it means quite a bit. It has sat idle for the last 4 years since he passed away. First thing I noted were lousy brakes. Rebuilt all calipers and new stainless hoses. Now all reassembled and I cant seem to bleed out all of the air. No visible leaks anywhere. The pedal still has lots of travel and I need to pump up to get good braking. I have bled the brakes several times and get good fluid with no air from every caliper. Any suggestions???
 

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Well, the 'low pedal' seems to be a common problem. With no specific fix...

Try re-bleeding after a day or two. Try bleeding the system LR & LF together then RR & RF together. Try a few Italian swear words.

Here's a 3 or 4 page thread with lots of ideas: low brake pedal
 

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Some Alfisti I know swear by their hand operated vacuum pump, the one with a pistol grip handle, as a great device for literally sucking the fluid through the lines and venting the bubbles. Personally, the best move I ever made for brake bleeding was to buy the Motive Products pressure bleeder setup from International Auto Parts (currently $54.50 US). With a plastic catch jar hanging off the bleeder and a little check valve on the discharge line, you cannot go wrong. It is by far the easiest brake bleeding, and the most effective, I've ever experienced. You WILL be able to expel the air with this setup. Just apply 5-7 psi to the bottle, crack open the bleed fitting, and watch the bubbles squirt out.

BTW, do follow the old rule of farthest wheel from the master cylinder first, then work back to closest.
 

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I'll second Dave's recommendation for the pressure bleeder wholeheartedly. It's ons of the best tools I've got, and more than worth the price. I've got 3 Spiders. and on each one the brake pedal feels like part of the frame. Minimal free travel, and nicely firm. I've never gotten a better bleed than with a pressure bleeder, and once the wheels are off, it takes under 10 minutes to do all 4 corners.
 

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Dittos on the pressure bleeder.

I finally bought a Motive pressure bleeder and it works well.

The only caution I have is that the path from the reservoir to the master cylinder may leak when the reservoir is pressurized.
 

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yeah, the early style reservoirs (the type with a middle filler cap and two other caps for the level senders) don't pressurize well at all. I could never effectively use the pressure bleeder on my '74 Spider, so I changed the reservoir to the later single cap style, and now it works fine. No troubles on my other two Spiders ('87 and '92) with that same reservoir, nor on my wife's Volvo. !0-15psi seems to work well enough, and I don't see the need to pump the pressure up any higher.
 

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I couldn't use my Motive cause fluid came out from the senders with hardly any pressure - maybe they weren't tightened down enough but I resorted to gravity bleeding. GB might be the best way to do it anyway cause no bubbles are created. If you still have a low pedal after a GB, I would then think master cylinder (since you've already replaced hoses).
 

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a simpler method that works sometimes is to put a brick or similar heavy object on the brake pedal overnight, hopefully the bubbles will work their way up the tubing and be expelled when you remove it the next day. this worked after a replacement of the clutch master cylinder on my pickup.
cliff
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks

Thanks for all the great advice. I did try rebleeding with different wheel order, also borrowed a pressure bleeder from the auto parts store and it did improve the pedal. Still not happy with the braking I just took off the master cylinder and found it to be nice on the outside but NASTY on the inside. Full of corrosion and gunk! Well I just ordered a new MC and we'll see how that goes next week.
Thanks again!
Sal
 

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I'll vouch for the hand operated vacuum pump with the pistol grip. I bought one at Harbor Freight for about $12 because I didn't have an assistant to push the pedal for me after I replaced the seals on my front calipers. It works great, and I've used it several times. It was well worth the small investment.

Tim
 

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IMO, the vacumn pump is good after a caliper rebuild/replacement when there is no fluid in the system. It'll get the fluid doing to do either a gravity bleed (which I'd rather do on the Alfa cause of the pressure sensor(s) on the MC) or a (Motive) pressure bleed. I don't like the idea of pulling (sucking) the fluid through vs. pushing it through. For the price, it's a good thing to have around.
 

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You're probably planning on bench-filling your new master cylinder, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I keep some brake line fittings with short sections of steel tubing, and clear plastic tubing slid onto the steel tubing so I can immerse the ends in a can. I thread the fittings into the outlet ports, tie all the plastic tubing so it discharges into the can, then I can manually stroke the pushrod, fill the MC and bleed the air from inside the cylinder chambers.

Use the plastic plugs usually supplied with a new unit to plug the ports while you bolt the master cylinder on. Then connect your lines one by one. Place plenty of shop towels under the MC to catch the spillage, because the brake fluid will remove paint and expose the areas to rust. Normally with this method, all I have to do is crack the fitting at the MC and let it "spit" to remove what little air gets into the connection.
 
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