Look ma- No brakes!
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:52 AM   #1
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Default Look ma- No brakes!

Got my pickup back from the shop today. It is a 1985 Ford F150. It gets driven maybe 10-30 miles a week. It is my huntin'/fishin'/haulin' a load of firewood to the daughter's house truck. And it tows my boat.

Not a yacht, just a simple little 14 ft Jon boat with a 9.9 and a trolling motor. On Saturday evening, I was backing own the boat ramp at local fishing lake- just my lady and myself- when I got that untimely AWCRAP sensation of my brake pedal flopping on the floor, limp as a waterlogged nighcrawler. No brakes. But the parking brake worked. YAHHHH!

After removing the seat cushions from my clenched butt cheeks, I popped the hood, and checked the master cylinder. Looked like a little desert in there. Swear to god there was a tiny cactus and a tumbleweed- but no brake fluid in the BIG side of the reservoir.

Good thing about a truck- you have a toolbox. Lemme see- axe, sleeping bag, MREs, 10W40, flares, parachute- ah, here we are- brake fluid. Topped up master cylinder, tried pedal- ah- MUCH better. Loaded the boat, straight home at SLOW speed, dropped boat, straight to shop.

Good shop- have known owner over 20 years. Called me this morning- line from master cylinder had pinhole from rust. Replaced the line, flushed, refilled. All better.

The purpose of this rambling tale? I damn near put my truck into the lake- a two mile hike from nearest house. How many of you are driving an older vehicle- and when was the last time you checked ALL the fluids under your hood?

I'm just saying...........

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Old 09-22-2010, 04:56 AM   #2
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Thats a definite awe sh!t moment. Funny thing is as a mechanic I don't even carry brake fluid.

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Old 09-22-2010, 05:42 AM   #3
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Currently looking for one (Age 1976 and older) for the same thing. I very worried, the wife has hinted, buy old truck and you can have the mini-van.

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Old 09-22-2010, 06:07 AM   #4
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You never know when that pinhole will burst, and it it's more than likely that even if you pre-flight your vehicle before you go on a trip, sh!t sometimes happens!
Good thing you were smart enough to remember that you had an emergency brake, great job saving the truck

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Old 09-22-2010, 06:46 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c3shooter View Post
- when I got that untimely AWCRAP sensation of my brake pedal flopping on the floor, limp as a waterlogged nighcrawler. No brakes.
Just an FYI:
One thing you might want to do is try to pay attention to your brake pedal feel when you are sitting at stop lights / signs for awhile. What often happens when you have a failure like that and the brake pedal hits the floor, you end up scarring or cutting the master cylinder piston seals. When the seals go past their "normal" range of travel in the bore they get shoved over all the rust and corrosion built up at the end of the bore.

Afterward, you might notice your foot sinking down with steady moderate pressure on the brake pedal as the brake fluid slips past the damaged cup seals. I've seen a lot of master cylinders ruined by improper brake bleeding because the pedal was pushed down too far on older master cylinders.

Wouldn't want you to have a deja-vu moment down the road.
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Old 09-22-2010, 07:40 AM   #6
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I've had many an old vehicle for utility reasons. And you have to check out things like belts, hoses, and fluids on a regular basis. I have been driving Jeep Cherokees for the last 13-15 years and have to admit I've got lazy. Those things seem to work better when you treat them bad. I'm getting kind of sad my newest one (99) has reached all of 230,000 miles. It still runs like new but it is getting old so I'll have ot think about getting something else as a daily driver and finding any with the old 4.0 liter 6 cyl is getting harder. My 85 CJ made it to 315,000 so I still have a little hope. I'm seriously considering looking for another motor and building it and setting it aside. I have a drive train in an older one here still that I use for parts.

If you are going to drive an older or high mileage vehicle it's a really good thing to keep an eye on things. I'd feel worse if something happened to my Jeeps than I would a new truck. They make new trucks every day. THe older ones with real character are getting harder to get hold of every day. And there is no substitute for the history.

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Old 09-22-2010, 10:33 AM   #7
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It worse when your actually moving at speed and you have a line burst. Happen to me one time, rust had weakened the hard line inside the frame and I got on the brakes to have the pedal go the the floor. Thankfully it was the back and I would nurse it home using the fronts and the e brake.

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Old 09-22-2010, 10:53 AM   #8
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Glad to hear you weren't fishing for your truck. Good advice to check fluids.

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Old 09-22-2010, 12:35 PM   #9
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You should change your brake fluid occasionally. DOT 3 and 4 brake fluid are hydroscopic. They absorb and surround water. When the fluid gets too much moisture to contain, the moisture will start the rusting process. A change of fluid at 100,000 miles or 5 years will prevent a lot of headaches.

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Old 09-22-2010, 04:14 PM   #10
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Thanx Hi Power- will keep an eye on it. Bad enuff when your brakes fail, and you are going forward- you at least have a chance to TRY to steer- but being in reverse on a boat ramp, with nothing behind you but a lake.... well, it beats the hell out of black coffee for a wake-up. Good news is I should ace my next cardiac stress test!

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Last edited by c3shooter; 09-23-2010 at 01:17 AM.
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