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Old 06-18-2010, 10:26 PM   #1
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Unhappy Need Help with Rusted Brake Bleeders

I had to replace a rusted, leaking brake line on Titanic. This was the long line from the master cylinder back to the rear brakes. I used nickel-copper lines for the first time to avoid any further rusting. It's good stuff; it bends and flares real nice.

Anyway, after I got the line in place, I tightened the front fitting and then purged the air from the line through a loose rear fitting. It still felt like there was air in the system so I tried to do a proper bleed at the calipers. The bleeders were all rusted solid. Does anybody out there have a good method for loosening rusted brake bleeder screws without breaking them off? I'm soaking them in PB Blaster but so far no joy.
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:34 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TitanicPilot View Post
I'm soaking them in PB Blaster but so far no joy.
TitanicPilot, I think you are doing everything you can just let them soak for a while more. 6 point socket is a must. It's a shame that the bleeders are frozen like that - just wondering if they were used bi-annually to flush the brake fluid?
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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One of the worst things. My only advice would be to carefully apply heat then quench the bleeder with Blaster. Be careful with the heat, you hurt the seals and you'll be cursing me.

Also try turning it both directions. The back and forth wiggling will go a long way toward working penetrant in there.
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:40 PM   #4
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Try the old hand held impact driver that you tap with a hammer.
J
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:37 PM   #5
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im in the auto rest industry , id soak em twice a day for a week (you got time ) then use a cheapo micro torch to heat em up just the bleeder not the cyl. 6 point wrench and pop loose and work back n forthe a lil ...thats what we do if time allows ,,the lil torch will concentrate the heat unlike a propane which would heat too much and hurt seals...fabricator john
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:34 AM   #6
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I keep a bottle of liquid Wintergreen extract in the shop. Find a good old drugstore. Usually comes in a 2-3 oz bottle. Mine has lasted for many years and never failed. This stuff is better than BP blaster, WD or any other automotive product sold.
Apply liberally around the point of entry with a cotton swab. Wait, wat, wait. After your done your bleeders will smell woderfull!
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:45 AM   #7
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I just dealt with the same issue on my pickup. I know it was a lot easier to work and less expensive than the motorhome would be but after a couple days of soaking mine I just replaced the wheel cylinders. For my truck it was 2 hours of my time and $20 and a lot less aggravation. Now it's good for another 20 years
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Old 06-19-2010, 08:24 AM   #8
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When you do get them loose it would be a very good idea to replace them with new ones.
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:54 AM   #9
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I hope you are using a double flare on those brake lines. My self I would never use a copper line for brakes. I would have just went to Napa and bought up some brake lines and couplers. I am scared of copper brake lines.
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:58 PM   #10
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Talking

Thanks to everybody for the great suggestions! As usual there were a lot of methods that have actually been used successfully to solve a tough problem. I'm going to answer people's posts and then tell you the method I'm going to use.

Quote:
TitanicPilot, I think you are doing everything you can just let them soak for a while more. 6 point socket is a must. It's a shame that the bleeders are frozen like that - just wondering if they were used bi-annually to flush the brake fluid?
DriVer
I'm afraid that this coach didn't even get a bi-decade flushing before we got it....


Quote:
One of the worst things. My only advice would be to carefully apply heat then quench the bleeder with Blaster. Be careful with the heat, you hurt the seals and you'll be cursing me.
Also try turning it both directions. The back and forth wiggling will go a long way toward working penetrant in there.
sknight
Heat, quenching with blaster to shock the rust, and wiggling all sound good.


Quote:
im in the auto rest industry , id soak em twice a day for a week (you got time ) then use a cheapo micro torch to heat em up just the bleeder not the cyl. 6 point wrench and pop loose and work back n forthe a lil ...thats what we do if time allows ,,the lil torch will concentrate the heat unlike a propane which would heat too much and hurt seals...
fabricator john
More heat, soaking, working back & forth, plus a 6 point wrench; I'm getting a pattern here.


Quote:
I keep a bottle of liquid Wintergreen extract in the shop. Find a good old drugstore. Usually comes in a 2-3 oz bottle. Mine has lasted for many years and never failed. This stuff is better than BP blaster, WD or any other automotive product sold.
Apply liberally around the point of entry with a cotton swab. Wait, wat, wait. After your done your bleeders will smell woderfull!
bdaball
I've heard of this stuff but never tried it. How long does it take to work?


Quote:
I just dealt with the same issue on my pickup. I know it was a lot easier to work and less expensive than the motorhome would be but after a couple days of soaking mine I just replaced the wheel cylinders. For my truck it was 2 hours of my time and $20 and a lot less aggravation. Now it's good for another 20 years
88Barth
Unfortunately, these aren't $20 wheel cylinders, they're each multi hundred dollar calipers, so that option is out!


Quote:
When you do get them loose it would be a very good idea to replace them with new ones.
mahon1993
Excellent idea!


Quote:
I hope you are using a double flare on those brake lines. My self I would never use a copper line for brakes. I would have just went to Napa and bought up some brake lines and couplers. I am scared of copper brake lines.
darbyjudy
Yes, I put some nice inverted flares on 'em. By the way, they are nickle-copper lines, a whole different animal than copper tubing. This stuff has been used in Europe for years with no problems except they've almost killed the aftermarket brake line business there.


OK, thanks to your suggestions, here is my plan of attack, otherwise known as massive retaliation against the rust:
  1. First a treatment with naval jelly to remove as much rust as possible.
  2. Give them the micro torch and quench treatment. How do you judge how much heat is enough but not too much?
  3. Make a reservoir around each bleeder with a short piece of 3/4" pvc tubing glued on to the caliper with silicone rubber.
  4. Fill the reservoir with PB Blaster or Wintergreen oil if I can find it.
  5. Wait for several days, making sure the reservoir stays full.
  6. Tap on the bleeder every so often with a hammer and a brass drift.
  7. Try to loosen them with a six point socket
  8. Repeat as necessary.
What do you think?
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:15 PM   #11
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Sounds like you have a plan.

Here's my recipe for heat control. In general it's not an issue to apply heat to something but in this case you have seals a couple of inches away at best. They're meant to take a lot of heat but no need testing them.

Go ahead and use as much heat as your micro torch can make. Focus it carefully on the caliper metal around the bleeder, not the bleeder itself. Spray a bit of Blaster on the caliper, it'll smoke once it gets hot. Once you have halfway to the approximate area of the seal starting to smoke stop the heat and quench the bleeder.

By using high heat focused in one area it'll slow the spread of raw heat. You get more heat in your necessary area.
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:27 PM   #12
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You have gotten a lot of good advice here a couple of products we use in Aviation is Mouse Milk and in the boating Industry is Corrosion X which you can find in any Academy Sporting goods store. The Micro torch is a must as well as a good quality socket preferably Snap On because of the Flank drive design it grabs closer to center of the flat on the hex instead at the apex which is the weakest point and much easier to strip. I have used this type of socket when other tools have already stripped the bleeder simply because they don't grab in the same place. Good Luck
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:23 PM   #13
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I got $10 bucks on the wintergreen oil!
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Old 06-22-2010, 02:23 PM   #14
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I've started on my program of massive retaliation against the rusty brake bleeders.

  1. Naval jelly - check
  2. Micro torch and quench treatment - check
  3. Reservoir around each bleeder - check
  4. Fill the reservoir with PB Blaster or Wintergreen oil - I figured I might as well learn something from this exercise, so I filled the RR with PB and the LR with "Special Sauce"; a 50/50 mixture of diesel fuel and ATF. At least it smells stronger than PB.... In the other two I'm going to use Oil of Wintergreen (on order at Walgreen's) and possibly Marvel Mystery Oil; I'll have to see what else I've got.
  5. Wait for several days, making sure the reservoirs stay full. - I'll wait until Friday or Saturday.
  6. Tap on the bleeders every so often with a hammer and a brass drift.- Not possible because I had to use PVC elbows on the horizontal bleeders.
  7. Try to loosen them with a six point socket
  8. Repeat as necessary.
Here is a shot of the PB side reflected in a mirror; the elbows hold about an ounce.



And the Special Sauce -- Yummy!


On Friday or Saturday I'll strip off the elbows and try to rock the fittings loose.
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