1949 Ford Shoebox Gets New Brakes

A few months back, I was backing the Ford out of my driveway. When I went to mash the middle pedal it went to the floor. No Brakes. Thankfully, I hadn’t built up enough steam to continue rolling into my neighbor’s yard. And thankfully I have insurance on the old Ford that provides towing when it breaks down. A quick phone call and a short tow ride later, and the Ford was hauled to the shop on a tow truck.

This video documents the work I did putting a fresh brake system under my old Ford. I had to learn a lot as I went. The most intimidating part was learning to flare the ends of the new brake lines. There are pre-bent brake line kits available for this car but I looked at the money I’d spend on the kit, versus buying the line and borrowing tools and it was about 10% of the cost. However, it is 100% more hassle to do it yourself!

In the process of diagnosing the failure, I narrowed it down to a leaky wheel cylinder and water in the system. After bending up and flaring new lines, and replacing all the wheel cylinders and master cylinder, I found out that one of the brand new wheel cylinders leaked like crazy. Go figure. After that, the next weakest link failed. I over-tightened the secondary bend on one of the double flares. I learned an important lesson here. I needed to leave a little “mush factor” (pretty sure that’s the proper term for this) in the flare. That way the end of that line can mate perfectly to its intended fitting.

After a couple setbacks and a significant amount of time in the lift, I had all the bugs worked out. Since I bought the car, I’ve always considered the brake system a little dodgy. Now it’s moved down the list of things to worry about while driving my old Ford. Thanks for reading me and enjoy the video.

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Car guy, small business owner, award-winning writer and proud papa.

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