Common Building Blunders
TUBE VS. HOSE
It all boils down to terminology here. The easiest way to prevent a problem is to know what you’re talking about. Tim Slattery, sales rep from Classic Tube, told us he often hears. “‘I want to replace all my lines,’ but what they’re trying to tell me is they want to replace all the brake hoses.” So, your first step in dodging this building bullet is to speak the language: Hoses are flexible, tubing is hard.
Slattery gave us some other tips for avoiding headaches: If your project is a restoration, you could have an issue with the type of material you choose. If you’re restoring the car back to its original form, you’ll want to buy OEM-style brake lines. which use OE material. However, if you’re not bound by that, make the leap to stainless steel because it won’t rust or corrode. As rubber hoses age, they can crack, decay, or leak, and lines can also drip or rust. Sure, when you’re talking about coolant, it’s not life threatening, but when it comes to brakes, it is a life-threatening situation.
If you just bought the car, you’ll want to give the plumbing a once-over. Warmer climates can be forgiving, but if it came from the Northeast or somewhere with snow-and therefore road salt-you’re more likely to have to deal with the aforementioned issues. If you do discover a brake line damaged from rust, don’t replace only that one. Safely assume that if it has failed from rust, all the others are in the same condition. If you plan to drive the car year-round, stainless tubing is the way to go.
Brake line installation should be fairly straightforward, and all you should need for the job is a good set of brake-line wrenches. (If you’re fabricating out of straight pieces, you’ll need bending or flaring tools: that’s not a concern with prebent). However, fitment problems could arise if you don’t know the history of the car. For example, lengths and even fittings could be mismatched to your application if you think the vehicle has power brakes but they’re actually manual. Also, did the previous owner switch from drum to disc brakes, and if so, did he use a conversion kit or swap parts from another car? These could lead to fitment problems, such as the lines being bent incorrectly for your car due to that lack of information.
And another common problem you’ll want to prevent: leaks after Installation. With stainless steel brake lines, the fittings may need to be tighter than normal because stainless is a slightly harder metal to seal.