By on January 31, 2011

Since I’ve got ungodly quantities of top-shelf booze thanks to my other job, I figured I’d celebrate my 900th birthday by having a party and pouring said booze down my guests’ throats. A couple of them went overboard on the gift department, including one who made me a coupon for free brake work on my Dodge A100 Hell Project.

2010 Ununquadium Medal and Index of Effluency winner Rich has been haranguing me for endangering innocent lives— and my own— by driving a van with single-circuit, four-wheel-drum brakes, so here’s his very thoughtful birthday gift. Yes, he’ll help with the brake-line bending and flaring (two skills I’ve never been able to master, despite many expletive-filled attempts) when I upgrade to the nanny-state-approved dual-circuit master cylinder, and he’s even got me halfway convinced to do a disc-brake conversion as well.

Can you find all the mistakes?

That wasn’t the only great birthday surprise from an Ununquadium Medal winner. Cadillac Bob of Speed Holes Racing AMC Marlin fame handed me a gift box that turned out to be full of Brezhnev Era Soviet 1:43 diecast-car awesomeness. How about a USSRDM Fiat 125?

Bob spent a couple years of his childhood in Moscow, when his engineer father had a contract job there, and he brought back a bunch of toy cars made for glorious workers’ children. I was stunned by his generosity in giving up several of them, but he says he’s still got plenty more.

A Moskvich 412!

Would you believe the Soviets honoring the Renault 16? Fiat, sure, but Renault?

Believe it! These cars now have a place of honor in my office, right next to the diecast Leyland P76 and the diecast GAZ-13 Chaika I picked up on eBay.

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24 Comments on “Brake Work Birthday Gift: How Many Mistakes Can You Find Here?...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Clockwise from the bottom: the flare is the wrong shape, that last bend is too sharp for the long nut and it’s on backwards, something lurid happened up top, the line was flattened, that pinch bend is waiting to fail, and it looks like the other flare has a split in it.

    I spent last summer replumbing the brake lines on my old GMC and converting it to a dual MC. I finally got everything buttoned up and not leaking, then noticed that one of the loops from the MC basically sat on the clutch linkage when I put that pedal in. Pulled and yanked on that to get some clearance, and if it ever warms up again I’ll see why the starter quit working.

  • avatar

    A personal nostalgia 2-for-1!  1) The death-trap Mopar drum brakes of my ’68 Fury on a rainy day, and 2) the signs of summer’s beginning when I lived in Russia was the litter of Moskvitches over-heated on the side of the road.

  • avatar

    Can you find all the mistakes?
    Aside from the reversed fitting on the wrong side of the bend, the tilted flange, and what looks like a bulge on the other flange (Too much “stick out” in the die), no.

  • avatar

    In my own automotive experience with two-circuit brake systems (complete with differential valve which turns your brake light on in the event of a leak in one circuit, along with supposedly limiting flow to the leaking side), I have had a few hydraulic system failures (rusted-out brake lines, anybody?), and in each and every case, the pedal went all the way to the floor and there was essentially no brakes all the way around.  So I’m not sure how much advantage that system really has as far as redundancy goes.

    Front disc brakes, YES!  Power-assist, definitely.  Of course, having disc/drum necessitates a proportional valve, and having the dual circuit allows independent sizing of the master cylinder pistons which is helpful.

    If you really want to experience modern-day brake loss, nothing like a motor or pump failure in a Teves Mark II antilock-equipped car to really get your pulse racing (lose all power assist, lose all rear braking, still have manual front brakes in theory but you wouldn’t know it).  BTDT too!

    • 0 avatar

      “…rusted-out brake lines, anybody?” I know nothing of how to service brake-lines at this point, but plan to learn at some point. That being said I can completely relate to the idea of rusted out brake lines. About 5 years ago I  had a 1991 LeSabre which I bought from a coworker of my brother’s and they mentioned that the brakes needed to be serviced. I figured pads, rotors, and maybe drums. It turned out the steel brake lines were rusted out, both had 13 inch cracks and there was absolutely no pressure after awhile.

       I drove like this, not knowing just how bad it was, for about 3 weeks and decided one day when there was a sloppy snow day and I attempted to stop and couldn’t scrub off any speed. This happened when I was entering the freeway, at rush hour, and I was following a person onto the freeway, keeping enough space because I knew the brakes were weak and it was sloppy that day, when said person applied his brakes. At this point I applied my brakes so I could maintain my distance and nothing happened, if anything I sped up. I came to within a car’s length of this person and decided the best option would be to drive into the ditch and hope I could get out. I had a bottle of brake fluid in my trunk and topped it off, more like completely filling since the reservoir was empty, and was able to crawl out of the ditch.

      Needless to say I took the car over to a mechanic and had them replace the brake lines. I hope I never have that experience again.

  • avatar

    Stunning how much the Moskvich resembles a Mark 1 Ford Cortina.

  • avatar

    “Nanny state” dual circuit brakes as in you’re doing the upgrade because you know they’re safer but don’t want to admit it, or “Nanny state” dual circuit brakes as in you’ve been told you have to fit them in order for your van to pass inspection? Either way, discs are definitely the way to go.

    • 0 avatar

      “Nanny State” as in mocking the old dudes who send me emails bitching about how drum brakes were good enough for Grandpappy— in fact, they’re BETTER than discs— and how Ralph Nader conspired with Robert McNamara and Jane Fonda to kill the Edsel. As far as I know, no US government agency has ever mandated disc brakes for cars, but still: THEY’RE TAKING OUR FREEDOMZ!

    • 0 avatar


  • avatar

    Are the bodies on those Soviet diecasts metal or plastic? They look plastic from the pictures. Absolutely fascinating for a collector such as myself. Thanks for the snaps!

  • avatar

    I drove my ’91 Caprice wagon nearly 70 miles back home with a blown-out line across the rear axle…the angels were watching over me that day! I still had enough front brakes to keep going as long as I pulled over every 20-30 miles to top off the Master Cylinder!
    Turned out that rear line was the only one not replaced from a redo of the lines done by the previous owner. The old saying is, replace one…better replace ’em all.
    Murilee, get a professional quality bender and flare kit at NAPA or another “hard parts” store. I had no success with lines either ’til I got better tools. Also, if you do that disc conversion…I’d get an adjustable proportioning valve – it may be the only way to get proper braking balance as I’ll bet no A-100 ever had disc brakes before the 1970 redesign.

  • avatar

    Driving a vehicle with drum brakes, on public roads, would be a disservice to your fellow motorists. I’m surprised that no one mentioned the tubing cutter marks on the bottom tube yet.

    • 0 avatar

      Meh, on a small, light vehicle drums are just fine. Even all the way around. VW Beetles have excellent drum brakes. On a van that will probably have more power than stock? Disks up front please. Have to use the right tech for the right application.

  • avatar

    Most tractor-trailers have drums on all five axles.

    • 0 avatar

      Transit buses, too.

    • 0 avatar

      People used to start fires by rubbing sticks together too. My point was, that sometimes an upgrade is appropriate, especially when someones safety is at stake. BTW TR4, Tractor trailers and other larger vehicles are in the process of upgrading to disks as well. If you guys want to make an argument for drum brakes, I’m all ears, but when you are picking someones rear bumper out of your teeth, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    • 0 avatar

      Discs, especially rear discs, are overrated, save for a few conditions (track use, long downhills). Maybe Murilee’s take is different, but I wouldn’t take sixties-vintage van to the track unless my actual racing car was coming along with it.
      They’re certainly more vulnerable to debris damage (a problem with trucks) and warping (probably would be a big problem with trucks).
      That said, trucks can use engine brakes to avoid fade, which why they can get away with drums.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh Psar, you’re such a luddite, get with the times will ya.  :)

  • avatar

    As I understand it, unless you’re getting into ceramic discs, there are two primary advantagea to disk brakes. The first is that they work better in wet conditions because the pad is always sweeping water from the rotor. The other is that they dissipate heat more effectively. Other than that it’s just a function of swept area. If you look at racing in the late 1950s and early 1960s, plenty of racers were still using high performance drum brakes, though disks had been available for years.
    Jack’s pointed out that on the track you can get all but the most high performance 4 wheel disk street braking systems to fade after a couple of hot laps. So disk brakes are not a panacea, they just don’t fade nearly as easily as drum brakes do. Back in the ’60s, testing for brake fade was a common feature in car reviews. Now, not so much.
    I’d be more concerned with the single braking circuit. I always thought that Volvo’s dual two fronts and a back system made sense. It makes sense, because of the hostile environment that cars perform in, to have some redundancy in the brakes’ hydraulics.

    • 0 avatar

      @Ronnie Schreiber,

      There is one more advantage that you left out, and that is the number of parts that need to be either replaced, or lubricated. If you DIY, I’m sure you remember having to change brake springs, and having to lubricate contact points and adjusting wheels.


      Here is something worth reading:

  • avatar

    There aren’t any mistakes at all. All of the defects in that pipe are obviously quite deliberately contrived. The question might have been more valid had it been along the lines of:

    “Which common manufacturing or fitment errors and/or service damage and examples of bad practice (relative to accepted automotive industry norms) are being demonstrated on this pipe which superficially appears to be from a car, but was in actual fact was constructed with the express purpose of displaying said defects?”

    Since the pipe could never actually be fitted to a car let alone be prepared for service since it would prevent any bleeding attempt, the question is irrelevant to the general point about the safety or otherwise of single circuit braking systems.



  • avatar

    Murilee, if I’m not mistaken the V8 powered A 100’s used the same 11 inch brakes that were used on the big block powered B bodies of the 60’s.  They worked quite well under most conditions due to the large surface area of the shoes.
    And the A 100 isn’t very heavy, so if I were you I would stick with the drums for a stock driver. I would switch to a dual master cylinder with a proportioning valve, though. Under normal driving conditions brake shoes last longer than  pads due to the increased surface area.

  • avatar

    Looks suspiciously similar to the mangled pieces of junk I use for master cylinder bleeding.

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