Piston Slap: Of Antique Trucks and Rebuilt Brakes

TJ writes:

My New Year’s resolution this year was to get my grandfather’s 1979 Chevy C10 running and driving again. It’s been parked in the garage since I drove it in there when my wife and I moved into our house in spring 2012. I stopped driving it because the transmission needed (another) rebuild and I didn’t have the time or money then. I’ve managed to get it running (full carb cleaning and new sending unit in the tank) and it will idle after some urging.

Now the next issue: I decided to check the brakes by jacking up first one end then the other and spinning the tires, then having someone step on the brakes (my 4 year old loved it). 3 out of 4 wheels spin, but the brakes don’t stop more spinning. The front passenger is stuck. I was able to get the rotor to turn some with a breaker bar. I could also hear some dragging in the rear passenger drum, but I was still able to turn it by hand. The pedal has some firmness, but not a lot and it doesn’t get hard after the engine is off (have to check the booster once I get the brakes working).

My first thought is to replace the front calipers and rotors (rotors probably need it anyway) and wheel bearings, since the rotors will be off. I’m not above rebuilding the rear drums also. Before I drop a bunch of money on parts, I thought I’d reach out for advice.

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  • Renewingmind The idea of a silent smell free world of vehicles sounds wonderful from a quality of life standpoint. Start with diesel trucks. Especially big ones. They are the worst offenders for fumes and noise.
  • DenverMike Pininfarina I know it's not related to this, I just like saying it.
  • Matt Posky I don't understand the appeal of fake meat and this seems to operate under a similar premise: You don't want the V8 because someone says it's bad for you. But you can have something designed to mimic the experience because that's what your body actually wants. The styling is cool I guess. But I don't understand why EVs don't just lean into what they are. Companies can make them produce any wooshing or humming noises they want. Buiding an entire system to help you pretend it still has a combustion engine seems a little lame.
  • DenverMike I'm sure it would have a volume control. It's nice to sneak into my neighborhood at 2am quietly. Or creep out, 4am. I don't get much sleep OK, but I always keep my V8 exhaust stock, as much as I love the sound of others loud. My stereo would make it pointless anyway.
  • FreedMike I’d love to see more tracks, or off-road parks if that’s your jam. But for those of us who’d love to take part in this kind of thing, practicality is the limiting factor. Racing has always been expensive, and most people don’t want to do it with their daily drivers - I’d love to see what my GLI would do on a track, but not at the cost of voiding my warranty, or potentially wrapping up the car (which I’m pretty sure would put me on State Farm’s Keith Moon-trashing-the-Holiday Inn list). As a practical matter, you have to have a vehicle that is intended to be used for racing, and the ability to fix it; most folks don’t have that kind of money or skill set.