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Hot Rods Copper Brake Lines

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 24 Dodge, Sep 30, 2017.

  1. 24 Dodge
    Joined: May 2, 2010
    Posts: 719

    24 Dodge
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    A friend of mine is working on an old hot rod done in the 50's it has some copper brake lines, I said he should replace them with new steel ones. He said there is not a lot of pressure in the system. It has a single master cylinder. What do you guys think??? Thanks in advance. Mike
     
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  2. Copper????? Nooooo!!!!!
     
  3. convx4
    Joined: Jan 22, 2006
    Posts: 95

    convx4
    Member

  4. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 7,180

    flynbrian48
    Member

    If it's soft copper tubing, like lots of garages used to use for brake line repairs, NO. The new stuff that one can bend without a bender is fine, DOT approved, but the old stuff can burst under pressure. Your friend is mistaken about that single pot master being "low pressure".
     

  5. Hemi Joel
    Joined: May 4, 2007
    Posts: 1,134

    Hemi Joel
    Member
    from Minnesota

    My '29 Duesenberg Model J still has the original copper brake lines. 88 years and still holding.

    If it didn't have an exceptionally powerful handbrake, I might be slightly concerned about them.
     
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  6. KoolKat-57
    Joined: Feb 22, 2010
    Posts: 3,034

    KoolKat-57
    Member
    from Dublin, OH

    Why take a chance, run all new lines with the NICU brake line tubing.
    The stuff bends and double flares very well and there will be no worries down the road!
    KK
     
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  7. I always heard not to use copper brake lines. I got to talking with one of the old time hot rodders. He told that when he was younger he thought if you tied the lines down tight enough there wouldn't be a problem. This guy was an engineer, a perfectionist and an old time rodder. He plumbed his deuce coupe with copper brake lines. I am sure he took all of the precautions to make sure everything was well secured and supported. The result, when the copper lines broke his wife drove his deuce coupe across several front yards and through a couple of fences. Fortunately she was ok. I once bought a car that had a single piece of copper line, I cut it with a pair of clippers so I wouldn't be tempted to drive it until it was replaced.

    Charlie Stephens
     
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  8. The pressure is not the problem. The lines will take the pressure. Get out your slide rule and you can confirm that (oops, I think my age is showing). The problem is the lines fail from vibration and fatigue. The copper work hardens and breaks.

    Charlie Stephens
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
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  9. Copper is very prone to this.
     
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  10. mohead1
    Joined: Jan 18, 2013
    Posts: 592

    mohead1
    Member

    Good way to get killed as it ages and cracks....pressure is high on brakes, wats he talkin about

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  11. Schwanke Engines
    Joined: Jun 12, 2014
    Posts: 784

    Schwanke Engines
    Member

  12. nh-lead-man
    Joined: Jul 24, 2006
    Posts: 181

    nh-lead-man
    Member

    NEVER NEVER NEVER USE COOPER TUBING FOR BRAKE LINE! SINGLE SLAVE CYLINDER OR NOT Just because some dumb ass used it before is no reason to Disregard SAFETY.
     
  13. Definitely remove it and replace it with steel. I know for a fact that in WV and PA they will not pass the annual inspection. If your State has an inspection, probably not like neighboring Ohio it is hard to tell what you will find. Lower control arms held in by a Grade 2 fasteners, broke and totaled a $200 car and $6000 worth of WV State guardrail.
     
  14. Don't ride with your friend until its changed.:confused:
     
  15. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,666

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    Copper will not take the pressure from a brake system . Many different types of copper tube , as in type L, M ,K etc. none rated for thousands of PSI in a brake system . Total force is the issue here not PSI . Please be careful and use your head , "if any doubts change it out ! " The person you hurt may not have a damn thing to do with a hot rod , but their attorney will capitalize on our hobby as being at fault .
     
  16. kabinenroller
    Joined: Jan 26, 2012
    Posts: 690

    kabinenroller
    Member

    Nickel/copper brake line is DOT approved. I purchase mine from NAPA. It is a steel product and has a copper color tint to it, it is not copper tubing. It bends easily and lends itself to flaring very well. Being it's soft properties the flares seat very good when using steel fittings.
     
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  17. inthweedz
    Joined: Mar 29, 2011
    Posts: 440

    inthweedz
    Member

    Vibration causes copper to ''work harden'' and then it cracks - breaks... Use steel lines..
     
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  18. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 18,527

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Cupronickel or Nicopp lines are a suitable substitute for steel, and are arguably better.

    Sharp eyes will note that Copper in an ingredient in that alloy, but they are not the same as Copper lines, of unknown source and type.

    Take them all out and recycle them. I'd put a dual circuit master cylinder in too, but that is just me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
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  19. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,826

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Gents Copper Nickle lines are certified for brakes but reading his post all the way though says that the copper line (s) in question was installed well before the NICop sp? lines were even invented.
    I've had copper oil pressure lines break due to vibration and sure wouldn't put copper lines in the brakes but was taught that they weren't legal nor safe in auto shop in 1962. I'd believe that if you dig in any state's motor vehicle code deep that the requirement is steel or brake certified tubing.
    About 35 years ago I bought a 47/53 truck off some guy for 50.00 because it had some parts I wanted and towed it to the school shop and when we put it on the hoist to take a look under it one of the students pointed to the brake line to the rear brakes and said "that doesn't look right" A previous owner had cut out a section of the brake line and stuck in a piece of copper line using compression fittings on both ends. The truck was an old field truck that had spent several years running around a farm or farms with an irrigation shovel and siphon tubes in the back and probably hadn't been to town in the last ten years it was running except to get tires put on if even then.
     
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  20. I find Home Depot sourced copper water lines in brake systems all the time.
    They use compression fittings too. When questioned I'm told that a professional repair shop had done this work.
    To me that's NoNo number 1 and NoNo number 2.
    There's plenty of stupid to go around these days, makes you wonder how they've gotten that far in life.

    If it was late at night and I was stuck on the side of the road with out a phone and monsters were chasing me and I couldn't snag a unicorn to ride home- I might do a compression fitting patch with copper water line to get home, because it will work - for a while.
     
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  21. Schwanke Engines
    Joined: Jun 12, 2014
    Posts: 784

    Schwanke Engines
    Member

    We use it on rear axles and front ends because of how nicely it bends, and use Teflon coated steel lines to do the long runs from front to back.

    Sent from my XT1585 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  22. slowmotion
    Joined: Nov 21, 2011
    Posts: 3,276

    slowmotion
    Member

    I've delivered (NAPA) literally 'miles' of nickel/copper line. It is the standard every professional shop uses for 'repair' work. Steel, if preformed is required. Copper isn't even an option concerning brake work. Any counter man worth his salt, (there still are a few) will not sell copper line to anyone if brake use is mentioned. (speaking of my location)
     
  23. mohead1
    Joined: Jan 18, 2013
    Posts: 592

    mohead1
    Member

    Im not sure i trust the nickel yet....nickel is traditionally used for high heat....what is the effect w copper? Ductility or something?

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  24. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,327

    Dan Timberlake
    Member

  25. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,327

    Dan Timberlake
    Member

    The Corrosion resistance. Plenty of real world experience . My 1975 Volvo had the epoxy coated lines. They rusted where the epoxy was damaged where the fittings scratched thru. A dozen or so Volvos since have had zero problems with brake tubing corrossion.
    https://www.copper.org/applications/automotive/brake-tube/brake.html
     
  26. mohead1
    Joined: Jan 18, 2013
    Posts: 592

    mohead1
    Member

    Ah...ok

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  27. I always get a kick when corrosion resistance is mentioned; I worked with some on-road heavy equipment that used copper brake lines since back in the '30's, these are like 16" truck brakes with a hydro-vac booster. Fortune 500 company bought out the manufacturer in the late '80s, sent in their engineers to correct any deficient practices, one of which was the use of copper brake lines. These were machines that worked in a pretty dusty, dirty, and wet environment, and by the mid '90's we were getting all kinds of customers complaining of rusted out brake lines, something previously unheard of. Wish they would have had nickel/copper lines back then; sure would have saved people some money.

    Neat story and all; and while copper worked on the sweepers; it would be foolish in this day and age to use anything but steel or nickel/copper lines. Made and installed nickel/copper lines on my friend's '54 Chevy; worked OK; but I can't say I'm crazy about the appearance of the lines in comparison to steel.
     
  28. mohead1
    Joined: Jan 18, 2013
    Posts: 592

    mohead1
    Member

    Steel always for me....use proper benders and double flaring methods and have piece of mind

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  29. BuckeyeBuicks
    Joined: Jan 4, 2010
    Posts: 2,338

    BuckeyeBuicks
    Member
    from ohio

    I worked in auto parts stores for years, when ever a customer ordered 3/16 or 1/4 inch copper, compression fittings and brake fluid I would ask if they were repairing a brake line. If they said yes I wouldn't sell it to them. Had a few really pissed off people but I was just covering my own ass as I didn't was a law suit on me. I even had some joker one time that bought some small gas line and hose clamps, I didn't even think to ask him about brake line repair, who would try that? About an hour later he's back wanting "heavy duty " hose clamps. He said when he tried to bleed the brakes the fluid shot out around those cheap clamps! I told him to stop , call a wrecker and have his car towed to a shop and have them repair his brakes as they should be. He called me a know-it-all asshole and stormed out!
     
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