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Technical Rebuilding Wheel Cylinders

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Truckdoctor Andy, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. Am I the only soul left in the world that still rebuilds wheel cylinders? I completely understand that new cylinders can be bought very, well let’s say in expensively (cheap). I would not ever rebuild them at work, it’s too labor intensive to do it right. But I believe the material in the old cylinders are better, not Chinese shit metal. I also got the kits for 50 cents each on a Rock Auto close out. What do you guys think or do?

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  2. I have rebuilt wheel cylinders in the past, the last ones I did were on the rear of the Ranch Wagon but the NAPA kits were not cheap, I like trying to use original parts if at all possible.

    The car sat a long time but a few minutes with a wheel cylinder hone had the inside looking good and I saw no signs of pitting. HRP
    Truckdoctor Andy and VANDENPLAS like this.
  3. Bursonaw
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 87


    I rebuild mine as well. I have found that some of the newer ones have metric bleed valves.

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  4. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 986

    from kansas

    Replace, to cheap to spend time rebuilding. Rebuilt tons of them back in the day along with calipers.

    My philosophy is I never seen one fail due to metal content only seal failures so I have no problem with the newer stuff.
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  5. In the world we live in many of the rubber parts are manufactured overseas and although they meet certain standards I do my utmost to find parts manufactured in the Dtates, It's not always possible but the cylinder kits I found were made in the USA.

    As far as replacing rather than rebuilding there is probably no difference, the only real difference id the self satisfaction of accomplishing another small step in building and maintaining your hot rod or custom. HRP
    Truckdoctor Andy and AVater like this.
    Joined: Dec 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,120


    I rebuild lots at work on equipment.

    how can you justify a $2300 dollar wheel cylinder and 12 hours labour to replace !!!???!! Yes this is not a typo!!
    Idiotic engineers is all I can say on the re and re aspect of some larger equipment.

    anyways haven’t rebuilt a automotive wheel cylinder in a long time due to “ cost effective” replacements.
    Have done a lot of calipers over the years on cars n trucks.

    it’s fun, easy and saves a bunch of money when you can do it
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  7. It's even beyond material. How many times these day's are knock off's even the correct bore? Fit correctly? Just to name a few.
  8. AVater
    Joined: Dec 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,134

    1. Connecticut HAMB'ers

    the short answer is no. Depends on what’s on hand/easily available at the time.
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  9. I rebuild if I can find good kits in time. I've also replaced and kept the old ones to rebuild when the new ones go south.
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  10. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 1,978

    dan c

    i bought some wheel cylinders at the "A" store, and they expected you to bend your brake lines to install them. went to napa and got proper ones for less $.
  11. rusty valley
    Joined: Oct 25, 2014
    Posts: 1,019

    rusty valley

    i used to be able to buy just the rubber cups at the parts store years ago. it would cost less than a buck to make a wheel cyl good again. these days for the old fords i play with there was a bunch of chinese cylinders around that had the port drilled in the wrong place so the piston covered the hole. so, if its a rebuildable old usa made part i go that way
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  12. I mostly replace them these days. Yup, they are built in China but for a name brand company and I think that can make a difference in quality. The company can opt for a higher quality / price, I'm sure not all would.

    Anyway, I am still a bit skeptical. I do open the new ones up and verify bore size.
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  13. bill gruendeman
    Joined: Jun 18, 2019
    Posts: 219

    bill gruendeman

    I say why not, for less than a buck and the satisfaction of doing it yourself.
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  14. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 17,009

    Staff Member

    yup, I rebuild wheel cylinders, master cylinders and carburetors. Also replace brushes and starter drives in starters and brushes and bushings in generators. also ignition points and bushings in distributors.... the bottom line is that "I hate all the modern shit" and the more original parts on my cars, the better I like it
  15. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,682


    Yup, I rebuild them in many cases. Usually, it has to do with price and availability of a new cylinder, but also with the condition of the old cylinder.
  16. Wanderlust
    Joined: Oct 27, 2019
    Posts: 84


    I rebuild everything I can, brakes, carbs, starters, wiper motors, switches, don’t matter if I can take it apart and fix it I would rather do that than buy some piece of crap built to the lowest cost possible and off shore, really sick and tired of this disposable world we now live in.
  17. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,118


    Just replaced 2 calipers on an OT Mustang at work. Both bought at NAPA. One had a metric bleeder, the other was SAE.
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  18. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 26,270


    I rebuilt hundreds of them back in the 70's when you could get good kits and there was more money in my pocket for rebuilding them than replacing them. I rebuilt my own for years when I could get the cups from a local parts house and to hear them tell it I was the only guy around who rebuilt wheel cylinders. The inside of the cylinder had to be perfect after I had honed it or I tossed it and bought a new one though.
    I have never had luck rebuilding double master cylinders since they came out in the late 60's nor have I had great luck with calipers. That may be just me though.

    Main thing is that if you decide to rebuild one hone it first with a good three stone hone and then after checking it out decide to go get a kit or cups or replace.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  19. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,682


    The rust pits usually develop in the area between the cups....but sometimes, they spread out, and will eat away the edges of the cups, and it won't last long.

    You really need to keep an eye out for leaks, check fluid level often, etc on old cars.
  20. Hemi Joel
    Joined: May 4, 2007
    Posts: 779

    Hemi Joel
    from Minnesota

    It depends. Is it a numbers matching restoration thing where you want to have all original parts no matter what? Then of course rebuild.

    But if originality doesn't matter, a lot of wheel cylinders can be bought complete and new for less than five bucks apiece at rock auto. Once you apply the shipping cost of kits versus new cylinders, you might save 10 or 15 bucks on a set of four by rebuilding. In that case, it’s not worth an hour or two of my time that it would take to rebuild four cylinders to save 15 bucks. Then add in a can of brake cleaner that you are going to use up on the rebuild job and you only saved five or $10.

    I always use DOT 5 fluid, so I don't ever have to be concerned about rust forming in the new cylinders, even if the metal is a recycled bed frame.
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  21. Wanderlust
    Joined: Oct 27, 2019
    Posts: 84


    While I make enough I can readily afford to replace pretty much any part on a vehicle that’s not the point to me, what really roasts my ass is all the people flapping their gums about recycle/ reuse including present government and then they don’t have the balls to enforce that, the suppliers and manufacturers don’t make parts any more, they make components without part # and a lot of things that cannot be taken apart and repaired. Please someone kick out the soapbox before I’m identified as a diversive and incarcerated.
  22. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 14,935


    Yup, I encountered this. It was a real pain to get the shoes adjusted first before I could put any fluid into the system. If the new cylinders came with an internal spring like the originals, it might help the problem.

    A couple years ago I had a cylinder sticking, probably because the car sat all winter. I had to have the local parts store ORDER the cups and covers. They said nobody ever rebuilds cylinders anymore. I remember the day when you could go up to the orange Dorman drawers and find a few dozen different size cups, but no more.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  23. I recently bought a 10mm bleeder wrench. Almost any bleeder I have seen in recent years is no longer 3/8". I used to rebuild wheel cylinders but now a new assembly is often less than a kit.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.

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