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Project Marina, Stuck Hydraulics

Typically, being sat for 25 odd years, none of the hydraulics work. The clutch pedal is solid, and the brake pedal goes to the floor, and both do nothing to their respective components.

I removed and stripped the clutch master and slave a while back, just to see what was going on. The slave was definitely seized, as using a long prybar on the clutch fork to compress the slave resulted in a sudden BANG and it started to move freely. I still needed to remove it to inspect though, as it was obviously getting hung up on something.

The Aussies are a bit smarter than the Brits with the slave cylinder. The UK cars you need to remove the clutch line, remove the clutch pin, and then try to slide the cylinder towards the rear of the car, and get it out from between its housing and the clutch fork. Sometimes this is easy, other times it requires a special tool to push the clutch fork back to create space. The Aus cars have a circlip to secure the slave, so once that and the clutch line is removed, the slave slides towards the front of the car, where there is ample space to remove it. In fact, one of the UK manuals I have claims the slave can ONLY be removed if the gearbox is removed from the car!

UK cars

And Aus cars

With the slave removed and on the bench, I removed the pushrod pin and boot. You can see the rusty sludge that the piston has moved.

After I cleaned the sludge out of the holes in the circlip and removed it, the guts of the cylinder came out with some prodding.

Everything actually looked reasonably good, with minimal signs of rust in the bore. There was some at the very front, which a quick touch up with fine sandpaper fixed no issue. I’ll be reusing this slave, but have a new seal kit for it. I could have gotten away with reusing the existing seal, it looked fine, but don’t want to do the job twice for the sake of a few quid. That kit arrived the other day, so will rebuild that soon.

The master on the other hand is a write off.

I removed it from the car, removed the pushrod, and thats as far as I can go

No amount of “gently tapping” will force that piston out. I ended up putting about 70PSI behind it, and only got this far

I can only presume the piston and/or the bore is rusty and just binding. It turns out this is a Spitfire master cylinder, so have ordered a complete replacement and will fit that when it arrives.

Moving along, I started work on the brakes. This work was proceeded by buying some basic parts and finding some in the boot. I purchased all new hoses for the front and rear. The fronts are from a Series 3 Land Rover (2x BR0764) and the rear is from a Triumph Spitfire (1x GBH166). I found a new old stock master cylinder rebuild kit in the boot, purchased new in Tokoroa in 2001.

I had previously tried to bleed the system but got zero fluid from any of the bleed nipples, even when trying to draw the fluid through under vacuum. There was fluid in the reservoir when I got the car, but it was a bit low, so I thought I would top it off before trying to draw it through. Pouring in dot4 resulted in the weirdest “mixing” I’ve seen. The fluid kinda floated around and when it slowly mixed it kinda sparkled and didn’t look right. I sucked the fluid out, and sure enough, I’m 90% sure the master cylinder was filled with engine oil. It smelt like clean engine oil. Even sucking it all out left some sludge in the bottom of the reservoir.

This was a bit easier to strip down. A few hard bashes on the vice and the piston popped out, covering my hand in whatever sludge was in the bore, chunks and all.

I was trying to think of why you would fill the reservoir with oil and the only reason I could come up with was to stop the bore rusting. Well, it didn’t. With the piston removed, there was some minor rust on the sides of the bore, but bad rust and pitting at the very end, where the seal on the end needs to block the reservoir. I cleaned it up as much as I could. The rust on the sides of the bore wiped off with some fine sandpaper.

The piston had some light corrosion on it, but looked OK otherwise.

This is the end seal, you can see all the crud built up around it

The seals weren’t too bad, but having the new kit already I swapped them all over and reassembled. A quick test on the bench showed that it seemed to be working as it should, so I reinstalled it into the car.

Now it was time to work on the hoses and calipers. I started on the front. The hoses came off reasonably easily. With the hose disconnected from the hard line I attached my vacuum bleeder to suck through fluid and flush the line. I like using the green fluid as it’s really obvious when the new fluid is coming through.

Out of curiosity, once I removed the hose I connected the vac pump up to one end, left the other end open and tried to pull air through it. Nothing. Blocked solid, and even with the most suction that pump can draw, not a single drop of air could get through.

I was warned about these style hoses, the old style with that textured outer layer, when I redid the hoses on the TVR. The rear hose on the TVR was of this style, and apparently they are known for internally degrading and blocking up over time. The other side was the same, completely blocked.

The new Land Rover pattern hoses look nice enough

I temporarily reconnected the old hose to the hard line, just to block the end of it in the mean time so I can draw a vacuum from the reservoir.

The other side had some questionable looking fluid in the lines, but flushed OK.

With the hoses off I began removing the calipers. I’m glad I previously vacuumed most of the cobwebs off. Ugh.

These were well stuck on, but some hammering and levering saw them jump off the rotor. I’m hoping the rotors will clean up OK, will need to check their thickness.

Everything looked and felt like it had been on there far too long. Even removing the pad retaining pins was a pain, but lots of hammering and lots of CRC got them out.

The previous owner got their monies worth from the pads.

One of the piston boots was missing its retaining clip, and was just floating around.

I had to get creative to try and force the pistons out. One is moving freely, but one is jammed solid. Even 128psi couldnt shift it. I’ll need to try and shock it with my actual air compressor, not slowly build pressure with the tyre inflator.

The other caliper isn’t much better, neither piston felt like moving on that one.

The one piston I did get out was a disappointment though, the chrome coating is flaking off in places and there is scoring and corrosion on it, so all the pistons will need to be replaced. I already have a seal kit, but will wait on new pistons now. Might even paint the calipers in the meantime to make them flashy (even if you can see them with the wheels on).

The last job for the day was to remove the rear hose. There is only one, as the fluid goes to the RH side wheel cylinder and then crosses over to the LH side one. Another old textured hose.

New hose partly connected. I’m pleased at hose easily these old hoses came off. A ratcheting spanner certainly helps for the lock nut though.

And new hose installed.

Another quick test with the vac pump, and sure enough, another completely blocked hose

Pays to check your hoses and replace them if they are the old style.

With the new hose in place, the only other thing to do was flush the lines with new fluid. There was quite a bit of fluid in the cylinders and lines. Didn’t look too bad, and no rust, so hopefully that means the rear wheel cylinders are still OK. I can get the kits to rebuild them locally, so will see if they work first and go from there.

And keep pulling it through until it goes green

Unfortunately I tried pumping the pedal with the system all buttoned up, and the master cylinder is blowing fluid back into the reservoir, indicating the end seal isn’t sealing. I have reached out to a couple of companies that should be able to sleeve the cylinder and will see what they say.

In the mean time, off to make a list of more parts I need to buy.

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