Like any older car that hasn't seen recent maintenance, the brakes were spongy. The pedal didn't depress firmly, but it returned relatively quickly, so I concluded it wasn't a matter of failing lines, it was a case of poor hydraulics at the wheels, possibly at the master cylinder. I took a look at the pads on the front driver wheel and concluded that routine brake service was due. I couldn't know the condition of the rest of the system without tearing each wheel apart, but I didn't want the little car in pieces in my driveway while I did my discovery and then ordered parts. So, I just ordered all 4 wheels worth of complete replacements. With Hapy, this would have been $500 or more. For the MG, it was under $300 including new drums, wheel cylinders, rear mechanicals, rubber hoses and upgraded rotors / pads for the front. The only thing I didn't get in that package was a new or rebuilt master cylinder.
The MGB has drum brakes on the rear, much like the old bus. Also like my old bus, removing the drum off the mechanicals was not like opening a present. That is, unless you like spider eggs and brake dust... and rust. I had expected this, so I'd ordered a complete rear replacement, including the drums. The original drums might have been re-used, but I don't have the equipment to check. Replacement original equipment manufacturer (OEM) sourced drums were not expensive and there's a confidence created when the entire set up has been replaced at the same time. The original shoes hadn't been wearing evenly. It looked like someone drove it around with the handbrake on. It happens; no big deal. Once the drum is free, getting the rest of the old stuff off is pretty quick, but take pictures because putting it back together is like an industrial puzzle. Without a target picture, it gets tricky your first time. The picture to the right here is an "after" picture. Like the bus drums, check the adjustment by spinning the wheel and tightening / loosening until you have just a little drag on the spinning wheel. Of course, this can only be done once the drums and rims are back on.
The MGB has only one rear rubber brake line. It is accessible through the rear passenger tire well, I like the simplicity of the engineering: hard lines run down either side of the rear axle, joining at the rubber line. These short hard lines should reduce the opportunity for pressure to fall out of balance between the two sides. From the rubber line, a single hard line runs from back to front and up to the master cylinder In the front, there are separate hard lines from the master cylinder to each wheel. The last foot or so is the replaceable rubber line.
Remember to wrap the threaded lines with plumbers tape prior to mating the rubber lines to the hard lines or you'll get leaks. Replacing the rubber brake lines is super important. These lines fail from the inside, so if you don't know how old yours are, definitely replace them. Of course, any time the hydraulic system is opened (other than to fill fluid), you need to bleed.
Bleeding and bleeding
|pic swiped from Eastwood|
Bleeding the front end was relatively quick... once I re-did the rubber hoses with plumbers tape. The rear, though, was a challenge. No matter how much I worked both wheels, I couldn't stop the bubbles from forming. Then... nothing. No more fluid passed through. There was fluid in the reservoir, but nothing passed through to the rear. Pumping the brakes didn't affect it either. I started to think that my spongy brakes cause was the master cylinder. The brake master cylinder had lots of rust on it, but costs had me on the fence to replace it. I disconnected the master cylinder and put my MityVac onto the hard line that went back to the rear end. It held vacuum. So, I concluded that it was the master cylinder that was unable to hold vacuum or pass fluid so I ordered a replacement. I'll get into the master cylinder replacement another time.
As always, thanks for following along...