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Hydraulic Handbrake, Buying Advice

Ben Powers

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More newbie questions for those wise chaps of RHOCaR. I want to put a hydraulic handbrake in to replace the currently poorly performing cabled one. Should be a simple case of open transmission tunnel, cut rear brake line, attach braided lines to ends of cut line, route braided lines to handbrake, mount handbrake on tunnel, bleed brakes. This may actually be within my capabilities.


I have, however, stumbled at the very first hurdle, I haven;t got a clue which brake fittings I need to connect the braided hose to the handbrake end (this on http://www.rallydesign.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=562_599&products_id=4089&osCsid=i7mkl3mrus4jc9lt3u6t6slf15) or the braided hose to the existing cut pipe end. I haven't had a close look at the brake line yet but I'm working on the assumption that a) its M10 and B) it runs through the transmission tunnel.


Can someone point me in the direction the fittings I need please?


Any advice on the best route into the transmission tunnel would also be most appreciated (its an Exmo fyi).


Thanks chaps.

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Why not just fix your handbrake? there's nothing wrong with the cable type - it's simpler and you may not pass an MOT with just the hydraulic:

"Hydraulic parking brakes as a sole means of operation are not acceptable on vehicles first used on or after 1 January 1968"

You may find that when your brakes cool down, the handbrake undoes itself. The main use of hydraulic handbrakes is for handbrake turns in rallying etc. The handbrake you link to may not have a locking mechanism (to keep the force applied when you let go of the handle).

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The link doesnt work for me, but if the handbrake is this one I posted earlier


it does have a locking mechanism, it just not very clear in the pics....we us it on the Vette, but being pre- '68 we get away with it for MOTs.


Best bet for the fittings is to get RD to include pipe fittings that match the handbrake cylinder.

I dont recall what we used


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Thanks, I should have said that I will be keeping the cabled handbrake as per MOT requirements, the add-on is simply so I can reliably get the back out when 'soloing/'testing and not dislocate my shoulder in the process. There was a slight incident in my last event where I completely missed the finish box, sailing by in a wide turn with my left hand on the handbrake pulled up to armpit level and a grimace on my face. Not cool.


I didn't realise I could get RD to do a 'kit' for me, that'll work out nicely then!

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in which case it'll work fine! Are you on rear discs or drums? the handbrake on the discs isn't great but i'd be surprised if the drum handbrake wasn't good enough


Have you got a brake pipe flaring tool? might be worth having a practise on some spare pipe before trying to do it in the tunnel (which might be tricky!)

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you can only get down the exmo tunnel ;


1) from the engine bay (vertually impossible with the v8 fitted)

2) Underneith the car from the diff end. To make life easier you could unbolt the prop shaft from the diff.

3) Cut some holes in the side of the tunnel and then fit cover plates over the holes afterwards. You may find this has already been done in the past.

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No, you need to cut and form a flare on the end of the pipe for regular brake fittings to seal against.


Perhaps the drums need adjustment? I've never had a car with drums, but there should be an auto adjusting mechanism which can sometimes stick.

Another possibility is that the cable is slipping - many people use a shortened sierra cable cut in half and joined by u-clamps or similar.

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If you go down the hydraulic route, would suggest it's easier & a whole lot safer to "break" into the system at the rear where the fixed brake pipe splits at the "T" to feed each wheel cylinder & make fresh lines to come back up the tunnel,would then be easy to remove any mod. Does the hyd.handbrake have a non-return valve so you don't pressurise the fronts as well?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Right, thanks very much for the advice so far. I have been mega busy with work and so missed the 'solo last weekend that I wanted to be sorted for, and the next 'solo this weekend means that a quick fix is the only option.


I've just had a nosey with a view to adjusting the existing handbrake.


There is no obvious adjustment on the handbrake itself. The handbrake cable runs freely through a bracket which is attached to the handbrake lever by a metal rod. There isn't anywhere to move the rod/lever fixing to, nor is there anywhere to move the bracket/rod fixing.


So, next step, on to the drums, much swearing and I got the cover off. I can see where the cable comes in and how it applies the brakes, but once again, no obvious method of tightening it, other than unclipping the end of the cable, shortening it and reclipping it. Even that looks impossible as there is no way to get behind the lever the cable operates. On the basis I have no idea what I'm doing, and the brakes are fairly important, I've left it at that to come and beg advice on here.


Which bit is the auto adjuster and what shall I do to free it up? Or, am I being a numpty with the handbrake level adjustment?


It crossed my mind that given the cable runs freely over the central bracket, would an effective bodge be to just crimp/clamp/wrap/sandwich/bolt or otherwise fix a small loop in the exposed and easily accessible cable in front of the diff, thus shortening/tightening it?


Thanks again chaps.

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My advice would be check which type of system you have on your car, Ford did a few different adjuster systems, once you know which you have look up the process online. Other than that post a photo and I should be able to tell you how to adjust them.

How many clicks do you get on the handbrake before it bites? This will tell you if they need adjusting anything around 4 is ok. If they are adjusted correctly then you may find the drums are badly worn or groved on the contact face, this will stop them working correctly.



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Handbrake fully on - http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/u423/ben_powers1/20130419_170155.jpg

& fully off - http://i1067.photobucket.com/albums/u423/ben_powers1/20130419_170142.jpg


The handbrake works not at all for the first couple of clicks, then barely for the next few, pulled as hard as possible it doesn't appear to be at the top of its travel but it is incapable of locking the back wheels even when turning hard (as is possible) on wet tarmac. Looking at the level mechanism as the level approaches vertical the movement of the bracket is similarly vertical and so not applying any more force on the cable.


My bodge of wrapping the cable around a nut/bolt won;t work as the cable isn't bendy enough.

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