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MG MGB Technical - Cleaning steel brake lines

I know I have to use denatured alcohol and compressed air to clean out the brake lines. I was also advised to clean and paint the lines themselves with some type of protective coating. Qustion is, how do I go about it?? Is it possible to remove the lines w/o damaging them? Car's been sitting for 10 years and the lines look good, nothing's pinched or excessively corroded. The rear brakes and master cylinder have been rebuilt. I plan to move to the front as soon as I get the lines sorted out.
S.L. LaPaugh

With the age of the original brake lines it would be false economy to remove, clean, paint and reinstall the lines. Their interiors would be extremely difficult to evaluate for corrosion and fatigue. Installing new lines would give you the added benefit of knowing that the whole braking system, not just a few components, are up to the task of safely stopping your car under the most severe conditions. Having replaced an awful lot of customer's brake lines over the years, as well as my own, you should consider this a good time to replace yours as well. RAY

While replacing the rear anti-roll bar bushings on my 80LE, I noticed the rear brake pipes had been crushed likely from a cable around the axle in some earlier life while towing or such. I thought about attempting to clean them up and reshape, but it's not likely that I can round out the crushed part without weakening or cracking the tubing. Just an hour ago, I went to Moss' site and was surprised by the reasonable price of the brake pipes. An entire set for the whole car is about $150 and just the rear ones that I need will cost about $40. It's far better use of my time to buy new rather than attempt to salvage the old, damaged ones.
Rick Penland

Rick,to bad that they dont make pre-bent ones,Huh?
rich osterhout

They do make Cuprinol lines (an alloy of copper and nickel) at around $90 that are soft enough to bend by hand. They will outlast steel and are actually stronger. RAY

If there is no corrosion on the outside of the brake lines then there is no need to do anything. I suppose you will anti rust treat the car with something like Dinitrol when it's complete and this will protect the lines. Even surface "cosmetic" corrosion on brake lines is not an MoT fail here in the UK. When you need to change them then yes, put the copper alloy ones on and it's done for life.
Stan Best

There is a company that makes prebent lines for the MGB:

(although the pricing is down for site maintenance, but I have heard they are more expensive than the Moss kit)

Thanks for your comments, I'll definately consider new lines.
S.L. LaPaugh

New 3/16 bundy steel lines are easy to bend by hand. I just use my thumb. If the bend is near the end of the pipe I use a long 3/8 NF nut (one of the extra long head nuts off a LHD car.) screwed partly onto a 3" bolt to get better leaverage.
Garth Bagnall

Same goes for your fuel line. Just keep me away from bending them. No fun at all ! Ask a local shop how much to run new brake lines. You might be suprised at the price you receive. It is money well spent on having someone bend and put the lines in place.

Stan, cupro nickel brake pipe is great, it's easy to work with but the problems start when the pipe has been on for a while, corrosion builds up between the pipe and pipe nut and it can be very difficult to undo the pipe nut to change a wheel cylinder etc.
john wright


Guessing(!!!) from your initial posting that you are planning on changing your system over to DOT 5 Silicon. Cleaning lines and blowing air through them. I read, what I felt, was a fantastic article in Roundel (BMW) Magazine years ago but lent the magazine to some one and never saw it again. Still, occasionally look on the web for a copy. Forget, as of this post, what month and year the article was in. (Very) short version, if you are switching over to DOT 5, replace or rebuild everything that was previously in contact with DOT 3 or 4. There is no was to completely clean an assembled system and DOT 5 will not absorb moisture so if there is any pitting in the system, it (moisture) will not move around any longer and could cause a leak in your system. As for threaded joints, there is no was to get it cleaned out without disassembly and proper cleaning. If flexible rubber of some kind, just replace it.

As for brake lines, as already indicated above, Classic Tube will send you a pre-bent metal set for around $170.00. It will include every line in your system and has all the proper fittings and flares. They have several British car sets already in their computer so all you have to do is order it and sit back. Fits beautifully!! It has been my experience that if one or more of the tubes do not match your existing system or you are making a changes to the current system, send them your patterns and they will supply you an exact copy better than I have ever seen one bent by hand, regardless of what material you are using. If you spend around $200.00, they (Classic Tube) will send you the same set in stainless steel with stainless steel fittings ALL PRE-BENT. I started trying to bend this stuff, to copy my existing (MGC) lines (approximately 15 pieces in total (for $200.00)) and my thumbs gave out after the first piece and still didnít look as nice as the piece I did. The material sold by MOSS has the right flares on it but none of it is pre-bent. It is all sent rolled up.



No relation to John that I am aware of!!
Fred Wright

We ordered a new set of stainless steel brake pipes from Classic Tube for son Danny's Spridget restoration project. The quality is impressive, and everything lines up just fine. Imagine, a no-modifications-needed aftermarket brake pipe supplier!
Steve S.

I took my old brake pipes to a local brake company. It's a fairly large operation, but you should be able to find a similar company near you. 3/16 pipe is fairly easy to bend, but might collapse at 90 degree angles if done by hand. Thus, I opted to let them do it for me. The company made up new brake pipes to the exact length, pre bent with new connectors on all ends for $25.15 (includes tax).
Rick Penland

This thread was discussed between 19/01/2009 and 20/02/2009

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