Making brake lines is one of those tasks I always dread. I don't do it often enough to be very good at it, I don't have the right tools, and it never comes out nearly as nice as I expect it to. With all the work that's going into my C10, however, I'm bound and determined to change that with this build. Ever one for a good challenge, I decided to make this my "cause celebre" with which I would attack at all angles until I figured out just what it took to make the ultimate brake line. It turned out it was pretty simple really; just a manner of proper technique and a few handy tools.
As usual, I was doing something wrong and that no doubt contributed to my past frustration and lack of confidence when it came to flarin' and bendin' lines. Putting my Cro-Magnon reflex aside, I decided to follow Inline Tube's instructions when it came to cutting and prepping brake tubing. Turns out, using a standard tubing cutter (like what you'd use to cut copper plumbing lines in your house) isn't the way to do it. Now you tell me?!
As it happens, most tubing cutters are rather dull and when they're used to cut brake lines, particularly stainless steel, they work harden the end. This results in a flare that splits due to the metal's lack of malleability. Instead, Inline Tube recommends using a cutoff wheel on a die grinder to slice the tubing down. Then, after careful deburring and chamfering, the tubing can be easily flared to either the traditional 45-degree double flare or the more contemporary 37-degree AN flare.
Those perfect bends, however, are a different story, but one that's not lost using the same approach. The key is having the right tools on hand. It turned out that Inline Tube had hooked us up in the CCT Tech Center in the past and all I had to do was look around and the keys to building the best brake lines possible were within reach. Their Small Radius Bender coupled with their Tri Bender Tool is all a guy needs short of a tape measure and a marking pen to knock out brake lines that follow every curved nuance in a truck's chassis.
Last month, I finished up with a pair of Wilwood master cylinders on the firewall of my C10. This month, we'll plumb them up to their respective outputs and hopefully shine a light on the best methods to making custom brake lines.
Making flawless flares is easy if you have the right tools. Here's how we made all our flares on the C10.
45-degree Double Flares
Making 45-degree double or inverted brake flares is slightly more complicated, especially when using stainless steel. I've found that careful preparation, a little antiseize, and resisting the temptation to torque down hard on the flaring tool yields consistent flares every time. We have two tools in the tech center and both do the job well, but the Eastwood tool is by far faster and simpler. The one drawback it has is that when a flare needs to be made near a bend, due to the way it captures the tube, it either needs to be made before the bend is made, or the traditional tool needs to be used. I learned this by mistake!
The "Eastwood" Way