1980 Holden VC Commodore - Exhaust + Brake Lines

By: David Morley

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holden vc commodore 2 Anodised alloy retainers for the new brake line. overkill, or what holden vc commodore 2

Little by little, week by week, the brown bomber gets closer to firing a shot, or two, in anger

 

Morley's VC Commodore Hillclimber Project

Got a couple more jobs done on the Brown Bomber this month, starting with one that has had an unexpected bonus result. The exhaust system I cobbled up was a paleo-simple arrangement that amounted to a length of two-and-a-quarter-inch pipe with a flange welded on. With a matching flange welded to the collector of my brand-new Pacemaker headers, the end result exited under the passenger-side B-pillar. Perfect. Except it was LOUD. Too loud, I reckon, for any race-track or motorkhana with any sort of noise limit in place.

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Out with the old... ...

The simple fix was to add a muffler to the system. So that’s what I did, first talking to the bloke at my local exhaust shop and learning that the old hot-dog style of thing would make the exhaust note raspier, but probably not much (any?) quieter. So that would have been a waste of time. Thing is, the compact dimensions of the hot-dog would have left me more room to fit the thing, but a waste of time is still a waste of time, even if it seems convenient. You listening, SUV drivers?

So we went searching through the muffler catalogue for a compact unit that would allow good flow, would physically fit and, importantly would shut the 202 up a bit. I’d always wanted to keep the exhaust system tucked high up under the car, so trust me when I say the new muffler is a tight fit in a couple of places (chassis rails and such). But it fits and the car now has a crisp, kinda fruity note (good fruity, not the other type). And the bonus is that I reckon the motor runs better with a bit of back-pressure. Neither my brother nor Torrens were surprised at that revelation, but that’s mechanics for you. Anyhow, win-win, I’m calling it.

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...and in with the new

The other job was to replace the flexible rubber brake lines with braided stainless-steel jobs. Even if the original rubber lines had been in good nick (which they weren’t) replacing them with stainless braided numbers is good practice for a competition car. The braided lines can’t bulge like rubber ones can (especially old, crusty ones like I had) so you get a more immediate response and better pedal feel when you stomp on the picks in anger.

I yanked the old ones and took them down to my local brake shop (This project is being very good for my local economy, no?) and ordered replacements in lovely stainless. While I was at it, I picked up a set of Bendix Ultimate brake pads for the front calipers. Not cheap, but worth the extra for their durability and good stopping power over generic replacement pads.

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It’s a tight fit, but it works

Now all I have to do to finish the job is bleed the brakes back up (‘cos you lose all the fluid in the lines – and then some – when you replace them) and I should be in business. I’ve developed a sneaky way of doing this over the years because, as many people will tell you, getting a brake line full of air to bleed up can be a real pain in the whatsit. So my approach is to replenish the brake fluid in the master cylinder and then crack the nipple of the caliper farthest from the master cylinder. And then go and make a cup of tea. Within a few minutes, you should see fluid starting to drip off the bleed nipple. Then, you tackle the nipple next farthest from the master cylinder and so on until all the lines are full.

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Then you can actually bleed the last of the air out of the system. I use a little length of plastic tube with a check (one-way) valve in the end of it. You place the tube over the nipple, crack it open and then pump the brake pedal. The fluid will push the remaining air out the nipple and the check valve prevents the air from being drawn back in when you release the brake pedal. Keep checking the level in the master cylinder as you go, and Bob’s your mum’s brother. And it’s a one-bloke job, unlike the traditional way of brake bleeding which require at least two bodies.

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Factory-fitted grime helps new stainless make a statement

So now I’m even closer to having a proper, honest-to-Murgatroyd race-car. But I’m still not setting a deadline, because nothing brings a project undone faster than doing it against the clock. And besides, I’m having so much fun doing it, I’ll kind of be sorry when it’s all buttoned up and done. Then again, have you ever seen a race-car that’s ever truly finished? Nah, me either.

 

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