Early cars used mechanical means of activating the car’s brakes, whether the brakes were cable operated or metal rods and levers. These systems proved very effective when properly adjusted. But there were limitations to these early systems and they notoriously required a fair amount of effort to stop a car.
All of that changed when hydraulic brakes were invented in 1918 and first fitted to a 1921 Duesenberg Model A car. These new brake systems allowed newer, heavier and more powerful cars and trucks to stop nearly effortlessly and by 1940 nearly all U.S. auto manufacturers had switched to hydraulic brakes.
Bleeding your brakes is a necessary part of any classic car restoration or maintenance. Whenever the hydraulic brake system is opened air is introduced into the line and because air is “compressible” the brake effectiveness will be compromised.
To remove the air, the brake bleeder at each wheel must be opened to evacuate the air in a process known as “bleeding the brakes.” The only drawback is DOT 3 & 4 brake fluid is nasty stuff that can strip the paint right off newly refinished components, not to mention the serious health risks should it come in contact with your skin, mouth or eyes.
We join Mark Simpson in the shop as he shares a helpful tip to open and close brake bleeders without making a mess out of your freshly painted chassis components or leaving a mess on your shop floor. We’re certain this is one tip that will help you enjoy your time in the shop.