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1936 dodge rebuilt brakes still won't work

I give up. I have been trying for a very long time to get the brakes on my 1936 dodge to work with no results. The whole system is rebuilt, new lines, resleeved and rebuilt wheel cylinders, rebuilt and resleeved master cylinder, no leaks in system, pressure bled, vacuum bled and new lines. I even had a mechanic try and get them to work. He said all they needed were to be bled very slow. he actually got them to work slightly but after the car sat for a week the brakes were gone again. Drums all around, master cylinder is single cylinder. Brake pedal goes right to floor. any suggestions.

What doesn’t work? No pedal? Fluid not being pushed into the wheel cylinders? Could you elaborate a little? Rocketman

This is a simple hydraulic system. And if there are no external leaks apparent, then the hydraulic system must be leaking internally. I’d be questioning that resleeved master cylinder.


I have to agree with tester. The master cylinder, while not very complicated, has small ports in it to direct the hydraulic pressure. If in resleeving the master cylinder, the ports were covered up, then it’s not going to work.

Why did you choose to resleeve instead of using oversized seals?

I agree with Tester and Keith…The sleeving of the cylinders almost guarantees internal leaks…MUCH better to bore them out to the next standard size or locate usable parts.

It would seem that the master cylinder is the problem. Remove the brake line from the master cylinder and replace it with a plug. After several pumps to displace the air the pedal should be high and hard and remain firm while you press on the pedal with both feet. Try that and post results.

Try an open brake line out from the master . . . a brake line attached to the master but open on the other end. Pump the brake pedal. Any fluid? If not, gotta be the master. If so . . follow the lines to the blockage. This has got to be something simple. Rocketman

Sorry for not replying sooner but I’m not getting emails saying I have responses. First, I decided to resleeve because I was having the same problem before I resleeved. It was resleeve at White Post and this is basically all he does so I have no reason to question his work.
If I pump the master cylinder on the bench I get a good flow from the port. I have used a pressure bleeder and have gotten fluid out of all wheel cylinder bleeders with no air bubbles. I used a vacuum bleeder, the type you connect to a air compressor and have got fluid out with no air bubbles.
The are no leaks at any of the wheel cylinders or master cylinder, I even removed the boot on the rod and no fluid.
The rod that pushes the master cylinder in has an adjustment which I adjusted all the way out, still no brakes. I even extended it by putting a bolt in the cylinder and still nothing. I agree its a simple system, so why doesn’t it work.
What about the return springs on the shoes, can they be too tight? They are suppose to be correct for this dodge but I have no way of knowing. The tee that sends the fluid to the rear is just a regular tee.
The internal ports in the master cylinder, does any one know how wide they should be? One of them looks like a pin hole, should it be wider. I got the master cylinder from Andy Berbaums in Conn. and I have had some issues with parts from him.
You step on the pedal the fluid pushed the wheel cylinders out and the car stops, simple, why can’t I get it to work.
I"m using brake fluid that I bought at the local Advance Auto.
I’m in Poconos in PA if no one has any ideas can someone recommend a good oldtime mech?
Thanks for the help guys. I will check back more often for responses. Pete

You need to do as suggested. Install the master cylinder in the car with plugs in all outlets, confirm it works (hard pedal). That way you’re eliminating all the lines and wheel cylinders. If you get a hard pedal, then try to connect up the minimum you can at a time to test it.

Ok. Sounds like a plan. I will not be able to get to it until 8/19. Stuck covering vacations in work. Will post results that weekend, would appreciate it if you check back them. Pete

Are you adjust the shoes correctly? You use a brake tool through a slot in the backing plate to run the star wheel out until the shoes just stop the wheel from turning, then back them back in 6 notches.

There are no self adjusters on this system. You should feel a very slight drag from the brakes when you turn the wheel by hand.

Bench test the Master. Basic old timey brake diags.
No default pressure being retained by master?
Sounds like a faulty master seal or cylinder.

Ok. Sounds like a plan. I will not be able to get to it until 8/19. Stuck covering vacations in work. Will post results that weekend, would appreciate it if you c

Ok. I removed MC an plug outlet and could not pump MC. So looks like MC is good. As far as comment on adjusting brake shoes - there is no slot on back to adjust. You use cam nuts on backing plate to adjust. But I do have them adjusted with a slight drag.
I have reinstalled MC with quarter inch spacer in MC to see if I can get more depth on plunge from peddle. Please keep comments coming. Thanks.

Have you pulled all the drums off and had someone work the brakes while you watch the shoes? I’d start with this to see exactly what is not working, then work back from there.

You did grease the backing plate right?

With the drum off, can you post a picture of the backing plate and shoes?