Bleeding a hydraulic handbrake can either be painless, or a source of never ending problems. In order to help others I’ve decided to post up my learnings.

I’ve had a lot of problems with mine. I went with a full PSM kit hoping to avoid some of the other issues but the bleeding has been horrendous.

I’ve seen some of the advice given online and a lot of it is bogus. Here are some hard and fast truths if your handbrake does not lock the rear wheels.

(HMC = Handbrake master cylinder)

-Rekit your rear callipers if you can – fresh seals will give the pistons the best chance of moving freely
-Bench bleeding the HMC is a must. Ensure all your HMC fittings are attached (adaptors, 90degrees, etc) and that the bleeding hoses are secured tightly on the fittings via clamps. You can detect leaks easily during this process as you will hear them. I’ll do a how-to below.
-Do not overtighten fittings – remember the threads are small and not very long. If during the bench bleeding you see fluid seeping from a fitting, or can hear bubbles entering, then tighten fitting gradually.
-Foot bleed the HMC feed line (from the BMC) into a jar in the car before fitting it to the HMC. Ensure the end of the line is submerged in some brake fluid to avoid it sucking air back in as the pedal comes up.
-Once all lines and the HMC are connected, bleed the output line from the HMC to the factory rear brake line using only the foot brake.
-Start bleeding the full system on the foot brake and do not touch the handbrake. Once you’ve bled both rear callipers, bleed both using the handbrake. This will help any air trapped in the HMC to be pushed out.
-If the HMC goes straight to the bottom you either have lots of air in the lines (unlikely) or the lines are around the wrong way (assuming you have the cap off the BMC reservoir). If you have some resistance then they are plumbed correctly and just require more bleeding. Check fittings for leaks.
-After tightening up the bleed screw after bleeding a calliper, do not pull the handbrake back up, pump it up using the footbrake. Forcing fluid into the HMC will push air out of the MC better than the plunger drawing in fresh fluid.

And most importantly…

-Check your fluid after every 3rd bleed. The amount of fluid the system can move can be extreme.

Bench bleeding a Handbrake Master Cylinder:
Traditional bench bleeding doesn’t really work due to the lack of a reservoir. But as both ports draw and feed on either the inward or outward stroke using a clear jar as a reservoir means it can still be done.

Step by step guide:

-Put the master cylinder in a vice, ensure it is level
-Cut the top off an empty clear water bottle
-Half fill with brake fluid
-Put rubber lines on the fittings, clamp them up tight
-Put both ends of the lines in the water bottle but ensure they are at least 20mm from the surface. This is to ensure any mildly aerated fluid (which floats to the top) is not sucked into the MC
-Screw the handbrake handle fitting onto the plunger and slide a screwdriver through the holes (may be different for non PSM handbrakes)
-Place both hands on screw driver and slowly work in and out
-There will be a lot of air at the start as the rubber lines expel their air
-Keep going until you do 5 in-and-out strokes with no bubbles. Then do 10 more.
-Leave with rubber lines still submerged in brake fluid for 10mins (go bleed the BMC to HMC feed line)
-Repeat bleeding until you do 5 in-and-out strokes with no bubbles. Then do 10 more.

Hope that helps people out there avoid the issues i’ve had


So a new year but still more of the same.

Soon after the last post I picked up a PSM handbrake and braided lines kit. I got the old girl road legal again (only needed a small rust repair and a rack end) and then promptly set to work mounting the handbrake.

A hydro needs an authority card in order to be road legal. In other words, a big, expensive muck around. So we worked on the idea that the installation would be stealth. I moved the radio and heater controls into the glovebox in order to free up enough space in the centre console.

I enlisted Mike’s fabrication skills again and he set about making a base plate to mount the hydro frame to, which in-turn is welded to the tunnel. The base is only tack welded to the tunnel in about a dozen spots, with the idea being it will be harder to brake multiple welds than one single continuous weld.

We needed to keep the complete unit invisible when required and ensure the handle would clear the dash trim when in use. We also needed to ensure the plunger in the master cylinder wouldn’t fall out, as they tend to do with no handle there. So the decision was made to make a 2-piece, double-curved handle.

The drop saw was taken to the PSM handle, leaving the bottom pivot point, MC attachment point and 2 inches of handle. We then found a pipe that slid perfectly over the top of the handle and drilled 2 holes sideways through both the pipe and bottom handle piece. A couple of nuts tack welded on the far side and we now had a 2-piece handle, removable with two M8 bolts.

Next was bending the pipe to the desired angles. About 7 cuts each way were required to snake it out the dash and then into a perfectly vertical plane. The remainder of the handle was then slid into the pipe with the PSM grip attached and final welding on the handle completed. For WOF’s an alloy sheet blanking plate is placed across the opening.

The braided lines were attached later after I had drilled a hole through the firewall next to the RHS chassis rail. We attached the lines directly into the brake master cylinder, as there wasn’t enough room to reach the junction box at the time. Bleeding wasn’t as bad as imagined and we thought we had everything sussed.

Next was prepping the car, taking it from road spec to track spec. It took an afternoon to finish, and a hand from a mate to do up the rollcage bolts. Due to a muck around with the tyres I ended up with NS20 Nanakangs, but I managed to get them fitted up, the car aligned (most accurate alignment yet, and 10mm lower in the rear) and some T1R’s fitted up by the good buggers at Tyreworks on Hewletts Road. I messaged Adam and Joel and asked what to expect from the NS20’s, they warned me not to let them overheat too much but otherwise they are fine.

The trip down was a bit soggy, and when arrived I found some different people entering again but they all seemed like a reasonable bunch. Jamie and JD were sharing Jamie’s C33 but were chasing a fuel cut most of the day. Nick, Tarran and Brendon Duncker were there, along with most of the Teamfourteen crew.

I put the first pair of NS20’s on backwards by mistake but they seemed to go quite well. The T1R’s gave me a lot more confidence with car placement, and I had fun sitting her just past 90deg going into the hairpin on the handbrake and dropping 2nd at some horrendous revs. The NS20’s launched me out of the hairpin nicely.

Which leads me to the handbrake. The first time I pulled it all it did was slow the rears, it needed a second pull to move enough fluid to lock them. Then when using the footbrake, only the fronts would brake. Again, a second pump would be needed to move enough fluid to bring them back. Super frustrating, but the old drum setup wasn’t working too badly so I stuck with that.

Then the NS20’s were pressurising by 5-6psi after as many laps, getting noticeably sketchier. I guess I don’t chew tyres as fast as the Hedges boys so something for everyone else to consider. While at normal temps, they were very good, but once overheated were very sketchy.

But despite the disappointment of the hydro and tyres I elected to just concentrate on having fun with what I had.

I had one pair of half worn Triace’s and they felt noticeably more consistent all the way down to belts. We hammered out some awesome laps in the arvo, again coming within a switch of linking the entire track. Tyre wear was noticeably flatter than I’ve ever had too, so the alignment is working well.

zc day from isaac simpson on Vimeo.

My cousin Isaac came down to give me a hand so I threw him the keys and let him drive it around the track for a session. I think it was the most powerful car he’d ever driven and seemed scared of it at first, but soon got used to putting his foot down. We got in some decent 2nd, 3rd, 4th pulls on the back straight and confused some others out there at the time.

I finished off the day by taking a friend of Nick Teeboon’s out for a ride. He had never been to a drift event, and obviously never been out on track before. Seeing as though Nick was enjoying my entries into “Crazy Cat Lady Corner” I thought we’d try a few and put on a show. One kind of worked, but the other spun us the other way in a cloud of tyre smoke, stopping on the side of the track. I was laughing, my passenger not so much so we called it a day.

A few bevvies afterwards yarning with the lads, trading stories and laughs and hit the road home. Massive thanks to Isaac for coming down and helping, Nick for the encouragement, Chris and the volunteers for making the day possible and the lads for coming along to cheer us on.

Fast forward a week and I decided to make a few changes to the hydro setup. First off I changed where the hydro lines were in the system: instead of running the fluid through the junction box, I decided to plumb it in after (as per the installation instructions). This is very hard as the brake line fitting was very tight and there isn’t a lot of room in there to swing a spanner. So I elected to unclip the first 4 clips holding the rear brake line to the body. This allowed me drop the line and junction box down under the car and unwind it much more easily. I’ve left the hydro feed line in the brake master cylinder for now instead of behind the junction box, but have thread taped the engine bay fittings and ensured they are done up nice and tight.

Next is redoing the fittings going into the hydro master cylinder with thread tape, ensuring the washer is in the right place and tightening all fittings. Finally, I’ll be redoing the bleeding, this time without touching the hydro. If this fails, I’ll replace the brake master cylinder and then get the rear brakes rebuilt.

I’ll be swapping the kits and mufflers over again and making use of its current legalness. Once I’ve enjoyed it for a bit I’ll be getting the Origin boot lip fitted, the boot holes filled, and then the whole lot painted, along with the rear garnish as well as the Eastbear mirrors I just bought from Joel Hedges.

So that kind of sets the tone for the next project, which is to focus on the car’s presentation and make a few changes to the looks: fresh front guards with a proper flare job, get the bonnet sitting properly (bonnet pins) and start tidying up the engine bay. I have half a mind to redo a lot of the old wiring that is hanging around in the engine bay, fill the holes and respray the bay and radiator support panel. Will see how motivated I get over winter.

Right, let’s get the tale up to date:

Chris put together a cool feature of a bunch of cars from the Team Sparkle day, mine included. I wasn’t game enough to run the front bar out there, but no biggy:

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Then she hid in the garage again until a couple days before the return of Picket and his Zeroclass days. The new mount I made for the camera:

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The idea was to get a better shot of the car. Most of the footage only shows a small part of the car and where you’re going / been. It does vibrate a little so trimmed 150mm off it and anchored it to the door lock using fishing twine. Eventually I want to weld in a couple of nuts and use my 3 suction cup mounts to anchor it instead of the boots holes. I also made up a storage area for my Vertex street kit, keeping it out of the way nicely:

It’s just steel strapping screwed into beams in the ceiling, spaced 600mm apart, then with 1200×600 sheets of 7mm ply cable tied to it.

I purchased an AVC-R off Ben Jenkins too (whom I’m now helping in D1 ProAm as well), I just need to get a solenoid and will be getting it retuned on 13psi to try get a little more midrange torque out of it.

The Zeroclass day was pretty sweet, and no rain! I got chatting to young Shaun Constable (Ambition Works) at D1 Rnd 1 and suggested he come down for the ZC day, staying at mine the night before to make the drive a little easier. We were up and on the road by 6:30am and rolled in the gate 2 hours later and parked up next to the S-Club dudes and Corey.

Neal turned up a little later so the three of us jumped out to try do some team shit. It didn’t really work as the Cefiro is heavy, slow and was on shit tyres, Corey’s S14 is fast and I was only running 215’s so was slow out of the hairpin. We swapped Corey and me around and it worked better. Sadly Neal started getting a knock from the engine and Corey shat a driveshaft universal putting them both out of action.

My handbrake shat the bed early on which limited where i could safely enter. I now have some grand plans in the works to fit a hydraulic handbrake in the dash, relocating the stereo to the glovebox, putting the heater controls in the centre consol and putting the new AVC-R there.

The new camera mount on the boot worked pretty well. I’ve got a lot of footage to go through but threw this together showing B2 (aka Ben Jenkins) spinning out, me drifting around him then into pitstraight manjis.

I found the Goldways were almost identicle to the Tri-Aces, maybe even wearing better but ever so slightly didn’t smoke as well. Good to have two brands to use now though, but all 8 new tyres were dusted by the end. Was getting a good 10-11 laps out of a pair which is perfect. Love having fuckall power.

It was around 22deg C at it’s peak but the car really only got over 100deg once when we started doing full track stuff. But the old girl kept going and was one of the last left out there at 4pm. At the end I went out and did more work on linking the pitstraight into the sweeper – the final corner is a switch and a half away, so i needed to pick my nuts up and speed up towards the end. I thought i had it until I went for the handbrake, forgetting it was now made of cheese, so overshot and ended up in the gravel. No damage, but a good omen that it was time to pack up before something worse happened.

I’ll be putting it into road spec now and getting it a WOF and driving it on the road over summer. If i can save enough cash I’ll get some T1R’s for the front to replace the NS2’s and get the AVC-R installed and retuned too. A mate is getting married next Feb and wants to hire a track (Taupo or Hampton) so I’ll try get it all sussed for then.

Until then, here’s some footage i threw together featuring expert-level passenger reactions from our JD

Everytime you buy mountains of fresh rubber for a drift day it rains.

I organised a convoy to the Team Sparkle Track 3 day in Taupo with Team Touge (Tongue) of Kyle, Zac and Arnie plus a couple of others. We all met at 6am in Papamoa and groggily made our way south. I smoked them all in the mighty boat and felt pretty chuffed.

I threw down moa bones to claim my land and ended up next to Geoff ( and his mate Chad, both rad dudes.

Some newbs asked for pointers and due to the inclement weather I suggested they not run aero until they got used to the conditions, then promptly ignored my own advice like a prat. 3rd lap in I clipped the inside of the final turn and ejecto my front bumper and RHS corner light. Bumper stayed in one piece, stoked for that. Corner light broke it’s mounts, meh.

Kyle Erickson broke a 5×1 axle (sheered a stub end in the wet, wtf?!?) so loaned him one of my spares. Felt useful.

Ran naked front for rest of the day in fear of demoing the fresh front and drove like a homo until it got a little drier, then handbrake started going weird again (good excuse to fit a hydro now).

Started being a naughty boy and manji’ed the pitstraight a couple of times but couldn’t quite link it into the sweeper. Rocked zpdrift helmet cam angle, is exactly the same as his videos if you make choo-choo noises, and smoke a cigar, and squint while watching it. Trust me.

After that the fuel was running low so packed up all my unused rubber, had a beer with Geoff and Chad then went home cursing the weather. I had barely even scrubbed in one pair of tyres the whole day.

Car is still running well, however the axles are singing the song of their people every time I come off the throttle so I don’t expect them to last long. I’m also wondering how long the rings, bearings and turbo will continue to last but they are all a case of fix when they break.

This day reinforced how much I hate pitting in the rain so I need to fix the gazebo STAT. But even once it’s operational again, transporting it is an issue as it’s ~2″ too long to fit in the Laurel’s boot. Seeing as though I’m almost completely rebuilding it with new cross-stays I’ll see if I can trim the required length off the corners posts to make it fit.

I’ll also spend some time figuring a stealth way to fit a hydro. I may do it Chonny Martin ( steez under the headunit, making it as easy as pulling the pin out, removing bar and adding a DIN blanking plate for WOF stealth.

Next day is looking like October as Picket is taking a break from protein shakes and tanning salon’s on the GC to try and reclaim his crown of king of the private drift day.

One bonus is I won’t need to organise any rubber.

Extra pics

Posted: June 30, 2014 by Ben in Events, Scrapwagons, The zombie
Tags: , , , , , ,

Here are some of the other pics from the Scottyfest day at Meremere

Another drift day done, tyres were sacrificed and still the old girl soldiers on.

The week started with the S13 getting back on the ground with its rear subframe reinstalled and new handbrake shoes fitted. It was a little fiddly putting the subframe in single-handed but manageable thanks to my big Wayco jack. It was great to see it so much closer to the ground now…..bottom floor: ladies undergarments, automotive liquids and cable ties.

I then had a busy Saturday with a wheel alignment for the S13 in the morning (including getting all the tyres sorted), then a WOF for the Laurel at 11am at Steedman’s, then up to Mike’s for the arvo to get the exhaust bits done and a bit of maintenance. It was a great relief to have the exhaust set up with quality v-band clamps and extra mounts. Mike does amazing work and the result worked flawlessly.

 photo 20140614_174203.jpg

The next piece to the prep-puzzle was the fresh FK front bar, picked up on Monday. During the rest of the week the FK bumper had holes drilled to mount to the car and a-frame, the bumper indicators got fitted, their wiring sorted, and the car loaded.

I towed over to Meremere for Scottyfest on Saturday morning, leaving home at 5:15am, travelling in convoy with long time mate Brent who was meeting his RX7 at the track. Once there a couple of mates of ours, Sefton and Rob, helped me bleed the brakes while I adjusted the handbrake. All sorted I threw the RT5’s on and with 215/45 Austyre’s, they rubbed on the guards quite a lot, but they were used all the same. After a couple of runs Andrew arrived and took the car out. It’s been a while since he’d driven it and Meremere is a tad daunting with its barriers, despite that he still enjoyed it. Will make sure he gets a drive of it at the next Taupo day as I think the car is at it’s most fun in 3rd.

After an intercooler pipe popped off and was fixed it was onto the Advan’s. I managed to take Shaun from the FB page Ambition Works for a run, he grabbed some footage from the in-car and has already thrown together a video from the day and put up images:

Some rad shots of his:

Sadly the Turtle didn’t have a great time of it. After the first session where James and myself were finding our range again it blew a main fuse; a power feed rubbed through on the steering column and arced. Then the clutch slave cylinder started playing up again. At this point our Jimmy was a bit “hot under the collar” and did a huuuuge burnout that had jaws on the floor. After another couple of runs, what he thought was a loose bit of aero flapping when he had his helmet on was a much louder bottom end knock with the helmet off. Sad to see this happen but the engine has been in the car for a good 10 years now, having been mercilessly beaten on over the years it was well past it’s best before date. If it was milk, it would have gone past yellow, through green, onto brown and be supporting a whole mini eco system of fungi.

Neal had driven the red car up and got out for a few runs, laying a pretty decent burnout down to kill off a pair of tyres.

Corey was having a fun time, alternating from high-speed wall-running entries with massive skids.

Looking back on it now it really was a day for letting off steam and making smoke, and there was none better than Brent in his Toyota V8 RX7…

After Scottyfest was done, we headed to Jimmy’s for a good old Sausagefest. Word had spread about his engine issues and what follows is 100% true:

Matt “Chuckie” Jackson, along with our mates Ash and Joe were coming down from Auckland for the Saturday night drinking. Chuckie heard about Jimmy’s issues and sourced another blown SR before leaving, this one with a suspected melted piston. They put it in his van and brought it down with them. When arriving they opened the door to the van and said something along the lines of “here you go, no charge”.

Jimmy has gone through a lot of heartache with this car lately so seeing things like Chuckie’s actions really makes me love being apart of drifting. Hopefully between the two engines Jimmy can make one good one out of it for minimal outlay, maybe a fresh set of bearings, gaskets, piston rings and fingers crossed one of the cranks are usable after a bit of a polish.

After the usual drunken antics, a 3am bedtime and a slow and sleepy tow back home I felt a lucky man to be able to start my car and drive it into the garage.

Next on the list will be finding a fresh boot with no spoiler holes as I’ve sold my S14 wing (I never liked the look and after seeing the photos from Saturday I know it was the right move). Painting the Origin boot lip when it arrives from Japan then fitting to the aforementioned bootlid. Then I will do a compression test on the engine, and if everything comes up ok then look to fit an RB20DET actuator and a retune to get a bit more midrange out of it. Also, the backlash on the locked diff will need adjusting as I was getting a large amount of clunking from the rear between gears and the axles still seem fine. I’m also starting to research new front tyres, with either Starspecs, T1R’s or FK452’s the likely replacements for the old NS2’s.

There has been talk of a Track 3 day in August so that, or another RTMP day, will be the next outing for the old grey warhorse. And the car too.

(all good photos from Shaun @ Ambition Works)

So Mike came over last Saturday and gave me a hand. We got the front crossmember back in, bled up the new-old rack (no leaks!) and reassembled the front arms. All in that took about 3 hours which included one brain fart requiring removal of crossmember and reinstall.

After lunch we tackled the rear, but not before trial fitting the new RT5’s for filth value:

They should sit ok, I’m surprised they dont poke as much as the Works at full droop. Can’t wait to get tyres on them next weekend!

Anywho, as an aside for anyone about to remove a rear subframe, remember to unbolt the following:

– Rear shocks (at lower mount)
– Driveshaft (at diff)
– Rear brake lines (at calliper – or as we should have done, remove the calliper as we needed to change the handbrake shoes)
– Handbrake cable (where it splits into two above driveshaft)

Then it’s just the 4 main bolts and 4 smaller bolts at the front. Positioning the jack under the nose of the diff is best for balance.

Once out we realised it would be best to burn out the bushes in a non residential area, so loaded the subframe onto Mikes ute and shot up to his place. Unloading up there was easy:

Then it was bbqing time:

Then after a tidy up with a wire brush a lot of hammering ensued to get the inserts out of the subframe. This was the hardest part and i remember reading somewhere someone using a particular sized socket that just fitted on the insert, then beating the crap out of it. I can imagine this would quarter the time it took for us to cut the inserts and chisel them out.

The risers were taken out of the freezer and they all hammered into place nicely.

I managed to get one of the gktech traction arms on during the burning of the bushes – a word of warning, one end of the camber arms will need to be removed in order to swing the camber arm out of the way so you can remove the traction arm bolt.

So all that’s left to be fitted is the other traction arm and the new handbrake shoes. The bank account is looking a little healthier so i’ve dropped the fibreglass off to get painted. Next weekend it’s off for an alignment then up to Mike’s to get an extra exhaust mount added and some V-band clamps welded on to the rear muffler, twin tips and exhaust (making swapping quicker and the exhaust more rigid). I’m tempted to try and improve the look of the mild steel tip on the muffler while we’re at it as it’s a little boring, so off to hunt for inspiration on Google.

The other lads are well into prep mode too, with JD sorting his clutch issues and Neal finishing off the RB25 conversion on the Cefiro. We’re all booked in for a Meremere day in two weeks time so the heat is on.