Has anyone tried converting to Hydra-boost brakes? - Team Camaro Tech
Brakes, Suspension & Steering Conversion questions, Steering & Handling

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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 01, 06:14 AM Thread Starter
BC
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I got into a conversation the other day with a fairly knowledgable fellow that mentioned he was going to try and adapt the newer style hydra-boost brakes to his Chevelle and starting thinking Hhhmmmm... sure sounds nice!

Does anyone have any knowledge on this system? My understanding is that brake booster is eliminated and you get some braking assist from the power steering pump? Anyone know exactly what is involved in making the conversion? Seems like you would need a new special Master Cylinder, different power steering hoses, but not much more.

I'm thinking about this for my Chevelle as it does not produce much vacuum, but with the big-block and so much weight, manual brakes would be rough.

TIA,
Bill C.



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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 01, 10:27 AM
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I have heard of this type of brake boost as well, but I can't remember where. Did your friend mention what kind of car he would be getting it from? Sounds very interesting.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 01, 10:34 AM
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Some of Chevy's big trucks/suburbans come with the hydroboost system. I know that they were used in Lincoln Versailles in the mid seventies as well, but don't know much more about them than has already been stated. Seems that an entire setup could be removed from a big block Suburban and transplanted though. Let us know what happens if you go through with it.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 01, 03:27 PM
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If you do a search on the web on hydra-boost and jeep. I know I saw a swap for a jeep somewhere when surfing on brake stuff.
GM motor homes have used the system for years, and on some one ton pickups.

I've been reading the Smokey Yunick books, and he invented the system. I don't think he perfected it just figured out the basic design.
Bendix tried to sue GM for patent infringement on the system but Smokey provided proof he had done it before they did, but started but not finished the patent proccedure. He ran out of money to finish it.
My motor home had the system and it works well, but with not the greatest pedal feel. At least not as good as a vaccum system pedal feel.
There is a hydraulic accumulator in the brake system to provide maybe one stop if the belt get's thrown or a hose breaks.
As I recall the master cyl looks pretty stock on it. It's probably a larger piston size than a Camaro uses, but I don't know for sure.

A safety issue is, without the engine running on a heavy motor home, it would be hard to hold it on a hill once the accumulator was discharged.
I read somewhere on the net about a motor home engine dying and the thing took off down a hill! The old timer nearly got a heart attack from that one!

We have a similar system on a International Harvester truck and it has a small electric motor/hyd pump, that provides assist until the engine is running. With diesels, you have no vaccum to run brake boosers, I guess some use a vaccum pump to do it, some use the hydra-boost.
David

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[This message has been edited by davidpozzi (edited 10-08-2001).]
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 01, 03:50 PM
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BC, we just did the opposite at work. We changed a Caprice wagon from hyrdo boost to vacuum boost sys. We changed the master, booster,(different pushrod length on booster so master cyl. was a must)propositioning valve, and brake pedal(brake rod to pivit point was different)on hydro verses vacuum pedls. I hope this helps! Also hydro systems require more pedal effort at lower speeds. IMO vacuum system is better. ROGER
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 01, 03:55 PM
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BC We also changed the PS hose and plugged one of the return lines (hydro sys. PS pump has TWO return lines) Roger
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 8th, 01, 05:48 PM
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I am currently running a Hydra-Boost on my 68. As with any set up there are some pros and cons with this system.

The Pros:
The major pro is performance. The Hydra-Boost is far superior at stopping the car versus a comparably set up vacuum system. My car has standard 11" disc brakes in front and standard drums in the rear. I can only describe the stopping sensation as an immediate face plant into the dash (CarlC can attest to that one). On my car the Hydra-Boost produces a slightly firmer brake petal versus a comparable vacuum system set up with the same front and rear brakes. Since the Hydra-Boost uses power steering fluid for its hydraulic assist, any camshaft may be run, as vacuum is not required for its operation. As an added bonus the Hydra-Boost is also a good deal smaller than a vacuum brake booster.

The Cons: Hydra Boost units were never manufactured with very close tolerances; therefore they have a tendency to leak power steering fluid. My first unit dripped fluid all over the place. My second unit has not leaked so far (knock on wood) but I suspect that it may be only a matter of time. We shall see. CarlC has had similar experiences with his Hydra-Boost experiment. His unit too leaked badly, even after a second rebuild with GM parts he decided to go back to the vacuum set up. Another con is that with the Hydra-Boost the air is very hard to bleed out of the system. My system still makes funny "gurgling air" noises when I am at full steering lock or very near to full lock.

Therefore, if one can figure out how to fix the leaks (or manufacture an upgraded unit) and come up with a sure method of bleeding out the air; then without a doubt the Hydra-Boost is the way to go.

Torker


[This message has been edited by Torker (edited 10-08-2001).]
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 01, 12:02 AM
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didn't they use that setup on the badass turbo Buicks of the mid 80's? i swear the GNs had that.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 01, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input guys, guess it sounds like it may be worth a second look.

David, I do have the article regarding the Jeep conversion, looks pretty straight-forward.
From my understanding, Ford has been using a similiar system in all cars with the 4.6L motor, anyone know if that's true or not? Also, GM has been using in it trucks and motorhomes for quite a while, but I imagine other cars have used it as well.

Torker, thanks for the heads up about the leaking, any ideas on part numbers you and Carl used for this experiment? Did you have to use a different power steering pump?

Thanks again,
Bill C.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 01, 03:21 PM
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I think what Novaderrik said is correct. I think that is where I originally heard of the system. With the turbo, the intake manifold was under positive pressure rather than negative which caused the need for another means for brake assist. I can't remember if it was hydra-boost or not. It might be worth doing a little research on. I would think that this would be the closest to a direct bolt in since it is off of another GM car.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 01, 03:50 PM
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Cadillac used it on Eldorado diesels, and it was a maintenance and warranty nightmare; they switched back to regular vacuum boosters with an electric vacuum pump.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 01, 04:00 PM
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BC,

You are correct...4.6L Mustang GT's all have the hydra-boost brakes. I have a friend that has a 4.6L convertible....I about crapped when I saw the system...I had never seen one before.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 9th, 01, 07:24 PM
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The power steering pump remains the same. I did increase the pressure and volume slightly on mine. You will need to "T" in a second return line for the Hydra-Boost. I also highly advise you to run a power steering pump filter on the steering gear box return line to catch the debris coming out of the gear box. The smallest contaminant in the fluid will ruin the seals inside the Hyrdra-Boost causing it to leak.

As for the numbers on the Booster - My car is at the body shop getting painted so I don't have the numbers handy.

Another idea would be to adapt the Ford Hydra-Boost or another "late model unit" to work on the Camaro. It could be a better design that solves the problems that Carl and I have had with ours. Its worth checking out.

[This message has been edited by Torker (edited 10-09-2001).]
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 10th, 01, 05:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks again Torker,
You wouldn't by chance know which 'later' model cars have the hydra-boost system I could 'borrow' from do you?

Thanks,
Bill C>
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old Oct 10th, 01, 11:35 AM
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I know that the late 70's eairly 80's gm trucks had this set up. Remember you loose a pwr steering belt and it will be like stopping that rv going down a hill. There is no limping it home on no brakes.

my .02
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