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Brake Callipers - Cavalier Coupe - Girling?

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My car has done an average of only about 800 miles a year in the last four or five years, and even though kept in a dry garage that doesn't help to keep the brakes free - although I do try to make sure that the car gets used at least once a week unless the weather is foul. Four years ago, my friendly mechanic stripped and freed a binding off-side front brake, pronouncing it "almost like new" internally and sounding reasonably confident that the "fettling" would solve the problem without the need for a new calliper. Two years ago the near-side front needed similar attention, and again he said the internals of the calliper looked good. The earlier off-side brake overhaul still seems okay, but the near-side was binding again a couple of days ago, after only 1500 miles - complete with smoking pads and an alarmingly spongy pedal due to presumed boiling of the fluid! That was due to only "moderate" driving on country roads too...

I'm out of touch with parts availability. Are the original type of callipers still available if necessary? My "friendly" mechanic has now retired and the potential "commercial rate" labour costs for a further brake strip-down and clean-up, combined with no guaranteed of lasting reliability of the calliper afterwards, make me wonder what to do about this problem.

I've dealt with rear drum brake mechanical problems in the past myself, but I've never got involved with safety-critical front disc brakes or the hydraulics, and I don't feel particularly inclined to start now.

Any advice / help / info much appreciated.

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Hi. My calipers were in a bit of a state when dug out of the shed a couple of years ago, having taken them off the car in the early 90’s. These are the AC Delco type off a 1980 Sportshatch. Like you I was cautious about stripping and refinishing myself so sent for a full rebuild off I decent guy I found on Ebay. I’m fitting them now so can’t comment on operation yet, but the rebuild and repassivating looks dandy, certainly compared to how they were. Cost was around £50 a caliper.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for both of those replies.

Metalbasher:  I may have to ask who your Ebay man was, in due course.

Mickfrad:  Biggred website suggests they only have the seals for for the calipers on a '78 Cav Coupe,  no pistons, pads or other parts listed so I'm not sure how much of a rebuild they could do, depending on what's needed. I'd probably have to phone to find out more if enquiries more locally don't turn up anything useful.

Any more ideas / info still welcome...

I'm frustrated by this. I've had the car since 1985, covering over 200,000 miles since then and up to about 2007 it stood outside in all weather and was used on wet / salty roads, a perfect recipe for filth and corrosion attacking the brakes, yet for all the body corrosion it suffered, I never had a problem with severely binding front brakes. I was confident to take the car on almost any long journey. Now the car is kept dry and lives in relative luxury I get recurrent trouble - despite brake calipers described as "almost good as new" internally. It makes me doubt the wisdom of trying to go anywhere now!

Edited by gr.king
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Bought a kit of biggred for early calipers. Twin pot piston type. Kit included pins, bleed nip, fluid seal, dust seal, joint seal.  Ended up sanding caliper, and filling imperfections in cast. Really happy with the results. No reason why they can't bring your calipers to this level. They also offer OMOC club discount. 

Also had issue with front sliding calipers recently. Needed attention, thoroughly cleaned, new grease, sorted them.

Motorbikes need constant attention on brakes so I'm very confident. 

Hope this helps. 


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if yours are the better style twin piston style ( as they should be on that age ) then a bsdic overhaul should be all thats needed. its rare that you would  need pistons and also rare that they actually leak due to failing seal .usually they just rust or stiffen because the gaiter has let water through.

it may just be that whover did yours last time left a little bit of rust  behind or that the gaiter has jumped off its groove .

they are an easy caliper to do yourself if you dont trust anyone else. i personally dont lubricate with brake fluid but use rubber grease instead. 

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Thanks for two more handy replies. I'm a bit more positive about prospects now, not least because mid-week, jacked up and wheel-off but nothing more dismantled, I managed to push the pads back far enough off the disc to see daylight between the two, nipped them back up again with the brake pedal, repeated a few times then went for a test drive using the brakes from time to time, and the brake remained perfectly cool. Okay, just 16 miles without trouble doesn't prove success, but it was only 45 miles, with break after 25, that got the brake smoking-hot at the weekend, so even a limited success is encouraging. I'm thinking that the cause of the stuck piston may have been fairly minor due to insufficient use or some freak factor, and hopefully a one-off event. Unrealistic hope? Anyway, I intend to do some more simple working to and fro of the pistons tomorrow, over a longer range of movement than they normally cover, in case that's enough to free them up enough, without me having to delve any deeper into work or expense.

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