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Old 04-19-2015, 07:11 PM
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Lightbulb Conversion to Hydro Boost Brake System - 1970 El Camino

Conversion to Hydro Boost Brake System - 1970 El Camino

I am not an expert, so this is intended to only present some thoughts and ideas from a novice that you would need to research and verify prior to putting on your brake system. Your brakes are important so please verify first.


Problem Statement: Blower cam does not allow engine to produce enough vacuum for power brake booster to be effective. This can occur on high overlap “cammy” high performance engines, those with forced induction, and those with turbo. My current engine set up produces 10 to 13 inches of vacuum at sea level. Rather than vacuum, boost is produced when RPM ramps up. Brakes are not functioning well. Inconsistent pedal pressure required. Sometimes marginal, other times no assist at all, requiring “standing” or “two footing” brake pedal to stop.

Goals: Produce improved and consistent power brake assist. Stop prior to the rear bumper of the car ahead.

Options: Considering new parts and some labor cost estimates
1) Change camshaft to a milder cam that allows vacuum above 18 inches
PRO: Affordable at about $300-500
CON: Changes character of car and performance
2) Convert to manual brakes
PRO: Affordable at about $200-400 (depending on selected master cyl)
CON: Not many that I see. If done right, this is a viable solution
3) Add a vacuum reservoir (or increase booster size)
PRO: None for situation of not producing enough vacuum
CON: Not a viable solution when minimal vacuum produced
4) Add electric vacuum pump to current system
PRO: Affordable at about $300-400
CON: Noisy, with vibrations (yet I would not hear it with Flow Master 40s and 3 inch exhaust)
Many I spoke who used this solution removed it later
5) Replace vacuum booster with Hydro Boost
PRO: Provide higher pressure to brake calipers and stopping capabilities
Will support later upgrades to bigger brakes with more calipers and higher flow/pressure
Increases clearance for tall valve covers (not a problem for me, I am not “big block”)
CON: $800 – 2000
May expose weak points (lines, caliper leaks) in current brake system
May expose weak points (leaks, low volume, marginal pump condition) in power steering

Last edited by Old Bear; 04-19-2015 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:16 PM
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Selected Implementation
Replace vacuum booster with Hydro Boost
PRO: Provide higher pressure to brake calipers and stopping capabilities
Will support later upgrades to bigger brakes with more calipers and higher flow/pressure
CON: $800 –2000
May expose weak points (lines, caliper leaks) in current brake system
May expose weak points (leaks, low volume, marginal pump condition) in power steering

Purchased the following as a kit 3014 (or 3013 with older master cyl) for disk/drum or disk/disk:
Various similar kits available from HydraTech CPP  Summit
http://www.hydratechbraking.com/GM_A_Body.html
• Bosch Hydro-Boost hydraulic booster unit (select long or short rod depending on your master cyl)
• HydraTech custom 68-72 A body billet aluminum direct fit firewall mounting plate with 6 degree upward tilt, No changes to firewall required with this kit. Other kits have 17 degree upward tilt (like stock) for more clearance if needed
• Adjustable brake pedal rod to allow for a range of brake pedal height adjustment
• Chrome Corvette (1977-82) style master cylinder 1 1/8 inch bore (in some kits or as an option)
• Stainless high pressure brake and rubber low pressure kit with connectors (in some kits or as an option)
It is important to match the short/long rod length to your master cylinder.
I am using the 3014 kit with short rod with a newer style master cylinder. (Some how this was not correct, yet the MC had an "extension" for the rod)

It is important to match the Master Cylinder(MC) bore diameter.
Kits 3513/3514 have a 17 degree bracket providing more booster/MC clearance if needed.


Shear Performance, in Costa Mesa California, will be making the following changes during the install.

Create custom hoses using Parker high pressure black mesh wrapped hoses (2,300 PSI) and a lower pressure black mesh for return hoses. Our preference, yet you can use the stainless steel high pressure lines.
PRO: My personal preference for black mesh hoses
Will not scratch engine compartment components like stainless hoses tend to do
Justin Shears prefers them (I place value in using what they trust not to leak)

Modify existing Saginaw power steering pump reservoir to accept a second PS fluid return line,
Convert the return line fittings from barbed to AN fittings.
Use Delco PS fluid (not ATF for Hydro Boost)
PRO: More efficient
Reduces problems from adding a T splitter that has caused brakes to hang/drag/chatter
AN fitting should handle pressure better than barbed connections
Requires replacing power steering fluid, keeping old contaminants out of the new brake booster

Reuse of the existing A body master cylinder allows the install to occur without opening the brake (fluid) system.

Replace old MC with new MC. There is evidence that current or a prior master cylinder leaked. Since we need to check for brake fluid leaks at each wheel, we may as well change/purge/bleed the brake fluid. The natural, rust colored patina of the existing MC is a distraction when the hood is opened. It may be less labor to install the new one than clean/prime/paint the existing one. The kit I purchased had the new Corvette style MC included, so Shear Performance will swap it out.

We will reuse the 1970 distribution block (like a proportioning valve) and separate brake light alarm sensor mounted to the frame.

Last edited by Old Bear; 04-19-2015 at 10:41 PM.
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  #3  
Old 04-19-2015, 07:18 PM
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Images below include:
1) Booster can be mounted by rotating if additional clearance needed.
Not required to be rotated for our install.
Although not installed in this image, I have a chrome cover for the cylindrical nitrogen reservoir.
The pressure from the power steering fluid “charges” the cylindrical nitrogen reservoir.
The reservoir provides the assist and a short term backup if the engine stalls or there is a loss of power steering pressure.

2) HydraTech 6 degree A body mounting bracket and Bosch Hydro Boost booster.
An optional 17 degree mount is available from HydraTech for more clearance (not shown in images).

3) Before image, showing vacuum booster
You know what the ugly huge booster looks like.

4) After image showing new HydraTech bracket, Bosch booster and new MC

5) An abundance of room

6) After image showing new hoses from power steering pump to brake booster and back to reservoir.
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Last edited by Old Bear; 04-19-2015 at 09:18 PM. Reason: Add images
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  #4  
Old 04-19-2015, 07:24 PM
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Can you do this on your own?
Maybe not me. However, many of those on El Camino Central have the skills to do this kit modification.

What else is important?
These are your brakes. I am not a mechanic, so I used a very good mechanic familiar with this customization. In fact Justin’s Chevelle has this system.
http://www.shearperformanceinc.com

Do not skimp on the hoses, fittings and assembly. Very high pressure quality hoses with good fittings are required. Leaks would be bad enough, yet under pressure, you could “paint” your engine compartment in power steering fluid and risk fire and loss of power assist. Expect $225 to $300 for hoses and fittings.

Use Power Steering Fluid, not ATF. ATF foams more which is not good for Hydro Boost systems.

If you have high vacuum, you should be able to correct your power vacuum assist system. Hydro Boost does not magically fix other brake system problems.

DStinch has a very similar engine/blower set up to me. Don is happy with his electric vacuum assist solution (not a Hydro Boost solution).

What happens if I break a power steering hose?
If you are turning, it will be more difficult, just as your power steering would be before adding Hydro Boost.

The Hydro Boost system above uses a booster that includes a nitrogen cylinder.
The nitrogen cylinder stores energy that assists in the brake boosting. The cylinder normally assists every brake application. Should a power steering hose hose break or an engine stall, the nitrogen cylinder provides assist to the next three brake applications at declining levels. As the assist level reduces you should become aware of the difference in brake pedal feel. Then the brakes go to a level not too dissimilar from manual brakes. As long as your brake master cylinder, lines and system are in tack, you will need to apply considerably more foot pressure on subsequent stops.

Did we find weak spots during our install?
Yes. Replaced the 45 year old rubber brake lines at the four wheels (appox 12 inches long). The old ones where brittle and cracked. They were close to the point of failure with the old system, let alone with the new higher pressure.
Replaced right rear brake cylinder that ended up leaking.
Replaced left rear brake cylinder that was jamming.

SHOW ME installation video resources
V8TV HydraTech install Part 1 and Part 2
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTNlwDlesdw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj73htdt87Y
Popular Hot rodding CPP Hydra Stop Brake Booster
Note: Prices have escalated since video released.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3bBiY5ot18
Matt Sweeting Power Brake TV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNkuJZUXqf8

A different FAQ
Hydratechbraking.com FAQ
http://www.hydratechbraking.com/FAQ.html

Can I get used parts for less?
You will need to adjust pedal lever location, make mount for firewall, match booster to MC, obtain or make quality hoses, etc.
1983 El Camino diesel had Hydro Boost. (Thanks JLCustomZ)
Some Chevy Astro Vans
Some 88-98? C/K250 and C/K350 Chevy trucks
Some motorhomes

Any references for going recycled parts?
Car Craft - Chevy Astro Van Hydroboost Salvage - Junkyard Builder
http://www.hotrod.com/how-to/chassis...#ixzz3X7wLSHd1
NastyZ28 Forum
http://www.nastyz28.com/forum/showthread.php?t=215789
Bangshift.com How to Swap a Junkyard Hyrdoboost on Your Classic GM Muscle Car or Truck
http://bangshift.com/general-news/te...-car-or-truck/

Any other El Camino Central Threads on Hydro Boost?
https://www.elcaminocentral.com/archi...p/t-15167.html
https://www.elcaminocentral.com/archi...p/t-73489.html

Last edited by Old Bear; 04-19-2015 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 04-19-2015, 09:20 PM
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wow
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:31 AM
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Great write up! Very happy with my set up also. I will add that on my set the up two things drove me crazy trying to figure out was if you use a gen 2 pump you must change the fitting on the pump to reduce the flow or you will aerate the system. The other was to use royal purple ps fluid.
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Old 04-20-2015, 07:05 AM
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I have a Hydro boost system for sale $175.00. I would buy new lines but works fine the way it sits.I'm in Los Angeles.







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Old 04-20-2015, 07:21 AM
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Robert,
Was yours pulled from your '85 before the rebuild, or which donor vehicle? Astro, C/K etc.
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Old 04-20-2015, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Bear View Post
Robert,
Was yours pulled from your '85 before the rebuild, or which donor vehicle? Astro, C/K etc.
It was out f a 1972 something??? If you want to try it then buy it that's fine with me????
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:59 AM
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Mine had the original hydroboost (diesel) and 2 replacements leaked so I went back to reg. power brakes. I had to change the pedal because the pin is in a different location. To help with the vac. I put in a vac. pump, there is a tee in the line so if vac. pump quits working the brake booster still has engine vac. Also the pump shuts off when it is not needed.

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Old 04-20-2015, 12:11 PM
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I have a magazine article here some place, about an Astro van unit, that shows how the unit was used in a car.
Reason I looked into it was may old Caddy beater has crappy brakes, even after I replaced everything in the system. I may go that route yet...
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Old 04-21-2015, 09:43 AM
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Bill
This might be worth a look.
4 part mini utube video as Matt Sweeting Power Brake TV converts the "real" Art Carr's Type T Turbo Buick to Hydro Boost.
Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ublHtvbienQ
At about 10 min into part 1, they compare the two systems.

Last edited by Old Bear; 04-21-2015 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 04-27-2015, 12:20 PM
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Gale the 6 degree vs 17 degree part was confusing me a bit. Finally figured that more clearance with 17 degrees must mean clearance from such as big block valve covers or other engine components. From appearance the overall length of this unit (firewall to front of MC) looks to be longer than standard booster setup. Your opinion on whether the 17 degree angle may cause issues with a 70-72 cowl hood? As in overall heighth when installed .

Thanks!
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Old 04-27-2015, 04:21 PM
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I believe the 17 degree is from the base plate cut to angle the booster/master higher. This helps most when someone has lots of tubes running to turbo or cool air plumbing. That may require a taller hood/rise.

I think some are successfully using the 6 degree on big blocks.
http://www.chevelles.com/forums/showthread.php?t=182409

The length from firewall to end of master on mine is 16 inches. If longer than with the original bracket and booster, it isn't by much. Maybe Robpp or someone will measure for us.

I have tall aluminum valve covers on my small block. There is 5 1/2 inches of clearance from valve covers to the master or booster, so I am fine.

The original 70 disk/drum master and this new Corvette master look like fat burritos. Some Wilwood or CPP aluminum master cylinders look like they might be a little narrower if more space is needed.

I will look and find us an image of a big block using the 6 degree (or similar).

We had one tight place when we installed. We tried to hide the line from booster to power steering under the booster. We could then see that could snag the steering shaft nut near the firewall as we turned the column. Rerouted the lines a little putting the larger high pressure on top. Good to go.
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Last edited by Old Bear; 04-27-2015 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 04-27-2015, 04:35 PM
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You answered my mixed up question just fine Gale! No apparent heigth issue with closing the hood at the taller angle. I am pretty much an SBC only guy. Some others may benefit from some pics of a BB application who are watching this interesting and informative thread.

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