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S3 brake problem

heath robinson

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Hi all.

We have a series 3 with 6-cylinder brakes in the yard, which has had the brake system re-built. The first push of the pedal is always very soft, and does very little. After the first pump, the brakes are good and crisp. The adjusters have been adjusted, the fluid bled, and the hoses checked, but we can't figure out what's going on.

Any ideas?



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I read on some of the previous articles that balooning happens on some brake pipes, first push the pipes expand and second push maximum expansion is there and the brakes feel crisp.

Then on another article I read that you can clamp off three of the brake hoses and push the peddle and if its tight the first push then clamp off that particular one and release one of the others. Press the brake and if its soft you have found the brake line with the problem, it narrows down the search for finding the problem.

And yet on another article I read that if you bleed your brakes it helps to lift the front end of the ground so that any trapped air goes in one direction and not just move forward and backwards as you bleed the brakes.

Hope this helps.


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Brilliant, thanks.

Have they been bled using a pressure bleeder or the old style pump and hold of the brake pedal..? Pressure or vacuum bleeders make a much better job and you are less likely to get issues.



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I am suffering from this at the moment and had two problems,

one, a leaking slave cylinder,

two, too much travel in the rear shoes.

Stolen from another (or this) forum but I can't remember which so no reference is possible but it is from the US. This document may or may not help?


If this is bad practice to post it please remove.

QUESTION - I have just replaced the brakes on my 109 and now I can not get the brakes to work on the first pump. Also not all the shoes adjust properly.

ANSWER - Don't feel alone about this. Even a lot of factory trained service technicians got it wrong. In October 1970 Land Rover issued a confidential technical service bulletin (No. 1-F-9) to explain the correct assembly to their own service techs.

Forum reply in PDF.


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Bad form or not, I'm very grateful for that. It's good to have a definitive pictorial jobbie to wave under an oily nose.

Someone had assembled the brakes before it got to us, but we replaced everything from the wheel back to the peddle, and bled the lines with a pressure whojamaflip, so were slightly mystified.

Thanks all.


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I believe that Brakes on all the series landies were an optional extra, and then quite unique in the motoring word. They are Proportional Brakes.

1 They work in direct proportion to the amount of fear involved , and

2 They fail in an inverse proportion to the Gravity of the situation.

PS. The most common cause of bad brakes is the leading / trailing shoe issue. Most shops get them either wrong or they get 2 leading and 2 trailing together which doesn't work too well. Also the power bleeding or lifting the front is a must.

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