Brake Master Cylinder and Vacuum Assist - December 2017
This, fortunately, was only aesthetic.  There was a 
lot of rust dripping down off the brake master cylinder and the brake vacuum boost diaphragm was very dark and rusty.  Canadian Tire rust remover didn't help at all.

So it was time to replace them.  The job really only involved removing a few bolts
, and disconnecting the rod that runs through the firewall from the brake pedal to the vacuum booster (just a cotter pin).  And there were a few things to get out of the way, like the windshield fluid reservoir and a support brace. 

So it went fairly easily, but with the spectre of 'bleeding' the system hanging over my head.  (I've done that only once before, in 1977).  Well, the instructions on bleeding the master cylinder were easily followed (it comes with a neat little kit that includes tubes and clamps).  And when I got it back together, the brakes seemed tight and strong - no mushiness.  So for some reason I never had to bleed the individual wheel cylinders.  Hope that doesn't come back to haunt me in a brake-fail rear end collision!

Along the way the usual set of temporary annoyances.  The brake light got stuck 'on', which I figured out was because the brake light switch was no longer being clicked off by the brake pedal.  And at one point the only way to get the headlights to turn off was to unplug the battery...which mysteriously fixed itself.  Does this kind of crap happen to anyone but me?  But as you can see, those nice new components make the engine compartment look a lot nicer now.

$ 39,238.12                    Previous Total
$      145.95                    Master cylinder
$      219.45                    Vacuum assist power brake booster
$ 39,603.52                    TOTAL TO DATE


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