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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2015, 09:44 AM
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Default brake/clutch fluid reservoir

My ERA was built in the late 80's so there are a lot of old parts.

For example, my combination brake/clutch fluid reservoir - I ordered a new one from ERA - it has two spouts at the bottom and one in the middle and a cap.

My 'old' reservoir has one spout at the bottom and a cap that appears to be wired to a light on the dash that signals red when the fluid is low. That signal is apparently triggered by a float inside that reservoir (the reservoir provided by ERA has no float)

The old unit - the float keeps coming off inside that reservoir so I thought that replacing it was the best course of action. Now, I'm not sure what to do. What happens to the warning light since that is no float and therefore no connection to the dash light?

Any input will be appreciated.

Last edited by bliss; 06-05-2015 at 10:28 AM..
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:41 PM
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The dash warning light will never illuminate without the float.

The float has internal internal magnet which operates a sealed reed switch to activate the warning light.

Now if the clutch circuit develops a leak, can it run the reservoir down to the point of no fluid for the brakes?
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Old 06-05-2015, 04:22 PM
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Gaz64...

I have had a situation were a clutch line seal started to leak, but luckily the dash light warning prompted repair before the brakes were impacted. Therefore, to eliminate the light warning would be risky at best.

Question - what is currently the method to convey that warning - since the unit provided by ERA as a replacement has no float or way to connect anything electrically to the dash light? Perhaps I'm missing something here.
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Old 06-05-2015, 06:16 PM
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Normally, sharing a reservoir, the clutch master would draw from about 1/3 to halfway up the reservoir, that way a clutch fluid failure doesn't also become a brake fluid failure.
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Last edited by Gaz64; 06-05-2015 at 06:19 PM..
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Old 06-06-2015, 07:27 AM
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As Gaz64 says, the BMW reservoir is split so that losing the clutch presages a low level in the reservoir. The front and rear brakes also have separate sections.
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Old 06-06-2015, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strictlypersonl View Post
As Gaz64 says, the BMW reservoir is split so that losing the clutch presages a low level in the reservoir. The front and rear brakes also have separate sections.
I did not know the brakes were also separated in the reservoir. This has always been a concern for me. My fluid is to dirty to see it, but I will be draining the rear brake lines over the next week for other reasons...can't wait to check this out! I just went and looked with a flashlight and I can see the separator wall between the front and rear system. Very nice piece of info.
Thanks Bob
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Old 06-06-2015, 10:50 AM
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OK, so what about the warning light on the dash - if the reservoir doesn't have a float, how does one know if the fluid is low?
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Old 06-06-2015, 03:39 PM
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My guess is because you have a very early car and because of the way the reservoir was set up you needed to have that warning to avoid the potential disaster. With the later reservoir I would think the warning light is not needed any longer because one failed part of the system will not be impacting the other parts because it all has separate lines and compartments in the shared reservoir. I guess it would be if you start getting a spot on the ground and periodically checking your reservoir level.
I do understand your concern because I suppose it would be nice to have a warning light. I never had one in either Cobra that I have owned, so I would not know. I am just used to checking it once in a while
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Old 06-06-2015, 04:09 PM
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I'm not sure (old-timer's disease) but on the very early cars, we may have used a BMW reservoir cap with a float. Mid-production cars used two special brake light switches that signaled when there was pressure in one end but not the other. We gave up on those when their quality went down the tubes.
Now, you just keep track of whether the clutch release is working properly. If the fluid drops too low, that will be the first indication of a problem, either in the clutch or the brakes.
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Old 06-06-2015, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bliss View Post
OK, so what about the warning light on the dash - if the reservoir doesn't have a float, how does one know if the fluid is low?
Not trying to be a smart ass, but basically pulling the caps and examining the fluid level periodically is how. That's pretty much the process for my 66 Corvette and 67 Ply GTX also.
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Old 06-06-2015, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by DanEC View Post
Not trying to be a smart ass, but basically pulling the caps and examining the fluid level periodically is how. That's pretty much the process for my 66 Corvette and 67 Ply GTX also.
I don't even bother to take the caps off. I flush the fluid in the three cans every two to three years and, in between, just watch for puddles.
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Old 06-07-2015, 11:34 AM
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Well, OK - ERA more than likely installed the current reservoir in the late 80's (they built my ERA in their shop) and it does have a float that is connected to a warning light. Lately, the float keeps coming off so naturally the light is on.

I can easily take the float off and disconnect the light - done. Therefore I've no need for the new reservoir ordered and received from ERA - besides at $70 plus almost $20 for shipping - YIKES. Anyway, I'll be paying a 20% re-stock as it's returned to ERA, but that's life since ERA is an entertainment company, not a car company - stuff just cost more.

Anyway, thanks so much for all the input.

PS: what I do find strange is that I can't simply ask for and receive an exact replacement part - research seems to indicate that the current unit is from a BMW 2002, but that's not a sure thing. This is the first time since I purchased the Cobra over 10 years ago that I've ended up with no satisfaction sort of like the Rolling Stones song.

Last edited by bliss; 06-07-2015 at 11:38 AM..
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Old 06-08-2015, 07:10 AM
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Yes, but would you not want to upgrade to the new reservoir with the separated compartments? The whole reason you have the float is to warn you because the fluid level in that reservoir is more critical.
Check out this recent thread:
Era brakes Upgrade
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Old 06-09-2015, 10:28 AM
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davids2toys:

It's just not logical - having two compartments that in essence replace the float light warning leaves one with nothing that automatically provides a warning.
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:04 AM
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In actuality, it is 3 compartments. Nobody said that it "replaces" the light, you just can't have the light because there is no float. My guess is the light is not needed as much now because of the new (safer) setup. If this was my choice to make, I would go with the newer res and give up the light that you are used to, but that is just me.

As Gaz64 said:
"The dash warning light will never illuminate without the float.
The float has internal internal magnet which operates a sealed reed switch to activate the warning light.
Now if the clutch circuit develops a leak, can it run the reservoir down to the point of no fluid for the brakes? "

As Bob said:
"Now, you just keep track of whether the clutch release is working properly. If the fluid drops too low, that will be the first indication of a problem, either in the clutch or the brakes. "
what Bob said will basically take the place of your warning light

Your way/fix:
"I can easily take the float off and disconnect the light - done. Therefore I've no need for the new reservoir ordered and received from ERA"

Now you would have no early warning system if you fixed it your way. As Gaz said, if you have a leak in your clutch, because of you one line/one compartment reservoir, you will run it down to NO fluid for your brakes!
If you want to have a further conversation about it, feel free to PM me with your phone # and a good time to call.
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Old 06-10-2015, 07:23 PM
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As an example, I have the new reservoir and last night while I was setting the valve lash on my car I accidentally pulled the line that feeds the clutch from the top of the hydraulic clutch master cylinder as I was installing the spark plug into the #8 cylinder. The wrench caught the tube and pulled it up (it's a pretty tight fit in there, had to use a universal joint on the extension). Luckily it pulled it out and I heard the sound of liquid hitting the floor. Which of course lead to a much longer project as I had to jack the car up and work in a very confined area to remove the master cylinder and re-fit the feeder line into it

The point being, that the fluid drained down to that upper connection and then stopped. I still had my brakes. If it had only partially pulled out and created a small leak that I did not notice while driving, I still would have had brakes.

It is not advisable to run on a reservoir that does not separate the brakes for the clutch and also separates the front brakes from the rear brakes. A warning light does no good if you have a break in a line and all of the fluid runs out in a matter of seconds Having separate reservoirs, either as distinct cans, or as a unit with seperaters for the front and rear brakes is a must for safety concerns. Many race organizations require them.

Last edited by 1795; 06-10-2015 at 07:37 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-10-2015, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1795 View Post
As an example, I have the new reservoir and last night while I was setting the valve lash on my car I accidentally pulled the line that feeds the clutch from the top of the hydraulic clutch master cylinder as I was installing the spark plug into the #8 cylinder. The wrench caught the tube and pulled it up (it's a pretty tight fit in there, had to use a universal joint on the extension).
OK, that is one of the strangest "Cobra oops" that I have heard about in a long time.
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Old 06-10-2015, 07:41 PM
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Patrick,

That is what happens when you work a long day and then go to work on your car. All in all, it turned out well. First time that I set the valve lash on my own, fixed the clutch and everything still worked when I was done. Good thing that I had a lot of extra brake fluid on hand.
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