If you’re one of the lucky few to get your hands on a 1969 Oldsmobile 442, with its great lines and legendary horsepower, we salute you. The 442, whose name derives from the original car's four-barrel carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts, remains one of the most celebrated muscle cars of all time.
Whether your goal is to simply make it roadworthy or you’re planning a full-blown restoration, there’s a good chance you’re going to need to repair or restore the power brake booster that originally came with your vehicle.
Brake Booster Rebuild & Repair
The 1969 Oldsmobile 442 originally came with a manual or power Delco Moraine brake system which was the standard system for GM vehicles at that time. How you go about restoring your power brake system, also referred to as a brake booster, is going to depend a lot on your starting point.
What is the current state of the brake booster, or the overall 442, for that matter?
Is the vehicle drivable and in good running condition? Is it even in one piece?
Or, are you taking ownership of a car that’s been decaying in someone’s garage for a decade, getting more corroded by the year? Maybe it’s missing the rear bumper, the dual scoops of your Hurst are destroyed, or the engine is in complete disrepair, and you’ve taken on the ambitious project of putting it all back together?
For the sake of argument, let’s assume you have all the components of the brake booster, but that they’re in bad shape. The front and back housing booster are rusted, pitted or corroded; seals have long ago cracked; grease and debris have gummed up valves; and hardware has gone missing or lost its sheen.
You have three options (Learn about the pros and cons of each in this article):
1. Pay to have your brake booster and all its associated parts restored
2. Purchase an authentic replacement brake booster for your car that’s already been rebuilt
3. Purchase a knockoff reproduction replacement brake booster
Since this article is about rebuilding and restoring a brake booster that you already own, we’re going to talk about what you can expect from the restoration process. We use the following methods here at Brake Boosters and Detail Plating.
Preparing & Shipping Your 1969 Olds 442 Brake Booster
Before we ever touch your booster, it’s important that you’ve done the proper preparations first. That means cleaning it up before you ship it. Knock off any loose debris and give it a good wipe down. A product like Castrol Super Clean works well. Since our brake booster restoration service includes replating your master cylinder cover, you can wipe that down while you’re at it.
Note: If you’re sending along any other auto parts to be plated (e.g., caliper brackets, dust shields, hood hinges, etc.), those require more thorough preparation and cleaning than boosters. Visit our Detail Plating site for details.
Make a Packing List
Once you’ve cleaned your booster and any other parts, it’s extremely helpful for us to know exactly what items you are sending so that we can keep track of them throughout the restoration process. We encourage you to include a packing list of every item you’ve included in your shipment, along with your full name, shipping address and contact information. See a sample of form below.
Take a Picture
Use your phone and take a picture or two of your packing list next to all your parts. Having this reference list and photo can be helpful if we have to call you do discuss the condition of a particular part. Keep your photos until your booster and parts have been returned and you’ve had a chance to check everything over.
Pack Your Booster Carefully
We’ve found the best way to keep the rear hub on the booster from breaking is to use zip ties, secured as shown to the brackets, to immobilize the rod. With your measurements in hand, go find a good, sturdy shipping box. Our motto is, the stiffer the cardboard, the better the box. Use plenty of packing material to protect your parts and keep them from tearing or poking through the box and possibly falling out. Please note that zip lock bags may leak during transit, so be sure to tightly or even double seal whatever you’ve enclosed.
Don’t forget to include the packing slip that includes your contact information, including email and phone number. Please label the outside of the box with your name and address, also. We primarily use UPS to ship. We recommend you go directly to a terminal office (as opposed to a privately-owned satellite office) for the best pricing. Allow 5-7 days for transit each way. You are responsible for the cost of shipping the brake booster and master cylinder cover to us, but we will repay return shipping. For all other parts, you are responsible for paying for shipment both ways.
Rebuilding & Restoring Your Original Delco Moraine Brake Booster
As soon as we receive your shipment, we take a look at your packing list and verify all the parts are there. If no packing slip is included, we create our own inventory of your pieces and take a picture.
"We always contact the customer for clarification any time there is a question or potential discrepancy in expectations, or before performing any additional restoration step that has the potential to increase the stated cost of the service. For example, if the customer asks for a certain type of plating that we know was not the kind used on the original model, we will call to make sure they are of aware of that."
Next, we disassemble your booster and carefully inspect all the parts. As you can see from these 1970 Delco Moraine Service Manual illustrations, the brake units contain dozens of components, ranging in material from metal to plastic to rubber.
We check each item to determine whether it is functionally sound. All metal parts generally are, so we set the front and rear housing, the internal support plate, the push rod and the master cylinder cover aside to be plated.
Many of the original plastic booster parts, such as the power piston and reaction retainer, also tend to be intact because they were well made when they were first manufactured. However, if we do find any cracks or deformities, we replace them with new components. All rubber parts, such as the diaphragm and O-rings, are replaced.
All remaining parts that are in good working order, such as the back boot, air valve springs and reaction levers, are thoroughly cleaned. Any parts that have deteriorated are exchanged with new replacement parts.
Blasting, Polishing & Plating Your Auto Parts
To restore your brake system to its original luster, we put it through a three-step process. First, we use a special media to blast away any paint and corrosion that remains on the surfaces. Next, we use a proprietary polishing step to prepare the front and rear housing, support plate, etc. for the plating process. Finally, we use an electroplating process to plate your booster in its original color, usually zinc dichromate. Electroplating uses an electrical current to attract the zinc plating to the part.
We’re sticklers for detail, so we make sure to include your master cylinder cover so that it matches your booster. And, for good measure, we include the internal support plate, even though that’s only visible when the housing is open!
The Final Step: Testing Your Restored Brake Booster
With everything clean, shiny and new, we reassemble the booster and test it to ensure it’s working properly. What many don’t know is that the Delco Moraine boosters were designed to hold a few extra pumps after a vacuum failure. So, as a double check, we remove the vacuum hose and test to see that we can produce these few extra pumps to ensure that it’s performing properly.
This testing process is just one more reason we recommended restoring your brake system with a reputable restoration service like Brake Boosters rather than buying reproduction booster kits, which tend to have a higher failure rate.
Fully Restored Boosters Available for 1967 – 1979 Oldsmobiles
If you don’t have the original booster components or they are too corroded to repair, we do supply fully restored, mint condition boosters for select '67-'79 Oldsmobiles. Many, but not all, are available with the original matching numbers, meaning they have the correct matching code and date as your vehicle. Pricing generally increases for boosters with matching numbers as they are more difficult to source.
1967 -1970 Oldsmobile Full Size Brake Booster (when available)
1971 -1976 Oldsmobile Full Size Brake Booster
1964 -1966 Oldsmobile Cutlass Brake Booster
1967 -1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Brake Booster
1973 -1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Brake Booster
Oldsmobile Toronado Brake Booster
More Oldsmobile Restoration Resources
If you’re new to the world of muscle cars, antique cars or classic car restoration and aren’t sure where to turn, these resources are a great place to start. They feature a range of industry authorities, dealers, service experts, show representatives and other owners who can guide you in your restoration efforts.
Restoring your classic car can seem like never ending project, not to mention an expensive endeavor. But we get you! We’re one of you. There’s just nothing like being behind the wheel of one of the greatest automobiles ever built!
That’s why we think it pays to invest in having your original brake components fully restored. We’re here to help if and when you’re ready to do it. Contact us through our website or call (805) 441-5390.
About Brake Boosters and Detail Plating
Our two companies, Brake Boosters and Detail Plating, have been rebuilding and restoring brake boosters for muscle cars for nearly 40 years, improving both their function and appearance, and returning them to their near-original condition. Our brake boosters are on many National Show Winners each year, and our services are recommended by The Velocity Channel's Performance TV. We also restore master cylinders, metering valves, distribution switch blocks and more, as well as provide pit polishing when needed.
In addition, we use a variety of plating materials (e.g., zinc dichromate, clear zinc, black zinc phosphate, cadmium, etc.) to restore everything from dust shield and caliper brackets, hood hinges, springs and latches to bumper jack shafts, alternator fan and pulleys. booster restoration! Our plated pieces are featured in many national award-winning cars each year and our services are recommended by several national magazines as "The Source" for detail plating for all vehicles.
All of this is to say, we know a thing or two about brake booster classic muscle car restoration.