[T3] NOS Brake Parts

Jim Adney jadney at vwtype3.org
Sat Jun 8 14:20:29 PDT 2019

Quite a few years ago, someone here posted a link to a photo of a seal that 
came in an NOS master cylinder rebuild kit that he had just bought. He did 
this to point out the folly of buying NOS with the thought that it would still be 
good. The seal in this photo was clearly WAY past its due date.

Anyone else remember this? Anyone care to claim that post and photo? If it's 
your photo, plese post that link again.

I was too busy to respond at the time, and, over time, the opportunity slipped 
away from me. In case that photo made a lasting impression on some of you, 
I've long meant to respond to it.  

The seal in that photo looks EXACTLY like one of the seals that I commonly 
replace in very old, used master cylinders. I've NEVER seen anything like it 
come out of a kit of any age. So how could this happen, you ask. I'm afraid 
it's more common than we might like. Here's how it goes:

Someone buys a kit and takes their master cylinder apart. They notice that 
the first seal inside the bore looks awful but the rest of them are fine. They 
swap that seal with the seal from the kit. Some time later, they forget what 
they've done, or not, and return the kit to the store for a refund. It goes back 
on the shelf where it sits for a few years, until some unsuspecting person 
buys it and wonders why it doesn't look very good.

I've bought lots of stuff over the years. Much of it is overstocks and things 
that no longer sell quickly. Most of it is fine, but occasionally I find something 
that's not quite right. The last such item was a brake hose that was clearly 
new, but not what the box said it was. Someone opened a couple of boxes to 
look inside and then forgot which hose came out of which box. The boxes 
got restuffed randomly. It happens. Sometimes it's innocent, sometimes it's 
people knowing they are getting away with something.   

BUT, here's the takeaway: I've got a basement full of NOS brake kits, many 
30-50 years old. I've never had a NOS seal that looked like the one in that 
photo. I've seen many that look exactly like that which have come out of 
master cylinders which I've been asked to rebuild.

I've never seen any reason to distrust NOS rubber brake parts. The boxes 
may be moldy, the zinc pistons may be corroded, the steel washer and snap 
ring may have rust spots on them, but the rubber parts will still be just fine.

Just wanted to clear this up, at least in my own mind. I kept thinking about 
that photo and how unfortunately misleading it was. And I want to make clear 
that it's not the fault of the person who posted the photo; he only had a 
sample of 1 and made a reasonable conclusion from it.

Jim Adney, jadney at vwtype3.org
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

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