'57 Chrysler gets a much-needed boost
By Brian Earnest
Jody Stuck had a hard time believing it himself. The longtime owner of Midwest Classic Restorations in Oneida, Wis., has restored more cars than he can count, and worked on scores of finned Mopars from the late 1950s, including ground-up restorations on many of them. Somehow, though, Stuck couldn’t seem to recall ever having to do a brake booster swap on one of the big, beautiful Chryslers.
“This might be the first,” he joked.
The job of putting a refurbished booster unit in a 1957 Chrysler Saratoga didn’t turn out to be overly difficult for Stuck. In fact, it went a bit quicker than he expected. “I figured I’d have to get up under the dash and see what was under there,” he said. “With a lot of these boosters, you have to disconnect things under the dash before you can pull them out. This one wasn’t like that.”
Stuck knew he would have to swap the booster unit on the Saratoga after the car began running rough and braking poorly. “It had a huge vacuum leak and the engine just didn’t run properly. Whenever you have a vacuum leak that’s a major issue,” he said. “I did some trouble shooting with the brakes and vacuum canister before I figured it was the brake booster... It just ran really rough and erratic with the vacuum leak. We plugged off the canister and unhooked the booster and then the engine ran a lot better, so we knew what it was.”
Stuck had purchased a rebuilt Chrysler brake booster unit from Booster Dewey (www.boosterdeweyexchange.com) in Portland, Ore. The company can either restore an existing booster, or supply a new unit for many different models. In Stuck’s case, he went with a new unit and will send in the old booster from the Saratoga to be restored for future use in another car.
The booster swap was pretty straightforward: unbolt the master cylinder from the mounting plate it shares with the booster, remove the booster and bracket from the firewall, then bolt in a freshly refurbished unit from Booster Dewey unit using the existing hardware.
The accompanying sequence of photos shows how he did it.