many thanks to "the usual suspects"! threads on mushy front brake let me zero right in on the problem and fix it. the issue was too much handbrake travel. i wasn't sure if the problem was master cylinder or calipers. i had bled the brakes and didnt fix the problem. after doin a caliper rebuild (clean and new seals and wiper), i'm back to normal brake function. your comments in the threads were exactly right, as usual. thanks to all u guys.