You usually think of tyres when you hear the phrase “pump em up” – not today pumping the brake pedal was needed to get me around safely!
It seems like only yesterday that I had a similar problem with the car – the master cylinder died on us!
However something was not the same as last time – there was no suggestion of brake power when the master cylinder went. This time I had good front lock up if I pumped and the pedal was not sinking all the way to the floor. After a few pumps there was a gradual drop and then it stopped. I was sure I had experienced this in the past – just too long to remember what the outcome was!
So I dive into my trusty social networks and put it out there to a few friends. Then a call to mate and mechanic (and drag racer) Mark. He has similar issue with the master cylinder idea – something just not right about the symptoms. He suggests I take the rear wheels off and look for a leak in the brake drums.
So up on the axle stumps she goes and off with the wheels!
Take a Careful Look
At first glance the brakes look as they should – so a closer inspection is needed. I look at the inside of the drum and there are marks that look like splashes of something that has dried after being spun around the inside of the drum. So I lift the dust cover rubber on the wheel cylinder and out drips a drop or two of rusty red liquid!
More than just a leak a serious corrosion and leak issue!
So no choice the wheel cylinder will need to be replaced so I set to tearing down the whole brake.
(Hint: I have learned a good lesson from past experiences – take a photo of the parts you wish to replace before you strip them down – especially when there are multiple parts!)
So, on the phone to the guys at Hi Tech Brake and Clutch Services They re-sleeved my master cylinder and have supplied me with numerous parts for the brakes over the years. It helps that most of them are petrolheads like me – owning classic metal themselves.
They have multiple cylinders for me to use and the price is so good ($11 apiece) that I grab two! Little did I know that this decision would save me a great deal of running around!
Clean and Paint
With the brake cleaned up and looking ready to go I decide that it would be a good idea to remove the surface rust and maybe add a coat of paint. So out with the faithful zinc based paint and she looks like new!
While the paint dries I decide to tear down the other wheel just in case there is an issue. I also received advice from a tyre specialist on the benefits of replacing both cylinders at the same time when you do a repair. It is often the case that they both go within a short time of each other and it saves the confusion of finding the source of a problem.
So I have a look and see the tiniest of fluid – I lift the dust cover and sure enough there is the tell-tell signs of rust – in fact this one is worse!
Scarey to think that the pair of the rear wheels had failed me! I had no hint of problems in the weeks before. It is a good job that the brake system is a split system with the front and rear on separate circuits – the front brakes were doing the most work when I had the trouble start!
It is well over 15 years since we replaced a wheel cylinder on the rear brakes so I am not complaining – just grateful it all happened during a holiday break! The car had sat in the garage for 10 days and it was during the first drive after xmas that the failure took place!
Out with the Old and In with the New
So to work now rebuilding the brakes.
First in with the nice new wheel cylinder.
With reference to my photos on the I-pad, I rebuild the brakes.
Last thing to do is to connect the brake line to the back of the drum and drain the old brake fluid and replace with new!
The last but no less important step is the draining and bleeding of the fluid through the pipes to clear all old fluid and air!
The process is straight forward and I have been thru this in the past – Bleeding Brakes – so I won’t repeat the process here. I do decide to clean up the front discs as well today so I strip down the front wheels – give all a cleanup and then flush and bleed the front!
I quickly drive out to get more brake fluid and I can finally finish the job! The new fluid is considerably cleaner than the old and I can see that I am lucky to have no major damage to the brake system despite that very bad corrosion in the rear cylinders!
Another note to self – dig a little deeper next time I check the brakes! Lifting up dust seals and rubbers could reveal early signs of problems before you run out of brakes!
Well what a busy day I spent tinkering on the BeaXT. Very relaxing actually – like a form of meditation! I know many would be perplexed by the statement but for me nothing is more relaxing than sitting in the garage working on the car.
The joy of seeing the job completed by my own hands and the return of function when things have gone terribly wrong.
On the purely commercial side I saved myself many hundreds of dollars – and no mechanic would willingly volunteer to clean-up and paint parts on the way. I spent $25 (inc GST) on parts and $25 on brake fluid and a single-handed bleeding kit.
If you run an old car then brake repairs are something you can attempt with a little advice and care. So invest in one of these one-man bleeding kits!
As usual I got mine from my pals at Autopro Joondalup!