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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Getting around to the second half of a bilateral repair

Last fall, I wrote about bilateral repairs on my little Winnebago Rialta (which is a Volkswagen Eurovan with a Winnebago camper body on the back), both of which required special tools. The first repair was replacement of the upper ball joints in the front suspension.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/getting-around-to-the-second-half-of-a-bilat...
17 REPLIES 17
audiobycarmine
Technician

Re: photo #1 — Now THAT'S a breaker bar!
DTM1
Pit Crew

In the oilfield we used to call that a snipe...
JeepCJ5
Intermediate Driver

Glad you're back. I've become accustomed to reading your weekly article here!
Scoutdude
Intermediate Driver

I'd say it is a good thing that you pulled the lining off of that shoe when pulling the drum. Definite signs of rust causing the bond to fail. Could have been a serious nightmare had it came free on a hard stop. The fact that the lining was so thick likely would have prevented the immediate lock up that occurs when the loose shoe wedges between the drum and the good shoe, but you still would have lost some braking power, not good on a vehicle who's brakes are pushed beyond their design limits. So yeah on my vehicles with bonded drum parking brakes I replace them when they get 10-12 years old even if the lining is still nice and thick. Cheap insurance.
tmkreutzer
Detailer

I am happy to see that I am not the only one this sort of crap happens to. Fortunately for me, the only things I work on are not daily drivers so when the worst happens and I feel the pressure start to build I can remind myself that "this is supposed to be fun."
Scoutdude
Intermediate Driver

Another pro-tip. When dealing with wheel end hydraulics the second thing you do after checking that they look like the right part is to crack open the bleeder screw a couple of turns or so for calipers and just plain remove them and set them aside for wheel cylinders.

This is for a few reasons. #1 you don't want to find out after everything is installed that they are stuck, more likely on a reman caliper but still you don't want to do the job over. #2 you don't want to stop mother nature from helping you. When you crack the line from the old part gravity will start the flow of fluid and you want to keep that going, not stop it because there is no place for the air to escape. #3 when you are dealing with a wheel cylinder the port for the line is usually close by, so you don't want it in the way when getting it started, nor do you want to damage it when tightening the line or the mounting bolts.

Finger tighten the line > install and tighten retaining bolts > tighten line > install bleeder screw and leave it finger tight until you've got fluid flowing.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Been doing them this way since I broke my first (and only) one sometime around 1979. Never realized I was "pro"!
SteveR
Pit Crew

I once believed in the healing power of the EZ-Out, because it was so said by the prophet John Muir.

I faithfully tried to use one on an exhaust stud in a air-cooled VW, while attempting to replace the muffler.

That was therefore the first engine I removed and overhauled.
Air_and_Water
Instructor

VW exhaust studs are the worst. 😞

If the Germans would update old designs on occasion we would've gotten 10mm studs in 1956, or '61 at the latest when they changed the engine's basic design. Of course we would've then gotten oil filters, more oil galleys on the right side of the engine, and a bit more oil capacity. Of course they don't, so we didn't!
SJ
Technician

Got the same exact breaker bar!
Tinkerah
Engineer

Pro tip in a photo that I haven't seen before, and will do the next time I use mine: a length of hose on the jack handle!
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

That looked like a royal pain in the rear end. Literally!
TG
Gearhead

For what appears to be a glorified trailer axle, that setup appears to be waaaaay too complicated. At least you got it licked
Tinkerah
Engineer

"Back in the Day" (<--- my tagline again) I owned a plow truck that only ran in wet, usually salty conditions. Merciless rust was an unavoidable part of its life and eventual death. Factory bleed nipples had a cruelly narrow hex so that with far less torque than it would've taken to crack them they'd round over instead and it was game on for the screw removal challenge. I cured it by making my own bleeders with comfortably long hexes. That's one of mine on top, made of 304 stainless steel of course:

CIMG2337.JPG

steveadil
Pit Crew

Rob’s an excellent writer; I just wish I’d attended the local BMWCCA meeting that he attended to chat.
Tinkerah
Engineer

A really close stab at a successful bleed can be done on a cylinder with a broken nipple by cracking the flare nut and compressing both pistons toward each other with a C-clamp. The only air remaining inside will be the small volume between the tube entrance and bleeder socket. It wouldn't work quite as well for a cylinder installed upside down as it appears in Rob's photo but I prefer to think that was just a matter of camera access.

Tinkerah
Engineer

Every brake rotor or drum I mount, whether new or used, has four drilled and tapped jack screw holes whether I have to add two or do all four. It's the quickest, easiest mod that saves untold pain upon removal.