Plug Bug: Broken brake…

Electric Bug, Machining

…well, problems come in pairs. I changed my front brake pads about about 8600 miles; they wore away quickly! I didn’t change the rear, as they weren’t as bad as the front. I checked the new front ones at 15,000 miles and they are doing great. I had looked at the rear but only on one side and without taking the wheel off. They looked okay, so I wasn’t going to do them yet. However, the rear brakes started making a horrible noise last Friday.

So today I decided to take the brakes apart and drop in the new pads I already had on hand. It turned out to be an all day adventure. The left pads were worn, and it was time to replace them, but they weren’t totally shot. The right rear wasn’t in such good shape. Of the two pads, the left pad wore twice as fast, and was starting to etch into the disc! Doh! It wasn’t that bad, and I’m not going to replace the disc, but I had some trouble with installing the new pads. First of all, the pistons on the calipers were not wanting to go back in. I had to force them in with a pretty large C-clamp, and even then it was a lot of effort to get them in. Then I encountered the “problem”.

I have the rear disc brake conversion kit from CIP1. It is this one. It turns out one of the bolts that moves in and out to let the brake adjust was seized. So instead of moving as the pads wore, it just stayed put, and caused one side of the pad to wear twice as fast as the other! Worse, it was impossible to get off. I tried lots of things, including heating it with the torch, but it wasn’t budging. I put a bolt in and tried to get it to move…but that was a bad idea as the bolt snapped right off! That made things worse. I took the piece off the car and worked it in my vice and finally got it out.

In the picture below, the bottom right hole is where it was stuck; I managed to get it out by working it in a vice for a while.


The stuck piece freed:


Apparently some water got in the hole and let things rust up nice and bad. The sucky part is that I broke the bolt off in the piece:


..and easy outs (bolt extractors) *never* work for me. So, I of course broke one off in it.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I could order a new caliper (i.e.: this one). for $120 plus shipping, and wait a week to get it…but I don’t want to do that as it means week of not driving and I also have a car show to go to next Saturday! Instead, I decided to machine my own piece. So, after some time on the lathe and mill I had a replacement.

In the picture below, the top is the broken piece, the middle is the good piece+bolt, and the bottom is what I made. After the picture was taken, I quenched it in oil to harden it (note to self: don’t do it in a plastic container).


The finished piece is on the right, and the material I used is the big lump of steel.


My short test drive seems to let the brakes work! Cool…it only took all day (~10am to 8pm). And I missed hanging out with my friend Nathan for his birthday! Doh…


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Very resourceful! Just checked my brakes after reading this and found an axle seal leaking. Ah well.

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