I’m glad I’m not a mechanic anymore

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I still have the skill set and I really enjoyed it while I was doing it (I have a journeyman ticket in marine mechanics). I worked on everything from big gas and diesel crewboats and commercial fishing boats to little runabouts, personal watercraft and trailers in a previous life. I did engine and drive repairs and replacements, electrical and wiring and rigging. It’s a lot like being an auto mechanic. You deal with engines, running gear, transmissions and with trailer brakes and axles as well. I knew it wasn’t a career I could sustain though and this week confirmed it. Why you ask? It’s very simple….All the parts to redo my beetle brake system came in from CIP and I started working on it.

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I already had the drums off the front and the brake shoes removed. I started in on the passenger side front wheel and pulled off the brake cylinder. I had forgotten all the contortion needed to work on vehicles and also had forgotten the many times I wished I had an extra set of eyes on my fingertips. It all came rushing back…. I got the cylinder off without much fighting and then got out the brake cleaner spray and hit the backing plate to get rid of as much crap as I could, wire brushed everything and then while I was in there, replaced the front brake hose with the new stainless one. Looking at the dark colour of the brake fluid that was dripping out I realized that I’m going to have to flush the whole system. That’s for another day.

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Note the missing adjuster tang on the top of the adjuster housing.

After finishing the initial clean up, I also cleaned and wire brushed the brake drum and sprayed a couple of coats of high temp paint on it. All things going pretty okay. No blood loss noted. I of course had forgotten to put on my nitrile gloves before I started so my hands were going to need a severe scrubbing, but as I said things were going pretty well. I next dragged my little Lincoln MIG 140 welder over to replace the broken adjuster tang. It has flux core wire in it for doing more outdoor/dirtyish kind of jobs, so it was perfect for tacking the new tang in place. I used my Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel to get rid of the old tang, cleaned up the mounting surface and then just tacked the new tang in place. I haven’t used my little Lincoln for quite a while so it took me a bit to get the settings right but I finally prevailed. I then cleaned up the adjusters, put on some anti-seize compound, reinstalled them and then reinstalled the brake cylinder.

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New adjuster tangs tacked on, adjusters in place and cylinder installed

All I needed to do now was to install the brake pads . I haven’t done brakes in a long time but it’s not something you really forget. You just forget what a pain in the ass it is to do. Fast forward and let’s just say it got done. It wasn’t pretty but it got done.

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Et voila!!

As with all things when you do them, the second time went much faster, so I now have both sides complete and they’re ready to be adjusted and bled.

I also changed out the rear flexible brake hoses with new stainless ones as well. Again, a bit of a job for a contortionist to get those lines loose. I’m not sure when they were last changed but they’ll now be good for as long as I drive it I think. I looked at the running gear and realized I should probably throw on some new shocks in the near future and see if I can get the front end steam cleaned. Later.

So what happens next? I now have to get in there and replace the master cylinder. It’s pretty accessible so assuming the fittings come apart fairly easily I think the hardest part will be bleeding the system. I’ll give my friend Chuck a call when it’s all good to go and see if he can give me a hand with that. At the end of the day I’ve got a sore back and shoulder but I got done what I needed to. And once again…. I’m glad I’m not a mechanic anymore.

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