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.


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.

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.

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.

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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