The (hopefully-not-annual) pre-Blissfest repair-fest.

Oh my, where do I begin?

Hrm, first of all, tomorrow is day 1 of the 37th Annual Blissfest!  I’m so excited that I already applied my wristband and used my patchouli scrub tonight!

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Monday, July 3rd, was the annual trek to the Baroda Fireworks.  That was tons of fun, but I had some brake issues; the brakes were working but I had to apply them with extreme firmness (i.e. I had to press real hard).  It made the drive to the fireworks (with 6 full-sized adults) rather interesting, but we made it there and back safely and had a fantastic time.  Here’s a couple pictures that sum up the extreme level of fun.

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I added some brake fluid the next day and it leaked right out onto the driveway, oops! On the way home from Mom & Dad’s, with my niece Emily driving (she’s the one with the guitar above), I tracked down a replacement wheel cylinder guessing that I had a leaky one that simply needed replacing.  I didn’t have time to actually work on it until today and when I took the tire off and pulled off the brake drum I got the surprise of my life!

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There’s nothing there!  There’s supposed to be brake shoes, and springs (multiple sets), and a wheel cylinder, and adjusters, and a backing plate.  It’s all just… gone!  Apparently the brake backing plate (which everything else listed above attaches to in some form) rusted completely away.  I’d been wondering what that rattling sound was, now I know!  Once it was gone, everything else just kind of fell out.  I think I need to get one of those bumper stickers that says “honk if anything falls off!”

So I needed a new backing plate, brake shoes, hardware kit (springs and clips and miscellaneous things), and adjusting stars.  Short on time, I called Parts Place up in… well… they used to be up in Auburn Hills, but they’ve moved to Warren.  They pride themselves on having “everything you need for your VW,” (HAH!) and though their prices are ridiculous, and their sense of customer service lacking, they’re only about an hour’s drive away.  They said they had a backing plate and all the stuff I needed so I headed up there.  150 dollars and two and a half hours later I was back at home staring at my new-to-me (read: used) backing plate and kicking myself for believing the guy when he insisted it was the right one!  I uttered unkind words toward them; it seems their move to Warren hasn’t improved their customer service any.

By this time it was too late to drive back to Warren so I needed a Plan B.  Well, actually I needed a Plan C, because I’d already driven quite some distance without usable rear brakes.  Driving with front brakes only was a feasible option, but not one I’m really comfortable with.  I went a’Googling and found out that, yes, indeed, they do make caps that fit into a brake line fitting that seal correctly.  A little more Googling and it seemed that Advance Auto was generally considered to have the greatest assortment.

The guy at Advance was fantastically helpful and we came up with a solution.  They didn’t have a cap for a Metric fitting, but they had an adapter and a cap that fit into the adapter.  Less than ten dollars and about 20 minutes later I was back home blocking off the connection to the missing brake.

After getting all the adapters and fittings and everything in place I took off the other rear tire, filled up the master cylinder with fluid, and enlisted Emily’s help to pump the brakes.  We bled all the air out of the system and, honestly, they stop far better than they have in a long time!  That wheel must have been having trouble for some time (okay, I knew that, I was just trying to ignore it…).

So, a happy ending, with a To Be Continued.  I need to find the right backing plate, and then I get to figure out how to remove the wheel hub and that should be all sorts of greasy, dirty, sweaty fun!

The real triumph, though, is I will get to drive The Bus to Blissfest!  I think these last two pictures exhibit my joy of victory very clearly.

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