Give me a brake

If you’re going to blow a brake line, your driveway is the place to do it, sadly that was the only convenient occurrence of my still ongoing brake overhaul.  It was a crisp October Saturday morning when the 16 year old brake line decided it had finally had enough.  After realizing what had happened, I slowly backed the Wrangler to the top of the driveway, shut her down and chocked the wheels.  A few weeks went by and I was finally able to order a new set of lines, along with front pads and rotors, and a new master cylinder.  Then, the septic tank failed at the house, winter came, and the TJ proceeded to get covered in snow until the spring.

three wheelin'

three wheelin’

Once the warm weather kicked in, it was time to get to work.  I began removing the broken brake line, carefully notating the route in which it traveled from the ABS module to the front passenger side caliper.  I carefully routed the new pre-bent line up the frame rail, across the front cross member, under the sway bar, back down the driver’s side frame rail, only to find that my pre-bent line didn’t quite make it to the ABS module.  A few careful tweaks of the line, and it was in place.  As I attempted to thread the fitting, I realized that something was not right, it clearly didn’t fit.  Upon further inspection, and several texted pictures to friends, I determined that the set of lines I had purchased were for non-ABS models only, despite being told that they would fit either configuration.  Frustrated, I packed up my tools and moved on to another project around the house.Jeep-Wrangler-Brakes-03

A week or so went by, with the TJ sitting on jack stands in the driveway sans the front driver’s side wheel while I researched what to do.  I debated re-flaring the ends of the lines to make it work, or having it towed to a shop to let someone else do it, but ultimately decided to remove the incorrect line and order the correct set.  I removed the line, and carefully packed it back into the box with the rest of the set.  Eventually I’ll get around to putting the set up on craigslist or a Jeep forum to try and recoup some of my money.  In the meantime, I pulled the front driveshaft in preparation to have the CV joint rebuilt.  Almost a year later and the driveshaft is still in the basement, with a bum joint.  Anyone know of a good driveline shop in NJ?Jeep-Wrangler-Brakes-06

The new lines arrived!  After carefully inspecting the part numbers and contents of the box I began running the front line as I had done the last time.  Since I had already taken the original one out, put one in, then taken it out again, I didn’t need to reference my original notes about the routing of the line.  (Note: always reference your notes.) I then pulled the line back out, referenced my notes, and inserted the front brake line for the third time.  Success! Finally.  I removed and replaced the front driver’s side line which was much easier as it didn’t have that far to go, and began replacing the rotor and pads.  I hadn’t done brakes in a while and needed some guidance from a few friends about the use of a c-clamp to compress the caliper piston so the pads would fit around the new rotor.Jeep-Wrangler-Brakes-08

I put the wheel back on the driver’s side, lowered the Jeep, jacked it back up on the passenger side and began working on the other disc setup.  The old parts came off quite easily, and now knowing that c-clamp trick, the new rotor and pads were on in a mere 5 minutes.  I had decided to do everything by the book (my service manual) and torque everything to spec.  As I had done on the driver’s side, I set my torque wrench to 11lbs to tighten up the caliper mounting bolts.  I put the wrench on the lower bolt, and within a single pull of the wrench the bolt snapped in half.  Now I needed a new bolt, and apparently a calibrated torque wrench.  Like the last time, I simply packed up my tools and called it a day.Jeep-Wrangler-Brakes-09

The following weekend, I was determined to finish the front end.  I went down to AutoZone to get a new bolt.  I was quickly told that according to the computer, they didn’t have them, and couldn’t even order me one.  Later that afternoon I stopped into a local parts store, that I didn’t even know existed, and without use of a computer was handed a pair of bolts in exchange for $6.  I think I’ve found my new parts guy!  The following morning I set out to complete the project, at least this portion of it anyway.  I used a gasket scraper to pry the caliper off of the half of the bolt that was still threaded into the knuckle, and was able to remove the bolt quite easily.  New bolts went in, and were carefully tightened.

Broken Caliper Mounting Bolt

Broken Caliper Mounting Bolt

Encouraged by my success in correcting a bad situation, I moved onto the rest of the brake lines.  I contemplated just leaving the rest of the old lines on, until simply pulling the front to rear line out of the plastic clip caused that line to snap in half.  So now, all but the two rear wheel lines and the small master cylinder lines are in.  I’m hoping to finish it up this weekend so I can at least drive her again before the weather gets too cold to take the doors off.  More to come next week, as I’m sure something else will happen before this brake overhaul is complete.

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