Ben Hallert does not set EMS on fire or how he changed his brakes.
I had a productive day at the shop after work yesterday! For the last few weeks, my car has grumbled at me about half of the time I used the brakes. I say grumble because it didn’t quite match any other description; it wasn’t scraping, it wasn’t screeching or shaking, it was just… grumbling. “Grrrr…” I figured there must probably be a pebble stuck between a pad and the rotor or something and it was slowing properly, so when I got around to it I took it to the Eugene Maker Space (http://eugenemakerspace.com) to fix up. Pulling off the front right wheel, I went to loosen some bolts that hold the caliper on when I discovered the source of the problem: Somehow, one of the two bolts was _missing_. Completely gone! I could rotate the caliper in place with little effort because it was only half attached, yikes. This is unacceptable! Whoever did my brakes last was clearly a complete and utter careless moro- I paused. On contemplation, I realized that I was the last one to touch these because I had replaced the pads a few months ago. In a sudden spirit of “can’t we all just… get along?” reconciliation, I magnanimously decided that failing to properly tighten that bolt was an understandable mistake and certainly not worth obsessing over. Let’s let bygones be bygones and all that. A quick walk down to Autozone got me a replacement bolt and we were off and running.A backstory on these brakes; as I mentioned, I had replaced the pads but I had known for the last year or so that I really needed new rotors. The rotors are the big metal discs that the brakepads squeeze against to slow you down and they can get worn. When they get worn and get grooves in them, that wears the pads out quicker and it’s a dirty cycle. I had actually needed to replace my pads twice, both when I was broke, so I had incurred extra expense overall as a result. As someone once told me, ‘there’s few things more expensive than being poor’. But this time, I had planned ahead and had gotten new rotors and by damned, I was going to replace them. To get the rotors off, you remove the calipers (the things that squeeze the pads against the rotors), a thing that holds the pads themselves, and then just pull the big metal plates off the hub. This sequence really looks better in writing than the reality because of that last step. “Just pull the rotors off” implies that the rotors have not rust-welded themselves to your car as mine had done. I knew the theory but had somehow never actually pulled rotors before so I spent the next 45 minutes alternately hitting it with a mallet, watching instructional YouTube videos, then hitting it harder with the mallet. After watching a less useless video, I did something new: I grabbed a shop torch and started heating parts of the rotor near the center (where it was bound up). If it hadn’t been for the helpful encouragement of some guy back east, I would have been worried about setting my car on fire but apparently this is ‘the thing to do’ so after heating and hitting and burninating, I eventually got it off. I’ve got to say that having a shop with shop resources was pretty nice. Need a torch? Sure, here we are. Clean floor to crawl around on under car? Beats a cold and wet driveway! Penetrating oil for removal and clamps for resetting the calipers? We gotcha covered. One of the best parts of the whole thing was that I was really kinda stranded until I finished the job. If I was at home and the rotor wasn’t coming off, I would be totally tempted to go inside and play on the computer until it was too late (Better put the wheel back on, I’ll try another day!) but being stranded in West Eugene was a good motivator to just get it done.After a couple hours total, I had both rotors replaced (with fresh new pads, why not) and hadn’t set my car on fire even once.Community shops like this are awfully nice to be a part of and I look forward to our upcoming move. We’ve currently got woodworking tools, metal lathe, a welding table, 3D printers, a soldering station, community workspace for big projects, and more. We’re in the process of finding a bigger place to allow for growth and increase our capabilities and it’s going to be an exciting evolution. I’ll post more details as it develops and invite anyone who’s interested in learning more about the space to contact me. Now… how well did I tighten that new bolt? I guess I’ll know what to do if my car starts grumbling again. ————– Ben