Friday, January 3, 2014


I went after the front brakes a bit more today.  In my last wrenching session, I'd noticed that the hard lines were badly corroded, and that the P.O. had purchased an expensive set of replacement copper hard lines for me.  So with no cost to me, the old lines definitely had to come out - there's visible pitting on the exterior, and who knows whether there isn't similar deterioration on the interior as well?

I removed the scary old lines and set them aside.  Prior experience on other vehicles has taught me that it can be tricky to figure out exactly how the new lines should be shaped, so it's handy to keep the old ones around for reference.
Rusty brake lines... <shudder>

With that done, I turned my attention to the brake rotors (or discs, if you prefer).  Removal involves pulling the front hubs off of their axles, and then working the rotors free of the hubs on the workbench. The hardest step turned out to be removing the grease caps - they're supposed to "tap" out according to the Haynes manual, but I'm not sure how you tap something out when its shape and position leave no way to get behind it.  

Google turned up a Triumph Experience post on this very topic, in which more experienced mechanics basically gave the rest of us permission to do whatever violence was required in removing the things.  Giant pliers?  Sure.  Smack 'em with a hammer until the shape gives you something to grab with giant pliers?  Sure.  Smack the giant pliers while squeezing the cap?  Sure, have at it.

So I had at it.  They came out pretty quickly, with not too much distortion.  Once they were out of the way, it was a simple matter to remove the cotter pin, castle nut, and then pop the entire hub and rotor off.

Even scarier: dry-rotted fuel line,
ready to rupture and spray gasoline
all over the engine bay.
They were in a sorry state, though.  There are four bolts that hold each rotor onto its hub, and they were all a-flower in rust. I hit them with WD-40 and let them sit for a bit.

While the penetrant was penetrating, I took a few minutes to replace some of the old fuel line.  It was badly cracked and dry rotted, a complete liability.  I'd purchased about 8 feet of new line at AutoZone recently, and it went on without any hassle.

Humidity, time and neglect have done a
number on this brake rotor. 
Back to the brakes, I used my trusty pickle fork against the wheel studs as a lever, and the breaker bar in my other hand, and gradually broke free each of the 8 bolts holding rotors onto hubs.  With the bolts removed, there was nothing but rust left holding the rotors on, but the rust had a pretty tight grip.  With the light fading, I hit the edge with WD-40 and began packing up while it soaked in.

Just a little while later, I'd managed to knock both rotors free of their hubs.  Loose now, I tilted them in the glare of the porch light to determine whether they could be saved.  The verdict:  I don't think so.  One disc was pretty badly grooved... before it began rusting.  And both showed heavy pitting from rust on the braking surface.  I'm going to need to replace both rotors, along with the pads and the rubber innards of the brake calipers.  

It's expensive, replacing all of this stuff.  At the same time, though, there's a lot of peace of mind to be had in knowing that I've gone through the entire brake system.  If I can ever get the car rolling, I can at least be confident that it will stop when I ask it to.

As I was putting my tools away, the milkman pulled up.  It's not the first time he's caught me working on the Triumph, and he complimented me on how it's coming.  It's gratifying to know that he sees the progress I'm making - though, as I pointed out to him, that progress is still in the wrong direction:  every day's work finds the car further disassembled, at this point.  Hopefully I can get these brake parts ordered and begin to reverse that trend soon.

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