Car mechanicky stuff: wheel bearings and the domino effect

Warning: I think this post is more for people who work on their own cars and it might be a bit boring otherwise, you have been warned and it is a looong post! Let's start from the beginning -it's a stupendously classic domino effect:

My car started whining a couple of months ago. No problem, I diagnosed it as a noisy rear wheel bearing (no hydraulic press required, yay!), and promptly ordered the part. I then realized how rusty everything was, and after having to spray on "liquid wrench" oil to get anywhere with the rear drum brake that needed to be taken off to get to the bearing, realized I should replace the brake shoes as I was afraid they had been compromized (they had). So I also bought some replacement brake shoes -pretty reasonable price. But you can see I've already gone from one wheel bearing to the wheel bearing plus now replacing both rear brake shoes and buying brake fluid (won't do just one, will replace as a set). After much aggravation I managed to install everything. But then.... I happen to peel back (WHY DID I DO THIS?) the slave cylinder dust covers to reveal.... brake fluid. Ugh. On both wheels, double ugh.

OK, deep breaths. I'll just replace the two slave cylinders, no big deal, and they happen to be on sale and ridiculously cheap. BUT: now I'm at a rear wheel bearing, brake fluid, brake shoes and now plus 2 slave cylinders.

Yeah, so I then found I couldn't remove the brake slave cylinders -the nut interfaces had rusted away as had the nuts connecting the hose. There's no way I can get these off, and I spend an entire frustrating afternoon just trying to disconnect one brake hose to get to the slave cylinder. I finally uttered "Oh [insert word of your choice here] it!" and subsequently hacksawed the hose and banjo bolt off and chiseled off the cylinder bolts. But now I need new rear brake hoses. I order them with my car up on axle stands. Fortunately I can use another car for the week the car is out of action. I'm now up to one wheel bearing, two sets of brake shoes, brake fluid, two rear slave cylinders, two rear brake hoses and a partridge in a bloody pear tree.

But wait... there's more. I look at where the brake lines are connected to the hose, and then happen to glance back under the car to see a very corroded brake line. "Oh cor blimey!!!" I didn't exclaim. I then subsequently made a very heavy sigh and said "I can't drive another corrosive winter with them" and then followed up with "I curse the quality of GM OEM 'stainless steel' brake lines". Well OK, somewhat similar words anyway!

At this point, I make a fatal decision: I could just replace the bad parts of the hoses, or replace the entire brake lines. I do pause to consider and then think "in for a penny, in for a pound". Why not remove all the rusty lines and replace all of them with corrosion free nickel copper lines? It would only cost around 20 quid more, what's not to like? And I can set my mind at rest knowing my brake lines will be good for many many years and not be fearing rusty brake lines I can't see. Add to the fact my car is already up on axle stands as well. OK, all new brake lines it is. So: one wheel bearing, two sets of brake shoes, brake fluid, two rear slave cylinders, two rear brake hoses and 15 metres of brake line and multiple ISO bubble flare fittings.

Fast forward next weekend: I'm mildly confident I can get this done. I start to remove all the old brake lines. It's fiddly but doable, and I've done worse jobs. I get to the master brake cylinder and start to remove the 4 lines. First line good. Second line good (you can see where this is going). 3rd line good. 4th line.... unnnnnggggghhhhhh aaargggghh. The actual inside of the master brake cylinder threads had stripped. Let's have a good laugh and revisit my new count shall we? One wheel bearing, two sets of brake shoes, brake fluid, two rear slave cylinders, two rear brake hoses, 15 metres of brake line and multiple ISO bubble flare fittings, one master brake cylinder (sigh), and why not? Two new front brake hoses (because I now know they will certainly be rusted on). I have to now wait another week for the master cylinder and hoses to arrive. I'm sure my neighbours are delighted to see the car up on axle stands for another week.

Well, third weekend in, I did it. And the good news is the brakes are actually the best they have ever been (if you don't have a power bleeder, get one, and if you ever have to replace brake lines, I can't recommend nickel copper brake lines highly enough for their ease of bending and flaring). I seriously would consider this to be a weekend job were it not for the corrosion and the stripped master cylinder internal threads.

So 2 weeks and 3 weekends and loads more parts than I ever thought it's done. Was it worth it? Yes for peace of mind and the fact even with all the parts, it still cost me considerably less than taking it to a garage (about 400 quid but that also includes a flare kit tool, power bleeder and tools I had to buy). Additionally I did have the considerable luxury of being able to use another car during that time as well.
 
Just rebuilt my Landrover so have piped all the brakes from scratch on the bare chassis before the body was fitted. The new pipes are satisfyingly straight, shiny and bled amazingly easily. 1st time I have made my own pipes up and the result is like a factory job so very pleased.
 

gbb

Legendary Member
Location
Peterborough
If it's any consolation, I once scrapped a car (Lancia Beta) because the bleed nipples had siezed utterly and completely in the (iirc) alloy slave cylinders. Short of buying new cylinders at very very considerable cost...
Respect for sticking at it though :okay:
 

cosmicbike

Perhaps This One.....
Moderator
Location
Egham
I'm in a similar place with my 1986 Ford Capri. On the plus side I bought it as a project and don't need it on a daily basis, so if it's off the road that's not a problem. Also allows me to get the hump with it, shut the garage door and have a week off
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
I heard a whining noise in my car. It was my Mum.

I do all my own spannering, although Mrs D's new Volvo was a 70k motor so I'm not laying a finger on that until its many, many years old.

Practically rebuilt the Smart. Like you, I'd started out with a small job, new ARB links (Meyle brand, never use cheap Febi crap) and I noticed the wishbone buses were distinctly tired. Well, while I'm in there...so new Poly bushes fitted (in standard "touring" stiffness). While doing that I noticed the ARB bushes were looking tired, and what's another 20 quid...?

Well, if the fronts are that bad I ought to check the back. New front engine mount bush, De Dion bushes, and X frame bushes, and my car was practically built from nothing but Polyurethane. While I had the rear apart I serviced the engine...and noticed the plug leads were looking flaky, so in went new ones...

But it's done now, and drives like new. It's actually very easy to work on, if you're Tatu from Fantasy Island. Getting into the nooks and crannies of a 2.5 metre long car when you're cracking on for 2 metres long yourself requires some contortions, working, by feel, consequential loss of knuckle blood, and swearing. Fortunately they're well made vehicles in the sense that all the fasteners are made of high quality materials and nothing was inordinately rusted or seized.

I reckon I saved 7 or 800 quid in labour, all told. That's money better spent on a new gun, much Guinness, or cycling. I have the time and the skills, so why not? When society collapses and all the main dealers close people like us with a practical bent will be sitting pretty.
 

Joey Shabadoo

My pronouns are "He", "Him" and "buggerlugs"
I'm like that with painting the skirting boards in the house. You start on the one that has the wheelchair scuffs, then you have to go around the corner, then the door frame because it now contrasts... Before you know it, all the woodwork in the house gets done.

Which is why I'm still putting off painting the scuffed skirting board.
 

Paulus

Started young, and still going.
Location
Barnet,
Warning: I think this post is more for people who work on their own cars and it might be a bit boring otherwise, you have been warned and it is a looong post! Let's start from the beginning -it's a stupendously classic domino effect:

My car started whining a couple of months ago. No problem, I diagnosed it as a noisy rear wheel bearing (no hydraulic press required, yay!), and promptly ordered the part. I then realized how rusty everything was, and after having to spray on "liquid wrench" oil to get anywhere with the rear drum brake that needed to be taken off to get to the bearing, realized I should replace the brake shoes as I was afraid they had been compromized (they had). So I also bought some replacement brake shoes -pretty reasonable price. But you can see I've already gone from one wheel bearing to the wheel bearing plus now replacing both rear brake shoes and buying brake fluid (won't do just one, will replace as a set). After much aggravation I managed to install everything. But then.... I happen to peel back (WHY DID I DO THIS?) the slave cylinder dust covers to reveal.... brake fluid. Ugh. On both wheels, double ugh.

OK, deep breaths. I'll just replace the two slave cylinders, no big deal, and they happen to be on sale and ridiculously cheap. BUT: now I'm at a rear wheel bearing, brake fluid, brake shoes and now plus 2 slave cylinders.

Yeah, so I then found I couldn't remove the brake slave cylinders -the nut interfaces had rusted away as had the nuts connecting the hose. There's no way I can get these off, and I spend an entire frustrating afternoon just trying to disconnect one brake hose to get to the slave cylinder. I finally uttered "Oh [insert word of your choice here] it!" and subsequently hacksawed the hose and banjo bolt off and chiseled off the cylinder bolts. But now I need new rear brake hoses. I order them with my car up on axle stands. Fortunately I can use another car for the week the car is out of action. I'm now up to one wheel bearing, two sets of brake shoes, brake fluid, two rear slave cylinders, two rear brake hoses and a partridge in a bloody pear tree.

But wait... there's more. I look at where the brake lines are connected to the hose, and then happen to glance back under the car to see a very corroded brake line. "Oh cor blimey!!!" I didn't exclaim. I then subsequently made a very heavy sigh and said "I can't drive another corrosive winter with them" and then followed up with "I curse the quality of GM OEM 'stainless steel' brake lines". Well OK, somewhat similar words anyway!

At this point, I make a fatal decision: I could just replace the bad parts of the hoses, or replace the entire brake lines. I do pause to consider and then think "in for a penny, in for a pound". Why not remove all the rusty lines and replace all of them with corrosion free nickel copper lines? It would only cost around 20 quid more, what's not to like? And I can set my mind at rest knowing my brake lines will be good for many many years and not be fearing rusty brake lines I can't see. Add to the fact my car is already up on axle stands as well. OK, all new brake lines it is. So: one wheel bearing, two sets of brake shoes, brake fluid, two rear slave cylinders, two rear brake hoses and 15 metres of brake line and multiple ISO bubble flare fittings.

Fast forward next weekend: I'm mildly confident I can get this done. I start to remove all the old brake lines. It's fiddly but doable, and I've done worse jobs. I get to the master brake cylinder and start to remove the 4 lines. First line good. Second line good (you can see where this is going). 3rd line good. 4th line.... unnnnnggggghhhhhh aaargggghh. The actual inside of the master brake cylinder threads had stripped. Let's have a good laugh and revisit my new count shall we? One wheel bearing, two sets of brake shoes, brake fluid, two rear slave cylinders, two rear brake hoses, 15 metres of brake line and multiple ISO bubble flare fittings, one master brake cylinder (sigh), and why not? Two new front brake hoses (because I now know they will certainly be rusted on). I have to now wait another week for the master cylinder and hoses to arrive. I'm sure my neighbours are delighted to see the car up on axle stands for another week.

Well, third weekend in, I did it. And the good news is the brakes are actually the best they have ever been (if you don't have a power bleeder, get one, and if you ever have to replace brake lines, I can't recommend nickel copper brake lines highly enough for their ease of bending and flaring). I seriously would consider this to be a weekend job were it not for the corrosion and the stripped master cylinder internal threads.

So 2 weeks and 3 weekends and loads more parts than I ever thought it's done. Was it worth it? Yes for peace of mind and the fact even with all the parts, it still cost me considerably less than taking it to a garage (about 400 quid but that also includes a flare kit tool, power bleeder and tools I had to buy). Additionally I did have the considerable luxury of being able to use another car during that time as well.
You forgot to do the other wheel bearings whilst you were replacing the shoes. You just know they are going to start making a noise.:blush:
 

Chris S

Legendary Member
Location
Sparkhill
If it's any consolation, I once scrapped a car (Lancia Beta) because the bleed nipples had siezed utterly and completely in the (iirc) alloy slave cylinders. Short of buying new cylinders at very very considerable cost...
Respect for sticking at it though :okay:
I new Lancias rusted but not the bleed nipples as well :smile:
 
OP
Nigeyy

Nigeyy

Guru
I couldn't get the slaves off to access them without using the hacksaw on the banjo bolt to them... which then made them inoperable. The new ones were ACDelco and about a fiver each. It was the process of getting them off that caused problems.... Easier just to replace them!

You could have just replaced the inner parts on the slaves so no need to work back... :laugh: just saying
 
OP
Nigeyy

Nigeyy

Guru
Brand new rear slave cylinders have new nipples on them.... I'm going to dab some grease on to try to protect them. The front ones weren't any issue, so good news there (though the front ones would need a hydraulic press to replace the bearings which I don't have and would need a visit to a garage). Fingers crossed the other bearings will keep good!!!!

Then you won't be able to undo the bleed nipples without spraying fluid all over the shoes so you'll have to replace them again
 
Top Bottom