We brake for…wait, no we don’t!
Just another chapter in our ongoing attempt to learn from our mistakes – brake problems. Joey has been out on the road several times this winter, a couple of times to Chicago and back and a couple of trips to Decatur for propane (not to mention the 2000 mile trek from Montana to Illinois). I had never noticed any problem with the brakes on these trips – no noises, no pulling, no trouble stopping – nothing to indicate any kind of a malfunction.
About a month ago we decided to take advantage of the early spring weather and get Joey to an RV service place in Decatur. We wanted to get his new bathroom vent installed and have them look at the toilet, which had a leak around the base (another story for another time). On the way to fill up with propane I noticed some metallic sounds coming from the left front when the brakes were applied, but it didn’t seem constant, so I continued on – not much choice at that point. After getting the gas, I drove to the RV place and again noticed a brake noise. The guy who drove Joey inside also noticed it, saying it might be a rock in the works or something like that.
Afterwards when we picked up Joey the guy said he would recommend that we get it looked at, and that they didn’t do any of that kind of work there. Now, one of the drawbacks to living full-time in a motorhome is that you live there, and it’s hard to figure out how to manage something like this. We decided to try to make it back to the RV park and make an appointment to have it seen to as soon as possible. By the time we got into Cerro gordo – a distance of only 15 miles – the front left brake was obviously quite ill. It was essentially engaged and getting hotter by the second, and wouldn’t let loose. We parked and were thankful that we’d at least made it home.
We were fortunate to be offered the services of a professional mechanic who had become a family friend. Bill is a body man, but had plenty of experience with mechanical work, and he came over to look at Joey a few days later. He took off the front left wheel and gave us the bad news that we would need new pads, rotor and caliper. He took the wheel off of the other side and reported that the pads were starting to show wear, so best to replace both at the same time.
After the new parts arrived a week or so later, Bill put them on and we hoped that was the end of our problem. We didn’t try them out for a couple of weeks. When we finally made a trip to Decatur and back, by the time we returned the front left was horribly hot and shedding the brand new brake pad material on the outside of the hub. We gave Bill a call and he came over to take a look. He and Tom the RV park owner decided that the brake line needed replacing, since the problem obviuosly was that the brake was not disengaging. Apparently, the rubber lines used in front brakes can have a rupture on the inside lining that causes it to stop the flow of fluid. It’s something that can’t be seen, and is hard to test for.
So Bill was able to find new brake lines relatively cheap at an auto parts store, and he replaced both front lines. Afetr pulling off the front left, he verified that it was damaged by trying to blow air through it – which he couldn’t. He got the new ones on successfully and we were again hopeful that the problem was solved. The next time we drove to check it out was at the first of May when we moved to Mahomet, and all seemed to be well with the brakes. At least now we know the reason the pads on the other side still had some life left – we weren’t totally irresponsible in maintenance. We will have the lines replaced every couple of years to be safe from now on. Of course, had we cheaply replaced them after purchasing Joey, we would have saved a fortune…hope you learn from our mistakes!
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