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Old 05-12-2009, 02:24 PM   #1
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Brake Failure

Just a heads up if you donít already know.

I have recently had an experience that I would not like to repeat if possible. On a trip last week coming down the mountains from Big Bear Lake with my son I was surprised to find that I had very little brakes when I reached the bottom. I have made this trip maybe 50 times before and always use my Pac break and the lower gears for the steepest parts.

I had my break fluid changed last year and was confident I had eliminated the risk of boiling the break fluid at the wheels. My coach is 99 and I have periodically had the pads checked for ware. What I was not aware of is the calipers should be serviced and lubricated every few years. My driverís side back caliper locked up and did not release, burned up the pads, scored the rotors and causing the fluid to boil at the wheel. After letting the wheel cool down I had enough brake peddle to get to the repair shop.

We found that there was a lot of rust on the calipers and that probably caused the problem.

When WRV was still around I contacted them about a recall I had read about here on IRV2 and was told that my coach was not affected. . My coach has floating calipers that was used in the early coaches and changed around 2003.


The coach is now repaired and I replaced the fluid with DOT 4.

I will now have the breaks checked and calipers cleaned and lubricated regularly.
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Old 05-12-2009, 04:53 PM   #2
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If anyone knows how to lubricate the calipers can you share it with us?
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:51 PM   #3
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ACA's Tech Library contains the Meritor Quadraulic Brake Maintenance Manual which should have all needed info. The document describes the brake calipers, changing pads, and rebuilding. I didn't see "lubrication" per se, but if you perform inspections & cleaning as described, and change & bleed brake fluid every 2 years or less (every year in the humid south?), you should get good performance out of these brakes.

This is one of many great electronic files in the Library you can copy to your laptop hard drive and have it when you travel, for leisurely reading or amazing friends at cocktail hour.
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Old 05-12-2009, 06:43 PM   #4
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Is it possible to visually inspect the brakes and rotors and replace the brake fluid without removing the wheels? I crawl under the Alpine twice a year to lube the chassis and drive train but haven't messed with the brakes yet. When I purchased the Alpine in 2007 I had the brake recall performed, replaced both rear rotors because they were cracked and replaced the brake fluid.
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:01 PM   #5
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I don't know what year WRV went to the 4 piston caliper system but my '05 has this type. Prior to that they used a 2 piston sliding caliper system and the calipers used sliding pins. This is similar to most automobile disk brake systems. I remember there were some issues with the pins corroding or sticking resulting in the pads not staying centered. This resulted in major failures - burnt pads, rotors, even wheel bearings. I seem to remember WRV stating that the caliper pins required lubrication. I think the owners manual for my '99 even specified the type of grease. I think that the calipers have to be disassembled to get any grease on the pins. Hope this helps.
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:03 PM   #6
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Inspection w/wheels on- maybe on the front, but my hat's off to the guy who can contort into a position to see the rear brakes well enough for a really proper inspection without elevating the coach.
You might be able to do it over an oil change pit, if the pit crew will let you in.

While we are on the subject, IMO older Alpine's should have the emergency brake actuator rebuilt as a preventative maintenance measure if it has never been done. I believe it has a rubber diaphragm to operate the rod that operates the brake lever (thru a cable on my coach), and those diaphragms are not good forever. If it fails you have the emergency brake default to on and its a goober to tow. Better to PM it IMO.
Ours looks like the unit in the diagram attached to Post #1 here and the rebuild kit shouldn't be too much; a Haldex assembly I believe. On my coach the actuator unit is mounted fore-aft rather than side-to-side as in that diagram, and it operates the lever by a cable thru a 90 degree housing, but actuator appears to be same unit as does the brake assembly.
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:21 PM   #7
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Having owned a Workhorse chassis coach, the brake failure issue was paramount on the forum. Bosch pin slide calipers need to be lubed, and I would suspect that any pin slide type of caliper would need the lube. Caliper inspection should be part of yearly PM at the very least. JMHO.
Glad I went to a air brake chassis.

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Old 05-17-2009, 07:57 PM   #8
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EMike, what year do you consider 'older'?
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Old 05-17-2009, 11:29 PM   #9
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I see posts on other owner's forums here on iRV2 w/parking brake failures of 01 & 02 vintages. They had diaphragms leaking, and they appear to have the same diaphragm actuator we do.

I'd put the brake rebuild on my next scheduled preventative maintenance visit if my coach was 7 years old (2003) or earlier (and it hasn't been refurb'd before), and have all air lines checked at the same time.
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Old 05-17-2009, 11:47 PM   #10
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EMike, thank you for the response. I'll add this to my list.
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:39 PM   #11
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On my last trip to Cummins (Cal Pacific) I had them check all things rubber on my 2003. They found a short radiator hose barely starting to check, but nothing else. When I had new tires installed, they checked the brakes and lines, nothing awry. However, I am thinking to change brake fluid, though it does look normal. Eight years seems a long time for the same fluids.

It's probably not a bad idea to rebuild the parking brake actuator, too. Has anyone done this themselves? Any guinea pigs needing to prove their man/womanhood? Please be my guest and report back.

eMike: Thanks for describing how to disengage the parking brake. Now that I know how to do it, I won't need to do it.
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