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Old 09-20-2009, 09:10 PM   #1
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Brakes Overheat and Fail

Audrey had driven for about an hour when we noticed the rear axle inside tires had gotten really hot and weren't cooling off. Audrey decided to check the brake and it had dropped almost at the floor. We were on a four lane divided highway with little traffic and had no trouble using the engine brake to slow down and stop on the shoulder. Earlier we noticed that the SmarTire sensors in the inner rear wheels climbed into the 170's so we were keeping an eye on them. On a hot day this might not be too unusual, however, today the ambient temperature was in the mid 70's and it was raining so the road surface could not be hot.

After we pulled to the shoulder and stopped, the Brake warning light came on; the ABS light remained off. Both sides of the master brake cylinder were full and no leaks were seen under the coach.

A coach net dispatched tow truck came to our aid but decided he could not tow the coach. By the time the tow truck arrived, we noticed that the brake pedal had eventually returned to near normal position and Audrey got the brake fail light to go off by pressing the brake pedal a few times with the engine on. We decided to slowly (30 mph) drive to the the nearest WalMart about eight miles away and the tow truck followed behind. Less than a mile before we got to WalMart the tow truck who was escorting us called us to tell us he smelled something burning but did not see any smoke. By then, we could also smell it in the coach - it was very strong in the front. We decided to slow down even more and continue the last 0.5 mile.

After we stopped at WalMart, both of the warning lights, Brake and ABS, came on - ABS first, and then later Brake Fail after we had been stopped for a while. Outside we could smell burning at the rear right and the front right wheels. The inner rear right wheel measured 170 degrees and the inner rear left wheel measured 160 degrees. The front right caliper housing measured about 300 degrees while the front left caliper housing measured only about 200 degrees. The drive line parking brake was a cool 110 degrees.

We had the same smell inside the motorhome driving through Atlanta about a month ago with the inner rear wheels at about the same temperature, but the brakes did not fail. We decided that the smell was from something in Atlanta. Since Atlanta we have driven the coach over 400 miles with no brake overheating problem until today, but we have occasionally heard a groaning sound at low speeds from the right rear of the coach - and this has been more consistent lately. We have consistently had the rear inside dual tires get over-warm (170's) during that time period - in fact that started sometime before the funny smells in Atlanta.

We recently had the brake fluid flushed and the differential oil checked. We had drive line service along with our routine Cummings annual service in Atlanta a month prior to the first "smell" event above. They found a bad U-Joint (which we suspected) and they replaced both U-Joints. But we had noticed our hot rear tires when traveling across country about a week before the Atlanta service, but no smells or sounds so we didn't think that was related to the service. But the occasional groaning sound did start shortly thereafter.

We don't know what to think. Could two brakes be dragging? What is making the rear axle get so hot, and why would there also be a strong burning smell coming from the front right tire? How could anything like this be so intermittent?

John & Audrey
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:53 PM   #2
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Yes you could have problems in the front and the back at the same time. WE had a 2000 40fds and a 03 40fdts and both had brake problems. The 2000 was the worst. I think it had the earlier brake system which has since been replaced. In my humble opinion the brakes are not strong enough for the weight of the coach.
We eventually changed brands and bought a coach with Air Brakes. The air brakes included air disc brakes on the front axle. We now always have lots of brakes and of course the Jake brake is great insurance too.

You certainly need to have your Alpine brakes carefully inspected to see why the discs are dragging on the rotors or why the shoes are dragging on the drums. That is what is causing all the heat. Take your coach to a truck repair facility that knows Bosch (I think they are) brakes well. You have what is known as medium duty brakes, so go to a truck repair facility that specializes in medium duty trucks. I think the brakes need lots of inspection and care. Then you will be safe.
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:25 AM   #3
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J&A- you have Meritor 4 piston brakes. Since the pedal went to the floor, you have boiled the brake fluid and need to do a full flush again. However, something is causing your brakes to drag.

When starting the coach next time, watch the brake pedal. If it depresses automatically even a small amount, you have an overamping of hydraulic pressure applying and dragging the brakes, and may need a pump rebuild or new pump. If the pedal doesn't move, you need the calipers checked and should find a Meritor place if possible (at least I'd give it a shot IIWM). A lot of places have air brake experience but not so many have hydraulic; its not that they are so complicated, but experience is experience. Workhorse authorized centers can service the Meritor brakes; they are used on the W24 chassis (same HydroMax up front & same Meritor 4-piston calipers).

Sticking brakes are a drag (sorry, couldn't resist)
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Old 09-21-2009, 12:52 AM   #4
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Glad I read this post.

On our trip to Bend, Oregon and back, both inside rear wheels gave me a yellow caution temp warning on the smart tire readout on the Silverleaf. I figured it was just the outside temps as it was warm both coming and going. I did not notice any brake issues had a firm pedal, even when going down long hills. And the caution light was not in braking situations, but when I had been going down the road not using the brakes for 50-70 miles. So I don’t think it was the brakes, but, keep reading.

This was the first time we had put the toad behind the coach, and it does not have a brake system (THIS WEEK FOR SURE).

In the Jeep the funny thing was for about the first 100 miles after we towed it, every time we stopped for a traffic light or stop sign, inside we smelled hot brakes. I thought I did something wrong hooking up, so I doubled checked with the dealer in Bend, the only thing he said was put it into second gear, although the manual does not say that. The smell was in the jeep not in the motor home. And I double checked the emergency brake to make sure it was not engaged in the Jeep before I moved it an inch, and so did the copilot.

I never smelled hot brakes outside of the motorhome, nor did the Copilot and she assisted me backing into all our sites we used. My back brakes have always made a little noise when stopping at slow speed. Only have 10,500 miles on this coach, new last year.

I believe any international (Navistar) dealer can inspect your brakes, they own the workhorse chassis, and sell a lot of medium duty trucks. Check your yellow pages for the closest one. I just talked to my international dealer since Navistar purchased Monaco, and some of them don’t have the authority to work on Motorhomes yet, they all need to be certified.

I hate hydraulic brakes on this coach; I wish it had air brakes.
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:01 AM   #5
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J&A- one thing I forgot to mention to check- rotors exposed to excess heat can crack. Depending on severity of cracks, might need replacing.

Smith's (34'-06) had one rear wheel brake stick, overheat & smoke. On wheel-off inspection all was fine, not even bluing of the rotor. There is a brake service manual for the Meritor 4-piston caliper brake on the Tech Library with a short troubleshooting section at the back. One thing not listed that may be occuring- there is a gizmo called a "spacer lining" on whhich tabs of the brake pads ride. If the spacer lining is excessively rusted (or the brake pad lining is) the pad could hang up & twist causing drag. You could clean & lube the SLs using the same 3M 08945 or 08946 silicon lube paste recommended for the pin slides on Bosch brakes. Only a thin film IMO.
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:56 PM   #6
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Problem solved: The brake pedal was not returning all the way up due to rust on the brake pivot arm in front of the bulkhead.

Coach Net decided to have the coach loaded on a low trailer for the 20 mile trip to the repair shop. The driver said that the coach on trailer had to be under 15 feet high. The trailer measured 3 feet 4 inches high and the coach at ride height was about 11 feet 9 inches high. We loaded the coach and dumped the air bags to get a final height of 14 feet 9 inches. The assistant sat on the rear of the trailer keeping an eye on low wires and tight corners until they were on a state highway.

After the assistant got in the cab they were off like a rocket covering the 18 miles of highway at or above the 70 mph speed limit, briefly slowing to 60 mph for a patrol car.

Two mechanics at the repair shop started on the coach at about 2:30 PM connecting a computer to the diagnostic port and inspecting the calipers and ABS sensors at each corner. One of the sensors had to be re-seated but no damage was found. They were getting ready to do a test drive when they discovered that the brake pedal was not returning all the way up; something Audrey never thought to check (even though she replied to a posting in 2006 in which Cedar41 states "If you smell anything like hot brakes put your foot under your brake pedal and see if you can pull it up." It's impossible to remember all the great tips that are posted in the forum.)

They disassembled the brake pivot arm in front of the bulkhead and found some internal rust at the bottom. They polished it with emory tape and added a grease zerk to the assembly. After reassembly, the brake pedal quickly returns and is easier to press. Total time to repair was two hours of diagnositics/inspection and one hour of work on the brake pivot arm. We were on our way at 6 PM. On the 20 miles back to WalMart none of the wheel temperatures were above 117 degrees and the brake pedal action was good.

I recall that other Alpine owners have mentioned that they added a grease zerk to the assembly.

We will post a few photos later.

John & Audrey
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Old 09-21-2009, 11:21 PM   #7
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What can I say! It's been three years since that informative Cedar41 post, and I forgot all about trying to pull up on the brake pedal!

Here are some pictures of our adventure today -

The big tow:



Can't believe we made it in one piece - all 14 feet 9 inches of us! OK, now I get to back this thing off the trailer.



John will post a picture or two of what they did with our brake pivot arm.

It sure was nice having cool tires this afternoon!!!!!!

That truck service shop was fabulous. We got a really thorough brake and wheel inspection and check of all ABS sensors as well as diagnosis and repair of problem.

Audrey
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:02 AM   #8
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Audrey and John,

I am glad to hear your brake issue was simple to fix. I was changing brake fluid yesterday and noticed the brake pivot arm on mine was loose (a lot of up and down movement at the pivot point). I thought maybe that is the low speed clunk I hear at times. I will check mine again today and probably add a grease fitting and add some shims to eliminate the slop and make sure it is not binding.
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne R View Post
Audrey and John,

I am glad to hear your brake issue was simple to fix. I was changing brake fluid yesterday and noticed the brake pivot arm on mine was loose (a lot of up and down movement at the pivot point). I thought maybe that is the low speed clunk I hear at times. I will check mine again today and probably add a grease fitting and add some shims to eliminate the slop and make sure it is not binding.
Be sure to look for corrosion. They cleaned ours up quite a bit.

Audrey
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:27 AM   #10
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The pivot arm pivots on this inner cylinder. There is a plastic cylinder shim about an inch long between the pivot arm the the inner cylinder. This is where the rust formed and has been polished off in this photo.


Here the pivot arm is reassembled showing the added grease zerk.


John
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:29 AM   #11
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About the Tire Temps

Our first clue that we had an issue was getting somewhat higher than normal readings on the tire temperatures of our rear axle inner duals. Sometimes there was more than a 40 degree spread between the outside and inside tires. This had us really scratching our heads. John talked to a few folks. No ideas.

We now believe that the difference was the inner wheels are steel and all the others are aluminum. Even though the brake drag was affecting all wheels, for some reason the inner dual tires were the only ones reporting higher temps. The aluminum wheels never reported really high tire temps in spite of obviously having problems - the horrible smell we got on Sunday seemed to be coming from the front passenger wheel.

Now that the brake pedal linkage is working properly, all the rear tires read temps with about 10 degrees of each other, and the front tires match closely.

Anyway, we thought this might be useful info for the forum.

Audrey
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