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Old 11-26-2008, 07:54 AM   #1
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50 years ago I started my first business. It was a 2 bay service station in a small town in central Wisconsin. Our business centered on exhaust systems, tune ups, oil & lube, and brakes. I want to go back and share with you my hindsight as it relates to my drum brakes experiences. While this is being posted in the Workhorse Forum it relates to all vehicles with hydraulic brakes. About the time disc brakes were standard on vehicles I closed my repair shop and made a convenience store out of it. DriVer or edgray may choose to delete it, move it, or link it to another forum.

On any given day a customer would come in and say my brakes are pulling to the left/right or my back wheel is locking up when I apply my brakes. We would inspect the suspected wheel and normally would see where brake fluid had been dripping on the inside sidewall of the tire. Upon removal we would find wheel cylinder was dripping brake fluid on the brake linings. This caused the pull or lockup as the case was. We would remove the wheel cylinder, put it on the bench, and disassemble it. Invariably we would find some very dirty brake fluid and a wheel cylinder with some rust and pitting on the bottom of the cylinder surface. Money was tight in those years and we were instructed repair it as inexpensively as we could. If the pitting was not too bad, we had a hone we would use to try and clean up the pitting. If the wheel cylinder was beyond repair it had to be replaced. Automotive supply stores always had an ample supply of repair kits for wheel cylinders as well as master cylinders. After the cleanup we would install a new kit in the old cylinder and reinstall the cylinder. We normally would have to at least replace the brake shoes on the effected wheel. If no air got in the rest of the system we would bleed the wheel cylinder and if the pedal was hard the customer was good to go.

Master cylinders leaking were found during routine lubrication or soft pedal from low brake fluid. The procedure was the same. Rebuild the cylinder if it could be cleaned up or replace it. Bleed the brakes to get the air out and the customer was good to go. I am sure I will get some comments about poor workmanship or poor maintenance. These comments are correct but we must remember circumstances. We were an economically depressed area with basically flat terrain. Farming was the main industry and 4 lane highways did not exist in our county. Most of these vehicles were used in a 50 mile radius.

Now the point I want to make. The only time brake fluid was changed was when a problem forced the issue. If we would have told our customers we wanted to flush the brake fluid with no brake problems existing we would have been laughed out of town. The word hygroscopic was not listed in my Webster Dictionary dated 1967. I never heard the word when I attended training seminars in those days. When I first joined IRV2 I posted a thread about flushing brake fluid in my 97 Adventure on a Ford Chassis as a precautionary service. I was led to believe I had lost my marbles. I now have to ask myself this question. If in those years we had flushed brake fluid on a regular schedule would we have saved our customers money and downtime? We were replacing wheel and master cylinders as a common service procedure without any idea what was causing the problems. It was just a normal repair procedure every one took as a necessary evil. It sure helped pay the rent but, could it have been prevented by flushing the brake fluid?

In closing I see lots of resistance in this forum to the recommendation to flush brake fluid at a maximum of 2 years or less in extreme conditions. My brake fluid has been flushed twice in the 3 years I have owned it. After seeing what came out the last time it will never go beyond 2 years. I want to close with a saying my Dad left me with. “A word to the wise should be sufficient”.

Sincerely;
Don
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:54 AM   #2
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50 years ago I started my first business. It was a 2 bay service station in a small town in central Wisconsin. Our business centered on exhaust systems, tune ups, oil & lube, and brakes. I want to go back and share with you my hindsight as it relates to my drum brakes experiences. While this is being posted in the Workhorse Forum it relates to all vehicles with hydraulic brakes. About the time disc brakes were standard on vehicles I closed my repair shop and made a convenience store out of it. DriVer or edgray may choose to delete it, move it, or link it to another forum.

On any given day a customer would come in and say my brakes are pulling to the left/right or my back wheel is locking up when I apply my brakes. We would inspect the suspected wheel and normally would see where brake fluid had been dripping on the inside sidewall of the tire. Upon removal we would find wheel cylinder was dripping brake fluid on the brake linings. This caused the pull or lockup as the case was. We would remove the wheel cylinder, put it on the bench, and disassemble it. Invariably we would find some very dirty brake fluid and a wheel cylinder with some rust and pitting on the bottom of the cylinder surface. Money was tight in those years and we were instructed repair it as inexpensively as we could. If the pitting was not too bad, we had a hone we would use to try and clean up the pitting. If the wheel cylinder was beyond repair it had to be replaced. Automotive supply stores always had an ample supply of repair kits for wheel cylinders as well as master cylinders. After the cleanup we would install a new kit in the old cylinder and reinstall the cylinder. We normally would have to at least replace the brake shoes on the effected wheel. If no air got in the rest of the system we would bleed the wheel cylinder and if the pedal was hard the customer was good to go.

Master cylinders leaking were found during routine lubrication or soft pedal from low brake fluid. The procedure was the same. Rebuild the cylinder if it could be cleaned up or replace it. Bleed the brakes to get the air out and the customer was good to go. I am sure I will get some comments about poor workmanship or poor maintenance. These comments are correct but we must remember circumstances. We were an economically depressed area with basically flat terrain. Farming was the main industry and 4 lane highways did not exist in our county. Most of these vehicles were used in a 50 mile radius.

Now the point I want to make. The only time brake fluid was changed was when a problem forced the issue. If we would have told our customers we wanted to flush the brake fluid with no brake problems existing we would have been laughed out of town. The word hygroscopic was not listed in my Webster Dictionary dated 1967. I never heard the word when I attended training seminars in those days. When I first joined IRV2 I posted a thread about flushing brake fluid in my 97 Adventure on a Ford Chassis as a precautionary service. I was led to believe I had lost my marbles. I now have to ask myself this question. If in those years we had flushed brake fluid on a regular schedule would we have saved our customers money and downtime? We were replacing wheel and master cylinders as a common service procedure without any idea what was causing the problems. It was just a normal repair procedure every one took as a necessary evil. It sure helped pay the rent but, could it have been prevented by flushing the brake fluid?

In closing I see lots of resistance in this forum to the recommendation to flush brake fluid at a maximum of 2 years or less in extreme conditions. My brake fluid has been flushed twice in the 3 years I have owned it. After seeing what came out the last time it will never go beyond 2 years. I want to close with a saying my Dad left me with. “A word to the wise should be sufficient”.

Sincerely;
Don
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Old 11-26-2008, 08:53 AM   #3
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Don,

Great post

Been there and don that... I still have my wheel cylinder hone in my first tool box setting on the bottom shelf of my work bench.

Bleeding brakes back in the day was only generally done, as you said, on a brake repair or overhaul. But, I found that my brakes would work better after I flushed the system and had fresh fluid and I didn't have any leaky wheel cylinders any more either.
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:44 AM   #4
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Don,

Thanks for taking the time to make this excellent post. I have been surprised, and a little disappointed, in the resistance to flushing brakes as regular maintenance. I too have never done this before on any vehicles but was shocked at the gunky fluid that I got out of my system. I will do it every year from now on. I'm also flushing my autos but not as often.

It seemed like an easy decision to make after reading the posts here. The upside could be very benficial in safety, costs and peace of mind while the downside seemed to be "I never had to do that before". As I get older I'm doing a heck of lot of things "I never had to do before", I'm not happy about many of them but....

It's easy, cheap and takes very little time....so why not?

Dave
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Old 11-26-2008, 12:43 PM   #5
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Petro:
DriVer or edgray may choose to delete it, move it, or link it to another forum. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Don, Without objection the post stays. Great material! "Those who fail to see and remember the past are doomed to repeat it"

Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and Bev. These types of posts and the sharing of personal experiences are exactly what we are thankful for.
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Old 11-27-2008, 07:26 AM   #6
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Flushing the WH brake system may be easy/cheap for some of you. But I am physically unable (and technically incapable also) to do it myself, & so is the missus. That leaves a repair facility. It is probably a 2 hour job (in a garage) and that means a minimum of $200-250 plus the parts they claim are bad.
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Old 11-27-2008, 07:57 AM   #7
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lawdude,

If you come down I-35... Stop by I do it for you cheap.
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Old 11-27-2008, 08:32 AM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by lawdude:
Flushing the WH brake system may be easy/cheap for some of you. But I am physically unable (and technically incapable also) to do it myself, & so is the missus. That leaves a repair facility. It is probably a 2 hour job (in a garage) and that means a minimum of $200-250 plus the parts they claim are bad. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

lawdude;

I have my brake fluid flushed when they service my coach. They use a machine for it. It is not a 2 hour job and I have never had a request for additional parts to be replaced. This needed service applies to all hydraulic brake systems and not just Workhorse.

Don

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Old 11-27-2008, 02:46 PM   #9
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Just had a brake power flush done in conjunction with buying six new Michelin XRV's. Cost for flush was $186. No add'l parts needed. I was at a two year interval. The truck shop put in DOT 4 fluid. Also had caliper pins/slides lubed and differential oil changed.

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Old 11-28-2008, 02:50 AM   #10
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Because parts and labor were so cheap back then and the systems so simple, many times it was cheaper to just let it go. When you did your second set of shoes you flushed all the fluid when you rebuilt all the wheel cylinders anyway. We had wheel and master cylinders go from internal corrosion and brake lines rot out from the inside due to the stale brake fluid and we just took it in stride.

ABS controls are just not as forgiving of stale water logged brake fluid as the old systems were.

If you had a failure back then most times it was a half system loss and you still stopped if you had a dual master cylinder.

I replaced enough rotted steel brake line and honed out a ton of wheel cylinders many with internal water damage in the past to remember that this is not a new problem, just one that used to be easier to ignore.

I still have my brake hone it works great when rebuilding small gas engines and air compressors also.
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Old 11-28-2008, 03:30 AM   #11
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Great Post Don and me being an Ol' Buzzard I remember those days also. I know for sure I am going to replace my Brake Fluid. I just have to wait for it to warm up a little.
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:28 AM   #12
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Les Schwab. $61 and about an hour. My fluid looked good at 40 k and 6 years. That was too long to wait. I just took my 2000 model p/u in with 58k and it looked fine as well, hardly discolored. what makes some fluid turn dark and corroded? driving habits? severe use? Temp? Lots of reasons but its pretty cheap to change out and most of us are waiting too long if we get it done at all. You need to get this done sooner than later to avoid problems and its cheap and easy.- John
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:50 AM   #13
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by lawdude:
Flushing the WH brake system may be easy/cheap for some of you. But I am physically unable (and technically incapable also) to do it myself, & so is the missus. That leaves a repair facility. It is probably a 2 hour job (in a garage) and that means a minimum of $200-250 plus the parts they claim are bad. </div></BLOCKQUOTE> I hate to hear that your not able because the gravity feed method that dale told us about is about the easiest project I have done in awhile. In fact so easy I wonder if I did it right. Also now that I know how it should take me less than 1 hour to do. The only thing I did differant than oemtech was I used a oil pump to remove my fluid from master cyc instead of turkey baster. I can see where that could be a pain. What took the most time was waiting for the fluid to drain out but on my mh it wasnt to bad. Also when I had a brake job done at a wh service center they used the 2 man method and it took us less than 30 min that way so it might be cheaper than you think. Safe Travels
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Old 11-28-2008, 12:40 PM   #14
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Perhaps I overestimated the issue. I will ask my favorite service place about it. And thanks for the offer, OEM. Where on I-35 are you?
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