The simple brake job

It’s never a good day when a mechanic practically curses your vehicle. After a short drive from the local Wal-mart we arrived in the morning to get our brakes sorted out.

2011 10 06 Brake dust As with the other shop, he pulled off the tires, took a look, confirmed they needed to be overhauled and then ordered the parts and they were on their way.

2011 10 06 Old brake pads  down to the metal2011 10 06 Old calipers2011 10 06 Old rotors2011 10 06 Stripped right down removing the rotors calipers and brake padsWhile we waited I mentioned to him we would like to change our squeaky power-steering and worn alternator belts as well as our leaky power steering pump. The one problem however, was that one tricky bolt that didn’t want to cooperate.

We had tried to loosen this bolt ourselves but stopped short of rounding it. While we were in Whitehorse, our friend gave it a try but he said this bolt had to be tackled in a shop because they could use the proper tools like welders and heat to get it off. After a few tries we had the same story it was truly stuck – even a bigger tool wasn’t helping this one.

With a bit of trouble shooting and by removing the adjacent bolt (a pivot point) he was able to remove the power steering pump and belts.

2011 10 06 The main cause of the frustration  note the lower bolt has been removedHe transferred the pulley from the old pump to the new one and installed the new parts. When it came to putting it back together and getting the pivot bolt back in, it didn’t want to budge.

2011 10 06 Filthy old powersteering pump2011 10 06 Replacing the powersteering pump s pully2011 10 06 New powersteering pumpThe new belts were now too tight and couldn’t be adjusted without getting that first (seized) bolt to move. Bummer.

With the new rotors, calipers, pads and hoses having arrived the brakes went back on in quick succession before turning the attention back to ‘the bolt’.

2011 10 06 New calipers2011 10 06 New brakes rotors calipers and hosesThroughout the process he asked me about 4 times how much I really wanted this bolt off, and as they day progressed I realized why – this was like going deeper into the rabbit hole. The seized bolt was not only a key to the power-steering and belts it also went through the water pump and into the main engine block through the timing chain cover. If he broke it trying to get it loose then he would have to pull the whole front engine apart to get at it.

I gave the nod and he kept going. I knew that if it wasn’t handled now, it would crop up later. What happens if we want to change the belts again?

So, out came the big guns – the welder. The rounded head was removed and a new (bigger) nut was welded on to try to get it to move. A couple of tries like that and it wasn’t budging.

2011 10 06 Lower bolt can t be pub back because it s too tight so it s back to trying to remove the main boltBy then the frustration was setting in so I removed my non-useful self out of the equation coming back to find progress and an empty front engine compartment. He had managed to get it down to the timing chain cover. Unfortunately though, everything in the way had to go as there was little room to manoeuvre in our stub nose Firebus. This meant the new power-steering pump (lower right), belts, the fan and the shroud and the water pump were out, as well as the radiator and the fuel pump (lower left) which we just installed a week ago.

2011 10 06 The bare belly of the front engine of our 318 with the radiator fan shroud and water pump removedThe job turned from a simple brake replace to fighting with a bolt that had probably never been removed in 35 years. By the end of the day the brakes were back on but the bolt still hadn’t come off – it was stuck in the timing chain cover. He elected to call it a day at this point since the timing chain cover was a delicate and difficult to replace piece – if that broke, we’d be in a very tricky spot.

2011 10 06 Shop helper