Saturday, September 27, 2014

Independent Mountain Folk

People who live a far piece from civilization tend to be independent.  Earl, my 84 year old father-in-law is such a person.  Of course, he refuses to be called my father-in-law, so I always introduce him as my younger brother who has had a rough life.

But make no mistake about it.  Earl is a tough old bird.  He's an accomplished machinist and owned his own machine shop for many years.  He is also a pretty fair mechanic.

So the other day, we're sitting having a beer and Earl asks "How many miles do you have on your car now?".

"I dunno, about 38,000."

"Have you checked the brakes?"

"Uh... no.  I guess I never thought much about it.  I've never owned a car that I've driven  that far."

So Earl and I drag out his hydraulic jack, pull a front wheel, and look.

"Well, they're OK, but you'll need to replace them soon," said Earl.  "Bill just spent $370 having his front brakes replaced.  We can do it ourselves."

This sounded good to me, so I hied myself off the mountain and spent $53 for the best ceramic disc brakes that Advance Auto sells.  The next day, "we" are going to install them.

I've installed and adjusted many drum brakes in my day.  In the days of yore, you were adjusting brakes every few thousand miles, and replacing them every ten thousand or so.  But I'd never done disc brakes.

"It's easy," said Earl.  "A piece of cake."

Since I'm still disabled, Earl did most of the grunt work while I handed him tools and offered advice.  Useful advice, such as "I should have parked the car in the shade."

The left side was done in an hour and a half.  But that included fetching various tools, and a half hour beer break.  The driver's side was about 20 minutes.  Disc brakes are truly simple.

In the pic below, the new brake pads are above the old ones.  As you can see, there was still a lot of miles left on them, but for $53, less a $10 rebate, I couldn't see waiting.  Why score rotors?

The back brakes?  We'll maybe check those tomorrow.  No sense in rushing these things.


  1. the back brakes will tend to be less worn than the front. Most of the braking forces are transferred to the front brakes as the weight shifts during hard braking. I'm getting ready to replace my brakes as soon as there is room in my new (much smaller shop... sigh) Picked up the pads and shoes last night from Advance. Yes, I have pads in front and shoes in back. And, the pads are ready to be replaced the second time, since the rear shoes were last replaced. With as much pad as you have on the front, I'll bet you'll be surprised by how much is left in back...

    Life is good in paradise... You coming down here, this winter?

  2. btw, that would be a fer piece. Not to be confused with a fur piece, which is something you wear on your head or around your neck...