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Fun with my front caliper

Posted by desflurane on April 22, 2011

Once again, I was out for a training ride the other day. I rode up the switchback trail near my home, wound through the hills a bit and descended “Workout Wash” then I headed up to the construction site dump area which I have found to be an excellent practice ground for trials-type riding.

All was well until I popped my front end up over a set of boulders and heaved the bike across. I grabbed the front brake lever and was greeted with mushy, squishy uselessness! A quick survey of the front caliper revealed the problem: I had located a rock that fit perfectly up along side the wheel where it could nail the fitting connecting the hydraulic line to the back of the front brake caliper. The hollow bolt that fits through the line and into the caliper had been ripped right out and brake fluid was drizzling onto the ground. Ride over.

When I got back to the garage, I pulled the caliper and discovered this:

Messed up caliper

The threads were ripped right out of the hole and the hole itself was wallowed out to a slightly oval shape. “Hmmm,” I thought, “this looks expensive…” Surprisingly, it wasn’t ALL that bad. $150 for a new caliper and $10 for other parts needed. I expected it to be a lot worse.

Since I was planning to ride over the next few days, I splurged on overnight shipping. The next afternoon a new caliper was in my hot little hands.

Installation took about fifteen minutes, and I began bleeding the system. This took considerably longer.

Normally, it takes me about five minutes tops to bleed a brake, but an hour into this job and I was still struggling to get the front skids to pressure up. I had flushed fluid all the way through the system, so that a healthy squirt flew out of the bleed fitting each time I pulled the lever, and I could no longer suck air out with a syringe. But it still wouldn’t pressure up. I poured what seemed like gallons of brake fluid into the reservoir and pumped it through – into the waste-oil pan sitting on the floor. No more bubbles, but still no pressure. Needless to say, I became a bit frustrated.

At long last, I noticed that when I pulled the brake lever, a tiny air bubble appeared at the intake hole in the bottom of the reservoir – Aha! I rapped my knuckles firmly and repeatedly on the bottom of the master cylinder casting while pumping the lever – several big bubbles popped out and like magic, pressure returned!

Ok, I won’t make that mistake again!


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