Renewing the front brakes on my ’73 Bay, Mortimer Henderson

By Jonathan Bruton

CAVEAT: brakes are obviously safety-critical components, so only attempt this job if you are confident that you can do so safely! This is a personal account of a process and not an exhaustive set of instructions; the author cannot be held liable for any injury arising from accidents caused by a failure to carry out safety-relevant tasks properly.

Some while ago, in that pre-Covid world in which we could drive places (remember that?), I started to become aware of a tell-tale grinding noise coming from Mortimer’s nearside front wheel. There still seemed to be adequate braking power, nor was the van pulling particularly in either direction when I applied the brakes, so I wasn’t unduly concerned. But I thought I’d take advantage of the lockdown to jack him up, whip off the wheels and take a look at the callipers and brake discs.

The old caliper

You can imagine my horror when I saw that, in the first assembly I looked at on the nearside, the calliper pistons were frozen in such a way that the brake pads must have been forced up against the disc surface. The pistons normally only protrude slightly from the inner surfaces of the calliper, allowing enough space to snugly fit the two pads with a tiny bit of clearance. But as  you can see on the picture, the dirt seals – concertina boots that should move in and out with the piston and protect it from contamination – had long since perished and the pistons had accordingly seized up in extended position. On closer inspection, it also became apparent that there was zero friction material left on either pad(!) – what I was hearing was metal on metal. Whatever braking performance there may once have been was obviously a thing of the distant past! The disc surface was as scored and uneven as you would expect under those circumstances, and the disc was obviously beyond redemption. Things were a little better on the other side, with some wear left on the pads – although the fact that van wasn’t pulling to the right suggests that that brake wasn’t functional either. I toyed with the idea of trying a rebuild but, when it became evident that there was no way I was going to get the bleed valves free, I thought I might as well save myself a lot of bother by buying new callipers for both wheels along with two new discs.

The worn brake pad

The first job, of course, was to get the old callipers off so I could remove the discs. This was relatively straightforward. I first had to undo the two 17mm retaining bolts on the inside of the assembly. I then used a pin punch to knock out the two pins that hold the retaining spring in place before tugging out the old pads. It was then a question of pulling out the clip that holds the hose in place and removing the whole assembly from the disc, being careful not to place undue strain on the metal brake pipe that attaches to the calliper. I also needed to bear in mind that the topmost bolt has an unthreaded section on the shank closest to the screw head. The nuts were pretty tight, however, and I needed a torque wrench to get them off. According to the BUSARU guy, the torque is about 110 lbs.

The top bolt

The tricky part in getting the discs off was removing the two button head Allen bolts. Stopping the drum from rotating was an issue until I had the brainwave of clamping the disc to the backing plate. I managed to free up one bolt on each side by conventional means but soon found myself in danger (of course!) of irredeemably rounding off the holes in the other two in my desperate attempts to get them to budge. I even resorted to cutting a groove into one of them (and the surrounding metal) with a grinder to create a slot for a screwdriver. But nothing could persuade it to move! A quick appeal to the Samba revealed a range of opinions on the subject, from just drilling the heads off (the logic being that the thing was securely held in place by the wheel anyway and wasn’t going to go anywhere) to using an impact driver. I like to do things properly if I possibly can, so it was off to eBay to get myself an impact driver (can’t believe I’ve never owned one!). And, hey presto, a couple of whacks on each side got the troublesome little critters out. I took a quick look at the condition of the bearings, which seemed fine and well-greased, so I left them alone. I then fitted the shiny new discs to both sides.

The shiny new disc

The next job was to disconnect the old callipers from the brake lines. Now, as the brakes are safety-critical parts, I’d always shied away from doing anything that would involve having to refill and bleed the fluid. But, having watched a number of YouTube videos on the subject, I concluded that I had nothing to fear but fear itself and went ahead. It would have been a good idea to apply some WD40 to the nuts first, though: on one side, the pipe started to twist with the nut (which should normally spin freely around it), which promptly sheared off. So it was back to Just Kampers for a new 24-cm brake pipe (I swear I’m keeping that company afloat single-handed at the moment!).

Offering the caliper to the disk

With the old units out of the way, it was just a matter of fixing the new ones in place, torqueing up the bolts, and sliding in the new brake pads and backing plates, having first applied some anti-squeal gunk to both sides of the plates. Once they were both in, it was the turn of the retaining spring and the two pins (here I reused the old ones because the new pins supplied with the kits resisted my efforts to tap them into the holes). I used a pin punch and hammer to tap them home.

The new caliper in place

Then it was just a question of bleeding the brakes, replacing the wheels and venturing out for a short road test (keeping an eye out for the police – strange times!). Job done!

Kit acquired for the job:

From JK:

Front brake kit (discs, pads, fixings) £94.75
Calliper (nearside) £99.75
Calliper (offside) £99.75
Brake disc screws: £21.00
Morris brake fluid (1 litre) £11.00
Front brake pipe £15.00

From Amazon:
Impact driver £23.94
Holts brake cleaner £5.25
Ceratec anti-squeal paste £3.30
Starrett pin punch £4.39

Total for job: £378.13

Virtual coffee morning – Sunday 5th April

Virtual Coffee Morning brings people together by Events Manager Lorna Williamson

In these strange times, it’s easy to feel lonely. Even the passion you feel for your VW Campervan is not always enough on its own, let alone the frustration of knowing that the open road is still out there, waiting… 

Enter stage right the VW Type 2 Owners Club. This British Club decided to create a feeling of togetherness when people can’t actually get together, with a simple event built around the joy that only a VW Campervan can bring.   

Using the Club’s Facebook and Instagram pages plus good old email, the VWT2OC encouraged its members to take their Sunday morning coffee out to their van, and get a picture.   

“Nick and I had been joking for weeks about camping out on the driveway,” said Events organiser Lorna,  “…we always sleep better in Poppy! Combined with input from a member who wanted to feel connected, and the fact that you can never have too many photos of vans, we came up with the virtual coffee format. We’ll be trying something similar on VE Day!” 

Not everyone had access to their van – some being in storage, in the workshop, at home while people were away caring for relatives, or simply not available on the oil rig where the member was based! But people valiantly entered the spirit of the thing, with well over 100 photos shared, and these are some of the results… 

Next month event – The AGM and club BBQ

The write up for the 2019 event went like this:

When several people tell you they’ve had a great weekend, including some more skeptical folks, you know you’ve got a good formula. Our club’s annual general meeting, BBQ and camp was again this year held at Great Bourton, just a few miles off the M40.

This again seemed to include a willingness to sit, chat, walk to the local pub (5 and 30 minute options), watch the footie or Eurovision, learn a new craft and drink Tea, coffee and more. Club participants on our spacious rally field this year included 21 vans, 33 adults, three dogs, one toddler and one parrot. There were also seven portions of delivered fish ‘n’ chips, 50 burgers and over 100 pieces of cake.

We had visitors from Norwich, Swansea, Sheffield and Maidstone; Four corners indeed! The essential business of the weekend (the Annual General Meeting itself) was conducted smoothly and efficiently… Thank you for supporting your club. This left plenty of time for the other important activities mentioned earlier! Many members walked away with valued, if not highly original, prizes in our Wrapped Up Raffle… I am making fine use of my Outwell bottle, kindly donated with a number of other prizes by member Ian Crawford.

Other attendees also brought along splendid and amusing options to help raise funds. Thank you all for supporting your club!

I think Kevin’s Craft workshop may have created a new sharing tradition. Who ever heard of Flower Pumelling? Not me, for sure… But along with four other ladies and one young man I became quickly addicted to perfecting the arrangement, taping, turning and subsequent bashing of foraged blooms to create something approaching art.

Mine was far from the best offering, but gives you an idea (see photo). Fab idea, Kevin, thank you so much for sharing!

The next club magazine is on its way

The next edition of the club magazine has been finished by our Editors and looks fantastic. It should be arriving through your door soon!

If you are enjoying the club magazine and have a story about a trip, an upgrade, a restoration or just a tip, send a contribution to our Editor Phil at editor@vwt2oc.co.uk.

2020 camps!

Is it March already? I have barely had chance to remember to write the correct year and already we are into March, the clocks “spring” forwards this month and next month was to see our first camp!

April 4-19 – Easter Club Camp, Petruth Paddocks, Cheddar, Somerset (Club camp)

Sadly due to the Coronavirus, this has had to be postponed.

Head over to http://vwt2oc.co/wp/events/ for details of other events happening this year. If you are interested in any camp, contact our lovely Events Manager on events@vwt2oc.co.uk. She doesn’t bite.

Wakey wakey!

Yes, it is that time again. Hurray! Finally, after the long winter in our non-mobile houses, we can get out our beloved vehicles.

Checklist

Hopefully you all followed the article Time for bed/ to help put your vehicle to bed for the winter. Now that spring is in the air and we are starting to think about getting out and communing in nature, this is a key time to get things ready.

Doors locks – there’s nothing more annoying than a failed lock. get it fixed now before the season really gets going. Door lock issues can be very straight forward but a simple lubrication can be key. Pun intended. A non residue lubricant is best to move the dirt away as WD40 can leave enough gunk to create issues. We favour silicon spray. A little into each lock.

Windscreen wipers – did they perish in the cold winter freezing them to the windscreen. Inspect and replace now.

Water – check the radiator if you have one. Ensure that the bottles that you emptied in the Autumn / fall have no mice, carefully hidden Christmas presents or mildew. Clean with a weak Milton solution if it is drinking water or food related.

Batteries – check the charge on each battery with a good meter. A flat battery can indicate an earth leak. A failed battery needs careful investigation.

Carburettor – Or equivalent. Check for good operation, no stuck flaps or other deterioration over winter. If you are a professional, this will be straight forward. If you are an amateur, a test drive very close to home will highlight problems! But only after the other checks.

Brakes – your vehicle should roll easily, otherwise this can indicate jammed brakes. Parking in gear for long periods of time can be better for your brake health than a jammed set of brakes. Check the brakes for operation. Check the brake fluid level. If it has been more than 5 years, change the brake fluid as it is hygroscopic and slurps up water incredibly quickly. Water is not a good fluid for applying the brake pads to the disks.

Seals – inspect all door seals for any signs of damage, water ingress or other problems and sort them out now. Glue any loose bits back down with the correct glue.

Windows – ensure that they all open and close fully. Or at least as fully as they did last year if applicable!

Ignition – Once you are feeling confident, get in to your pride and joy and turn on the ignition to number 2. Look at the lights on the dashboard. Check there ARE lights! Are they what you expect / are used to seeing? Have you got fuel (for those with a working fuel gauge)?

Crank it over – don’t expect it to start immediately but things should kick into life within a few seconds.

A little test drive on your driveway will allow you to test the brakes, maybe the steering and other important parts. Softly, softly.

Stay local, take your phone with you and warm clothing. Just in case!

Once you get home, assuming that you have a big smile on your face, make a list of snags, get indoors, put the kettle on and start planning for your summer.

Check out the events page and come and see us at a meeting soon!

Fuel hoses

Anyone with a vehicle knows that fuel is really rather flammable. This is why you do not smoke at a fuel station. Anyone owning or driving an old vehicle should be equally careful with the state of the fuel “line”.

From the tank to the engine, the fuel is permanently sitting in metal pipe, plastic pipe and rubber pipe. There is no off switch, so if this ruptures, you are dumping the entire contents onto the ground, so from a financial point of view it is a sensible idea to ensure this is all in good order. From a heartache perspective, it is imperative as well.

You do not want your pride and joy catching fire due to a leaking pipe spraying fuel onto something very hot in the engine bay.

Taking the Type 1 engine as an example, there are multiple systems in place as primitive fuel emissions systems.

The U shaped pipe number 9 is the one that you can see on the roof of the engine bay in a Bay window just above the number plate.

Red pipe numbered 24 needs a long arm and can be reached by putting your left hand up past the rear light cluster up the side of the bus and is quite a tricky little one to replace. If you can smell fuel always, especially if you sniff the air intake on the left side, that is often missing or perished.

The ones next to the fuel tank in the picture by green 24 are all behind the fuel tank firewall and need the engine to be removed.

My local VW mechanic recommends replacing all of the rubber components at least every 3 years and last time , we found that blue 24 in the middle of the picture on the pipe heading to the right was actually disconnected, causing fuel to spill over the top of the tank when turning right with a full tank! We had a clean section of tank and a lucky escape.

In summary. Ensure that your fuel system is inspected regularly by a competent mechanic and relevant parts are changed. The new fuels have either Biodiesel or Ethanol in them, which are not good on modern rubber pipes.

Busfest tickets 2020

Have you got your BusFest tickets yet? The world’s largest transporter show is on again on 11 to 13 September. Details are at https://www.busfest.org/busfest/

It is also our club’s foremost event with over 70 club vehicles and over a hundred people in our dedicated club field in 2019.

https://www.busfest.org/busfest/ has the details of what to expect at the show. Over and above that, our dedicated club field has a members only marquee with tea and coffee, we normally have cakes, biscuits, a safe environment for the kids to run around together. For those who enjoy, we have a BBQ including vegetarian options too.

Come, see the show, enjoy the funfair rides, buy the auto jumble, eat the chips, then return to the quiet (ish) club field. Don’t forget to click on the club option and use the discount code available from the membership secretary membership@vwt2oc.co.uk.

Please note that the code is for members only.

Welcome to the VWT2OC website

SCROLL DOWN FOR OUR LATEST POSTS. A NEW ONE EVERY FRIDAY!

The Volkswagen Type 2 Owners Club is a UK national club for owners and enthusiasts of the classic Volkswagen transporter van. There are also some most welcome members from outside the UK.

If you are a Type 2 enthusiast why not join us ?

The Club aims to help its members maintain their vehicles both as preserved historic vans and as restored, or otherwise reclaimed, going concerns keeping a family travelling and camping happily.

Our members are spread right across the UK and some overseas members too, and the Club tries to provide activities and events that everyone can attend and enjoy. We have a strong presence at some of the UK’s biggest VW events as well as running our own camps and meeting up at smaller events.

Please allow 14 days following payment for your application to be processed.

If you need your membership more quickly, in some circumstances we may be able to give you a temporary membership number – please email our membership secretary.

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You can still pay by debit or credit card when you hit the subscribe button!
or Download the application form here and post us a cheque

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