Mentioned in my last post that the brakes didn't work. I was planning to convert to a electric over hydraulic system anyway, so great brakes wasn't a priority when buying the boat. However, I was hoping that they would work some to save some money.
After finding out that they weren't working I decided to bleed them and get them doing something before making the trip home. I was near some family, so I stopped by their house and used their drive way to get these things working. It was about 4 PM and I wanted to leave first thing in the morning.
Great news though... the bleeder screws were rusted in place. After some penetrating oil and a 12" cheater bar 😬, the first one came loose. I decided it would be best to get them all loose before starting the process of actually bleeding the brakes. Started on the second one, this one has had more time for the penetrating oil to work. Should be good to go!
Nope... Snapped it off. No problem, just get it out real quick and I can get new ones at the parts store. Bleeder screws are pretty soft, how much work could it be? Drill into it to make room for the easy out. And you guessed it, broke the easy out.
Pull the caliper and take it to the work bench, I'm getting this thing out. Drill out the easy out, then drill the hole out to the biggest size easy out and try again. The easy out ended deforming and twisting the bleeder screw, but not actually budging the threads. By this point it was well after 7, and I was hungry.
I ended up throwing the brakes back together, and towing it home without brakes. Just made a plan to replace them when I get home. Hopefully I can get away with only replacing the calipers, and then all will be great.
Then I started reading about the brakes on the trailer. More good news: Reliable brand trailer parts are no longer available. However, most current brands of calipers for 3,500 pound axles should fit just fine. I happened to have some extra trailer brake calipers from a previous project. Decided to throw one on real quick and make sure everything is good.
Nope, this specific rotor has a raised portion that rubs on the new caliper. Did some research and most calipers looked like they would have the same problem. I could just modify the caliper and it will work, but then that would have to be part of a brake job in the future. I don't think so.
At this point I decided to check some more things. Pulled the axle nut cover off, to find that there was water in the bearings. Sigh, I guess they are getting replaced too.
I read some more, and found that this trailer came with oil bath hubs. These have pretty good reviews from most people, but ultimately decided that it would be safer for me to switch it to a grease hub. I tow my boat a lot, and for a long way. If anything goes wrong the grease will allow me to get some place safe to repair, instead of being stuck on the side of the road.
Based on that I decided my best option was to replace hub, caliper and all with a grease based system and bearing buddy.
I ordered a set that was made for switching from drum to disc brakes. Came with a new hub (with integrated rotor), new bearings, seal, caliper, and caliper backing plate. Everything new from the axle out.
First step, get the old parts off.
Side note, my photographer (8 year old daughter) was a little all over the place.
Start by removing the caliper, two bolts and the brake hose. My bolts needed 8mm hex wrench.
Now remove the oil cap, bearing buddy, or dust shield. Mine are threaded and twist off, most are friction fit and need to be tapped off with a hammer.
These oil caps are sealed with an O-Ring and should only be hand tight. Well, the were a little tighter than that. Try the strap wrench:
Nope, try the channel locks
Nope, Try the bigger channel locks
That's the stuff... wait, that oil isn't supposed to be black. Good thing we are replacing it.
Pull the cotter pin, retaining ring and axle nut. Many trailers have a castle nut instead of a retaining ring and separate nut.
Behind the nut is a washer with a notch or groove to keep it from spinning the spindle. Behind the washer is the outer bearing. Pull those off too. Then pull the the hub off the spindle and clean everything up.
At this point it is good to inspect the bearings and spindle for damage. This will let you know if you have more work to do. Mine were all fine.
Now pull the original caliper mounting bracket, if you are replacing it. If not, it would be best to skip this step because the next step is to put it back. 😁
If you are replacing drum brakes, Everything before this point is the same. For drum brakes the difference is removing the drum backing plate, which is held on with the same four bolts.
Clean everything up and start putting the new stuff on. Starting with the caliper mounting bracket. These have a correct direction, mine were stamped with "Outside" on them. Also the bolt tabs should go towards the back of the trailer.
Use some blue thread locker to hold things together. (This is where my photographer decided that she would rather do something else).https://content.invisioncic.com/r268692/monthly_2020_09/IMG_1676.jpg.5f5cdd9b123e0eafa351a83048389323.jpg
Now pack the bearings with grease and put them in the new hub with the new seal. I used a simple bearing packing tool that I found at the local parts store.
Larger, inner bearing, goes into the back of the hub and then the seal.
Not pictured, I used an old chunk of 2x4 to tap the seal into place. Make sure it goes in flat / evenly, you don't want it in their weird. Tap it in until it is flush with the back of the hub.
Hub goes on the spindle, then the smaller outer bearing. Followed by the washer and the axle nut.
Tighten the axle nut until it stops and then back it off a little bit. (I have trouble explaining this part) You don't want the nut to be super tight just snug. Back off the nut until the cotter pin will go through easily.
Then the retaining ring goes on (if you have one). Put the cotter pin through the hole and bend it to lock it in place and make sure it won't be in the way of the dust cap or bearing buddy. I Recommend using a new cotter pin.
Now mount the new caliper.
Put the pads into the caliper, there is an inner and outer pad. Make sure you get them in the right places. Attach with two bolts, mine were new and came with thread locker already. If you are reusing the old caliper bolts, add some thread locker. Not pictured, hook the brake hose back up.
Now the bearing buddy. Not pictured, tap it on using your scrap 2x4. It needs to go on evenly until it is fully seated in the hub. You'll know it is seated when it stops moving.
Then grease the bearing buddy. Stop adding grease when the spring starts to move. Don't fully collapse the spring or it will have too much pressure and blow out the back of the seal.
Repeat for the other brakes.
Bleed the brakes starting with the one farthest away from the master cylinder.
I haven't shown these steps, because I'm waiting on the new electric over hydraulic controller to get delivered.
Note: If you are switching from drum to disc, be aware that you will need a new brake actuator that operates at higher pressure. For many this will mean replacing the surge brake actuator with a disc specific version.
Coming soon, Electric over hydraulic conversion steps.