Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Here's the bum-end of the Rover up on my "new" secondhand auto lift, in a tropical downpour. We've been trying for over a week to complete a brake job on this venerable vehicle prior to the annual state safety inspection, and to fix a couple of nagging difficulties with the Camry, but neither weather, parts availability, nor deliveries have been helping very much.

It all started when I got done with the same chore on the Camry. This other Womerlippi stalwart passed state inspection happily last Thursday, the ABS system and check engine light problem being insufficient to fail a 1997 vehicle. I've heard that on newer vehicles an ABS light or an airbag light can result in a fail, subject to the inspector's discretion, but not a check engine light.

Of course, all these "idiot" lights come on for benign reasons, and that was the case with the Camry. The ABS system has a wonky sensor which doesn't line up properly with the hub rotor. The check engine light comes on because the vapor pressure sensor, or VAP sensor, is similarly wonky, having an intermittent fault. Neither one is an easy diagnosis, and both are expensive, so until now I've let them be, for several years in the case of the ABS system. 

Last weekend, newly resolved and bouyed up by passing inspection so nicely, I tried again to fix the ABS, to no avail. A new sensor was ordered and duly arrived, but the new device could be made to align only slightly better with the rotor that the old one. The light goes out for longer, but still comes back on from time to time.

Likewise, I looked again through all the online parts catalogs, but harder, for a VAP sensor, at what I hoped was a reasonable price, again to no avail.

Eventually I found a automobile salvage yard in Orrington, Maine that could sell me both the replacement steering knuckle I need to properly align the ABS sensor/rotor pair, and a secondhand VAP sensor. 

Here's the steering knuckle, awaiting a good wire-brushing and some phospho.

And here's the VAP sensor, a otherwise ridiculously expensive little piece of plastic ($200!) that I got for free with the steering knuckle. 

Such a deal! 

The Land Rover, on the other hand, lacking even a single modern "idiot" light, succumbs to simpler and more old-fashioned as well as cheaper technique. The brakes were not working well, and I suspected the master cylinder. I also faulted the power brake servo. New parts took a week to arrive, despite being ordered for 3-day UPS delivery, simply because my Rover parts guy didn't read his email. 

Still, it didn't hurt to get on with a few other things. 

I cleaned out the barn instead, a seriously heavy chore, then spent a day more or less recovering from cleaning out the barn!

Once the servo and master cylinder were fitted though, drastically increasing the brake line hydraulic pressure, leaks appeared in both rear brake lines. 

This kind of thing is not unexpected. Vehicles are systems, much like ecosystems or weather systems or other systems that I study, with lots of internal interactions, and "you can't just do one thing."

Brake lines can be bought whole or fabricated from tube and new or re-used brake nuts.

I had tube on hand and was able to reuse all the old nuts, which was good because I really didn't care to wait for another delivery if I could help it, although I suppose they might have had some that would fit at the regular parts store in Belfast.

Above you see the flaring tool used to make the "olive" on the end of the tube.

(At least, British mechanics and engineers call them "olives". I've never figured out what the American term is. But this is a Land Rover, so we'll use the British-ism.)

Here's the cutting tool being used to cut the nut off the old rusty brake line, for reuse.

The completed new brake line, with the old for comparison. 

As I said, I'd like to get the Rover job done before Aimee's mom and her sister arrive for a visit tomorrow, but the torrential rain isn't helping any. I have it all back together, more or less, but need to bleed the lines then test the system.

I'm just distracting myself by hammering out this blog post right now. 

I need to go back out there and see if I can't get any "forrarder."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

The earliest posts, at the very end of the blog, tell the story of the Great Farm, our purchase of a fragment of that farm, the renovation of the homestead and its populating with people and animals. Go all the way to the last post in the archive and read backwards from there to get it in chronological order.

After getting tired of spam comments (up to a dozen or more per day), I required commentators to be Google "registered users". You can write me at if you have a serious comment or question and are not a registered user.

Spammers -- don't bother writing -- there's no way I will post your spam to my blog. Just go away.