August 28, 2006

The Lord giveth...

...and Murphy taketh away.

YET DESPITE THAT, I did manage to avoid any permanent disfigurement, and am able to come in this morning and peck upon this glorious computing machine and bore all of you to tears! Surely that must count as a weekend well spent.

Or not.

In any event, my great big package of brake pads and brake rotors (and my new cupholder!) arrived Friday just as predicted, and in a flurry of joy I ripped open the box to make sure everything was there, and it was, and set in to get started on the necessary dismantling right away.

As I was getting the car situated and finding my floor jack, I was still bothered by the one oversight in the whole process. When I had ordered my parts, I decided not to order a set of rear rotors. I don't really know why, other than I think I thought the ones already on the car could be turned and reused.

I don't really know why I thought this.

Especially after all that horrible grinding noise, noise that I knew was being caused by a pad that had worn down to the backer plate. That can't be good for a brake rotor. Yet, for some reason, I didn't order them. And to make things worse, I really couldn't add them to the order, without paying a huge tariff for shipping. The only way I managed to get this other stuff on the cheap was that the nice people out in Oregon were having a "no shipping charge" sale. Let me tell you this--shipping from Oregon is outrageous. So, after I couldn't order more (without paying an extra billion dollars to have them shipped) I figured I would just make do with what I had. If the rotors were too thin, I'd just have to have them smoothed out a bit, then order the rotors and install them later. Which is just a real messed up way of doing things.

But, as we have now thoroughly established, I Am A Moron.

Anyway, out with the wheel chocks, the jackstands, the jack, various wrenchy things, and off we go.

Jack up rear, set the stands in place, take off the wheels, yikes--my left rear rotor look like it had been scrubbed by a comb with diamond teeth--great big deep grooves running round and round. Yep--I could see there was no more friction material left on the pad. Aside from the piece of metal it had been attached to.

Took out the pads, took off the brake caliper, and measured the rotor thickness. Wow. Both sides were 2mm thinner than the minimum thickness. I really should have ordered rear rotors.

By this time, Reba had gotten home and I asked her to call the parts place to see if they could do the rotor turning. No. ::sigh:: They had some other places that could, but it was going to mean a lot more running around on Saturday, which I did NOT want to do.

Oh well.

I still had other things to do while there was still enought daylight, though, so I went ahead and made a run down to the foot of the hill for some brake cleaner in a spray can. Just out of curiosity, I asked the gangly kid at the counter if they had rear rotors for an '86 Volvo 240. "Yessir, we have two in stock."

You could have knocked me over with a flare nut wrench! What are the odds of them having something like that--IN STOCK!? He brought them out, and they looked beautiful--smooth and round and glistening and--ahem. Well, they looked real good.

Home, singing the 'Happy, Happy, Murphy's Law Don't Live Here' song. Which was obviously a mistake. I knew I should just be quietly grateful and not tempt fate. Because Fate is a real jerk when it comes to stuff like brakes.

Got to the house, found out there was one more piece of hardware to remove before getting the rotor off, did that, pulled the passenger side, doused the parking brake apparatus with brake cleaner (whew! highly aromatic hydrocarbons!), slid the new rotor on, and noticed it was getting sorta darkish.

Which is what happens at night.

Not going to get it all done this evening, obviously.

Grabbed my shop light and started the replacement on the right side. Undo extra hardware, pull rotor, douse the parking brake apparatus again. Boy, there's a lot of gunk in there. Spray. Spray, spray, sprrrrrrrray. Popped the new rotor on.


Felt like something had pinched my butt. I was sitting on the driveway with my legs akimbo as I was working, and it felt like I had sat on a pin. Started putting the caliper back on. Ouch. OW! Whatever that was that was pinching me really was hurting. I grunted and pulled on the wrench and OWWWW! That's BURNING! And now my left calf was burning, too. I leaned over and felt the bottom of my thigh and felt something wet on my jeans. OUCHBURN! "What is going on!?" I thought to myself.

It was then that I noticed I was sitting on one of the lateral joints in the driveway. And then I noticed that all of the vast amount of brake cleaner I had doused the mechanism with had puddled up on the driveway right underneath the brake, and at that exact spot was the lateral joint in the concrete. And that lateral joint seemed to be tilted at just the right angle to allow the huge puddle of brake cleaner (Caution: Highly flammable--avoid skin contact) to run toward the place I had only moments before been sitting. It then stopped when it found my buttock, and was handily soaked up by my jeans.

And made my right buttock and thigh and my left calf feel as though someone had gotten after me with a flamethrower.

I jumped up and started doing the 'Murphy's Law Strikes Again' tap dance, and ran inside and up the stairs to get in the shower before I suffered further damage to my fleshy backside. I ran into our bathroom, and lo and behold, Catherine was in the shower.

"CATHERINE!! I need you to get out! Daddy's got stuff on his leg and it BURNS! Please get OUT!"

She opened the door and looked out at me.


She got out and stood on the bathmat.

"Catherine. I have stuff on my pants that is making my leg HURT REALLY BAD! I need you to leave the room so I can wash my legs off before I have to GO TO THE HOSPITAL! Please LEAVE!"

"But Mama told me to get in here and bathe before the pizza gets here."

"SUGAR! I KNOW you want to bathe, I'll let you back in in just a minute, but I have GOT TO GET IN THERE!"

She pouted and stalked out of the bathroom wet and nekkid, and I started ripping my pants off and stumbled into the shower.


Luckily, no permanent damage to my delicate undercarriage, but I do have a newfound respect for caustic chemicals.

I put on some different pants and finished getting my tools and stuff back inside for the night. I hated leaving the back end of the car up in the air overnight--it just looks rather low-class for such a fancy high-tone place like my neighborhood, but frankly, I'd had enough excitement for the night, and figured daylight would be better to work on things.

Got my real shower after supper, and in a fit of domesticity, made sure to take ALL the clothes out of the hamper and downstairs so that there would be no sudden CLOMP of laundry baskets on the bathroom floor Saturday morning.

And sure enough, there wasn't, and a certain wife of mine actually allowed me to sleep all the way until 8:30!


And then, time for more car repair!


About which, more in just a bit.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at August 28, 2006 08:51 AM

Wow, Terry-

I'm so glad you didn't have any burns. I did not realize myself that stuff could be THAT caustic. Hoo boy.

Posted by: Stan at August 28, 2006 11:19 AM

Hey, if the stuff you were spraying was flammable, it was carb cleaner. Brake solvent shouldn't be flammable. It will burn your skin though...

Many years ago, before the internet or color tv, or even paved roads, 1973 I think it was, I had a summer job cleaning paint mixing tanks in a paint factory. This was also pre-OSHA and pre-safety gear days and I was a minor, working in a dark basement, sloshing solvent around with mops and tire brushes to clean these tanks.

And I usually kept a shop rag in my jeans pocket for wiping out the last little bits. Methyl Ethel Ketone worked pretty good to wipe out the last little bits of paint in the tank pits. One day, I stuck a rag in the old back pocket that had just a little too much solvent still in it...

I ended up with a silver dollar sized blister on my butt! That left a lasting impression!

Posted by: Nate at August 28, 2006 11:33 AM

Nate, hate to brake it to you (HAH! I KILL ME! Not literally, though.) but CRC Brakleen is highly flammable, at least according to the MSDS sheet.

I promise not to show you my butt if you don't show me yours.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 28, 2006 11:53 AM

Found out:
1. Gasoline on hands--no big deal.
2. Gasoline on butt--wowee zowee!

How I found out, didn't notice I was sitting partly on the gas connection on the tank for the outboard.

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at August 28, 2006 07:20 PM

LATE UPDATE: I have WRONGED Nate! Apparently there must be a couple of different formulas floating around for Brakleen. I got the can out of the garbage and it just says to keep away from your skin and on the front of the can says non-flammable, and so does the MSDS. So now I can feel safe if I do decide to take up smoking and working on brakes.

As for other things, there seems to be a theme developing--guys who sit in burning stuff.

I think this might be a good topic when the Thursday Three returns...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 28, 2006 09:17 PM

Can we start a whole Nevada festival to celebrate it? Burning Possum?

You could have a whole bunch of naked manatees running around, and CornaHemp, the latest in deep fried relaxants.

Posted by: skinnydan at August 29, 2006 10:33 AM

Well, y'all will just have to make do without me--sounds like there'd be too many filthy hippies.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 29, 2006 10:47 AM