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Rover Vitesse, Brake Refurbishment – Part 1

Well well well, another multiple part post happening within another multiple part post. Hell, it’s like postception over here. Progress has slowed dramatically, and the title of this post might well give away why.

In the last post I had removed both calipers in order to strip and paint them.

I popped my wire cup wheel on the grinder, took one of them outside and had a bash at it. Most of the top layers of paint basically exploded on contact with the brush, but the red must be proper stuff because it’s tougher to remove. (excuse the weeds, need more fire for them)

Under the layers and layers of paint, the caliper wasn’t actually in bad shape. There is some corrosion under the paint at the back of the caliper, but nothing major.

I took the pads out so I could remove some more paint. The retaining hardware was worse than I thought. The pins have certainly lost some metal, but the plates have almost completely corroded through in places.

I have ordered some replacement plates from Rimmers, but the pins were out of stock so I will find the ones I removed from Effie, and use them.

The pads are Lucas GDB789. They seem to be listed for Range Rovers (like the ones fitted to Effie), and made by a few different brands, like TRW. Options are good.

Hmm… something doesn’t look right with those pads. Spot the piston that isn’t doing its job (hint, it’s the top photo, on the left). The pads seem new enough they aren’t worn unevenly, but I’ll double-check before refitting.

So that’s where it all went to hell. After removing the pads I tried to push the pistons back into the caliper, and only three pistons (of four) on each caliper could be pushed back. One piston in each caliper was seized solid.

I used some compressed air, with my inflation thinggy, and the pin that is usually used to fill sports balls, to push the pistons out. I wrapped some tape around the pin to try to make a decent seal. Make sure the bleed valve is shut of course.

I found cork sanding blocks were a perfect size for pushing the pistons out far enough to remove them, but not have them shoot across the room. One of the calipers slowly but surely freed up the stuck piston with some compressed air (not the caliper from the above pads)

The other flat-out refused. No matter how much air I pumped into it, that one piston didn’t move. The other three made a dash for freedom though. Oops.

I sprayed penetrating fluid into the caliper, and all around the stuck piston and left it to sit a couple of days. It wasn’t magic, and didn’t free up by itself. Darn.

Today I got the big guns out, and was determined to remove the piston one way or another. There is another method other than compressed air to remove a stuck piston, but it involves a tool I don’t have, and didn’t want to buy just for this job; a grease gun.

The big guns? A chisel, screwdriver and hammer.

First I removed the outer seal and retainer with a pick. It was well corroded in there but came out easy enough

WIth that removed I started beating on the piston with the hammer and chisel, trying to get it to turn in the bore. I quickly noticed the chisel was too sharp and was cutting into the piston a bit much, so changed to a nice big blunt screwdriver.

After much beating, some swearing, lots of penetrating fluid, a moderately sized fire as the penetrating fluid ignited when I tried to apply heat, the piston finally started to rotate. A little bit at a time i knocked it around, until it was moving much freer. Then I gave it some air, and this happened

Out the bastard comes. I stopped there and used air to remove all the other pistons first, and then used the vice grips to pull the sticky piston out.

This might have something to do with why it was so hard to remove. That black stuff is corrosion/rust pitting in the piston.

The bore it came out of thankfully looks OK. No more worn than the others, but the section between the two seals is a bit worse for wear and will need some tweaking with fine sandpaper or emery tape.

Upon close inspection of the pistons that came out of that caliper, all of them have signs of pitting and corrosion. Some worse than others, so along with a new seal kit, I have ordered a set of 8 new pistons also. Whilst I wait for them to arrive, I will be completely stripping the calipers down, soaking them in paint stripper, then in Evaporust, and after a clean down they will get a coat of paint.

In that same order I have ordered a new pipe for the one I broke (still available new), but the other side pipe is now NLA, so I have roped a friend (with all the tools and knowledge) into helping make a new pipe up for that side, using the fittings from a spare pipe I have ordered and will cut up for parts. I did manage to get that pipe off. I had to use vice grips, a spanner and lots of brute force to crack the nut. Some copper grease will help in future.

It’s no wonder the brakes felt like rubbish. They had a very soft pedal, and when pushed hard they didn’t work all that well. I’m glad I found this now, as it wasn’t likely to fix itself and magically start to work, and doing the bleed I had planned wouldn’t have done anything either. Once back together they should be as good as the Vitesse brakes can be.

Now the waiting game again.

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