Tagged: Brake

MBK Trainer – Fixed Gear Version 2

I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before but the 80’s Raleigh frame that I used on the first fixed gear is now “dead”. What happened? Well I’m not quite sure. It’s viewable in one of my Cyclist POV videos, where you can see I’m riding along and all of a sudden the rear wheel locks up and I come to a stop. It’s happened before but never that violently and never just riding along. I realigned the wheel and rode on, but after getting to my destination I realised the wheel no longer looked straight… The rear triangle looked bent. A few second opinions later and I had concluded it must be the end of that frame.

Note: At no point have I actually checked the frame alignment with the available tools.

A few weeks have gone by and now I have version 2 up and running. Version 2 was found on eBay for the small sum of £15. Naturally the colours caught my attention and I had to have it. As luck would have it, nobody else was interested in it and I won the auction for the starting bid. I have to say the seller of this frame has been an absolute pleasure to deal with – possibly the best seller I’ve dealt with. He emailed me as soon as the auction ended and asked if I wanted some further postage quotes and after looking around found one for £4 cheaper than quoted. Unfortunately he hadn’t checked the PayPal transaction and booked the delivery for the wrong address. Nevermind, he got straight onto the courier and had it changed. The courier didn’t even come and collect it and instead it had to be dropped off at the post office and sent from there. I was updated on the whole process and never left out. I wish all sellers were like that!

Anyway, the new build! The frame is a two tone, pink and purple, MBK trainer. I haven’t been able to accurately date it however I’m leaning towards an early 90’s date. Lugless, oval tubing and CRMO – I really like the frame. It has its fair signs of wear and it the colour apparently disgusts come people but I love it. It’s just my size and it’s so light.

Straight away I removed the headset from the old build and fitted that to the MBK frame. The old Halo wheelset went in perfectly, as did my old black stem. This is where things change. Instead of the flat bars I wanted to fit a set of drop bars in black with some all black brakes. I’m only running one brake, yet still decided to fit two levers. Why? Because I like the riding position! Finding the all black bars took a lot of searching on eBay as most 25.4mm clamping bars are for silver in colour for old road bikes! It was worth it though, the black bars and brakes make the pink stand out even more.

When it came to the bottom bracket and crank I had to get something new. The Raleigh uses 26tpi thread and a cottered axle, where as the MBK frame uses a standard 24tpi thread. I have a few spare cartridge bottom brackets that I could have used but something new was more appealing. I decided to head to VeloSolo and take a look at their collection. I opted for the 107mm Stronglight bottom bracket and crank set. It looks amazing and threaded straight into the frame. The Raleigh used a 42 tooth chain ring (I believe) where as the Stronglight uses a 48 tooth. Combined with the 14 tooth sprocket I’ll be getting more top end but hill starts will become a bit tougher. I’ll see how I get on with it and if it’s too tough I’ll swap out the sprocket to a 16 or 18.

The tyre clearances are close but I’m going to swap those out for some Michelin Krylion Carbon when I get some spare cash! (Those tyres are brilliant – I’m using them on the British Eagle in the wet). Apart from that I’m 100% happy with the outcome. The bike feels like a perfect fit and everytime I look at it I find a massive grin creeps across my face. It’s definitely not everyones style. What do you think?


She Passed.

It’s all done now. Three weeks without a car though, that sucked.

I did this little investigation into the faults listed on the failure. Filming it was my evidence in case the tester turned around again and failed it. To be honest, I couldn’t find anything he was talking about. The discs weren’t warped, the pads were fine, the shoes were pretty much new, both calipers moved freely and the handbrake activated. I genuinely had no idea where he’d got all these brake faults from.

The “ABS” fault was a little more obvious to me. It’s still to do with the steering rack. Unfortunately it seems when it was installed the rack wasn’t quite in the centre so when it was fitted to a centralised column I was given more distance to the lock on the left than the right. I had a look at disconnecting the column and rotating it to match but it wasn’t going to work, not without shifting the rack back. I did notice where the steering angle sensor was though and it got me thinking…

It’s being triggered because the sensor is still calibrated to the stock setting so when it realises there is more travel in one direction and “straight” isn’t matched with its centre it throws the error. What I thought was if I found the centre position of the steering rack, marked it up and had the garage calibrate the sensor to that setting and then align the suspension to that position too, the sensor wouldn’t trigger the error. The steering wheel would be off centre but everything underneath would be straight. Apparently you can just lift these steering wheels off and adjust according to the Haynes manual so it wouldn’t be hard to straighten up.

That being said, I booked it in today to run this trial. Luckily it turned out an old school friend was working there today and he took my car to look over. I explained everything, he reset the system and the lights went off. He had a look at the brakes too and was just as confused as me so it was retested and passed. Nothing wrong with the brakes at all.

Driving it round to the MOT bay did pop the TRC and VSC lights though but it hadn’t had the alignment so I wasn’t too worried. I did say to align the car with the wheel at the position I marked on the steering wheel but I think it’s been done with the wheel straight so the sensor is still disabling those two things, but no ABS fault which is weird. Oh well, at least I have an MOT now!

What I’m going to try now is having a play with the tracking myself and getting the steering wheel aligned to the mark I made. It might work, it might not, but at the moment I think it’s disabling the TRC and VSC because it thinks it’s always driving at an angle…maybe.

MOT Failure

*sigh* I was hoping it would sneak through.

Knowing the steering angle sensor still hasn’t been corrected I figured there was a 99% chance it would fail but the tester picked up on a couple of other things. The first was a little pedantic in my opinion. The second, slightly puzzling.

The first thing the tester picked on was my indicators. They’re all working, all flashing orange but in his opinion they’re the wrong shade which is apparently a failure. The original bulbs have a painted on orange coating which deteriorates over time and the bulbs had started to peel. That of course meant white light was coming through too but still, a little pedantic in my opinion. It was quickly sorted anywho. The side repeaters were easy, simply pulling out the light unit where as the front indicators needed the bumper removing to get the whole light unit out. They’re all changed now and I also took it as an opportunity to fit some white LED sidelights.

The second reason for failure was my rear brakes. When I got the phone call to say the car had failed I was told the drum brakes for the handbrake were metal on metal. I was confused to say the least. In fact, the list went to both rear brakes binding, nearside rear brake disc warped, metal on metal noise on application of brakes and parking brake has no reverse travel. I explained that I’d changed the shoes in September so I had no idea why there would be a metal on metal grinding… I’ve also not heard the sound myself, ever, so I’m even more confused. I’m going to have to do a bit of investigating to see if something has locked up inside or if the tester is trying to pull a fast one on me.

So now at the moment I have to get around by bike, and with the short winter days I can only do the repairs at the weekend. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass really but I’ll see what’s what when I strip the rear brakes down. As for the steering angle sensor… I think I’ve worked out how to fix that now.

Taking shape now.

A new bunch of goodies arrived in the post on Friday so a bit more of the “Project 80’s” Fixie has been assembled.

Originally the bike had the typical narrow drop bars but I didn’t fancy those on this new build. I wanted to be able to cruise around comfortably so I opted for some simple flat bars. Of course that meant I couldn’t re-use the original brake levers, not that I wanted to anyway. The amount of play they had was ridiculous so I opted for a low price Avid brake lever that I’ve fitted with a new cable from a Shimano set I had lying around. Not wanting to spend too much I have re-used the original brake “caliper?” but with the new lever and cable it seems to be working really well. I went for the low cost option with the grips too, just buying some simple slide on grips but they were an absolute pain to fit. It took ages to move them up the handlebar millimetre by millimetre into position that I wish I’d just spent a bit more and bought some lock on grips.

When I bought the bike it didn’t come with a seat or seat post so both of those were needed. As I started the project I’d actually picked up a new seat post from Halfords but it turned out to be a fraction of a millimetre too big even after cleaning up the inside of the tube. I was on the lookout for a smaller one but 25mm and below must be super rare. My boss actually came to my rescue though with a suggestion of cutting a slit down the seat post so that it compresses slightly when installed. I’ve got to give it to him, it worked a treat. I cut a slit front and back and the seat post slid into the tube (although it still is pretty tight). With the new seat fitted I’ve managed to get it roughly where I need it and finished it off with a silver quick release clamp.

The last bit for this update involves the cranks. One pedal was well and truly seized into its thread and not even a soaking in PlusGas would shift it. It actually took a length of scaffolding hooked over my spanner to eventually crack the seal the rust had formed. A lot of effort just to remove a pedal! Once that was off I set about trimming down the chain rings. I’m only going to use the lower chain ring on the bike (which is around 40 teeth) so that’s made the large chain ring a bit pointless. I decided that I’d either trim all of the teeth off and turn it into a chain guard or completely cut off the outer ring. The decision was made for me when it took longer that I though to just cut off a couple of teeth. It would have taken many a battery charge and a few cutting discs to remove all the teeth so I concentrated on cutting the fiver points that held the large chain ring in place. The Dremel just about made it so I’ve just got to tidy up the “stumps” and get the it all powder coated black before fitting.

Hopefully all being well the bike should be hitting the roads soon!

Project Daily – Brake Fluid Change

I finally got round to doing this at the weekend after being on my “to do” list for a while.  My brake fluid was pretty dirty so I’m unsure how long it’s been in the car for.  It’s advised to change your brake fluid every 3 years but I’m not 100% clued up if it’s entirely necessary or not.  Over time the fluid can become “contaminated” by water in the atmosphere (and any dirt that manages to find its way into the system).  It can affect the boiling point of the fluid and they can lose some of their efficiency.  It’s a pretty easy job to do so it’s worth changing.  It can be done on your own but with two people it’s a lot easier.

I’d actually been speaking to someone about a symptom both his and my car shared too, occasionally getting a crunching sound from the brakes when coming to a stop.  We’d both checked all the discs, pads, calipers and slider pins and all were fine so he’d suggested changing the brake fluid.  It seems to have worked for his car so I’m hoping it cures mine too.

Tools Needed:
– Wheel Wrench
– Jack
– Axle Stands
– Brake Bleeder Kit
– Brake Fluid
– Cloths
– Wire Brush
– 8mm Spanner (Either special brake line or a full 6 sided)

How To:
(You can do this one wheel at a time or with all four wheels in the air but either way on level ground)
– Loosen the wheel nuts and jack the car in the air

– Remove the wheel(s)

– Remove the rubber caps from the bleed nipples and clean around them with a wire brush

– Remove the cap from the brake master cylinder reservoir, check the level is to “MAX” and refit the cap loosely to stop dirt dropping in

(I’ve noticed different ways noted for the bleeding sequence but for my Corolla it went like this)

– Start at the front left wheel

– Use the 8mm spanner to slacken the bleed nipple (and to check it actually comes undone). A good fitting spanner is needed here as you will easily round the nut off if it doesn’t fit 100%. If it’s ok, do it back up hand tight.

– Keep the spanner on the nut and fit the end of the flexi pipe (from the bleed kit) over the nipple.

– Slacken the bleed nipple about a quarter turn and make sure the flexi pipe remains sealed around the nipple.

– Have someone sitting in the car and get them to pump the brake pedal slowly. You’ll see fluid start to flow out of the nipple and into the pipe.

– Have them pump the pedal (up and down) around 5 times, then on the 6th time have them hold the pedal down while you do the bleed nipple up, then they can release the pedal. (The bleeder kit actually has a one way valve in to stop dirty fluid from being sucked back into the system but doing the nipple back up when the system is under pressure is an extra way to stop dirty fluid re-entering)

– Top up the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir. Using a clean funnel really helps!

– Repeat until you’re happy that the fluid is clear and free of any air bubbles, making sure you check the fluid level regularly. I did 4 cycles on each corner for my car.

– Do the bleed nipples back up. Don’t do it up too tight as they will snap easily.

– Wipe away any spilt brake fluid and refit the rubber cap to the bleed nipple.

– Repeat for the front right side.

– Repeat for the rear left side.

– Repeat for the rear right side.

– All calipers should be bled now and clean fluid flushed through. Make sure the brake fluid reservoir is topped up and all bleed nipples are done up.

– Wipe up any spills as brake fluid can eat away at paint work.

– Refit all wheels and lower the car to the ground.

Job done. Always double check everything is done up and all spilt fluid is wiped away.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an all singing, all dancing, fountain of perfect knowledge. My only aim is to try to help you complete this job. If something goes wrong or doesn’t quite happen like it’s supposed to, I take no responsibility. I am not a trained mechanic. I learnt by giving it a go. If you’re not happy with that, take your car to a garage. Make sure you use the right tools for the job and stay safe at all times!

Project Daily – Rear Caliper Pins

A small Friday update for the Corolla.  Back when I changed the rear discs and pads I found one of the caliper slider pins was a little stiff.  At the time I removed it and regreased it but I knew it would seize up again so I ordered a new set of pins.  Ever since I’ve had the car I’ve experienced a strange crunching noise on the odd occasion when I’m crawling to a stop, almost like something is catching on the brakes.  Changing all the worn discs didn’t help, replacing the front caliper with the torn seal didn’t help and neither did replacing the front caliper pins so this seems like my last option to cure it.  It’s a pretty simple job, so check your pins and replace if necessary.

Tools needed:
– Wire Brush (One big and one small would be useful)
– 12mm & 14mm sockets
– 12mm & 14mm spanners (Just in case)
– Ratchet
– Torque Wrench
– Copper Grease
– Cloths
– Brake cleaner
– Jack
– Axle Stands
– Wheel Wrench
– Small flatblade screwdriver
– Small file

How To:

– Chock the front wheels and/or put the car in gear to stop it rolling and jack up the rear end.

– Support the car on axle stands and remove the rear wheels.

– Use a 12mm spanner / socket to undo the caliper bolt and place it out of the way. (Either cable tie it to the springs or rest it on the torsion bar)

– Use a 14mm spanner / socket to undo the carrier from the hub.

– Use a vice (if you’ve got one) to hold the carrier still while you work on it.

– Remove the old pins and seals, making a note of which one goes where. One pin will have a rubber “anti vibration” seal at the bottom edge of the pin. (It turn’s out one on mine didn’t have that seal..)

– Use some brake cleaner and a rag to clean the old grease out of the channels. I sprayed a good amount into them and then wrapped a rag around a thin screwdriver so I could clean right down to the bottom. Clean around the edge of the channel too where the rubber gaiter sits. It needs to seal properly there to stop water getting in. My Dremel cleaned it up nicely and a small file.

– When it’s all clean and free from debris fit the new gaiters to the ends of the channels. Also fit the anti vibration rubber to the new pins.

– Apply some of the supplied grease to the pins and pop a bit more into the channels, then fit the new pins.

– You need to equalise the pressure under the new gaiter as installing the new pin will have trapped some air so carefully use a small screwdriver to lift up the gaiter and expel any air. Make sure it fits back in place.

– Fit the carrier back onto the hubs. (If you haven’t remove the pads from the carrier, like me, you don’t need to worry about refitting them). Torque the 14mm bolts to 47nm (Haynes Manual specified)

– Fit the caliper back on and torque the 12mm nuts up to 27nm (Haynes Manual specified)

– Refit the wheels and torque the nuts up to 103nm (Haynes Manual specified)

– Lower the car and drive away.

So far the crunching sound hasn’t come back for me so “touch wood” all is good now.

Disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an all singing, all dancing, fountain of perfect knowledge. My only aim is to try to help you complete this job. If something goes wrong or doesn’t quite happen like it’s supposed to, I take no responsibility. I am not a trained mechanic. I learnt by giving it a go. If you’re not happy with that, take your car to a garage. Make sure you use the right tools for the job and stay safe at all times!

Project Daily – Rear Discs & Pads

Afternoon all.  Another update for you.

I managed to get the rear discs and pads changed at the weekend, swapping the worn (I guess) OEM discs and pads for some new BluePrint gear.  The Corolla has a bit of a strange set up compared to the Civic’s I’ve owned.  On my Civic’s the rear brakes have either been drum brakes or disc brakes, the Corolla has both.  The normal brakes use the disc, and the hand brake uses the drums.  I thought it was going to be awkward, frustrating and a pain in the ass to change but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I did discover another job to do though; replacing the rear caliper guide pins.

Here’s how I did it:

Tools needed:

  • Penetration Spray
  • Wire Brush (One big and one small would be useful)
  • 12mm & 14mm sockets
  • 12mm & 14mm spanners (Just in case)
  • Ratchet
  • Torque Wrench
  • Copper Grease
  • Cloths
  • White spirit/thinners
  • Brake cleaner
  • G Clamp
  • Bit of plywood or something similar

How to:

  • First up, as always, jack the car up and secure it with axle stands. Chock the front wheels too!  Safety first.  Never work with the car held up by a jack.  Remove the rear wheels.
  • The bolts will be covered in years of dirt and rust so I always like to prepare them by spraying on some penetration spray and giving them a good clean with a wire brush.  You’re after the two 12mm bolts holding the caliper to the carrier and the two 14mm bolts holding the carrier to the hub.
  • When you’ve cleaned them off and let the penetration spray soak in for a few minutes, undo the two 12mm bolts that hold the caliper to the carrier pins.  Lift the caliper free and inspect the boot. If it’s torn, you’ll need to replace the seal at the very least, but it’s easier just to replace the caliper.
  • When putting on new discs and pads you need to push the piston back into the caliper to allow room for the new thickness.  I find it best to do this stage now so you can check if the piston is seized or not. If it does turn out to be seized, then there’s no point trying to fit the new discs and pads as the caliper won’t be able to fit over the top of them. So you’ll have to stick with the old stuff until you can get a new caliper.
  • Pop the bonnet and take the top off the brake master cylinder reservoir so the pressure doesn’t build up when pushing the piston back in.
  • It’s easiest to do this step with a G Clamp and a piece of plywood, metal or whatever you have to hand to spread the load over the top of the piston.  I only had a Quick Clamp to hand which made it a bit awkward.  You want to slowly apply pressure to the piston to push it back into the housing so that it sits flush.
  • Pop the caliper on the chassis leg out the way or cable tie it to the springs.  Don’t just let it dangle on the brake hose.
  • Undo the two 14mm bolts that hold the carrier to the hub.  Lift away, remove the old pads and inspect the “slider” pins.  They should be free to slide in and out of the channels and the boots should be intact.  Mine weren’t.  If yours are seized in too, try to get them moving and order some more as soon as possible.  You can still replace the discs and pads but the brakes won’t be working to their optimum efficiency.
  • When you’ve removed the old pads, clean up the pad fitting kits that are left on the carrier (or if you have new ones fit them).  I used a light wire brush and some brake cleaner to clean off as much brake dust as I could.
  • Grab your new pads, pop a little bit of copper grease onto each end where they’ll make contact with the fitting kits and clip them into position.  Be careful not to contaminate the pads surface with the copper grease.
  • Now to swap the discs. Release the hand brake inside the car so that the disc can come free.  You should just be able to wiggle the old disc off the hub but if you find it is stuck, there are two threaded holes in the disc that you can wind two M8 bolts into to pop the disc free.  With the disc off you can inspect the condition of your brake shoes.  If they’re near 1mm thick they need replacing!  I gave everything under the disc a quick spray with my brake cleaner to remove any loose dirt before re-assembling.
  • Before you fit the new discs, clean the hub.  I used a light wire brush to get rid of any dirt that had built up under the old disc, then wiped it down with some white spirits and applied a thin layer of copper grease.  This surface needs to be as clean and as flat as possible.  If there are any lumps and bumps under the new disc it will cause vibrations under braking.  The copper grease just ensures the new discs won’t seize to the hub over time.
  • Right, the new discs.  Remove them from their packaging and clean them off.  All new discs come coated in a thin layer of oil to prevent corrosion.  This needs to be cleaned off with some white spirits (or something similar) so that it doesn’t contaminate the pads or affect the braking.  I always spray some brake cleaner over the disc as well just to make sure it’s clean.
  • Slide the new discs onto the hubs and centralise them.
  • Grab the carrier with the new pads fitted and fit it all back into place over the new disc.  Refit the two 14mm bolts, which should be torqued to 47nm I believe. I always like to smear a bit of copper grease over the back of the pads too. It stops any chance of the caliper seizing to the pads in the future
  • Refit the caliper over the new pads and refit the two 12mm bolts, which should be torqued to 27nm.

And that, as they say, should be that.  Double check everything is tightened correctly and the disc is clean of any greasy fingerprints, then refit the wheels and lower the car.  Make sure you refit the cap on the master cylinder too!  Before you drive away to bed the pads in, pump the brake pedal a few times until you feel the caliper pistons make contact with the pads again.

Simple right?  If the boots of the caliper were torn, or it was seized, replace it!  Same with the carrier pins too.Brakes are important!

Disclaimer:  I don’t claim to be an all singing, all dancing, fountain of perfect knowledge. My only aim is to try to help you complete this job. If something goes wrong or doesn’t quite happen like it’s supposed to, I take no responsibility. I am not a trained mechanic. I learnt by giving it a go. If you’re not happy with that, take your car to a garage. Make sure you use the right tools for the job and stay safe at all times!