Just when you cannot catch a break…Your breaks go out.
Ok here’s a mental picture for you. You just got done having a great Thanksgiving get together with extended family and you’re getting ready to leave. While you are moving your vehicle in to the driveway to load up the family and your stuff you hear a pop when you applied the break. You don’t know exactly what it is or where it came from but you know you have heard similar things in prior travels and had no issues. You get out and do a quick check but notice nothing, probably because it is very dark and the vehicle was just started and has not really been used yet. But when you are on your way home you notice you are loosing pressure control in the breaking system of your vehicle.
What do you do?
Well this is our true story and here’s what happened to us. I continued driving on the freeways trying to figure out what was going on without alarming the wife and oldest daughter. Both are great discerners and would be very alarmed at an issue that I did not think warranted an over alarming response. On the way I down-shifted where I needed to and used what breaks I could to control our speed. Luckily we had freeway and roads with very few stop lights or signs, so this driving technique did not have to be heavily used. I knew we had to stop to fill up our fuel so when we got to the gas station I got out and I immediately noticed a stench of heated brakes and saw a small amount of smoke coming from the rear duallies on the driver side. Upon further investigation I found a leak in the break line which was what I thought was the whole problem. The smoke was coming from the heated fluid on the rotors and calipers.
So with this new information, what would you have done?
Judge me now as what I did was I know was not the safest possibility but having my family out in the cold night air while we waited for repairs was a less attractive option and I’m glad I did not take it as the repairs ended up being more then a simple break in the break line. Back to the story…
Remember we had already gone a good distance driving like this so I had confidence we could make it home by shifting as needed and driving as safe as possible. The only concern I had was the big hill with a 90° turn at the bottom of it that was on our route home. Well, I continued on our path, still without the family knowing. My main goal was to get them home as safely as I could. It wasn’t until the hill that my wife noticed something because we took the 90° turn a little faster then usual. She asked me to slow down and I simply answered “OK”, thinking to myself that “If she only knew that I couldn’t slow down at the time”. Three minutes later we were back home putting the sleeping toddlers into their beds and tucking the older kids into theirs and saying prayers.
I let my wife finish up putting the kids down as I walked the dog and had some very thankful prayers on how we got home and prayers as to how to get the repairs done as soon as possible because we were supposed to be taking our camper in for awning repairs (more later on that) the next day if not soon. A thought of limping the camper to the dealer using the trailer breaks did fly through my mind but luckily did not stick as it was not an idea I was to keen on. During my prayer time I was thinking of all of my options and how I would tell my wife of her unknowing adventure and my white knuckled driving.
All the options of doing the work myself or taking it in to Les Schwab on Black Friday where not helping me a whole lot. One, I have never worked on the brakes of a dually but knew it was similar to every other caliper and rotor system and two, I knew Les Schwab would cost much more then we could afford at that time. (Backstory about the Captian’s Dog and the vet bills) Then, as I was discussing what had happened to my wife, a light bulb went off that we knew a guy that did mobile mechanic services. I started messaging him and his wife and we were able to schedule the repairs for the next morning. So with that we went to bed being very thankful at the end of the Thanksgiving Day.
Who does this?
Who drops everything for people that they have met once and only really know each other from an online group of people living a similar lifestyle. The quick answer is, people that live the same lifestyle and completely understand where you are because it’s where they have been. Awesome people that are interested in building community through relationships and not neighborhoods.
The next morning I got up not caring about how it was Black Friday but rather caring more about caring for my family and prepping for the repairs. Our mobile mechanic arrived around 10 and brought his family to enjoy time with our family. We had the wheel assembly torn apart in less then half an hour after we got the duallys apart (stuck together). What we found was more disturbing then anything and a huge relief that we did make it home safely the night before.
Remember, I thought it was a leak in the line but what actually happened was much worse. It appears that the previous owner off-loaded his poor maintenance efforts onto us because instead of replacing a very worn rotor he put new pads right back over it. This wore the pads on that side so quickly that the opposite side’s pads were about half worn compared to completely gone. The pads on the bad rotor actually wore through completely and broke, shoving the metal plate up under the dust guard. With the pad and plate gone the caliper had nothing to push against the rotor except for itself. Thus the very disturbing part.
From there we got the hub and rotor off of the axel and took them in to get the new parts. It took a couple of trips as O’Reillys was our main option for parts and they started us off with the wrong caliper. All put back together and done I think it took us about 2.5 hours because of the trips to town. I was again very thankful for our friends that helped us out and finished the day out knowing more about them and how to repair brakes on a dual wheeled truck.
I also learned to continue to trust every path and turn to our Maker as He truely guided us the night before and led us to the people we needed during this season of our lives.
Thank you Matt & Ashley. You are great people and I consider myself blessed to call you our friends.