Posted by: Marge | February 14, 2008

The Shoemaker’s Wife…

…has no shoes.

By that token one could say I am the mechanic’s wife.

I have been asking nicely for months to get my dyingcompletely dead rear shocks replaced, I even bought the parts. I got tired of asking for an oil change and did that a while back. Today it was about the brakes. Three days ago my front brakes began making a noise worse than an ice berg tearing through the side of the Titanic. In my mind I envisioned the Grand Canyon being carved into my rotors with each red light. It was time for new brake pads. I mentioned it and he said he’d do it but I’m not much of a believer.

On the way home from the office I stopped in at my favorite parts shop. Mike is the king of customer service and has become my go-to guy for parts. In three shakes of a lamb’s tail he had my pads, a case of brake clean (a peace offering/future bribe for Homer) and fresh wiper blades rung up and delivered to my car before I was done signing the receipt. Without even asking he installed the wipers for me and I was on my way – all in less than 10 minutes.

Homer called to let me know he was going to be out late working on a project with his boss. Perfect, the garage would be all mine. At home I supervised the completion of chores then let Bart invite some friends over while I donned my best garage attire and set my mind to replacing my brake pads.

About four years ago when I got my first ZJ, Homer had tried to show me how to do brakes. I remember him making it look really easy. But that was a long time ago and I was a little fuzzy on the details. I had every hope that once the wheel was off it would start to come back to me.

I remembered that the caliper bolts needed to come off and that was simple enough but the caliper didn’t just pull off like I expected. When Homer called me again I ‘fessed up to what I was doing and he told me there was a funky brake tool I was going to need. He described it and told me where to look but I wasn’t finding it. I could tell he was not only wudgity but tired and grouchy too. He was on his way home so I decide to go get dinner started and when he came home he could give me a refresher course.

Bart and I had already decided on steak for dinner. It is against the basic laws of grilling for the woman to play with the BBQ but lately I have been brave and I’m getting better at this manly way of cooking. While the grill came up to temp, I peeled potatoes and trimmed the asparagus. The London broil, brushed with a salty/spicy marinade, came off the flame done to perfection with an exquisite flavor. I mashed the ‘taters with dill, maple yogurt, butter, milk, and seasoning salt. The meal was fabulous but Bart and I ate it alone since Homer still was not home by 7:30. At 8:00 I tried to call him but his phone was out of range. Finally at 8:30 he came dragging in the door, a sorry sight. He was carrying three long-stem roses and laid them on the table but offered no explanation. I reheated his dinner and sat him down to get carbs in him quickly. After eating he watched a little of the news then disappeared to the bedroom.

At 9:30 I figured I’d better go out and put the truck back together. On a whim, I did a quick Google and found an article about a rotor upgrade. The pictures were enough to help me see what I needed to do and I resolved to give this another shot. With the help of a trusty BFH I was able to dislodge the caliper and remove the old pads. I was surprised to find no evidence of the hideous gouging I had expected.
 caliper sans pads (piston still extended)

used up pad      new pads 

From the web article I learned that I could use a basic c-clamp in place of the brake tool Homer had recommended. Forcing the piston back to make room for both pads was not difficult. With the new pads in place I attempted to reposition the caliper but for the life of me I could not make all four arms on the ends of the pads slide into their proper places, not even with the help of my BFH. I took the wheel off the other side and examined the caliper and pads. It took me a while but I finally realized that the two pairs of pads are not identical. There is a right side pair and left side pair. I had mixed one piece from each – no wonder it was giving me grief.

With the right parts in the right places everything slid together smoothly.

When I tackled the other wheel I discovered that the caliper bolt heads had been completely masticated by the last attempt to remove them. I could have removed them forcibly but I didn’t have a new pair to replace them and it was quite late. I decided that I would complete the job this weekend. I put both wheels back on and pumped the brake a few times to ensure pressure. My brake fluid reservoir is a little low but working by myself I wouldn’t be able to bleed the lines (someone has to pump the pedal while I release the valves) so I left that for later too. I took the truck for a spin around the block, noting that it was still grinding furiously but that’s ok because at least now I know that I’m not scoring my rotors just yet and it’ll get me through the next two days.

Good lord, it’s 1:30am! Off to bed with me and my greasy hands.


  1. That? Was greek. But i am oddly and slightly embarrassingly aroused… :)

    I kid. Dude, i love you.

  2. Da-hamn, woman… you went out to the garage to finish a brake job at 9:30, after cooking dinner? Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

  3. […] the greasy hands. You should see the collection of Jeeps that she and Homer have. Oh wait, you can. This post right here is just about her boring old day, like any other day, replacing her fucking brakes on her car. […]

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