I Replaced My Brakes And You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next!

Thanks for falling for my clickbait title, you’re a peach. Let me tell you the story of my weekend and the struggle I endured while replacing the brakes on my Civic.

I started bright and early at 8:30 AM on Saturday. The sun was already blazing as I walked outside. Confident this would be quick work, I carried several boxes of parts outside and stacked them neatly on our patio table.

I jacked the car up and removed the wheels. I forgot that Honda screws their rotors to the hubs. Great, screws + Michigan winters should guarantee these won’t come out. I tried a regular screw driver but as I feared they weren’t budging. This called for an impact screwdriver but I don’t have one of those.

Off to Sears! Luckily I live about a half mile from one. The screwdriver was on sale, $10 off! Now I’m only $15 poorer but also I’m richer by one impact screwdriver so that’s something. I rushed home to dominate those screws.

I may have been a bit too cocky, only a couple screws came out, the rest still wouldn’t move. I mangled the threads on one so bad I have no choice but to drill it out. Oh joy.

About now I realize if these screws are all mangled and/or rusted, I probably need to replace them with new ones. What else can I do? I’m headed to the nearest Honda dealer!

OK, I’m back with 8 new screws. I also found a YouTube video that said placing a ball-peen hammer against the screw, then smacking that hammer with another hammer would loosen the rust. What do you know, it actually worked! Well, it mostly worked. I mangled another screw so badly it needs to be drilled out. I guess 2 out of 8 isn’t so bad.

Finally, hours after I started, I remove the driver side front caliper. I’m replacing the front brakes with the parts from a 2008 Acura TSX because they’re larger and will provide better braking performance. With the caliper removed, I realize there’s a part I didn’t think of, the caliper bracket. Do I need a different bracket for the TSX calipers? Yes I do. Did I order the calipers that come with brackets? Nope.

I’m ready to throw in the towel but I decide to check the local auto parts stores. I bought the calipers from Autozone so I check their website and sure enough, a few local Autozone stores have the brackets in stock. I head to the Lincoln Park store hoping they have 2 in stock.

They only have one. I buy it but I need another so they call the Taylor store and reserve it. I can handle this, it’s only a few miles away.

I get to the Taylor Autozone. No, not the one by Heritage Hospital, the other one. Yes I stopped at that one first, I didn’t know there were two stores in Taylor. Now I’m at the right one so I’ll just grab the bracket and be on my way.

The guy starts ringing me up when he asks if I need caliper pins.

I don’t know, do I?

I didn’t even think of those. I bet the Civic pins won’t work, I probably need TSX pins. Of course Autozone doesn’t have them in stock at any of the local stores. I guess I’ll try to make the Civic pins work.

There’s an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store on the way home so I stop to see if they have the pins. They don’t have them but the store on Van Born Road does. I’ve come this far, why not go a little further?

I find the Van Born O’Reilly’s and buy the pins, I’m all set, nothing can stop me now! The wife wants ice cream, I make that happen like a boss.

Guess what? The remanufactured TSX calipers came with pins, I didn’t need these after all. That’s 45 minutes I’ll never get back. Oh well, at least I can return them.

I now have everything I could possibly need, let’s get these brakes done! It’s almost 2pm now, I’ve been on the road longer today than I’ve been under the car.

I knew the front dust shields would need trimming to fit the TSX brakes but I never stopped to question whether I had snips.

I don’t own snips. I head to Sears for the second time.

Snips in hand, I cut the shields and install the front rotors, calipers, and pads. They go on as easily as I expected. The rears are just as painless.

I stop to think about how easily this would have been if only I had all the right parts and tools in the first place. It’s about 3:30 PM, I expected the job to take about 2 hours. I was way off.

Time to bleed the brakes, I enlist the wife’s help. The finish line is in sight.

Done!

The wheels are on, the car is on the ground. I start it up, back down the driveway and… the brake pedal is super spongy. I have to go to my nephew’s birthday party, I’m already an hour late so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Fast-forward to Sunday; of course it’s raining.

The rain lets up around 1pm and by 2 it’s dry enough to get back to work. Once again the wife has control of the brake pedal and this time I find a bunch of air in the passenger side front line. No air anywhere else, we’ve run plenty of fluid (ATE Type 200 Amber) through the lines, I think we’re good.

I drop the jack-stands and set the car on the ground, hopefully for the last time. Next is the step most people don’t know about, burnishing the pads. I head across Southfield Road to the old Farmer Jack’s and use the parking lot to make a bunch of stops from 35-45 mph. This heats the pads up and bakes the oils out of them. It’s a pretty important step.

I’m not satisfied with the pedal, it feels too low but I can lock the brakes up hard enough to trigger the ABS so I’m guessing it’s ok. I’ll circle back and bleed them again next week after a few days of normal driving. Finally, a job I expected to take a few hours is complete.

If you’re not a human who loves cars, I bet you’re shaking your head right now. How could someone screw up this much? How did I forget so many things? Am I new to this?

I assure you I’m not. I might be scatter brained or a little forgetful but I think this is a normal occurrence. Go find your favorite car nut and show them this story. I bet dollars to donuts (I don’t know what that phrase means) that they’ll relate and even have a story of their own that rivals mine.

The moral is, no matter how prepared you think you are, you aren’t. Ever. The car always wins.

Tactile Turn Mover & Shaker First Impressions

I don’t remember what made me jump on the Kickstarter campaign for the Tactile Turn Mover & Shaker but I ended up ordering one of each. It wasn’t the strange backer video that drew me in so it must have been the pen design. I originally backed the Mover but I added the Shaker at the last minute to make sure I could handle any gel refill my heart desired.

The pens arrived today in these crazy tubes that I absolutely love. I have no idea where he found these but I need a stash of them to store my pens that aren’t safely nestled in their Nock Co cases. I’m serious when I say the packaging almost made me forget how excited I was to get the pens.

Tactile Turn

They both come with a predetermined refill, the Mover with a Pilot G2 .38mm refill while the Shaker includes a Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 ballpoint refill. Neither of these meet my standards but that has nothing to do with my impression of the pens. After all, I purchased these to put my favorite refills in so the fact they shipped with anything is a bonus.

I’m not a ballpoint fan so the Schmidt was replaced with the only option I had handy: a Parker Gel refill which — after playing with it a bit — is almost as bad as the ballpoint. Luckily the list of refills that fits the Shaker is quite long so I shouldn’t have a problem finding something I like.

Dark Blue Shaker

The Mover presents a small problem in that it doesn’t fit my favorite refill — the Uni-Ball 207 — without a little work. The website says “must fill in back space” which sounds easy enough but I haven’t tried it yet. Instead I rummaged around my stash of pens and found a .7mm Blue-Black Pilot Juice to steal the refill from. I hadn’t tried the Juice but I’d heard good things and the rumors were true, this is a fantastic refill.

Let me take a moment to comment on the .38mm G2 refill that came with the Mover. I can’t believe people use these things! I’d compare the experience to dragging a needle across paper and praying ink falls out of it, this isn’t a writing experience as much as writing torture. I don’t understand how anyone can use < .7mm on a daily basis unless they write in ultra tiny letters that no one can read.

OK enough of the commentary, back to the review.

Dark Blue Shaker

My biggest gripe is one that you’ll only run into when changing the refill: there’s something weird about the threading. I’m not an engineer or designer but it feels like the 2 halves could have been better matched in size to make a more exact fit. Maybe the threads are too fine? I don’t know. Often it feels like the halves are about to cross-thread and I have to back them off and start over.

That’s all I really have to complain about, let’s get on to the good stuff.

The click mechanism is silent as advertised and the clip is nice and sturdy. You can actually unscrew the clicky bit and thereby marvel in its simplicity. When the mechanism is off, it also frees the clip from the pen which I suppose could allow you to replace it if bent or broken. I’m not certain that Tactile Turn is expecting to sell these bits but it seems like a very serviceable pen.

Mover & Shaker

I ordered my Mover in raw aluminum color and my Shaker in dark blue and they’re quite striking in this combination. The dark blue Shaker has a nice contrast with the aluminum clip and click mechanism which makes me wish I had ordered a colored Mover as well. If I had a chance to do it again, I’d order a green version instead of the raw.

Now to the part I was most worried about: the patterned grip. Machined pens tend to have a slight roughness which send shivers down my spine if I slide my fingers across them wrong. Imagine fingernails on a chalkboard, that’s the feeling. I assume it’s the micro grooves from machining that cause this and while I’ve learned to tolerate it, I was afraid the patterned grip would be a problem.

Raw Mover

As it turns out, the grooves are deeper than I imagined and are a wonderfully functional addition. I have another machined pen with a smooth section and I’d love to have this pattern machined into it. It’s just so darn grippy!

While I’ve owned these pens less than 12 hours, I’m quite happy with them. The number of refills available should provide me a decade or two of use which crazy considering what I paid for them. Sure plastic pens are cheaper but I’d rather have something more substantial in my hand and these fit that bill.

Tactile Turn is now listing the Mover and Shaker in their shop for $65. I highly recommend them.

Playing With Blocks



I may have a problem and it’s in the form of Mega Bloks World of Warcraft sets.

The picture above is from last week when my wife went out of town and I decided to keep myself occupied. I now have 13 of the World of Warcraft sets and I have no idea how many I’m missing.

I believe they’re discontinuing this line which makes me sad and simultaneously spurs me to buy them all before they’re all gone.

Spring Upgrades For The Mini 8ight

Spring is here (or so the calendar says) and it’s time for me to slip back into my RC hobby. What? You thought that was over? I guess it’s not.

Last year I had problems with the Losi Mini 8ight losing contact with the radio and smashing into things. I called Losi but the best they could offer was to have me ship the car and radio back to them. With today’s shipping prices? No thanks.

I decided to buy a new Spektrum radio with multi-model support in case I end up with a 2nd car but the DX3C has iffy reviews and the new DX4 with AVC isn’t out yet. I’m impatient so I went the cheap route: I ordered a Turnigy GTX3. For $40 I wasn’t expecting much but it couldn’t be worse than the radio included in the RTR kit. I’d have to swap out the receiver since the Turnigy isn’t DSM but luckily it includes one in the box.

The radio arrived on Wednesday and I was pleasantly surprised with the build quality. It’s not going to win any awards but it’s no more flimsy than the Losi radio and it has a lot more features like a backlit screen. Even my Spektrum DX6i which cost 3 times as much doesn’t have that and neither would the DX3C if I had bought it.

Here’s the radio fresh out of the box. I’ll write up my thoughts once I have more time with it.

Turnigy GTX3

As I mentioned, it included a receiver which was easy enough to swap in place of the SR300. It’s quite a bit smaller.

Turnigy GTX3 Receiver

Here it is installed in the chassis.

GTX3 Installed

I’ve only had time to run up and down my driveway a few times but it seems to work well. I won’t know if this solved my problem until I put in some serious wheel time, unfortunately the weather isn’t making that easy right now.

During my many crashes of 2013, I managed to bend the front and rear shock towers. I found these beautiful machined aluminum towers on The Toyz website and ordered both. I also swapped the shock tops out for Ofna bits. I’m not sure if the shock towers or the shock tops are the issue, but the rear shocks rub against the tower too much to work. For now, I’ve pulled the rear tower and put the stock one back in after straightening it a bit in a vice. I also installed plastic shock guards on the front and rear.

Front Shock Tower

This should be enough to get 2014 started, we’ll see how long it lasts before I’m rebuilding the whole thing again.