UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

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JeffJuneau
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UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by JeffJuneau » Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:59 pm

Hi, I tried to move my aluminum trailer today with a dolly, and it wouldnt budge. I pushed up the little lever underneath that says that is necessary to release the brakes. I tried to pull it with my suv, and immediately noticed that the right side caliper pad is frozen on the rotor. I just worked fine 3-weeks ago, and I washed them off with fresh water after immersing the trailer past its rotors in salt H2O. I searched the forum for some tips, but haven't run into an easy fix yet. The left brake releases fine when I plug it into my trailer light outlet. Of course in the last 3-weeks we had 10 to 15 inches of rain. Plenty of time for corrosion to set in. The visible cylinders on the calipers (about 1/2 inch dia) look like they have about the same amount of extension on the right and left wheels. I tried to lightly tap some of the area around the caliper, but that didn't seem to release the pressure. Any advice would be appreciated.
Jeff, Juneau, AK

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Jimmyt
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by Jimmyt » Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:47 am

Got any pics of your rotors? It is not uncommon for steel rotors to seize to pads during periods of non-use in humid environments - especially after a salt water dip. Sometimes they can be freed by rocking back and forth. If it was mine, I'd pull the wheel, compress the piston, Remove the caliper, and break the pads loose from the rotor. That will be less likely to damage anything else. :|
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Russ
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by Russ » Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:57 am

Have you tried rinsing it with fresh water? As Jimmy said, then try rocking it back and forth.
--Russ

JeffJuneau
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by JeffJuneau » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:36 pm

Thank you and apologies for not providing adequate information about the trailer actuator or brake system for my 26M. This is a Buddy UFP disc brake (DB35), Buddy UFP Model A-60 Hydraulic Brake Actuator, and Buddy UFP Axle. I have the instruction manuals for all three. According to the PO, everything had been serviced before handing it over to me. Everything looks greased up. I drove the trailer around without the boat on it a few weeks ago, and it worked fine. Yes, we briefly hauled the boat out to inspect it over 3 weeks ago, and then I sprayed the whole axle,brake area down thoroughly, and for several minutes w fresh H2O. the brake was not seized at all at that time. It was a few hours after it's dip in salt H2O that I sprayed it down, so corrosion could have been doing its thing. The rotors are rusty, but not as bad as some of our cars get when they are sitting for awhile. Last night I had the wheel off, sprayed everything but the brake pad and surface of the rotor with liquid wrench, and tapped around the brake caliper body edges of the pads, and the ribbed edges of the rotor to break something, anything free. I didn't get too aggressive because I wasn't sure if this was a problem with the disc brakes or the actuator. As I said, the left brake is completely free, and this right side (passenger brake) clearly has the pad firmly clamped to the rotor. I am unable to budge it. While I didn't re-douse the whole area with fresh water before trying to brake it free, I originally moved it back and forth with my vehicle, hooked up, and that wheel never rotated at all, while the other one moved freely.

A couple of things, that I am not sure are important. The breakaway cable did not have the little breakaway cable chip installed. That does not seem to prevent the left wheel from turning. I found my spare clips. I haven't inserted a new one yet. The black knob on the top of the arm that contains the actuator assembly called: "brake lockout cap" is in the "tow" position, the brake actuator is all the way in its forward position. I tried to remove the brake lockout cap with hand-pressure, but I couldn't get it out. I didn't try prying it up, because I thought I should consult with some of you first.
I can provide some pictures but the whole assembly looks exactly like what is in the owners manual. Are there particular areas that I should photograph? Also, am not sure how to remove the pads if I can't break them free. I think I can pull off the Anti-rattle clip if that helps. Is there anything I should check first at the actuator before going back to the disc brake and try to pry/force the pads off the rotor? Again, I appreciate any help your help, because I am pulling my hair out over this thing. :) Jeff

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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by JeffJuneau » Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:09 pm

Good news, I got the rotors to spin again. Bad news, it's raining in Juneau again. I used brake cleaner and tapped around some more. Finally got some movement. Put the wheel on for some leverage, and I can spin the wheel again. It is rubbing at the rotor - pad interface, uniformly, and I think the piston may not be working that freely. I could remove the 7/16 hex head cap bolts on the caliper, remove the pads and do something (I don't know what) to get the pistons to move more freely. Everything else looks fine. The pads and rotor show no wear. I am holding till I get some more guidance from you folks. There are rubber covers on the back side of the pistons. I don't really know what that is for, or whether I can take it apart to service the caliper. Maybe there is some easy way to adjust the caliper so the pads are not resting on the rotor. That might keep this from happening. At this point, now that I can move the trailer again, I could just take it over to Les Schwab and have them service it. I am half thinking of disabling the brakes. It is only 2.5 miles from my house to the harbor. It is not like I can trailer this boat more than about 15 miles in Juneau. Open to advice for my next step. Many thanks for the invaluable help I have received from this forum! Jeff

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Jimmyt
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by Jimmyt » Thu Aug 20, 2020 7:26 pm



But if you are outside of your comfort zone, you might want to hit up a mechanic. There are numerous reasons calipers stick, and it can be difficult to diagnose.
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JeffJuneau
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by JeffJuneau » Fri Aug 21, 2020 2:45 am

Thanks jimmyt, The video on compressing the caliper pistons worked well for me. At least I have enough working room to move the wheel now. I should be able to get the pads out now if I can open the caliper. I couldn't open up the caliper yet with a closed end wrench, but I wasn't sure how much pressure I should apply to the hex head cap bolts. Does anyone know if it will damage the calipers if I use an impact wrench on the UFP caliper housing bolts to free them up? I also was able to bleed the brakes, but I think the pads still are too tight on the rotor to drive it very far like that. Other than trying to work on improving the range of the piston, make sure the seals are intact, and applying some lubricant to the caliper piston and cleaning up the contact points for the pads, I am not sure what else I should try to resurrect the calipers. My instructions that came with the Model DB35 disc brakes didn't have any details on how to service these brakes. Does anyone have a how-to that goes through the right steps for this caliper? I realize it might be similar to other calipers, but I couldn't find anything like that in my searches of the forum that still had working video or images. I appreciate all the help you folks have provided on this and my many other questions lately. Someday I will have my 26M boat and trailer working safely, and can actually start using it. :) Jeff

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Jimmyt
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by Jimmyt » Fri Aug 21, 2020 4:27 am

Calipers are not (shouldn't be) DIY serviceable. If your pistons are corroded to the point they are sticking, you need to replace the calipers. If the caliper mount is not allowing the caliper to float freely, you can mess with that, but it sounds like you suspect internal damage.

No oil should be applied to the pistons. You should only lube the floating points of the mount.

Are the piston dust seals still intact? It's a rubber bellows seal that keeps water and dust from entering the piston/bore. If that seal is cracked or missing your calipers are likely done.

The piston only relaxes slightly when you release pedal (or tongue) pressure. Some slight contact with the pads/rotors is normal, but the wheel should turn easily. If there is significant friction, the brakes will overheat and can cause the situation to worsen. Best course of action is new calipers, or troubleshoot the reason - which can be hydraulic... If you opened the bleed screw and that didn't release the rotor, then it's likely that the caliper is the issue. If you remove the pads, the caliper should slide freely in the mount. If it doesn't, then you can clean the mount/bolts to improve the movement of the caliper. But if the piston is sticking in the bore, replace the calipers.
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by JeffJuneau » Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:23 am

Thanks JimmyT, That's a good reality check. I have a temporary fix that seems to have worked until I find out if I need new calipers. The PO told me he had serviced the trailer, and an almost empty brake fluid reservoir that I found when I bled the brakes makes me doubt that. Refilling of the reservoir and bleeding the brakes has the brakes compressing from the trailer weight as well as freeing up so there is only light pad pressure on the rotors. I took the trailer around for a test run with a lot of braking and running at speed and the rotors didn't heat up at all. So, I haven't removed the calipers to inspect the items you listed yet, but if this doesn't give me solid braking and smooth running, I will. I now know what to inspect in the caliper (thanks to your advice), and see now when to go with a new caliper. Appreciate your and others information on this little adventure with the Mac trailer! Jeff

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Jimmyt
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by Jimmyt » Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:01 am

Sounds good Jeff. If you have an infrared thermometer, you can shoot the rotors after a run. Typical temp for working system might be around 200 deg F. Sticking system rotor temps get up around 400 + deg F. Also, check one rotor vs the other for short test drives. A sticking caliper will make the rotor significantly hotter than a functioning caliper.

Have been through this process many times on vehicles. Make sure you DON'T touch the wheel or rotor to check the temp. Contact with 300-400 deg F is unpleasant. :wink:
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by Tomfoolery » Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:30 am

Jimmyt wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:01 am
Have been through this process many times on vehicles. Make sure you DON'T touch the wheel or rotor to check the temp. Contact with 300-400 deg F is unpleasant. :wink:
Oh, NOW you tell me. Where were you 50 years ago when I got my first car with disc brakes, a Triumph 2000. Had a sticking front rotor that, when heated enough, would lock up. I reached around and put my finger on that rotor. :o

Not an experience I’ll ever forget, even after 50 years. Burning gasoline on my leg 55 years ago is another, but that’s a different story. :cry:
Tom
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by kmclemore » Sat Aug 22, 2020 7:56 am

Tomfoolery wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:30 am
.....I got my first car with disc brakes, a Triumph 2000.
Yikes - I had a TR2000 (MK I) as well - it was white, so I called it "The Nurse" because of how it looked. That car was wonderful - brutally durable, rode like a dream, had plenty of power and went through deep snow like it wasn't even there... it even had separate heater outlets for the rear passenger's feet. Sadly the TR2000's rusted badly and that was its downfall.

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Jimmyt
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by Jimmyt » Sat Aug 22, 2020 9:19 am

Tomfoolery wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:30 am
Jimmyt wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:01 am
Have been through this process many times on vehicles. Make sure you DON'T touch the wheel or rotor to check the temp. Contact with 300-400 deg F is unpleasant. :wink:
Oh, NOW you tell me. Where were you 50 years ago when I got my first car with disc brakes, a Triumph 2000. Had a sticking front rotor that, when heated enough, would lock up. I reached around and put my finger on that rotor. :o

Not an experience I’ll ever forget, even after 50 years. Burning gasoline on my leg 55 years ago is another, but that’s a different story. :cry:
Sorry man. But 50 years ago I was only 12. At that point, I would have touched it myself... :) I could have done a drum brake job for you, but we didn't have anything with discs till I was in college. My daily in high school and college was a 1952 Ford Mainline... But by high school I was repairing my friends cars and had some disc brake experience. Several years ago, I had a 19 ft motor home that suffered a caliper seizure as we were leaving on a family trip. Hottest one I've ever seen. Couldn't tell until I smelled it while going about 60mph. Glad I had the window down... :|

I'd love to hear the gasoline on the leg story. Pretty sure you have me beat with that one. :D The closest I can come, is when I was painting one of our cars when I was in high school, and my dad was cleaning the gun while I pulled tape. He was smoking over a bowl of laquer thinner on a warm day. I told him he better be careful, but, being a chemical expert, mechanical and civil engineer, he just smiled at me. A minute or two later, he dipped a rag in it and started wiping something off. Well, all of that surface area put off a lot of vapor and the breeze got just right... and there was this big fireball between his face and his hands. Then, watching him figure out what to do with the flaming rag in our pine straw driveway was the icing on the cake. :D Fortunately, he wasn't close enough to involve the bowl in the festivities. :wink: Loved my dad. Taught me everything I know. Should have listened to him more. He rarely goofed up but when he did, it was usually epic. :D

As my daddy always said, "boy, if you've never made a mistake, it's only because you haven't done anything worth doing".
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JeffJuneau
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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by JeffJuneau » Sun Aug 23, 2020 12:40 am

Thanks jimmyT, Yes I I have an IR thermometer somewhere in the house, and have used it to check brake rotors. Without one, the trick is to slowly move your fingers close to the rotor without touching it. If they are very hot you can feel a lot of heat radiating from them. I did notice a crack in the rubber caliper boot on the opposite side from the one I worked on. I suppose new calipers are in my near future unless I can still find a replacement for a UFP boot. The two 7/16" hex head bolts look pretty rusted, so I may not be able to remove them my self anyway. Also, my first car was a 1972 orange opel manta rally with black racing stripes. I think it had front discs, and was a patrol car magnet. I see I am not the only fossil with a Mac. :)

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Re: UGH! Frozen caliper pad on rotor: pass side

Post by kmclemore » Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:12 am

I just spit on them... if the spit boils instantly I know I’ve got a toasty rotor.

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