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Book 3

My third book is released! Learn what you'll need to know in order to become an embedded engineer.


Book 2

Check out my second book; learn practical stuff about building robots and control systems around Linux PCs and the Atmel AVR.


Book 1

My first book gives you all the intro you need on developing 32-bit embedded systems on a hobbyist budget.

Day 17 - Brakes and Such

02/28/08 - I always pick the coldest days to start long-overdue work on the Scout. Grrrrr. As you can see from the tach of my slightly more modern Jeep daily driver, it was a balmy 19° Fahrenheit this morning when I HAD to go out and work on the truck.

To put things in perspective, it's 9 months since I last posted an update on this site, but not a whole lot has been happening - except that the truck has deteriorated some. The state safety inspection sticker expires tomorrow (yay leap years!), so I needed to get the vehicle spruced and ready to move to the inspection.

First attempt... no start. The battery was almost totally dead, so I charged it for a while - it had enough oomph to turn the motor over, but still no start, and it was pretty weak (not to mention bulged, which is something I hadn't noticed before). So I went to AutoZone and bought a nice new battery, plus new tie-down. Plenty of juice, but I knew this wasn't the root cause of my no-start problem; it's just something I did while I was thinking about how to troubleshoot.

Fast forward to today; it's zero hour. I took the day off work just to operate on the Scout. My goal was to get it running by the end of the day so I could drop it off at the service station and beat the inspection window.

The truck had been sitting for a while; look close at the driver-side picture and you'll see the little spikes are still on the TREADS of those new tires - not even ten miles on them. Hence my first thought was varnish in the carb. Opening the bowl, I did indeed find varnish, but the needle valve was clean. The bowl was also bone-dry despite my attempts to start the engine.

Turns out the gas filter was either clogged or iced up. Also, the filter end of the hose that runs from the gas pump to the carb was leaking again - probably due to high back pressure in the blocked filter. I really need to replace that piece of hose (should have done it when I replaced the smaller piece that runs to the carb), but it was just TOO darn cold today, and I don't have a heated work area. At winter temperatures, those neoprene hoses get way too stiff to slide easily over the barbed fittings; also, I need to get under the truck to pull off the gas pump end, and I'm not in the mood for lying on my back on the concrete in winter. So, as a temporary fix, I just cut about 1/2" of the rotted end off, and installed a new gas filter.

Fingers crossed... choke out a little... turn the key and... BINGO! Purring like a cat! 35lbs of air in each tire, and I was ready to go. Lucky I had a spare 12V gel-cell lying around from an old robotics project to run that compressor - the cigarette lighter in the Scout doesn't seem to be connected (or maybe the +ve contact is just corroded). So the good news is, I got the truck running in less than two hours' fiddling. Five minutes later, the Scout was sitting in the local service station waiting to be inspected.

The bad news is, ten minutes after I dropped it off, I got "the call"... bad brakes and lots of bad news there. The funny part about this is, about a year ago I asked this same station for a quote on replacing all the brake lines, and the guy told me "Ah, it doesn't look so bad; let's just wait until something breaks". I guess we got to that point at last!

I went over and looked at the truck on the lift - they weren't lying. The hoses have leaks in them where they run through the metal clamps that hold them into the chassis. One of the rear brake drums has a hole rusted in it; all of the drums are badly corroded. All the shoes need replacement. The hardlines are rusted beyond belief and leaking in a couple of places. That wheel where the original seller said "that brake comes on first for some reason" turns out to have a broken shoe. None of this is a real surprise, of course - replacing all this has been on my to-do list almost since Day 1, but I WAS kinda hoping not to have a jackpot deadline situation to deal with.

Worse news. I have spare front drums already, but they're the wrong size; they're 9". Turns out my front drums are 10x2" and the rear drums are... wait for it... 11x2 1/4"! I can't find them anywhere except Super Scout Specialists who want $180 for them; OUCH.

To cut a long story short, I ordered new brake hoses from Anything Scout. At the same time I posted a question to their helpline - and within a few minutes they had emailed a reply, fixed up my order for the brake hoses (I'd ordered slightly wrong stuff), and while I was replying to their email they called me to discuss my needs. Great service, guys! I got four used, but turnable drums, plus a set of new brake hoses, for a bit over $400. The service station is sending all 8 shoes out for re-facing. So I guess the whole job is going to cost around $750.


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