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Old 07-26-2011, 11:57 AM   #1
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2002 LY 26' - Airstream MH Brake Failure

I have a 2002 LY with 38000 miles and went camping a few weeks ago and had a brake failure. Here is what happened.
Pulled into campground and registered. Went to my site, shut engine off and looked over site etc. Restarted engine and was backing up into the site and when I applied brakes I had my brake pedel go almost to the floor and as result of only a small amount of brake pressure bumped a tree with my rear ladder. After getting over the shock of what happened I parked the MH with no more bumps but virtually no brakes. Leveled MH and shut down. It was getting dark so I figured I would look everything over in the morning.
Upon looking everything over I could not find and Brake fluid leaking out and checking reservoir it was full. Started Engine and all was fine. Brake pedel was up as normal. We stayed for two weeks and drove home with no problems. Called workhorse and they said I had a bubble of air in system and or there was air in the Power Steering system (Hydromax System). Intermittent problem that I can't seem to duplicate. My mechanic check over system and could not find any problems. I did have a front brake job last year ( new calipers and rotors as one caliper seized up). They did refill up brake fluid etc. But since that brake job I drove around 4000 miles.
Any ideas on what more I can do or check and maybe replace. I plan on going on another trip near the end of August and put 2000 miles on the road. But I am fearful of doing 55mph and hitting brakes and having brake pedel go to floor.
Hope someone has some answers.
Here is some data on MH:
Workhorse chasis, Engine Gas 8cyl., 8.1 L, V8 SPFI 340 HP engine
4 wheel disc brakes with hydromax system,
"P" 32 chassis, 15000 GVWR
Eddie
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:45 PM   #2
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I had a very similar experience, and air in the system was the problem. If you would have checked the brake reservoir right away, you would have found the brake fluid foamy. By morning the air would of had time to dissipate out, if it was a small bubble.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:59 AM   #3
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Eddie, what a story. That would be frightning!

If indeed foaming of the brake fluid was the problem, read up on using silicone brake fluid. I understand that it is resistant to water absorption and foaming, but cannot comment from personal experience.

Sam
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:15 AM   #4
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My 2000 with a different 4 wheel disk brake system did the same in Kentucky after 2000 mile of trip, shot wheels with ir thermometer and found drivers rear wheel was hot, also managed to park without brakes. Only Bled wheels, added fluid, drove thousand mile home without incident.
At home replaced rear disks and calipers, bled system. Drove 100 miles and front drivers side wheel disk was hot. Waited 3 hrs bled wheel added fluid drove home and replaced front calipers and disks. Bled whole system again. Drove 700 next trip no problems with brakes. Short retrospect solution, 12 yrs is too long on brake fluid absorbing water as it sits,Original calipers use bakelite cylinder pistons that swell, bleed and use New silicone brake fluid if before problems, after, replace them all. If you can afford steel pistons go for them.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveFL View Post
..........shot wheels with ir thermometer and found drivers rear wheel was hot,.........
Hi Dave, what does that mean "shot wheels"? What is the significance of them being "hot"?

Ours is a 2005 and the brake pedal does get kind of close to the floor, but it still grabs. When should I begin to worry, and when does anyone think I should preemptively do some brake work?
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Old 07-27-2011, 08:02 PM   #6
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Hi Dave, Sam and Gloran thanks for the responce , Guess this has happened before. I assume (Dave) that when you say the wheel was hot you mean the caliper was hanging up a little. I'll have to check up on the parts bill I had from last year for the replacement front calipers to see what they were ( Bakelite or steel). And also give my rear brakes a real looking over. I don't know what else to do.
Eddie
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:47 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Michigander View Post
Hi Dave, what does that mean "shot wheels"? What is the significance of them being "hot"?

Ours is a 2005 and the brake pedal does get kind of close to the floor, but it still grabs. When should I begin to worry, and when does anyone think I should preemptively do some brake work?
Best money you can spend, ir thermometer, laser dot allows you to pinpoint the hot spot on the wheels or axles, in my case when I shot at the left rear caliper and saw 300 degrees, knew it wasn't bearing but stuck caliper, brake fluid boils at 350 unless you get the silicone. Water boils at 212, steam doesn't give you brakes.
Infrared Thermometer

Before you need to stop. Bleed the brakes, if fluid is older than a couple of years drain system and bleed until clear fluid comes out each wheel. I also emptied the reservoir clean out the scum before starting bleeding process
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:59 AM   #8
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Silicone brake fluid (DOT 5) is great stuff, but it is not compatible with many brake systems. The problem involves the rubber seals used throughout the system: If it is the right type, silicone has no effect on it. If it is not, then you'll lose your brake fluid.

MGs were compatible with it, and I use it in the brakes. I used to use it in the clutch, too, but had to replace the clutch master with an aftermarket (OEM NLA), and the aftermarket was not compatible ... as I discovered when the fluid leaked out all over my shoes. (No big deal. Silicone fluid is also non-caustic, so I just used the leaked fluid to shine up my shoes.)


Lynn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Airstream12557 View Post
Eddie, what a story. That would be frightning!

If indeed foaming of the brake fluid was the problem, read up on using silicone brake fluid. I understand that it is resistant to water absorption and foaming, but cannot comment from personal experience.

Sam
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Old 07-28-2011, 05:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveFL View Post
Best money you can spend, ir thermometer, laser dot allows you to pinpoint the hot spot on the wheels or axles, in my case when I shot at the left rear caliper and saw 300 degrees, knew it wasn't bearing but stuck caliper, brake fluid boils at 350 unless you get the silicone. Water boils at 212, steam doesn't give you brakes.
Infrared Thermometer

Before you need to stop. Bleed the brakes, if fluid is older than a couple of years drain system and bleed until clear fluid comes out each wheel. I also emptied the reservoir clean out the scum before starting bleeding process
I'm curious. Is the MH parking brake hydraulic also? Or does it work off of a cable like some cars?
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:09 PM   #10
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Parking brake on the 2000 being on p30 chevy chassis has a spring loaded brake pad on the transmission, spring is hydraulicly kept off when pressure lowers brake is applied. Has it's own pump using oil.
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Old 07-28-2011, 07:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intruder View Post
........Restarted engine and was backing up into the site and when I applied brakes I had my brake pedel go almost to the floor and as result of only a small amount of brake pressure bumped a tree with my rear ladder.........
Do you think that if you had engaged the parking brake, that it would have stopped you? DaveFL says that the parking brake actually stops the transmission. I'm just trying to think ahead just in case this ever happens to me.
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveFL View Post
Best money you can spend, ir thermometer, laser dot allows you to pinpoint the hot spot on the wheels or axles, in my case when I shot at the left rear caliper and saw 300 degrees, knew it wasn't bearing but stuck caliper, brake fluid boils at 350 unless you get the silicone. Water boils at 212, steam doesn't give you brakes.
Infrared Thermometer

Before you need to stop. Bleed the brakes, if fluid is older than a couple of years drain system and bleed until clear fluid comes out each wheel. I also emptied the reservoir clean out the scum before starting bleeding process
I bought this system Transportation Safety Products

It shows the pressure and temperature for each tire. If you have a brake hanging up and getting hot it will heat up the wheel and tire and the Tire Stat will let you know right now. You can even tell the sunny side of the coach by the difference in temp of the tires. Sometimes a tap on the brake pedal will free things up. I find it interesting to watch the temp and pressure change with speed and road condition. Also you can add air without removing the sensor. It's an expensive system but I'm happy with it.

Cheers, Dan
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Old 07-29-2011, 07:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Do you think that if you had engaged the parking brake, that it would have stopped you? DaveFL says that the parking brake actually stops the transmission. I'm just trying to think ahead just in case this ever happens to me.
By the time you discovered lack of pedal with close quarters, no, but if you had your hand on the brake switch, yes. As far as stopping from highway speed, MAYBE as a last resort before tree or another vehicle stopped you. I would use the transmission down shift first to slow, it is applied all or none not with pressure as needed. My MH has 4 disk brakes, that are made to stop it, trying to stop with a single brake shoe on the drive shaft would be better than dragging a foot.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:20 AM   #14
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Sounds like a floating caliper may be hanging up and not releasing. The caliper SHOULD be free to slide in the mounting grooves, and in vehicles used daily this works fine - but in motorhomes used less often the caliper slide gets rusty and tends to hang. Lost my brakes once headed down into Ouray, CO once, and once is enough !

Another problem that I have seen on older motorhomes is the inside lining on the brake hoses swelling. The brakes then usually apply fine, because the master cyl creates enough pressure to force fluid thru the now tiny hose, but the fluid can't force its self back out when the brake is released.

Comment on drive shaft parking brakes. They are usually much more effective than the usual wheel mounted parking brake, even though they are smaller and a single unit. Their effectiveness is multiplied by the gear ratio in the differential, which is at least 4 to 1 in i motorhome.
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