After an hour or two sorting out taxes–the ONLY way to start a weekend–I set about adjusting Toto’s brakes. They are supposed to have been adjusted after 300 miles, and I think we went a wee bit past that number, but not by too much. It’s a glorious day outside: sunny, a light breeze, no rain in sight. Our mild winter continues; our property values must surely surpass those in California if we keep having this and they keep having drought. Not that I would want that… they’d all move up here. Like we did.
I forgot to say that I also mowed the lawn (another thing we’re not supposed to have to do this time of year). But that’s the way it is when the lawn thinks it’s Spring. This doesn’t have much to do with Toto, I know, but I’m just saying I had already worked up a good sweat before I started in on this little task.
I had acquired jack stands–Sooz insists on a triple-fault-tolerant setup for this kind of chore, as I am the economic engine that drives Team Toto–and I had also acquired something called various names like Brake Spoon and Brake Adjusting Tool and Universal Brake Adjuster. Additionally, I had investigated the issue of “missing” plugs to protect Toto’s drum brakes. The folks at Escape Trailer Industries has explained that the axle/wheel/brake manufacturer, one Dexter Axle, no longer supplies them when they sell axle assemblies, declaring them to be “no longer necessary.”
It could be that, to Dexter, “necessary” means “good for our bottom line,” or it could be they really mean it and know it to be true. However my wise brother, who is three years older than me and therefore ought to know these things, says that plugs keep excess water and other stuff out the brake drum area. So I bought some from eTrailer and they’re out there protecting Toto’s precious brakes right now. But, uh, not in this picture.
To adjust the brakes you gotta get the wheel off the ground, so it can spin around and you can see how it’s spinning and wonder when you have it spinning properly. You won’t know for sure that you have things adjusted right, or wrong, until you’ve serviced many wheels, maybe for ten or fifteen years, or until you’ve tried to stop your rig on some mountain pass and instead gone for a swim in the river winding its way through that deep canyon you were trying drive along. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Getting the wheels off the ground involves using a jack, or, if you have tandem axles like Toto does, one of these things. It’s called Trailer Aid Plus, and it works fine. I got it from Amazon. Have I mentioned Amazon? They’re essentially part of Team Toto.
Once I got a wheel into the air, and all the proper lifesaving devices aligned, I would creep underneath with a flashlight and my aforementioned Spoon. Pop the plugs off. Wiggle the spoon inside the hole until the wheel won’t spin any more. Wiggle it the other direction for ten “clicks” (I was unable to discern any clicks, but that may be because I was swearing too loudly). Test the wheel to see how it spins. Supposed to be slight drag. Sounds odd! As if part of the brake drum were rusted, or as if things weren’t perfectly round. Wonder what “just right” sounds like? Not described in the manual, not described anywhere on the entire interwebs. Only known to experienced brake technicians, none of whom were nearby.
So I guessed.
And then I did it again, on the first wheel.
And then I did the other wheels. And then wondered Are We Gonna Live?
So we did the closest thing we could to trusting a deity to take care of us. We drove Toto to a nearby church parking lot and tested the brakes, and re-calibrated the brake controller gadget on board TinMan.
And it all seems to work. I guess we’ll find out. Hope there’s more to read here after our next outing.Sharing is caring!
Following is daring.