Recalcitrant bolt in center circle.
The last time I rode the Valkyrie was in September, just before the surgery. I hit the brake pedal and heard the warning screech of metal that told me I needed new brake pads on the rear wheel. I knew that I wouldn’t get it done before I went to the hospital, but thought it might be a good project for afterwards. I could put the bike on the lift under the carport and work on it as I felt like it. If this two-hour project took me a week, that would be al right. It would give me something to do, and a feeling of accomplishment during my convalescence. But as I’ve mentioned earlier, I just couldn’t build up a head of steam to mess with the bikes until last week. I rode Maggie to work all but one day and decided to take the wife for a ride this weekend on the Valkyrie. I ordered the brake pads a week ago and have them ready to go. The plan was to just pop them on real quick Saturday morning, and off we’d go. I’ve replaced the brakes on my car, so I had a good idea of what the job entailed. The bike should be no biggie.
I decided to get a head start when I got home from work Friday night. I pulled the bike under the carport and slid my little lift under it. I raised it just enough to stand the bike upright so I could more easily get the the port side where the brake caliper is. I took off the saddle bag and quickly located the front mounting bolt. But look as I may, I couldn’t find the rear mounting bolt. Looking behind the caliper I found a strange little rod that went from the mounting bracket to the backside of the caliper. Looking even closer, I could see a hex flange right where it goes into the bracket. I’m not at all certain what I’m supposed to do with it. Desperate enough to check the service manual, I see that the rear wheel suspension is detailed in chapter 14. Sure enough, chapter 14 of the manual shows it to be a combination mounting bolt and caliper slide. You have to reach around behind the caliper with an open end 12MM wrench to get it loose. It takes a little finessing, but I eventually get it loose. With the caliper off I remove the pad pin and the old pads fall out. I grab my trusty C-clamp and a block of wood to push the pistons back into the caliper, insert the new pads and replace the pad pin. I’m still congratulating myself on quickly and efficiently finishing the job on Friday night as I start to replace the caliper. With the replacement of two bolts, I’ll be finished and not have to start my Saturday with a maintenance project. The front bolt goes in fine, but as I rotate the caliper down to line up the rear bolt I discover that I can’t pull the caliper forward far enough for the threaded end of the bolt to go into the hole. The new and thicker pad won’t allow me to pull the caliper far enough away from the bracket for the bolt to go over the sleeve. I pulled the front bolt out and tried to get the rear bolt in first. No good. I used a long screw driver to try and pry things into place. I didn’t get the caliper in place, but I did manage to jab my finger. Nothing I tried, including verbose speculation of a genealogical and theological nature, helped. I could see it was a simple matter of physics. No two pieces of matter can occupy the same space at the same time. As long as that physical law held, there was no way that bolt would ever go into that hole with the brake pads in place.
I decided to stop before I damaged something on the bike. I left everything where it was and went inside to clean up. After supper, I pulled up the service manual again and started going through it page by page. Though it’s not listed in the index, chapter 15 shows how to replace the brake pads. And here’s the kicker. You don’t have to remove the caliper. You just pull out the pad pin and the old pads will fall out. Push the caliper toward the disk to retract the pistons, then slide in the new pads. Replace the pad pin and you’re done.
Sometimes I feel sorry for good mechanics. Their lives must be so much less exciting than mine.
－ Guy Wheatley