Saturday morning it was cool outside, a forecast that looks to be the case for most of the upcoming week. In the morning we went out to run errands. Most of what we needed was picked up at Rural King including bird seed, top soil, and a few more odds and ends. After eating lunch I felt adequately ambitious enough to finally take on the brake shoe replacement on the rear drum brakes on the Tacoma.
I have had the new shoes at home for a couple weeks but I was in no rush to tackle the job. I worked on the drum brakes of my Mom’s Rav 4 years ago and it didn’t go well. I didn’t pay enough attention when taking them apart and as a result had a hell of a time getting everything back together correctly. The rear brakes on the Tacoma had not been touched for years and years. I bet 100k miles have ticked by since they last received attention.
Recently the brake warning light on the dash has been coming on periodically and the pedal seemed to not be grabbing until it traveled a short distance, both indicators to me that the brake shoes on the back were probably ready to get replaced. Of course I intended to video the entire job as my automotive maintenance videos are among my most popular on YouTube. People seem to like my honestly amateur approach to the work where I am not afraid to show mistakes I make along the way so others can learn from them.
I took provisions this time to make sure I had adequate visual references. I pulled the drums from both rear wheels so I could always refer to the other side if need be, even though it is reversed. I also took close up pictures of each drum brake assembly to further assist me. While this is helpful, there are parts of drum brakes that are not clearly visible when everything is put together. Those aspects just needed to be mentally observed and noted. As I started tearing down the driver side wheel I laid out the parts I removed on the ground roughly in their position in the brakes to further assist me in the reassembly process.
The most difficult part of getting the brake shoes off is the main long tension spring. I used a combination of a flat head screw driver and my locking needle nose vise grip pliers to brute force the spring out of it’s mounting point. Once it was removed the rest of the parts come off pretty easily. The first thing I noticed on the old pads was they had more brake material on them than I expected. After all they had been on the truck forever. When I looked at them more closely later it appeared the pads were glazed over pretty badly which results in poor stopping power.
So once I got old shoes off I pulled out the new brake shoes I ordered online from AutoZone. I immediately spotted a big problem, literally. The brake shoes I just removed were much larger than the new ones I pulled out of the box. Apparently I was sent shoes that are for non Pre-Runner Tacomas which are approximately 8 inches in length. Pre Runners use shoes that are a little over 11 inches long. My reaction when I see this was caught on tape and is pretty funny.
So I had no choice but to drive to the nearest AutoZone and swap out the pads. I was worried they would not have them in stock. Fortunately luck was on my side. Not only did they have the pads, they were a couple bucks cheaper for some reason, despite their larger dimensions. I headed back home with the proper part, eager to complete the project.
The 90 or so minutes it took to get the new shoes resulted in a few hiccups when I was putting stuff back together as I forgot how a spring on the back of the one shoe was positioned. After some trial and error I got it figured out. Getting the brakes back together was a bit of a grind, the biggest issues of course being reattaching the high tension springs which again I mostly used the vise grips to perform. Tearing down and replacing the shoes on the passenger side went much faster after cutting my teeth on the driver side.
Drum brakes have a self adjusting mechanism. Basically when you go in reverse with the brakes applied it is supposed to keep the brakes adjusted. Normally you are supposed to manually adjust the shoes when you replace them so the clearance is tight and allow the self adjuster to take over from there. In my case I only manually adjusted the brakes a little bit, hoping the self adjuster would take out any remaining slop.
I spent a couple minutes in the driveway pulling forward and backward to hopefully let the self adjuster do it’s thing. However when I took the truck on the road in a steady rain I still felt too much pedal travel so I pulled it back into the garage. I jacked up the rear end of the truck once again and slid underneath the wet and dripping undercarriage. On the back of the brake assembly is a small adjustment hole covered by a rubber plug. It gives access to the brake adjuster, you basically spin it with a small screw driver.
By this time it was dark outside so I was awkwardly trying to hold a shop light while I spun the adjuster. Basically I spun the wheel, adjusted the gear and then spun it again. I repeated this till I got just a little bit of resistance on the wheel. On the next road test the brakes felt tons better, the best they have felt in years. Sure in total I spent something like 5 hours (including drive for parts) getting the job done but it is another chapter in my growing book of successful automotive tasks. If you have a half hour to kill you can watch the whole ordeal below.
On Sunday morning Cindy and I wanted to get out to do a run to help negate in at least to a small degree the caloric hit we were sure to take from the Super Bowl party. I came up with the idea of running the loop down around King’s Lake, an area I ran years ago when Ali and I started running down here. I knew the loop was somewhere close to 3 miles. The temps were quite chilly in the 50’s with wind which I actually prefer to running in 85 degrees with 85% humidity. The run was scenic and done at relatively slow pace but I didn’t really care. It worked out to be a 1/4 mile short of 3 miles which was good enough for me.
We got home just shortly after Katie and her boyfriend picked up the second of my old furniture pieces. It was the bigger sofa piece which had been sitting in the garage for the last few days. I have been liking our new set from Rooms to Go but only time will tell how directly the correlation between it’s relatively low price and durability will work out.
Once we got home we got busy plowing into party prep. While Cindy was inside I was outside trying to get the back yard in order. The chickens have been on another hole digging kick recently, excavating a number of holes in the small hill by the pool border on the door side of the cage. I bought top soil and a roll of green plastic chicken fencing to stop the behavior. After back filling the holes I cut the fencing to length and laid it on top of the area, pinned down by heavy patio stones on either side. It surely is not what I would prefer the hill would look like but it’s better than being filled with chicken created potholes. I really wish we could come up with a way to permanently keep the chickens out of the pool border, they just make a mess of it. When I see them digging around there I often will go set the sprinklers to fire off in the border to scare them off. Of course it works for a time being but in order for it to be effective we need to be more consistent so their little chicken brains associate digging in that area with getting wet.
Besides taking a brief time out for lunch Cindy and I were busy pretty much right up to the arrival of the first party guest between 5 and 5:30. There are just so many moving parts to hosting a party for almost 20 people. Almost everybody showed up that we expected and they did so before kick off. In the past we had some people screw around in the back yard before the game but the cold and blustery conditions curtailed that this year besides taking a few people out back to say hi to the chickens, since they are a new addition since last year.
At the party’s peak the great room/kitchen area was packed. In addition to the two sofas we had our portable ottomans, dining room chairs, two bean bags and a couple large floor pillows in use to provide adequate seating arrangements. There were so many people it was difficult to hear much of what was going out of the surround system, despite me having the volume cranked pretty high. Between the noise and Cindy and I attending to party needs we got to focus very little on the game during the first half.
One of my main concerns was managing the betting board, making sure bets like first penalty, first td, first coaches challenge, etc… were all documented properly so the winners of each bet could be identified. After half time there was a mass exodus of people as most individuals were not as fortunate as I was to have taken off Monday from work to recover. For most the second half of the game we only had maybe a half dozen people hanging with us so I got to pay more attention to the game itself.
Of course one of my core activities during the game was drinking. I bet in total I knocked down somewhere between 7 to 9 Miller Lites. Of course the generous consumption of alcohol lead to me consuming obscene amounts of food. I sampled pretty much everything in the huge spread at least once with multiple trips to several items throughout the night. It was pure gluttony.
I was happy with the outcome of the game as I was really pulling for Peyton Manning to get a Super Bowl win to close out his spectacular career. Peyton was really a minor player in the victory, it was the Denver defense that really controlled the game, battering Cam Newton from start to finish. It reminded me of the way the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl teams felt.
Cam got chastised after the game for not diving on a loose ball after it got knocked out of his hand. To me I think the criticism is a bit overblown. If you watch the play it seems to me Cam stopped himself from diving because he saw his offensive lineman already mid-dive in front of him. Diving on top of your own player in a loose ball scenario rarely helps matters but evidently for appearance sake, the media thinks otherwise.
I was surprised to hear the negative backlash about the Super Bowl halftime show. It was basically crucified but perhaps it was in a way similar to the Cam Newton thing. Once a negative opinion gets legs people love to pile on. I am personally a Cold Play fan and even though I didn’t think there was anything spectacular about the halftime show I thought it was entertaining and well produced. Apparently I am in the minority.
After the last people left Cindy and I dug into clean up duties, trying to get as much as we could done before retiring to bed. As you can imagine there is all sorts of collateral damage when you have that many people jammed into a living space. By the time we collapsed in bed closing in on midnight we were both exhausted.
On Monday we both hoped to have a good portion of chill time available. Somehow it didn’t work out that way. I rolled out of bed feeling hungover but not horribly so. I slowly worked on breaking down the table we had in the great room to house drinks. I then worked on emptying the coolers which included giving away large amounts of beer to two of our neighbors. The Miller Lites I have left in the fridge would probably satisfy my drinking needs for the next 6 months or more.
We headed out to get some coffee and hit the bank. Once we got back I had it in my head I wanted to set up my recently refurbished inflatable arch. You may recall I sent it down to a place in Texas for them to replace some sections and rebrand it for Green Machine Timing. Even though I saw a picture of it inflated down in Texas I had not blown it up myself since getting it back. I am going to be renting the arch in a couple weeks for a race so I figured it would be a good idea to blow it up as practice and to see the refurbish work.
Cindy helped me get the arch up. We both liked the new look of the arch with the new black/green color scheme with the GMT badging across the top and both legs. I decided I wanted to pull out all of my race gear and take a few pictures that I can use on my web site to help promote both my timing services and equipment rental. Right now I only have the stuff needed to time a small event. My further acquisition of stuff will depend on how things progress. I am certainly in no rush to rapidly expand my workload as for the near future I would like to enjoy not having anything race timing related to worry about or focus on.
Somehow despite our noble intentions to chill out a good portion of the day we instead kept busy for the majority of it. I needed to tend to the automatic chicken door once again. It was in the down position Monday morning instead of opening up at 6AM as it is supposed to. I found out the fishing line we used to fix the door last time had snapped. I went to the local hardware store and bought some more robust braided string to use this time around. I think it will hold up much better.
I also gathered up all of my tax paperwork to submit to my accountant during the afternoon. I am expecting a less exciting than normal tax refund this year because of more race timing revenue, $1000 in Google Ad dollars combined with my cashing out the dependent IRA I received as part of my mom’s estate to pay for the flooring upgrade. I am hoping some of the additional race timing expenses I had during the year will help even things out at least a little bit. I guess as long as I don’t have to pay in any taxes it is a win although for the last 15 years I have counted on my tax refund as an indirect savings plan that is normally used for some home improvement task/item. Hopefully that streak does not end this year.
I had a horrible night of sleep last night, waking up first at 1AM and then rolling around restlessly for at least a couple hours. It’s frustrating and a negative on my overall well being obviously. Despite the poor sleep, all in all it was a productive/fun 3 day weekend. The best news is I get another one in four short days. 😉