Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…
A gearhead, upon learning he’s about to have a full day off plans on taking a serious bite out of his #todo list. In the days leading up to this day off, he carefully considers his options, preparing both physically and mentally.
He could knock the 11 smaller items off his dozen-item strong #todo list, but those are relatively easily slotted into the routine anywhere. He decides it makes more sense to attack the biggest, most time-consuming item.
Parts are ordered and arrive just in time. Last minute supplies are picked up locally the day before. The mini fridge in the garage is stocked with water and beer. An additional fan is staged, ready for action.
This was my 4th of July—a brake job for Fezzik.
I won’t get any insurance money out of Allstate until I provide a copy of a salvage title. But I’m not getting the salvage title until I’ve passed the ADOT Level III inspection that says the vehicle is perfectly safe and legal for the road.
Ironically, aside from replacing the driver’s seat and the tailpipe, Fezzik had no mechanical damage that would cause me to fail said inspection. No, instead, it’s a bunch of old, wear-related issues—the kind I’d planned on using the insurance money to fix, actually.
- Replace the horn button
- Replace a frayed seatbelt
- Replace a cracked windshield
- Replace the brake rotors & pads
I’ve got the horn button. I’ve got the replacement seatbelts. I’ve got the windshield replaced.
I decided to do the brake job since it would take the most time.
How much time? Well, I figured about 90 minutes per corner, taking my time, so six hours total. Having dropped V&P off at Sky Harbor at 0545 for their flight, I was home, garage door up, and removing the driver’s front wheel by 7AM.
It had been awhile since I’d disassembled the front hubs on a Montero, so it was relatively slow going on that first corner. On the plus side, replacing the guide and lock bolts on the front calipers last year made this one of those “You’ve never done this job on this vehicle before, but that’s okay. You know what you’re doing, here” jobs—disassemble, clean, reassemble.
Figure 15 minutes to get the wheel and caliper off, about an hour to R&R the hub and new rotor, and then another 15 minutes or so to reinstall the caliper, new pads, and wheel. I mean, hey. It made sense. I’d have new rotors and pads at all four corners—and be drinking in a swimming pool shortly after noon.
The Best Laid Plans of Mice
The first corner took two hours.
The second should have been quicker, but fate had other plans—in the form of one of those infamous brass, button-head screws that I’ve taken to always referring to as “goddamned butter screws”.
Have you ever heard of Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) screwdrivers? Neither had I until Andrew and Brad did a segment on them a few months back on the Auto Off Topic podcast.
Even then, did I order the exact JIS screwdriver Andrew so confidently recommended on that—and at least a couple subsequent episodes? Nope. Aside from a particularly heinous Galant VR4 throttle body half a dozen years ago (which we used an impact driver to remove, by the way), I’ve always been successful using my trusty, foot-long Stanley Philips.
On the driver’s side, I did my usual technique—I wrapped the handle with a rag for maximum grip, torque, and control, set the tip, and lean into it while carefully attempting to keep the screwdriver centered and in absolute control.
The subtle difference in the slots cut in a JIS-B screw mean regular Philips screwdrivers are prone to slip and pop out if not absolutely perfectly aligned. If the screw is over-tightened or has otherwise not been removed in a decade, the head will likely shred before you can get the 5ft-lbs of torque needed to break it loose.
It worked. Like usual. But the passenger front hub was not so inclined to play ball.
The Internet to the rescue!
I found an old write up on a Montero Sport forum. Not the same truck, but it looked like they had the same setup inside the hub. The author didn’t call them “goddamned butter screws”, but he very matter-of-factly pointed out they strip on a whim and the hot setup for removal was using a Dremel to slot them so you can get a beefy slotted screwdriver on them.
I have this really nice, likely 50-year old Rigid slotted screwdriver. I chose it for this tiny, goddamned butter screw with the fresh slot cut into its mangled JIS-B head, because it fit the slot perfectly, with no slip, slop, or slide.
I wrapped a rag around the handle, made sure it was perfectly centered—gave it the old Billy Baroo—aaaaaand…
Goddamned butter screws.
These are not the type of screws you have lying around or can just buy at the local box. I mean, maybe they are, but it’s a small, fine thread, metric screw made out of goddamned butter brass. There’s four of them on the entire truck.
I seriously considered putting the tools away and spending the the rest of the day junkyard hopping in pursuit of a Montero Sport I could strip for this and other parts. I decided to take a screw extractor to the little bastard and at least get the truck most of the way back together instead.
In the end, I got it on very good account these screws merely hold the retainer clip in place. They’re under almost zero load, so one would suffice. All the same, I was able to get enough bite on the mangled screw to get it reinstalled and plenty tight.
This is why I chose this project.
It can be hard to find larger blocks of time for vehicle repairs—especially with a job and family obligations. I’ve been working on my tendency to be overly optimistic with my time estimates in recent years.
Nothing about this brake job was particularly difficult. I could have gone a little faster. Next time I assuredly will (especially since I shouldn’t have to remove these rotors for several years). And even with the goddamned butter screw SNAFU, I was still packing up my tools shortly after noon.
Even so, I budgeted for 90 minutes per corner and reality came in at almost double that. Had V&P been home, waiting for me to get done, it would have added a metric shit-ton of stress, likely lead to stupid mistakes, and a generally bad time. (V is a saint.)
Instead, I made serious progress. Fezzik stopped better than ever with those new front rotors. I mean, like, seriously good. And three days later, when brother John came over to help make sure I got the rears done and the system bled, things were even better.
We’re talking new car brakes good.
I won’t have the skid plates installed before MOD. Or have my diff and transfer case fluids changed. Or have the new tcase shifter installed, either. But I’ve got freshly rotated tires, fantastic brakes, a still-new engine, bolted to a correctly-filled transmission, all cooled by a confirmed not-leaking radiator.