Rotors and Brake Pads

Symptoms: Grinding noise while braking, brake pedal feeling like one was stepping on a wheel of baked brie.

One of Abby's rear rotors. That crack is a good sign the brakes needed replacing.
One of Abby’s rear rotors. That crack is a good sign the brakes needed replacing.

Problem: Abby still had her original brakes and rotors. These poor pads and rotors had 86,000 or so miles on them. Several thousand of those miles had some extra abuse because we were hauling our cargo trailer. Which didn’t have brakes so Abby was responsible for stopping not only her weight, but the weight of the cargo trailer.

Solution: Have Dave replace the brakes! We were fully expecting this replacement, so we are considering this to be a maintenance activity.

When Dave got one of the rear rotors off (pictured) there was a significant crack formed and others starting to develop. All the brake pads were worn, not far from the point of the wear sensor.

Dave purchased the rotors and brake pads from Advance Auto Parts.

Degree of Difficulty:

Moderate. Front and rear brake replacement should each take approximately 3 hours. Bravery and a good jack is required because it is such a large vehicle. Caveats to the degree of difficulty are

  1. Dave has replaced the brakes and rotors on smaller vehicles.
  2. No unexpected challenges arise during the replacement.

Parts/Tools Required:

  • Rotors
  • Brake pads
  • Breaker bar
  • Wrenches
  • Jack
  • Flattened cardboard box (cushions the gravel of the storage lot)
  • Knee pads (like floor tilers wear)
  • An extensive repertoire of curse words (Sailors should be jealous)

Repair Tips/Comments:

  • Unlike a typical Mercedes sprinter chassis, the rear brake pads and calipers are the same as the front brake pads. Winnebago wanted to make sure there was stopping power, because there is a large amount of momentum in a RV lumbering down the road.  One only discovers the ‘oh, haha, you thought you had regular rear brakes’ switcheroo after the RV is up on a jack, completely apart, and nothing fits.
  • The rear (front!) brake rotors are a snug fit and require some persuasion when being put back on (tapping with a hammer). The hub assembly is hollow and releases a very fine rust dust that can settle into the threads of the rotor bolt holes. Blow out the bolt holes with compressed air BEFORE putting the bolts in.
  • If you didn’t blow out the bolt holes with compressed air and the bolt threads freeze up, brute force is required to remove the bolts. The bolt holes will need to be re-tapped, and you’ll need to stop at 4 different hardware stores to see if anyone carries a Grade 8 14mm bolt with a 1.5 thread pitch (start at Ace, and you might have to stop at only one hardware store).  Mind you, it’s 3:30pm and snow is forecast for the next day.
  • Stop at one Advanced Auto Parts store only to be told the part is in stock at another location? Purchase said part at first location and drive to the second to pick it up, only to be told they are out of stock? They have a special area where they set aside parts to picked up. “Oh, sorry man.  We found your brakes.”

Tasting Notes: Alex’s Amber and BVIP

We brewed our Imperial Amber Ale October 29, hoping to replicate the success of our August brew. The clarity was decreased slightly (okay, it is still a pretty clear beer, just not so clear that you can read a car’s license plate through it). Changes between the brews were

  1. Cascade went from whole hops to pellets. We wanted pellets originally, but our local home brew shop did not have pellets in stock when we brewed in August.
  2. Went from 1/2 tablet Whirlfloc to 1 tablet. This may be the cause of our clarity issue, since too much Whirlfloc can be a bad thing in regard to clarity.
Alex's Imperial Amber on the left and the Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter on the right.
Alex’s Imperial Amber on the left and the Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter on the right.

We are still very happy with Alex’s Imperial Amber. Hop aroma contributes a floral/citrus character; there is also malt and a dried cherry component to the aroma profile. Due to a over vigorous boil, our yield was slightly reduced, so all we can do is enjoy a home brew and make some more.

If we manage to brew this for a third time and achieve similar results, a good beer brewing streak will be established.

We brewed our base Imperial Porter recipe October 22 hemming and hawing over the addition of vanilla and bourbon. We decided to go for it and added vanilla beans at secondary fermentation and bourbon at packaging (~68 mL bourbon/gallon beer).

We did our initial tasting while we were both suffering head colds and were disappointed in how it turned out. Not much roasted character, hardly a hint of vanilla, and just tasted thin. Then our sinuses cleared, and what a difference a clear nose makes.

The roast character was immediately apparent, the mouth feel was fuller. The vanilla was more present, but there is room to add more. The bourbon mellowed nicely after a week with the beer; next time we brew this beer we want to impart bourbon character without adding bourbon or aging in a barrel (bourbon barrel pieces in secondary?).

The porter had a third taster. The HVAC guy saw our brewing equipment in the basement and got to jawing with Dave. Turns out the HVAC guy loves porters and was more than happy to taste test ours. He likes a little more vanilla character (we concur), but overall enjoyed the beer.

We are very happy beer drinkers with both of these beers.

October 29, 2016: Amber Ale

We are attempting to replicate our success from out last Amber Ale brew.

Grain bill:

  • 10 lbs 2-row domestic (Hops and Berries, Fort Collins, CO)
  • 1 lbs 2-row pale
  • 1 lbs Crystal 75L

Hops (Pellet):

  • 2 oz Magnum 12.4% alpha acids, pellets
  • 2 oz Amarillo 8.2% alpha acids, pellets
  • 2 oz Cascade 6.5% alpha acids, pellets


  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II (#1001271, mfg 9/27/2016)


  • Starting gravity: 1.070
  • Brewhouse efficiency: 73%
  • Final gravity: 1.002
  • Approximate %ABV: 8.798
  • Approximate IBUs: 108.1 (Rager)/109.5 (Tinseth)/11.4(Daniels) as determined using the Hopsteiner and IBU calculators.

Procedure Highlights: We transferred our strike water to the mash tun using a silicon hose and lost less heat than we had anticipated. The end result was we mashed in at 73 degrees Celsius. We quickly added ice and brought the temperature down to 67 degrees Celsius, which was lower than our target of 69 degrees Celsius.

The wort was oxygenated for 45 seconds prior to pitching the yeast slurry. The yeast starter culture was cold crashed after approximately 18 hours of growth in 10% DME (w/v) media. The cold crash was to arrest metabolism and settle the yeast so excess liquid could be decanted.

Fermentation profile for our Amber Ale. Such happy yeast!
Fermentation profile for our Amber Ale. Such happy yeast!

After a week in the primary fermenter (Spiedel), the beer was transferred to a metal conical bottom fermenter and kept at approximately 19 degrees Celsius (ambient temperature) for 48 hours. The beer was sampled and no acetaldehyde character was detected. The fermenter was then transferred to -2 degrees Celsius freezer for the cold crash.


  • A vigorous boil resulted in a lower volume of sweet wort.
  • Our efficiency was similar to the last time we brewed our Amber Ale.
  • The lower volume of sweet wort resulted in a slightly higher original gravity (1.070 vs 1.065). This resulted in an approximately 0.7% increase in ABV.