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Discussion Starter #1
I'm needing some assistance from brains better then mine. A simple rear brake rebuild and pad replacement is no longer simple.

I have a 2001 FLTRSEI2 with 39,000 miles on it. I went out for a ride one day, got to the end of my street and discovered I had no rear brake. Further investigation showed I had let my rear pads get overly thin and had pushed the pistons out a little far and a small amount of brake fluid had apparently seeped past a piston seal. No big deal. Purchased new pads and rebuild kit for the caliper.

Pulled the rear wheel, removed and cleaned the caliper, installed rebuild kit and new pads, reinstalled everything, bled rear brake via the tied and true method of cracking/tightening the bleeder while having my daughter push the brake pedal. Did this until no air. Double checked reservoir level and added a little fluid to bring it to appropriate level. Tested brake with bike on lift. Caliper engaged but felt a bit spongy. Took it for a test ride and confirmed that the rear brake felt weak.

At this point I decided to use a Mity-Vac and replace the fluid (it was a little dark). I am using DOT 5 per the manual. At this point I noticed the Mity-Vac did not appear to be drawing enough vacuum from the rear caliper bleeder valve to draw fluid from the system. I tried sucking on the hose to draw a vacuum and could feel bubbles in the system. It was that same sensation you get when sucking on a straw from a nearly empty cup. I also noticed a lot of air in the line. So I tried the pedal-push-break-bleeder-valve process again and now I cannot build sufficient brake pressure to push fluid through the bleeder valve. The fluid level is good and the pistons will engage and the brake stops the rear wheel albeit weakly.

There are no leaks from the line, caliper, or master cylinder. I pulled the cap off the master cylinder and watched for fluid level change when pushing the brake lever. I was told if the level changed it indicated that the fluid was bypassing the piston and the master cylinder would need rebuilt or replaced. There was no change in fluid level.

Sorry for the book but I wanted to cover everything I've done to this point. I'm at a loss to explain what is happening. Any ideas would be welcome.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Follow up:

Today I borrowed a friend's vaccuum pump and tried vaccuum bleeding my rear brake again. There was a lot of air in the line and I never got a solid flow of brake fluid from the bleeder valve.

I decided to see if the air was coming from the caliper or from the brake line and master cyclinder. I removed the banjo fitting from the rear caliper, and put two flat rubber seals over each side of the banjo fitting, effectively "sandwiching" the banjo fitting between the rubber. I clamped the rubber pieces in place with a pair of vice grips to try and seal off the banjo fitting. I depressed the rear brake pedal. A little fluid seeped by my makeshift seal but the pedal was definitely firmer than before. So I guess the problem is in the caliper. What I don't understand is how can I have air getting into the system from the caliper but not have a fluid leak in the caliper?

Any ideas before I remove the rear wheel and break down the caliper (again)?
 

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As much as I don't relish yanking the rear wheel off again, you may have a point......sigh.....thanks for the input. Guess I'll break down the wheel and caliper tonight.
 

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Why are you talking off the wheel to remove the caliber ? Once you have the caliber back on, remove the brake line and induce compressed air into the caliber to move the piston out in the caliber. Sometimes if the piston's all the way depressed, it will produce an air lock and won't let enough fluid in. Also like mentioned before, make sure you didn't twist the rubber seal in the caliber.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Big Gary,
I have an '01 SE Road Glide. The rear caliper in mounted on the rear wheel shaft. I have to pull the wheel in order to remove it. Of course, if you have a really neat trick that gets me around that in the future (since I've already pulled the wheel) I'm all ears.
 

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Big Gary,
I have an '01 SE Road Glide. The rear caliper in mounted on the rear wheel shaft. I have to pull the wheel in order to remove it. Of course, if you have a really neat trick that gets me around that in the future (since I've already pulled the wheel) I'm all ears.
Okay, sorry no tricks on that .I bet that makes changing pads a bitch.
Did you get the system bled ?
 

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Okay, sorry no tricks on that .I bet that makes changing pads a bitch.
Did you get the system bled ?
Thinking the pads, even though they'll test you, don't require caliber removal. You pry the pistons back. If it were mine...I'd place a block of wood between, or old pad, and burp (upside-down ) before placingthe caliber back.
 

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Thinking the pads, even though they'll test you, don't require caliber removal. You pry the pistons back. If it were mine...I'd place a block of wood between, or old pad, and burp (upside-down ) before placingthe caliber back.
I had to do this for my F150.. Had the same issue.. Turning over the caliper makes everything better while bleeding, sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I pulled the caliper and attempted to use compressed air to pop the pistons out. Only one came out. The other three stayed in place. I tried connecting the caliper back to the brake line and slowly work them out with brake fluid pressure. I couldn't build enough pressure to move anything. I want to get all of the pistons out to check all of the new seals I put in. I'm out of ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Oh, just to quickly review the sitrep.....rear brake was not making enough pressure. I pulled the caliper, replaced the pistons, seals, and pads. Old pistons were hard to remove. New pistons went in relatively easy. Could not bleed the system due to air intrusion occurring. Several guys suggested twisted seals....thus the reason I am trying to remove the pistons....one comes out easily with compressed air but other three don't.
 

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Put old brake pads or piece of wood, or socket in between two of the pistons and then hold the third one with a clamp then use air and blow the last one out. Clean, put it back in then repeat for each one. You will get it.
 

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Smarty, what an outstanding idea!! I was trying something similar but using zip ties to hold the one piston in place.....never thought of a clamp!! And the truly embarrassing thing is I'm using a big C clamp to anchor the caliper to the work bench so I can use both hands to work on it.....as the old saying goes, "not seeing the forest for the trees!" I'll give this a try this weekend.

Thanks!
 

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Smarty, what an outstanding idea!! I was trying something similar but using zip ties to hold the one piston in place.....never thought of a clamp!! And the truly embarrassing thing is I'm using a big C clamp to anchor the caliper to the work bench so I can use both hands to work on it.....as the old saying goes, "not seeing the forest for the trees!" I'll give this a try this weekend.

Thanks!
Sometimes we just use a big set of channel locks to hold the odd piston while blowing the 4th one out. Once you get them all out, cleaned with some emory cloth, then put back in. Open up the caliper and make sure you have both of the rubber o-rings in place and the surface is clean. Then put the caliper back on the bike with the brake pads in, take a big turkey baster with a rubber hose on it that will fit the bleeder valve. Pull some brake fluid into the baster then put the hose on the bleeder valve. Loosen the banjo bolt at the caliper and pump the brake fluid in until it comes out there. Then losses the banjo bolt on the master cylinder until it comes out there. Then push the fluid until it fills the master cylinder reservoir. Now you should be able to pump up the brakes as normal and bleed what air is still in the line. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Finally got it done though I think I must have a hairline crack in the head of the bleeder valve. It appears that was where the air intrusion was taking place. After getting the pistons all removed, cleaned, installed and moving smoothly, I filled the caliper with brake fluid using a kids liquid medicine syringe. After getting straight fluid out of the banjo bolt hole, I attached the caliper to the brake line and attempted to bleed it from the bleeder valve using the syringe to draw out the tiny amount of air in the caliper but kept getting a large amount of air through the bleeder hose.
I decided to try pushing fluid through the bleeder with the bleeder closed to see if I could push anything through. Nope, the seal was good. So I removed the master cylinder cover, drew out some fluid to lower the level, then cracked the bleeder and pushed fluid through the system with the syringe pushed straight into the top of the bleeder screw. I heard a very satisfying squirt of air forced into the master cylinder reservoir. It sounded scaringly familiar to the sound of a kid filling his diaper.....never thought I would be happy to hear that sound....ever.
I repeated this process five more times, got a little more air on the second attempt then nothing but fluid after that. Pedal pumped up nice and solid after getting caliper mounted on the rotor. Have not test ridden it yet. Will do that tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone for the assistance!!
 
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