Steven’s E31 850Ci
One of the issues I knew I had to address when I bought Hiro was the brakes. The original setup is pretty decent for such a heavy car, though unfortunately it is E31 specific (i.e expensive!). Rather than replace them, I decided to rebuild the calipers and fit some braided hoses with new fluid as a cost-effective way of improving the braking ability, made no less important by the fact that the near side front caliper was sticking quite badly.
I ordered replacement seals for all four calipers and set about dismantling them. Three of them proved willing to be repaired, however the fourth simply refused to budge. Since there was no real guarantee of how good it would be after being resealed anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and ordered a replacement caliper from a breaker. While they were in pieces, I decided to give them a lick of paint, too. I painted them bright red to give a nice contrast against the bright white paintwork.
Removing the old brake hoses provided more pain, as while three (yes, three) of the brake pipes have already been replaced by a previous owner, the fourth (NSF again!) was still original, and this obviously sheared off the moment I started tackling it. Fortunately, the near side front is only about 80cm from the ABS pump, and so I enlisted the help of a mate (cheers, James) who was able to replace the whole line with minimal fuss, and I now have four rust-proof copper brake pipes.
As usual, more problems reared their head along the road, as I realised when removing the near side rear caliper that the bleed nipple had been snapped off at some point. Drilling it out was a task I left to my trusty local mechanics at Toulmin Motors as they have the expertise and steady hand required for such a task (and I’m lazy).
Refitting of the calipers provided further proof of the previous owner’s penny-pinching as it transpired that the troublesome rear caliper was in fact an OSR, not NSR, and as such the nipple was at the bottom of the caliper, not the top. As a result, in order to bleed said caliper, I had to remove it, place some wood between the pads and suspend the whole thing upside down from the control arm with some handy cable ties. Not ideal but it worked a treat. I will have to replace this caliper with a correct one in the following weeks as I hate bodge jobs.
The pads and discs looked to have a lot of life left in them, and so I have refitted them after a quick clean up. I will replace them in the near future but I have diverted funds elsewhere at the moment so they remain. The brake fluid I selected is ATE Superblue, which I use on all my cars. It is a DOT 4 fluid, yet its boiling point exceeds DOT 5.1 specifications. I’ve used it in my track car for the past three years and I’m very happy with its performance both on road and track, though I admit this is a car that is very unlikely to ever see the action end of a race track.
The braided lines are Wezmoto items, which is a brand I’ve had very little experience with in the past. However, they were recommended on one of the forums I use and are of excellent quality. Being bright red they look the part, too.
All in all, the brake feel is vastly improved with a good firm pedal which inspires a lot of confidence – something especially important in a two ton car. I’m delighted with the results and I’m hoping it will go some way to removing the tell-tale ABS light from the dashboard.
The next step? I think it’s ready to go back on the road, at least for a while, so it’s booked in for an MOT next week. Watch this space…