Speed Bleeders

So, how did I get involved in Speed Bleeders? Well if you have followed the the OEM W20/22 brake issue (sticking calipers) on IRV2.com starting sometime in 2006 and ongoing for the last 3 1/2 years you already know. For those that don't just read on and it will become obvious.

There have been a number of theories as to why the calipers stick. My theory, as I suggested back in late 2006, was the phenolic coated caliper piston was swelling in the piston bore from heat. This is the same problem that Chrysler had back in the 60's and I experienced on Dodge van that I owned. The swelling is generally caused by moisture in the brake fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic in nature, it attracts water. RV's generally sit more than they are driven and because they are heavy any aggressive braking creates a lot of heat which exposes the problem. Changing the brake fluid on a regular basis helps but does not fix the problem.

Flushing and/or bleeding the brakes is not a difficult job. It can be done via gravity method, vacuum method or pressure method. The simplest pressure method is the 2 man. One person pumps the brakes and the other person opens/closes the bleeder screw. Speed Bleeders eliminates 1 man by putting a check valve in the bleeder screw.

Joe Gilbert, an IRV2 contributor, suggested Speed Bleeders. So, I called them and low and be hold then did NOT have anything that fit. I asked what it would take to get some made, their reply was, "Send me a bleeder screw". I got a one from Bob Riker "Coastie CPO" (another IRV2 contributor) and here is what I found out.

Size Measurements

Thread Pitch

This is where it gets weird. The thread pitch is odd compared to other bleeder screws. The other oddity is the shape of the base of the bleeder screw.

I sent the bleeder screw to Speed Bleeder Products so they could look at it a decide if they wanted to pursue manufacturing them. I receive an email asking if I could get them a caliper as they needed see if they needed to modify the end of the bleeder screw. Bob "Coastie CPO" graciously provided caliper to Speed Bleeder Products for analysis.

Speed Bleeder Products decided to go ahead with the manufacture of the speed bleeder for the W20/22 OEM chassis. But it took some time as they had to buy new tooling to cut the odd thread pitch, they have to machine them, send them out for plating, install the check valve and finally have them packaged.

Speed Bleeder for OEM W20/22

I offered to test the proto types and here are the results.

What's In The Proto Type Package ?

Installing Speed Bleeders

  • 7/16" Box End Wrench
  • Paper Towel
  • Thread Sealant
    • Note - The thread sealant is not needed for the production version as it is already applied.

1. Prep the new bleeder screw with thread sealant

2. Loosen the old bleeder screw with the 7/16" wrench until you can remove it by hand.

3. Remove the old bleeder screw and hold some paper towel over the hole while you retreive the new bleeder screw. Install the new bleeder screw and tighten with the 7/16" wrench.

Now repeat the process for each wheel. But, if you plan to flush/bleed the brakes you should do it now.

How Do They Work?

They work GREAT..... It will take longer to remove the old fluid from the master cylinder than it will to bleed the brakes. Once you have fresh fluid in the master cylinder, attach the 7/16" box end wrench to the bleeder screw, attach the drain tube and put other end in recovery bottle with enough fluid to cover the end of the tube.

Hint - Use some of the fluid from the master cylinder to cover the drain tube in the bottle. It's only purpose is to eliminate air from being drawn back into the caliper. This should not happen as the check valve in the Speed Bleeder stops this action. But, it is good insurance just in case.

Starting with the passengers side rear open the bleeder screw about 1/4 to 1/2 turn, start the engine, push the brake pedal to the floor and release it. If this is the first time you have flushed the brake system it will take 5 to 6 cycles to get fresh fluid to the caliper. The drivers side rear should take 4 to 5 cycles and the fronts should take 3 to 4 cycles. Speed Bleeders make a "YEARLY" flush and bleed a 1 hour job or less and will save you some $$$. Remember, 3 qts of Dot 3 fluid is less than $12.

As I had just flushed my system a few months back I only did 3 cycles. Close the bleeder screw, remove the drain tube and install the rubber dust cap.

Now top off the master cylinder and proceed to the next wheel. I do them in the following order:

  1. Passengers Side Rear
  2. Drivers Side Rear
  3. Passengers Side Front
  4. Drivers Side Front

Notes:

  • The calipers on the rear face the backside of the wheel and the front calipers face the front side of the wheel.
  • The bleeder screws on the front calipers are slightly obstructed by the bracket the holds the brake line and ABS sensor wire.