I have already mentioned Avid above, apart from making the BB7 they also make some great hydraulic units, the older Juicy and the newer series of Elixir. Both these models are easy to service and durable apart from working very well. Shimano also make a range that are popular and again easy'ish to service and repair. Other companies that we are fans of are Formula and Hope, both of these produce disc systems that also qualify as works of art, sadly they also have price tags similar to a minor work from Rembrandt...
So, back to my point. What do you do when things start to go sideways? Well you service them. Below I have taken some pictures of the complete internals of a set of Avid Juicy levers and calipers. These things are very common but basically all hydraulic brake units are following the same basic principles, so with a spec sheet of your particular make and model you will be in good shape.
These particular units had developed one of the common issues of older neglected sets. They had developed the sticky lever syndrome. Another common issue is a soft lever which means air is in the system either through the need of a good bleed or the hose has developed a hole or an o ring has failed on a bleed port. The sticky lever however means that the internal plunger in the lever is in need of replacing or that the caliper pistons are beginning to stick and corrode. My rule is; do both, if one end is gummed up and failing the other ain't far behind.
Wear gloves as DOT fluid is not something you want to be bathing in all afternoon and a pair of safety glasses, you would be amazed at how often I have shot myself in the face with a full syringe of this stuff.
I usually start with the lever first and, with a new bag of the correct internals, start cracking it apart. Below is what you end up with, again this is a Juicy so you will have a different looking pile of bits but they will be doing the same job.
|Once the lever blade is removed it will reveal the circlip that needs to be removed to slide out the reach adjust mechanism and the plunger.|
|Reach adjust mech is next. If yours is a more basic model this will be missing.|
|In this case the parts were worn|
|All the parts laid out ready to clean. In this instance everything is being replaced except the body the blade and the reservoir cap.|
Once the lever is rebuilt I attack the caliper. Again disconnect the hose first. The only way to get into the pistons is to split the caliper body in half. this is achieved by undoing the three bolts. Once you have the thing in two the fun begins. The way to get the pistons out of there press fit home is with the use of compressed air. You cannot get them out any other way so don't be jamming screwdrivers in there or you will damage the body itself and you will get fluid leaking out and the whole thing will become a paperweight. The compressed air does a great job of popping them out. Warning; Make sure you don't have the thing aimed at anything soft and fleshy, it will hurt...
|Waiting to be cracked open like a walnut...|
|The main culprits in here are the quad rings (the square edged rubber washers) and the round pistons.All of which will be replaced.|
|Good as new.|