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Old 03-29-2015, 10:00 PM   #1
MI-Sledder
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Default Overheating Brakes

Hey all, great website, just recently discovered it. Most of our riding over the past 40 years has been the northern LP with a few trips around the Soo, plan on trying your area next season. Did ride over to Mac Island March 7, first time for that, what a blast. Reading your forum about snowmobiles burning up this year I thought I would share our story, maybe it will help someone avoid such an event.

In 1997 a buddy and I decided to standardize on our growing sled fleet (kids becoming riders) to hopefully reduce the spare parts inventory and have interchangeable parts. As you can probably tell we grew up when snowmobiles were junk (thankfully we did not realize that at the time), but now with reasonable maintenance they work well and can last as long as you want. So by 2002 we had a fleet of 6 1997 Ski-Doo Formula 500's and added two more 1999's the next year. These sleds have worked well for us, we know their weak spots and the areas to not worry about.

A failure point that took a bit to figure out turned out to be the brake system. The brake system was super reliable, never payed any attention to it, until early in 2008. I'm riding my sled in Indian River when I started to smell something not normal but the sled seemed to be running well. After another half-mile or so something really wasn't right so up went the hood and the brake disk was found really hot, and partially on, dragging. Screwed around with it on the trail, jabbed at the pads with a screwdriver, pumped the brake lever, etc. and they loosened up, no more problems for entire winter.

Now its 2009, buddies kid is riding ahead of me, I smell the same thing from last year, immediately stopped my sled and checked the disk, its cold. Caught up with the group and could see smoke coming from the kids sled ahead of me, she stopped and we opened the hood, brake disk was super hot and the electronics (ignition module) mounted next to the brake assembly was smoking with plastic and potting material dripping from it (could now see the electronic components and circuit board). And the fuel tank is plastic... Very quickly filled the under hood area with snow. But then with everything cooled down the brake worked normally.

Started to study the brake design to figure out what could cause dragging and figured it was the caliper pistons likely corroded and not permitting the pads to release away from the disk. Figured heat, banging and prying loosened the pistons enough to allow them to retract and work normally. But soon after, on a later ride that trip, a third sled's brake locked up. Unbelievable and this is really starting to suck..! But this time it was at the start of the ride, 50 feet from the trucks, trailers, and tools. It locked up when a kid rode off a trailer, was getting on it, and had hit the brake hard. Everything was still cold. Since this time was not an emergency and nothing had to be done quickly, we just studied what we had. Noticed the brake system seemed to be pressurized, handle would not actuate very far, the brake hoses were stiffer than the other sleds, and that brake was definitely on hard. So I grabbed a wrench and cracked open the bleeder on the caliper which promptly sprayed brake fluid all over the inside of the hood. The brake immediately released and worked normally. When cleaning up the fluid we noticed it was crappy looking, appeared to have sludge or something mixed with it, but wasn't really sure because the inside of the hood was not super clean. Had no problems for the remainder of that trip.

Back home decided to bleed my sled's brake system. Got a quart of Dot 4 fluid, stuck a hose on the bleeder and into a bucket, and pumped the full quart through the system. The crap that come out at first was just plain ugly. By the time a half quart was pumped through the fluid coming out looked as good as what was being poured in. Repeated this on the entire fleet of sleds. Its now the end of the 2015 riding season and have not had a single problem with any of the brakes since 2009. We are thinking replacing the brake fluid every 7 years might be a good idea. BTW, that ignition module is still working.

-Bill
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Old 03-29-2015, 11:55 PM   #2
Go Fast or Go Home
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Default Re: Overheating Brakes

Hi Bill---Welcome to the site.

Thank you for the post on brakes.
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Old 03-30-2015, 06:45 AM   #3
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Default Re: Overheating Brakes

Welcome to the site. I see you are from Monroe. One of our "high post count" members is from Monroe. He goes by Conniver04 on here. He owns Schall Automotive Sales in Monroe. I believe its on Monroe St.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Overheating Brakes

Wow, good info on there. Welcome aboard, see you next season.
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