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Old 09-11-2010, 12:47 PM   #1
Junkman2008
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The Mother of All Caliper Painting Threads!

From the dungeon of The Junkman, another DIY!

This is a detailed post for those of us who can't look at a bolt and tell whether to use a 1/2" or 5/8" socket to remove it. To this day, I still can't. This thread is for those of us who are mechanically challenged, don't like to get our finger nails dirty, or never owned a car in high school OR college. This is for those of us who have never heard of a jacking puck or know where to put them, or knew that there are 4 alternate locations to jack your car other than where the manual states. This my friends, is a post for those of us who would consider ourselves "car mechanic dummies".

Want I want to cover here is a step by step guide on how to paint your calipers while the calipers are still attached to the car, what to use, how to do it, and what mistakes NOT to make. I will go into way more detail than most will need, but someone out there (like me) will appreciate that. Thus, skip the parts that are in more detail than you need.

There were a lot of suggestions on how to do this cheaply. I followed NONE of them. As a matter of fact, I probably spent about $300-$350 on parts and supplies just so I could be comfortable and make the job as easy as possible. Sweating is something I charge extra for in my line of work, and is something that I haven't experienced since my last foot chase while working for the L.A. County Sheriff's Department 20 years ago. Thus, you will have to make decisions as to whether you want to take a suggestion I make, or go a different route in the name of comfort or saving a buck. Give me comfort any day.

Here are the supplies I used. The parts I'm listing are parts/equipment that I used extensively, or that made the job much easier. I'm not listing stuff that I only used once or sparingly. First, the tools:



That's it! That was all I needed that I can remember to do the whole job. Well, I did buy a nice Craftsman torque wrench so that I could put the tire bolts back on to spec but to be honest, I haven't quite figured out how to use the darn thing. I'll be calling my mechanic for a tutorial. Hey, I'm new at this "working on newer car" thing okay? I've never owned anything newer than 1979 until I bought my 2001 Corvette.

The paint and brushes (I highly recommend the Dupli-Color product but buy some decent brushes!):



By the way, that paint thinner is used to thin the paint. Don't bother using that brand to clean your brushes because it's worthless for that. I used some 15240 Lacquer Thinner that I got from NAPA to clean my brushes. Also, get a aerosol can of the black paint. The red paint in a can is okay for the calipers but the black paint in the can leaves too many brush strokes and looks like crap. Plus, it's shiny, not flat so it looks like you took your brakes apart and painted them. Not a look we want. We want this to look as factory as possible.

A Dremel tool and plenty (start with about 10 packages) of these 511 or 512 brushes (both the 511 and 512 packages were the same as far as I could tell - you'll see if you get some). Also purchase a EZ Lock Mandrel for the Dremel tool. It will make changing the bits a lot faster and easier. This is the tool that I used to clean the hell out of the calipers, the rotors, and anything else that rust had laid it's ugly head on. Also, make sure you wear some safety glasses. You don't want anything flying off the end of that Dremel tool to end up in your eyes:



The next items are a must. You're going to need a place to sit while working on your car. I paid $25 for this stool at Sears and man, it was a life (or butt) saver. If your butt muscles are as worn as mine, then you know you're not gonna last long sitting on your garage floor. Get one of these.

You're also going to need a way to get your car high enough to get the jack under it. For $30 at Pep Boys, I came across these 8-ton ramps. Nothing against you guys who use wood, but I paid way to much for my ride to trust me and the wood technique. Thirty-bucks is car wash money and the ramps work on all my cars. Well worth the investment, if just for my peace of mind.

My jack is not a low profile jack, however, it does fit under the car where the jacking pucks go. I don't have the pucks yet, however, that black circular cup on the end of my jack lifts off and reveals a small square jacking surface. It's small enough to fit into the square cut out located where the front pucks go on your Corvette, but not where the rear pucks go. I'll cover the rear technique I used later. (I've had that jack for years and never knew that cup came off until my mechanic saw me trying to fit the jack under the car - he just bent over, pulled it off and walked away - smarty pants).

As far as jack stands go, I've seen some guys put their Vettes up on some tiny little jack stands. The kind where a good gust of wind could leave your Vette sitting on it's belly with a ton of damage, and the problem of figuring out how you're going to get it back in the air. You can see how big my jack stands are relative to the 3.5 ton jack. Buy some decent sized jack stands, you'll thank me later.



Jacking pucks and puck installation locations
These hockey pucks install into slots located just behind the front wheel well (under the car), and just in front of the rear wheel well (under the car). You simply stick the eyelet into the slotted hole and give a quarter turn. These pucks allow you to raise the car from these locations without doing damage to the rocker panel which is painted and is folded up under the car. They are meant to be used temporarily and then removed once you've finished jacking the car. DO NOT leave them there and go driving. If they come out, they could bounce around and do some nasty damage to your car. You can buy these things from vendors right here at Corvette Forum or you can make your own. You can pretty much look at them and figure out how to make your own (Special thanks goes to SpudGT for use of his photo):



Other supplies and equipment that I used are these brushes, for cleaning areas that the Dremel tool couldn't reach. The one in the middle also comes in a harder brush metal material and all can be purchased at NAPA (get the harder brush). I'm sure other places sell something similar.
You may need some light in order to see what you're doing and the workhorse pictured below will not only light up you work area, but it will also roast your hot dog sandwich if you place it too close to the light. That thing gets hot!

Ask me how I know.



You're also going to need something to help loosen the bolts that need to be removed for this job (especially if King Kong tightened them during your last brake job, as seemed to be the case with my bolts). Also, once you get everything cleaned, you'll need to coat the rotors and brake brackets with a product that will slow down any future rusting. I present to you PB Blaster (don't bust your knuckles, bust you nuts!) and Permatex Rust Treatment. Let me tell you, that PB Blaster was a hernia saver on more than one occasion.




Okay, let's get this party started!

Here's a shot of my front wheel before I started. Just hideous.



We will do the front first. Before you start, look at how much of the caliper is showing. Look at it from various angles and take pictures. The reason you want to do this is so that you'll know how much of the caliper you'll need to paint (because you don't need to paint the whole thing). It would be nerve racking to get it all back together and realize that some of the original caliper color is still showing.

The first thing you want to do is loosen, not remove the bolts that hold the tire on the car. Do both wheels or you'll have the car in the air while wondering how to get the other wheel off without lowering the car again.

Ask me how I know.

That was rookie screw up #1. The next thing you'll need to do is raise the car. Everyone has their way of doing this and I am not even going to suggest that my way is the best way. It's just the way I did it. If you have the jacking pucks, install and use those jacking locations to raise the car. Once you get the car high enough for the jack stands, place the stand under the car in the manufacturer's recommended jacking location (you'll find these locations in your owner's manual if you don't know where they are). You'll need to do this for each side of the car.

OR

You can use a nice size slab of 2x4 and raise the car from the front. That's how I did it. I went to Ace Hardware and they gave me (for free) a slab of the hardest wood they had. Get the hardest wood you can find. You don't want that thing to splinter in the middle of your lifting. The wood needs to be long enough to disperse as much weight as possible across the front of the frame, but short enough to fit under the car while the jack stands are there. Check out the picture below:



Just put the wood on the end of your jack, slide it under the car, and slowly, slowly, slowly begin to raise the wood until just before it contacts the frame. You want to double check, triple check, and quadruple check that piece of wood to make sure that it is not hitting anything it is not supposed to (you're going to probably get dirty so brace yourself). Also, make sure the wood is not blocking the area where the jack stands are going to go.

Once you get the car high enough for the jack stands, put them in place. Next, slowly, slowly, slowly begin to lower the car onto the jack stands. You may have to re-adjust the jack stands in order to get them exactly where they need to be. Take your time. The last thing you want to do is have a jack stand all cock-eyed and drop the car. Now you can remove the bolts on the rims and remove the tires. You should be looking at this:



Pull up your stool and break out either the Dremel tool or some elbow grease. What you want to do is clean the heck out of the caliper while it is still mounted. The reason to do it this way is because the caliper is awkward to clean once you detach it from the car with the brake line still attached, and you can actually damage it if you are not careful.

Ask me how I know.

Here is a picture of one of my calipers that I did damage by accidentally allowing it to forcefully rub against the controller arm while cleaning it. The rubber part that you see surrounding the piston (which pushes the brake pads against the rotor when you press on the brakes) is ripped. Now from what I understand, this is no major issue at this time. What my master mechanic told me is that over time, that piston will get enough grime, dirt and water inside that boot to cause the piston to rust. At that point he said that the brakes would begin to pull to the right or left. He told me not to worry about it because this process would take a while before I would have to replace it.



Great. That was rookie screw up #2. Since your calipers are still on the car, you haven't made this mistake so make sure that you don't when you remove them.

Once you've got that caliper as clean as you can get it while it's still assembled, you're now ready to remove it from the car. Keep in mind that the brake line will still be attached to the caliper so be careful while working with it. Don't allow it to hang from the brake line or twist the brake line up. It's a pretty sturdy connection but don't create yourself extra work by causing that line to start leaking.

In total, there are only 4 bolts holding the caliper and brake bracket on the car. As a matter of fact, this is quite an easy job and the next time you need to get your brakes done, you'll probably do it yourself. It's that easy. You'll need to remove the 2 caliper bolts first, but there is a bolt that must be held still while removing the caliper bolt (see picture below).

NOTE: Remember that little rule you learned about which way to loosen or tighten a bolt? "Righty tighty, lefty loosey?" Well this threw me for a loop because the rule is backwards. If the bolt heads were facing you, then this rule would work. But because the bolt heads are facing AWAY from you, the rule must be executed in reverse. So, turning your rachet clockwise (right) is actually loosening the bolt. Going counterclockwise (left) is tightening the bolt. I must have sit there trying to figure this out for 20 minutes.

The view in this next picture is what you'll see if you stick your head into the wheel well and look down at the top of the rotor. I have already removed the top caliper bolt and the caliper is pulled away from the rotor:



Once you have removed the two caliper bolts, pull that locking nut out of the brake bracket. It is held on by that rubber bushing. Just pull it out and you'll hear a suction sound as it releases.



After that, remove the brake pads. They just wiggle right out of the bracket.

Important Note: Make sure that you mark the pads as to which side of the car they came off of. One of my pads had worn significantly compared to all the others, even though they were all installed new at the same time. Thus, when I went to put the pads back on, the piston on the caliper would not allow me to get the caliper back on. When I noticed the difference in the pad wear, I switched it to the other side of the car and everything went back together. Mind you, this was after 30 minutes of fussing with the darn thing and trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

Now you're ready to give birth to a hernia. At least that was my experience. The 2 bolts that hold the brake pad bracket onto the car were a murder to loosen. It took me 2 days to get them all off. I soaked them in PB Blaster, drank a wine cooler (yea, I'm a pansy when it comes to drinking), stared at the car for an hour or so, drank another wine cooler, and then went inside for some AC. It was hot as heck when I was doing this and this was at 3:00 AM. Maybe your experience will be a little different but that was my little sunshine of fun. By the way, don't brace yourself inside the wheel well while trying to loosen those bolts. You can crack the paint on your quarter-panel.

Ask me how I know.

That was rookie mistake #3. Here are the 2 bolts that gave me fits. Once you get these removed, you're pretty much done with the hard part:



Note: Here's a bit of advice added down this thread by LoneStarFRC. He experienced the same hell with these bolts and explained how he removed his. Its good advice and will maybe help someone out. I quote:

As I was reading through, I couldn't help but be reminded of the first time I pulled my calipers off on mine. Now, I have done brake jobs on other cars in the past and they were not particularly difficult. I was fully aware of the torque spec (125 ft lbs! )on C5 caliper mounting brackets, but I still had a biotch of a time breaking the bolts loose. Even using a small cheater bar on the ratchet handle. The problem is really compounded by the fact that you just can't get much leverage when you have the car on jack-stands. If it was up higher off the ground, like on a lift, it wouldn't have been so bad. I finally figured a way to solve the problem. I placed the ratchet, without any cheater bar, and got it positioned correctly. I then used a small scissor jack and raised it up to apply pressure directly to the ratchet handle and started jacking. Worked like a charm. Fortunately, I was able to position myself well enough to be able to use my torque wrench come time to re-tighten the bracket bolts. The torque wrench is much longer and gave me enough leverage to tighten to 125 ft lbs.
...end quote.

The last thing to remove are the rotors. I never could get my front rotors off the car (ended up painting them on the car), but this is what I was told to do to remove them. First, put the wheel nuts back on their shafts. Don't screw them on far, just enough so that they cover the ends of the threads. What you're going to do is bang the center of the rotor with a hammer as you're pulling it off the axle. The wheel nuts will protect the ends of the threads when you whack and miss the rotor. Trust me, you will miss. If you can get them off the car, it makes painting them a lot easier.

You've probably noticed that I have neglected to say what size socket to use on these bolts. That's because I wasn't 100% sure that I was using the correct size to remove them. With metric and standard bolts both seeming like they'll work, I'll just let you make the call. If someone knows the exact size, maybe they'll let me know and then I'll edit this post. Until then, happy hunting!

Now that you have removed all of the parts, you'll need to scrub or Dremel all of the brake dust, dirt, brake fluid, and rust off all the parts. The Dremel tool with the brushes described in the parts section of this thread are the best way to go. Check out these before and after pictures of the bracket:



And here's the caliper:



If you want that paint to stick to this stuff, you've got to get the gunk off of them.

Now you're ready for some paint.

Big Time Warning!!! Whatever you do, don't spray paint anywhere near your car unless you have covered the entire car with something. A bed sheet, car cover, your fat uncle, something. Don't walk outside your garage and spray any of the parts unless your car is covered with something. Why you ask? Because the over-spray will somehow find it's way back into the garage and slowly settle over the entire car.

Ask me how I know.

I'm loosing count of my rookie mistakes. The good news is that the over-spray can be buffed out without too much work but that cost me another $80.



Let's Start Painting!

First of all, the red paint in the can is way to thick. It starts drying before you even get one coat on the caliper. Here's what you need to do. Get the red paint out and stir it up real good. Pour half the red paint into another container that you can reseal. Don't worry, there's enough paint in that pint can to do a few cars. What you're going to do is thin that paint out some with the paint thinner.

CAUTION: It only takes a few drops of thinner to get this stuff thin. Don't pour too much thinner in there. Start with a thimble amount of thinner, stir it up real good and see how the consistency is. Try painting on a rough surface like a brick or something else that is similar to the caliper. If you can get the paint to cover the surface evenly without leaving a whole bunch of stroke marks, then you've got the right consistency. If you accidentally put to much thinner in there, add some of the paint still in the can into what you're working with. That's why you separated the two; just in case you screwed up.

Once you get the consistency right, lay your first coat of paint on the calipers. This stuff dries real fast so you'll be laying multiple coats rather quickly. Read the box for actual drying times. Here's what my first coat of paint looked like:



Notice how smooth the paint is. If you use that stuff straight out of the can, your caliper will not be this smooth.

The brake bracket and rotor required a little more prep. First, I Dremeled the heck out of the rust on the rotor, washed it clean and dried it. Next, I treated both parts with the NAPA rust treatment spray that you saw in the parts section of this thread. That stuff goes on fast! You wait 2-3 minutes between coats and after you get all the coats on that you desire, you wait 24 hours and then start applying the paint. After all that, I broke out the paint brush and painted the hat (that's what they call the part of the rotor that is not touched by the brake shoes).

I hated the results. The paint was too shiny, and no matter how much you thinned it out, it still left some awfully ugly brush strokes. It looked like it was painted at "Amateur Night at the Apollo". I wanted a smooth, flat black factory painted look. Not that "give a bucket of paint to the Our Gang kids and let them have a go" look. Thus, I ended up stripping the thing and repeating the whole process over again, but this time I painted it with the spray can Dupli-color black. MUCH BETTER RESULT!

You've noticed that I painted the entire rotor. I don't recommend this because the first time you go to apply your brakes, it will begin to heat up and peel that paint off the rotor. Yea, It will clean every drop of the paint off the rotor, but it will also deposit little black balls of paint all over the inside of your rims. If you catch this right away, it will be relatively easy to clean off. Woe unto thee if you don't. Mask off the rotors so that you don't have this issue and this will also keep you from gumming up your pads. I haven't had any issues with mine but "do as I say, not as I did."



I highly recommend the rust treatment spray before painting the rotor and brake bracket. When that stuff finishes drying, it drys to a very dark finish, almost black, Thus, if your paint ever begins to thin or chip, the rust treatment color will disguise the flaws. At least that's my theory...

I did use a brush to go around the edge of my rotors. I gunked the paint in there read heavy because that area was real rusty. I was pleased with the way that turned out because now when I look at my wheel, I can see the opening between my rotors and it is nice and black.

Here is one of my brake brackets once I had cleaned, treated and painted it. I even spent time cleaning the metal brake clips.



Here's a shot of a finished caliper. I didn't mask off the lettering, I simply broke out the Dremel tool and used a sanding bit to clean off the lettering. WARNING! That sanding bit is easily capable of grinding those letters right off the caliper! The secret is to not turn the Dremel tool up too high and to use very little pressure. Here was my end result:



Once everything is painted and dry, you can put it all back together and lower the car. Then, start on the rear end. The rear will go much faster because now you know how to disassemble and reassemble everything. The bolt sizes are the same as the front so you don't have to break out anything new. I used those ramps to get my rear end high enough for the jack and used the same piece of wood to raise the car for the jack stand placement. Over all, this was a very simple mod and you'll be so proud of yourself once you complete it.

As far as how long it takes to do this, some guys say 4 hours and some say more or less. It took me 2 weeks but when you remove 1 bolt and then take the rest of the day off, the job might run a little long. This is why you won't find me pulling a tranny at Patches garage; not unless you can do without your car for a couple of seasons. The last time I saw my mechanic, he was still rolling on the floor laughing at how long I took.

The end result however, BRILLIANT! Just check out these results:







Well folks, this is my contribution to this great forum and I hope it helps at least 1 person. If so, then it was worth while. I know for a fact that you guys have helped me beyond thanks. Keep up the good work!




The Junkman

Last edited by Junkman2008; 10-11-2012 at 07:51 AM.
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