Got home, unloaded the truck, then got into work clothes and hit the driveway.
I had wanted to move Buttercup out of the garage, but the thing wouldn't even turn over, so I ended up having to sit in the sun and bake while replacing the rear brake shoes.
...which, technically, didn't need replacing at all.
Having bought the parts and all, though, I replaced them on general principle: in all the time I have known Mrs. Fungus the rear brakes on that car have never been serviced.
This car has threaded holes in the drum which you use to pull the drum off the hub. In the process of doing this, something went spoing inside. When I got the drum off, I saw that one of the brake shoe hold-down springs had fallen off, and it looked like the pin had broken.
Fine--off to three different parts stores to find a replacement. AutoZone had a kit for $20, which I purchased, and then I went home.
To discover that no, the pin was in fact fine, and had merely pulled through the retainer. This thing uses two retainers for some reason, one on either side of the spring, so I was able to substitute the bottom retainer for the top. I'll take that hardware kit back tomorrow or something.
Anyway, comparing the new shoes to the old ones, the wear was not really significant--probably about a quarter, maybe a third, of the thickness, depending on where you measured it--but I figured (as stated above) this had never been done, so do it.
...and there followed the most God-awful time.
Getting the thing apart was not terribly difficult--it never is--and the overall design of the thing is actually pretty simple. Drum brakes are not very complicated anyway, except when it comes to putting the damned things together. There isn't enough room between the hub and the brake cylinder to fit the adjuster and spring assembly between them, so you can't put the shoes on and then put the adjuster in. So you have to juggle a brake shoe, the adjuster assembly, the spring that is wrappeed around it, and the adjuster lever, all at the same time, to get the thing back together.
When the adjuster is set to its smallest length, it's a little loose. The adjuster lever looks like it's in the wrong place. It's not--it will automatically move into the right position when it is necessary--but it doesn't look right, and so I spent a bad hour trying to get it together and have it look right.
To make matters worse, after it was all said and done, I couldn't get the drum back on. It seemed like the brakes were too big. Even with the adjuster all the way down.
Compared the set for the passenger side to the old ones and they are almost exact replacements, right down to the holes in the backing plate. Finagled the stuff around and tried again; I think the shoes were off-center which is why they wouldn't fit. Got the drum on, but it seemed a bit stiff; I decided to try the other side and see how that would go.
The other side went fast because now I knew what I was doing. Got it all together--and I could not turn the drum at all. Got the wheel puller out and pulled the drum off again, and the guts of the brake system all fell onto the driveway once the drum was clear. Sighing, I reassembled it, knowing that I'd made some kind of mistake; and when I got it together I triple-checked everything. The drum took a little convincing to go on, but then it went kang! and was in place and spun normally.
Took her for a spin. No change in the pedal feel. The parking brake needs some adjustment. All good otherwise.
Now, the front--
Took the driver's side apart, looked at the pads, put it all back together again, then checked the passenger side. I can't remember how long it's been since I replaced those pads, but there's probably at least another 30,000 miles left in them. 20,000, anyway.
Buttoned everything back up, took her for a test drive, everything's working fine. Checked the brake fluid--it's a bit high but not enough to need adjusting. The brake pedal is still the same as it was. It feels softer than it ought to be. About the only other thing I can try at this point is to bleed the brakes, but I need help for that, and it was already dark by the time I got to this point. I'll leave that job for next week or so. The car's fine, anyway--it is no worse now than it was before I started, and has new rear brake shoes.
Of course, while working on the fronts, I noticed that the front struts need replacing. *whimper* Driver's side has torn boot and is leaking fluid, passenger side has torn boot. That'll need to be done sometime in the next few months. It's not critical, but it needs doing. During all the driving I did yesterday the thing handled like a go kart, just as it always has.
Anyway, doing the struts means having the front end aligned afterwards, which is going to take some logistical planning. That's okay.
* * *
This is the first explanation that I've heard for the EM drive that made any sense to me. Quantum vacuum energy is everywhere, and Feynman noted that the energy in one cubic centimeter of space could boil all the oceans on Earth.
The problem is getting at it.
I don't know that we're on the verge of exploiting this thing--the articles at that site tend to be very sensationalist--but it'll be interesting to see what develops from this.
* * *
Well--so much for the weekend. It's after 10:30 on Sunday night. Nice thing is, we'll have another one next week; all I need to do is my job. Woohoo!