I went out there to clean it out, and to make sure everything was in readiness for its new life. I decided to move it a bit to make sure the rear brakes were free. I only moved it about ten feet.
When I stepped on the brake, it worked and the car stopped...and then suddenly the pedal went to the floor.
I moved it back to where it had been sitting, using the parking brake to stop the car instead of stepping on the pedal again. I shut the engine off, got out and instinctively looked at the rear end first, and found--as expected--a puddle of brake fluid forming under the driver's side rear rocker panel.
Now, I've had to replace brake lines before. It happens. Like when my brother last drove my Dad's van and blew a brake line because the damn thing had been doing more sitting than moving for the past year. I have all the tools on hand already and it doesn't really take much know-how to do it. I don't particularly enjoy it, but it's doable and usually it's just time-consuming.
I got the Escort up on jack stands and pinpointed the leak. Turns out the car has two brake lines running to the rear wheels; that makes sense for a car that's got a variant with ABS and rear disk brakes. (And quite possibly traction control, as well--if not in the US then at least the Mazda version does somewhere, I'd bet.) The two lines go to a fitting bolted to the rear crossmember, and from there they go to the wheels.
Once I had identified which brake line was blown, it was a simple matter to go get parts and splice the hard line. I had to go to two parts stores to get everything I needed, but I managed it.
...turned out I had not gotten everything I needed; I was short by one male fitting, so I had to go back and buy more.
I axed the part of the line going to the middle of the crossmember and spliced directly from the hard line coming from the front to a stub of the brake line that goes to the flex line to the wheel. It would have taken about three times as long to do the repair if I replaced the line to the block, and it wouldn't work any better than it will this way...and it's a $600 car. I'm not taking out the f-ing fuel tank to replace an unnecessary brake line. (If Sailor V wants to retrofit ABS--no, even then this way would still work, I'm pretty sure.)
So finally--the sun having set and working by the light of a cage lamp--I got the system buttoned up and started to bleed it. I really need another person on hand for this, as my vacuum pump has never worked very well for bleeding brakes, but I managed to get a significant amount of air out of the rear circuit and gave the brakes a pressure test by pumping them and pushing them all the way to the floor. They are holding pressure, though there's still a lot of air in the system and I need to completely bleed it, but unlike before I can feel plenty of resistance.
And I heard this tiny little sound...
...and there was more brake fluid dripping onto the driveway. Not nearly as much as before; but a look under the car told me that the other rear brake line had developed a pinhole leak in about the same place as the first one did.
Called Sailor V and told him it wasn't going to happen today, not at all, and resolved to give up for the night.
Tomorrow morning I get to go buy more brake line and more fittings, and patch the other rear brake line. Maybe then I can finally get this thing the hell out of my driveway.
* * *
The funny thing is, the van had ABS and it had a single brake line for the rear brakes. I traced these two brake lines several times, and each time I came to the same conclusion, so it's not like I glanced at it and made an assumption.
Perhaps for large trucks with live rear axles a three-channel ABS system (two front and one rear) works fine. I've never dealt with ABS on a front-drive vehicle with all-independent suspension, so I wouldn't know, but it makes sense to me that a vehicle like the Escort would have a four-channel ABS system.
...so Sailor V wanted me to check the fuel lines and such. The fuel lines are all plastic and rubber, because they only need to handle about 40-odd PSI. (Unlike the brake lines, which have to handle about 2,000 PSI or so.) Generally speaking, any plastic that can stand up to gasoline can stand up to whatever gunk is in the atmosphere.
Besides, brake fluid is hydrophilic and the brake lines are mild steel; they aren't even galvanized or painted, so they rust. What else can you do?
* * *
Exhausted, filthy, and dejected, I put everything away and dragged myself into the house. I took a shower, then ordered General Tao's chicken from the chinese place. F it; I didn't want to cook and the meal I ordered will feed me three times for only a couple dollars more than a bacon mofo would cost.
What a pain in the ass.