Advice on changing out brake bleeders

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I have weeping brake bleeders on my front calipers, 2000 HD Road King. Since these are the original bleeders and have some wear I'm just going to swap them out with OEM replacements. I've done many brake bleeds but never replaced the bleeders entirely, I'm just looking for some advice. I want too keep the mess to a minimum and not have to remove the calipers, just cover everything with plastic to protect from stray brake fluid. My plan is, with the calipers still on the bike, to leave the rubber caps on the bleeders while unscrewing them, the idea being to keep most of the fluid in and not draining out the screw like it would when you're bleeding brakes normally. Then when they're out quickly plug the caliper hole with my finger and screw in the new bleeder. Then bleed the brakes to get the air out. Done. Sounds like it should work, but maybe it's wishful thinking and better to just disassemble everything, do the bleeder swap, and then button everything back up. Just seems like maybe that's not even necessary if I can keep the fluid from going everywhere. Anyone done this?
 

MoreCowbellAz

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Actually I got the bike from my dad, I'm not sure if the calipers are original, been rebuilt, etc, but they seem to be working fine aside from the weeping bleeds. And I've already got replacement bleeds so I may as well use them. I just put new EBC pads on a couple months ago too. That's when I did a complete fluid change which was a lot of loosening and tightening the bleeds and I think I may have fatigued or deformed them a little, they started weeping after that. If I replace the bleeds and still get weeping, then that's new caliper time. Oh by the way, I forgot to mention the weeping is coming from around the threads, not through the bleeder itself.
 
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They are toast. But I would just get new calipers. Or just pull the pads so they stay dry. remove the bleeders and allow the system to completely drain. Clean everything with brakekleen. Dry it. Reinstall the new bleeders with some white permatex on the threads. Refill and rebleed.
 
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CT8

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Brakes and tires aren't something to save $$$ on. Buy the best and do them properly
 

ZeeOSix

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The fluid in the brake system is only under pressure when you're applying the brakes. So you might get a little bit of fluid leakage when you remove the bleeder depending where the bleeder is located, but it's not going to come spewing out. As you said in your plan, try to isolate the bleeder with some rags, etc then remove it and install the new bleeder. Bleed the system and you should be fine unless the bleed screw won't seal because the caliper side of the seat is messed up. You wouldn't know if that's true until you try a new bleeder.
 

MoreCowbellAz

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Hopefully my intention isn't being misread.....my question has absolutely nothing to do with trying to save money or make do with bad parts (calipers). I'm just curious if replacing a bleed screw actually requires disassembly, or if it's reasonable to do it with things still mounted on the bike. I did a full clean and flush when I did the pads, and everything works awesome so it wouldn't seem to be necessary to "fix" anything beyond the leaky bleeds. As an example, on my dirt bike I needed to remove the shock. Per the manual, I needed to remove the sub-frame and half the bike. In reality, leave it all on the bike, loosen the sub-frame to there's some wiggle room, and voila the shock comes right out. Same thought process regarding the bleed question. Maybe I'm too practical minded.
 
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They can absoluletly be replaced with the caliper mounted in place. I would put some speed bleeders in if I was replacing them. They make bleeding brakes a pleasure.,,,
 
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I am going to echo and expand on what others have said. Might be a good idea to just change calipers, and while you are at it, the rubber brake hoses.
 

MoreCowbellAz

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Originally Posted By: ZeeOSix
you might get a little bit of fluid leakage when you remove the bleeder depending where the bleeder is located, but it's not going to come spewing out.
That's one point I was wondering, it seems like it wouldn't spew out but was wondering about others' experiences before I dove in. I hear the points about just replacing the calipers since they have some age (although only 24k miles, and they may very well have been rebuilt already), not a bad idea and I was thinking about that. But for now since I've already got new bleeders on hand, and just did install new pads and fluid, I think I'll try just installing the bleeders and see where I'm at. Any weeping and I'll just replace the calipers. I'm thinking next time I'm due for pads I may go that route anyway and upgrade the brake lines while I'm at it, but that's probably 2 years away at least. FWIW, I used to be pretty disappointed with the braking performance of this bike. Once I did a complete fluid change and clean, installed, EBC HH pads, and replaced one of the front rotors that was warped, it's like night and day. My front brake has a real positive/firm feel, no sponginess, and has a ton of stopping power. I'm still a believer in steel lines from my roadracing days, but even with stock lines at least I have confidence in slowing this thing down at freeway speeds whereas before I always felt like I was trying to slow down an ocean liner.
 
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If you are quick and have a rag handy very little fluid will come out. Even less if you temporarily seal the master cylinder with some plastic wrap and a rubber band.
 
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Calipers are rebuild able with seals. Unless the piston and bore is corroded beyond repair . Most make specify 4 year intervals. No sense spending hundreds of $$
 

MoreCowbellAz

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Update - well that experiment seems to have failed. I replaced the bleeders just fine without having to remove the whole caliper, etc, but I'm still am getting some weeping around the threads. I can tell pushing air INTO the bleeder causes bubbles to come out through the threads, so obviously not air tight, and I assume the bleeder seat on the caliper must be deformed to be allowing some fluid through. So......new caliper time. You guys that recommended new calipers, were you referring to refurbished/used units off ebay, aftermarket, or what? Dealer is quoting $250 per caliper, that seems pretty steep but I don't want to get junk either. I've seen folks on other forums talking like $100, not sure if that realistic or not.
 
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A thin smear of pipe thread paste (any brand) will seal the threads. Take the bleed nipple out, wipe it dry, spray it clean with some solvent, wipe dry again, put on a thin coat of whichever brand your local hardware store stocks. The smallest tube will work fine.
 
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