I?ll admit right up front that the problem was my fault. But the reason for my posting is to thank Orin Baudette for saving my bacon and helping me get back in the air when I was away from home base.
Orin Baudette (sp?). Orin you are a saint. Excuse me if I misspelled your last name. You came to the rescue and worked through the issue for me. I am so grateful.
I flew to Sulphur Springs (KSLR), Texas for breakfast. It?s about 35 minutes from home base at 52F. Everything went fine including the landing and taxi until I approached the tie-down spot at the terminal at the south end.
As I pressed the break to make a hard left, the pedal went to the floor ? nothing. I quickly reduced power, and said a mild curse. Now what? On getting out of the airplane (thankfully not a busy ramp at 0900 on Saturday) I could immediately see a trail of fluid that confirmed what I suspected. Brake fluid everywhere.
The telltale trail of fluid shows where the airplane stopped prior to my moving it into a parking spot
Removed the wheel pant and the scene confirmed my suspicions.
What to do? I finally had the chance to put my emergency tool kit to the test after 14 years of non-use, and I quickly realized I was missing a few essential items ? like a 7/16 open-end wrench for the wheel pant bolt. And I wrench for the brake bleed valve.
You never have enough tools. Note to self: add 7/16 wrench for wheel bolt, small wrench for brake bleed valve.
I needed a mechanic.
There was no one in the terminal at the time so I started walking toward the first open hangar I could see. A couple of guys who had just returned from Oshkosh came out and after a quick introduction made a call to their favorite mechanic, Orin Baudette. Orin showed up 5 minutes later and said let?s take a look.
Orin maintains a fleet of three Falcon 10s plus some piston aircraft. He worked for Legend aircraft before starting his own business. He had that calm demeanor you like to see in mechanic.
Thank God he was there. After I described my problem, Orin thought it might be a cracked brake line as he had seen this quite a few times with aluminum lines like Vans kits use. As he took the brake line fitting off, I saw an embarrassingly poor fluting job that I had done (one of my first ever attempts), and we suspected that was the issue. He cut the tube and made a new flare and with an overblown sense of confidence we tested it. Leaked like a sieve.
First suspect was a poor tubing flare (my bad!). We fixed that, filled the brake line, tested and? splash. This was not the problem.
So the next suspect was the brake puck. We removed it and saw: a) the O-ring was trying to squeeze itself out of the assembly, and b) the puck was installed backwards. I really couldn?t believe I had done that because I know better. I?m blaming it on Gremlins.
So another trip to Orin?s shop (we made several). He cleaned up the brake caliper, tried a new O-Ring but found it leaked, so we put the old back O-Ring back in and it held up fine under pressure.
So back to the plane and this did the trick. Success.
The next suspect, and real culprit, was the brake puck was inserted backwards. I can?t believe I did this. The O-Ring was literally working its way out of assembly.
The real point
of my long story, is to say thank you to Orin for being there, for spending a couple of hours of his Saturday helping me when I know he had much more important items to attend to ? like prepping one of the Falcon 10s for an afternoon flight. I had to force some money on him for his help.
This is what I love about aviation, people like Orin.
If you ever get to Sulphur Springs (KSLR) and need help, ask for Orin. He?s well known there and for good reason.