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Old 12-23-2019, 06:42 PM   #1
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Parking Brake Fails to Release (Espar to blame?)

Happy Holidays all. I've a "click and clack" puzzle for you thats impacting our winter road trip...

What happened: Drove out of Colorado to New Mexico in -4F temps on Dec 18th. Camped for 3 nights in New Mexico with day temps in the mid 30s but night temps quickly dropping into the teens(?). After 3 days we tried to leave and discovered that our parking brake would not release.

Our Espar heater is installed under the passenger seat and the exhaust runs back toward the rear of the vehicle. It extends to about the end of the slider. We ran it from sundown till just after sunrise. We had the top up and even insulated we lost heat through it -- so the Espar was running more than we ever have before. And it worked great keeping the chill off. Attached is a photo of the stalagmites that formed from dripping condensation around the heater exhaust.

Also attached is a photo of us lightly(!) heating the cable housing using a jetboil stove (it looks like we're heating the pumpkin but we're not, its a trick of perspective). We used a mostly empty butane tank, on low, on the ground. Ice buildup under the vehicle didn't melt and none of the metal got even warm to the touch. After about 20minutes, lots of wiggling of the lines, and pulling/releasing the brake lever the cables released and we were free to go.

Without running the heater we had the same problem the following night. Same solution. I've now stopped using the parking brake. (Have chocks with me that I'll use instead).

Have any of you experienced this?

What do you think of our theory that condensation from the heater was frozen in the housing and caused this problem? Dirt? Magic other moisture? We are unsure how to test this? Any ideas?
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_0275.jpg   IMG_0281.jpg  
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Old 12-23-2019, 06:45 PM   #2
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So the followup question: What would you do now?

The cable is exposed until about where the exhaust is. Then it goes into a housing. What about WD40 or rubbing alcohol or (something?) to try and drive out moisture of clean/lubricate the cable in the housing? Shake a rubber chicken at it? Christmas dance?
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Old 12-23-2019, 06:54 PM   #3
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The Espar is unlikely to be related. It mostly has to do with driving on wet roads before getting into freezing weather. Best to just avoid using it it those conditions and chock the wheel if I isn't flat ground. Cable lube might help but may not guarantee anything.
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Old 12-23-2019, 07:13 PM   #4
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When I lived in Minnesota one had to be careful about using the parking brake in subzero temperatures because the brake pads would freeze to the rotor.

Also, the tires would freeze to the ground... It made me really want a garage.
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Old 12-23-2019, 09:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbgrimm View Post
When I lived in Minnesota one had to be careful about using the parking brake in subzero temperatures because the brake pads would freeze to the rotor.

FWIW, Econolines have drum brakes for the parking brakes on the rear (even on vans with rear disc brakes) and use shoes and drums, not pads and rotors. Iíve never tried it, but I imagine a few whacks on the drum with a hammer (or rock) could break them loose, unless it is the cable itself that is frozen.
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Old 12-24-2019, 12:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW View Post
FWIW, Econolines have drum brakes for the parking brakes on the rear (even on vans with rear disc brakes) and use shoes and drums, not pads and rotors. Iíve never tried it, but I imagine a few whacks on the drum with a hammer (or rock) could break them loose, unless it is the cable itself that is frozen.
I've had both happen. If the shoes freeze in the drum, enough throttle will break it loose. But if the cable freezes (usually what happens) you can drive, but you'll end up overheating and glazing the parking brake shoes.
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Old 12-24-2019, 11:45 AM   #7
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Roads were dry and cold (-4F) the day before so I think any moisture came from the heater - although we can’t say that that is why it stuck of course.

I’m worried about glazing but think we got it free before driving far enough for that. We only drove a small distance before taking steps.

Thought about pounding on it. But wasn’t sure there was a good location. Our assumption was the cable in the housing so we concentrated on flexing that and adding a little heat.

I have silicone bicycle lube. Maybe I’ll get some on there but that feels about the same as waving a rubber chicken at it. (Might make me feel good even if less than effective).
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Old 12-24-2019, 11:49 AM   #8
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I've had both happen. If the shoes freeze in the drum, enough throttle will break it loose.
Sometimes if it is stuck hard enough it will pop the brake liner away from the shoe. You can hear it dragging/rubbing from time to time while driving if this happens.

hope you get it fixxed
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Old 12-26-2019, 11:38 AM   #9
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Living in Alaska, you quickly learn not to use the parking brake in winter. No matter the source of moisture, the end result is always the same. Best of luck..............
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Old 12-29-2019, 12:37 PM   #10
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Happened to my E350 before I installed the Webasto furnace. Don't use your parking brake in 0F or below. It was 15F last night here. I didn't use the parking brake on the Bronco. A month ago the tires on the log splitter froze to the ground. When I backed up, one tire came off the rim. Sub 0 is not a product defect just your learning curve. Welcome to the club, we snow Sportsmobilers have all gone through it.
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