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No Pressure to Brake System, No Fluid from Banjo Bolt

Old 09-05-2010, 07:29 PM
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No Pressure to Brake System, No Fluid from Banjo Bolt

I just bought a 2003 SH about a month ago. The front brakes were sticking so I decided to rebuild the calipers and clean the brake pistons. I got done rebuilding the front calipers, sealed everyting up, checked to make sure everything was in it's proper place, and started trying to bleed the brakes...no pressure at all. I tried to start bleeding from the MC via the banjo bolt, but no fluid comes out even after multiple attempts of slowly squeezing while re-tightening the bolt. The fluid in the reservoir is full. No air comes up though the reservoir and no fluid comes out from around the MC banjo bolt. Am I doing something wrong, or could my MC need rebuilding / replacing? The MC worked before so i'm not sure what's going on. I have read multiple other postings, but it appears as though bleeding through the banjo bolt and moving on from there has worked for all of the other cases. The fluid in my reservoir doesn't move at all, and no fluid ever comes out from the banjo bolt. Any Ideas?

Last edited by pbfiredawg22; 09-05-2010 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:45 PM
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Get a length of clear tubing, put it on the bleeder valve and open it. Squeeze the brake handle and suck some fluid down there with the best method you have available. I recommended clear because if you do it with your mouth you want to be able to see it coming. It will take a while but you should be able to get some fluid down there.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:10 PM
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So it may be normal not to be able to get fluid to come out of the banjo bolt on the MC?
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pbfiredawg22 View Post
So it may be normal not to be able to get fluid to come out of the banjo bolt on the MC?
It may be that the fluid is taking the path of least resistance and instead of leaking out the banjo bolt is compressing the air in your line. It is going to take a while to bleed using the vacuum method I described. When I put new SS lines on mine I thought I'd never get all the air out.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:26 PM
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I just figured that something must be wrong with my MC since I can't get fluid to come out from around the banjo bolt as mentioned in other posts on brake bleeding. I will definately take heed to your advice, and try pulling some fluid into the brake lines tomorrow.
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:25 PM
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It sounds like your just having problems getting fluid from your reservoir to your caliper. Bleeding new brakes is a huge pain in the A**! Brake fluid is quite viscous and does not like to move with just gravity. But I had some great success with it when I changed my lines in the spring and I will share my secrets with you. Does your wife have a turkey baster? Do you have some 1/4 and 1/2 fuel line? Well assuming you have these or your local hardware store does. Insert a section of the 1/2 line over the turkey baster and then insert the 1/4 inch line into the end of the 1/2 line and wrap with duct tape. Put the other end of the 1/4 line over the bleeder valve. Now you can do the bleeding 2 ways. Either pull the turkey baster off, fill it with brake fluid, reconnect the 1/2 line, open the bleeder and squeeze the baster and push the fluid into the caliper and up through the line to the reservoir. Or you can fill the reservoir with fluid, pull the turkey baster off squeeze the bulb, while the bulb is squeezed reconnect it to the 1/2 line and open the bleeder valve and release the bulb and the vacuum created will pull fluid out of the reservoir, down the line and to the caliper. This worked great for me and took me 15 minutes to get my brakes to pressure up with absolutely no air in them. It sound confusing but its very simple.
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Old 09-06-2010, 04:14 AM
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Bleeding from the caliper is an easy job, but when you change EVERYTHING, you can trap air at the master or at the splice or in the lines... I've never used a turkey baster -- does it really have enough pressure? -- but you can get a cheap oil can at Home Depot and do the same thing. Sometimes you also need to raise the calipers above a certain point, too. Some people even hang the calipers up overnight.

You can get a speed bleeder at Sears for about $30 that makes this thing a lot easier.

The OTHER possibility that comes to mind is that you mixed DOT fluids. Some seals are very sensitive to this; other SEEM less so to me. I rebuilt my Buel's caliper, then mixed DOT 5 with DOT 3 and had to do it all over again. Screwing sh*t up is one way to get good at something, I guess.

Good luck! This is probably one of the most frustrating jobs you'll do for a while and once it's behind you you'll feel so GOOD about your bike
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:30 AM
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Yeah, i'm not sure what kind of flud was in my SH before. It was definately looking funky (dark brown). I have the DOT4 synthetic, and i completely flushed all of the other remaining fluid from the system. I'm about to try the vacuum pump on the lines. I'll try the bleeding throught the banjo bolt after I do this. This DOT4 is definately some thick stuff. Like molasses in winter time. Seems to be more tricky than my usual brake bleeds on the swagger wagon, and my car. We'll see how she goes...
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:48 AM
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It sounds like nothing is coming from the reservoir - not being able to get fluid from the banjo is a different problem then having trouble lower. I can't remember what the stock MC was like but usually there is a little metal cover over a tiny bleed hole. you can remove that and be sure the bleed hole has not become plugged from a tiny piece of debris from the old fluid. A non-used little red straw that would come with wd-40 or chain lube will fit into the hole and can be used to get airflow started.
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:09 PM
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I actually had to use a vacuum bleeder while my brother was adding fluid / pumping the brake handle. It wouldn't work with just the brake bleeder. That got a lot of air out of the system but we couldn't get the air out of the MC, even through the banjo bolt. We tried pumping the brake handle while pulling fluid with the bleeder, and it worked like a charm. It forced all of the air out of the MC. Thanks for all of the help! It definately helps having other brains working on a problem.
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:15 PM
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When you say vacuum bleeder, what was her name?
Glad you got it going!
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Old 09-06-2010, 10:20 PM
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I know you've got it finished now, but for future reference, I usually fill the reservoir and then crack one of the bleeders on the caliper and let it sit for 5 minutes...go grab a beer and come back. By then you should have wetness around the bleeder. This is if you have had the calipers off/apart and empty of fluid. Then close that bleeder and do the same on the other side. In the auto industry it's known as gravity bleeding, and based on viscosity of fluid, could take longer depending on temp, though the dot 4 I have here doesn't seem any more viscous than standard dot 3. Then take your mityvac, put it on the bleeder, pump the brake lever about 4 times and hold...pump up the vac until you have a fair bit of vacuum on the bleeder, and then crack open the bleeder while keeping pressure on the brake lever, then close the bleeder when the lever bottoms against the bar. Repeat multiple times. Of course you don't need the mityvac but it speeds up the process immensely.

One other thing to note...you mentioned early on about brakes "sticking". I assume you mean they are dragging a bit? On any bike that has been stored for a long time, or has super nasty (read: brown) fluid in the system, be VERY careful and aware while riding it if you feel like the brakes are applying without you braking. When brake fluid is old it breaks down, especially in moist/humid environments, as it is hygroscopic and pulls moisture through brake lines. This is the cause of that nasty gunk you can find in the master cylinder, and that can block the relief port that was mentioned a few posts back by cliby. When that port gets blocked by debris, you can apply brakes, build pressure in the braking system, and they will drag, then heat the fluid from the dragging brakes, expanding the moisture laden fluid in the lines, causing the brakes to lock, because the the relief port isn't working... Years ago I had to go retrieve a vintage 1986 GSXR-1100 that was museum quality, that went down on the senior tech when he couldn't get pulled over fast enough on the test ride. Ouch. Make sure that bleed port is nice and clear of "mud".
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by RWhisen View Post
When you say vacuum bleeder, what was her name?
Glad you got it going!
I didn't catch her name, but she kind of looked like this ...hahaha
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:24 PM
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wyldryce, I will take that into consideration for next time. I'll have to bleed them again when I get braided lines (hopefully pretty soon). I think that it was an even bigger pain since the MC, the lines, and the calipers were all dry initially. The brakes never applied on their own, they just didn't always want to let go after I applied them. Now they are working like a charm. Fresh brakes and rubber definately give a little piece of mind.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:48 PM
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If you think the front brakes are a pain try the clutch. MitiVac to the rescue but once you own one you will never be without one again. They make brakes a breeze and two guys can load a clutch slave in less than five minutes with one. Great tool.
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