Well, I tried to do the rear brakes on Megan’s superbeetle yesterday. The brakes stop good, but the bloody things squeak and squeal when cold. It’s irritating as all get out. I disassembled the front brakes and cleaned everything a while ago, but I couldn’t do the backs because I couldn’t get the castle nut off the rear hub.

It turns out that castle nut that holds the rear drum on is torqued down to 217 foot pounds. It’s not coming off easily. Rob and Dave’s VW page has a nice article on doing the rear brakes of a Super Beetle. In fact I use their pages for reference quite a bit.

Anyhow, I purchased a 1 7/16 socket. Grabbed a 1/2 Craftsman ratchet from my friend Chuck, acquired a 4 ft cheater bar from some scrap metal at work, and went to town on the brakes starting on the driver’s side. The first thing I did was get a Sharpie pen and mark the holes on the bolt and hub where the cotter pin went through. Then I attached the socket, ratchet, and 4 foot breaker bar, also known as a cheater bar. Easy peasy. Castle nut spun right off. Brakes were good. Gave the drum and pads a quick scoring with some sand paper, cleaned everything with brake cleaner and reassembled. Woot! This is easy.

Except when I tried to do the passenger side something went horribly wrong. I attached the socket, ratchet and breaker bar, started putting pressure on the bar to break the castle nut loose when, CRACK! Slam! Breaker bar, socket, and ratchet all hit the ground. Huh? Must have come off the nut. Strange. Tried again with the same result. Sadly it turns out I snapped the inner workings of the ratchet. It appears to work, until you put heavy torque on it then it just snaps free. I actually took the ratchet apart and you can see the stripped teeth inside. 😦 As the girls would say, Sad Panda!

So, at least it’s a Craftsman ratchet with a lifetime warranty. Time to find out if that’s true in reality or not.  We don’t have any Sears stores close, closest is in Salinas, but we do have Orchard Supply stores which sell Craftsman tools. I’ll be taking the ratchet over there today and see if I can exchange it.