(Words and Photos: Classics Monthly Magazine, July 2015 issue)
Everybody has their own favourite way of bleeding brakes and it’s hard to beat the two-man operation: it may involve a lot of shouting but applying pressure to the system via the pedal is just about the only failsafe way of doing it. The major drawback though is that you do need two people which is why there are several one-man devices on the market. These include the ‘Eezi-Bleed’ type which uses air pressure to pressurise the system via the master cylinder cap, plus the vacuum bleeders which suck the fluid and air out from the bleed nipple using a one-way valve and hand plunger.
The Reverse Bleeder is similar to the hand trigger pumps but works in exactly the opposite way, by pushing fluid up the pipe into the master cylinder rather than the other way round. The idea is that fresh fluid is pushed up the pipework, with the trapped air eventually appearing in the master cylinder where it can escape.
It’s a complex-looking kit as delivered, with several adapters and lengths of pipe, plus the trigger itself.
The instructions supplied in the packaging are slightly basic and suggest visiting www.reversebleeder.com if you’ve not used this type of tool before. In practice we found that after a few minutes’ head scratching the diagrams on the packaging were sufficient to set it up as required.
We used it to bleed the brakes on an air-cooled VW Beetle and then on a more modern Golf after replacing a rear calliper and although it took a while to work out which way to set up the tool we found it worked well. We used the tool in the reverse mode on the older car and achieved a firm pedal within minutes, although on the Golf it didn’t seem so successful and we used the tool in its vacuum bleeding mode. Being more familiar with this method anyway, we found it worked well and provided a nice firm pedal. Either method does require you to keep an eye on the fluid level in the master cylinder, to avoid it either running dry and filling the pipes with air or to avoid it overflowing brake fluid on to your paint.
Verdict: Simple and convenient
It’s a simple tool which is worth having around to enable quick and easy brake bleeding without having to call on an assistant. The ability to both reverse bleed and vacuum bleed makes it useful in all kinds of situations. Now to discover whether we can use it on mountain bike brakes…