Being a solo driver on the road requires a certain amount of independence. In a team scenario, you can usually count on someone else being there when you need a hand. One thing in particular that I have noticed over the years as being a challenge as a solo driver is testing break functionality. Sure, anyone can adjust their brakes on their own when properly trained, but actually checking them in operation is another beast in itself!
The two key factors of functionality I am most concerned about, other than proper adjustment, are making sure all of the small parts work properly and listening for applied pressure leaks. Without someone to actually operate the brake pedal while you inspect these items, a driver must rely on technology, ingenuity, or both to help out. In sticking with my methodology of simplicity streamlining, I have developed a method for leak detection that is crudely simple and a method for checking the moving parts that has a technological flair.
Being the kind of person that likes to use one tool for multiple tasks, especially after having to now adjust to less room being in a daycab, I have crafted another use for my safety chisel. After seeing a couple tools that could be bought that can do the same job for you as your foot applying the brake pedal by pressing force against your steering wheel, I thought to myself "I can make that!" Since the handguard on my chisel is adjustable, this little concoction pictured was as simple as knowing how much space was between the brake pedal and the steering wheel adjustment pedal when the brakes are being applied. This Chisel applying my brakes would now allow me to inspect for air leaks while the pedal was being depressed, all while not having to buy any additional tools!
While doing this I realized I could use the chisel for checking all the operational components in action, but I actually wanted to see them operate. It was in this that I determined I must turn to technology for a little bit of help! What better to help me than recording it digitally? No need to buy a high-quality camera, as I always carry one around with me in the form of my smartphone. My solution to the problem was propping it up in my tool bag pocket to record the operational motion of the break mechanisms as I applied the brakes. Here are the results: