With my limited gearhead knowledge I suspected replacing the brake pads wasn't rocket science. So I went on YouTube and, voila, an instructional video about replacing brake pads on 3/4- and 1-ton Chevy Express vans. Oh yeah, piece of cake. One wrench and a big C-clamp. Though it would be easier and faster if I had a better jack than the one the Rolling Steel Tent came with. And an air wrench. So I waited until I got to Forrest's place.
online for a fraction of what a Chevy dealer or auto parts store would charge. So that's what I did.
You've seen this view before if you've ever changed a flat rear tire. The caliper looks all complicated and mysterious (which is what mechanics would like you to keep thinking) but it's actually rather simple.
The bottom bolt on its way out
But, really, you can change the pads by removing just one bolt (the bottom one is easier to get to) and loosening the other so the center of the caliper swings away. That means you don't need to worry about the brake line. Then the pads just slip out to the sides.
You don't need to take the old pads out to see how worn they are. And, hopefully, you don't find out by being unable to stop. With the wheel off (and maybe with it still on, depending on the vehicle) you can see the pads through the inspection window on the caliper. Here's the view with my new pads in place.