Brakes fixed - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-21-2012, 07:56 PM   #1
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Brakes fixed

Hoka hey! Kevin got our surge brakes on our Uhaul VT working! We hope anyway. If you spin the tire and activate the surge brake, the tire stops.

CindyL
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:38 PM   #2
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what did he have to do to fix them? Bob
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Old 04-22-2012, 06:45 AM   #3
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Kevin will have to detail the repairs. Here is what I know. We used a used Uhaul trailer surge brake from ebay, replacing the one on the trailer. He bought new brake shoes and put those on. The issue we had was getting the right pin between the surge mechanism and the lines to the trailer. I think that he worked with Uhaul to find that part.
He also ordered a gizmo from ebay that helped him finish up the brake bleeding yesterday.
Now we have to test how well it pulls before we take it to Pine Ridge in a couple of weeks.

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Old 04-22-2012, 07:29 AM   #4
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We are waiting on pins and needles.
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Old 04-22-2012, 09:29 AM   #5
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OK... the details.

About a year and a half ago, I ordered a set of new 10" brake assemblies (including new backing plates) for our VT. The original assemblies hadn't worked for years and crumbled to rusty dust when I pulled the brake drums. However, the holes in the backing plates didn't quite match the UHaul hubs. Two of the holes matched (on the diagonal) so I drilled new holes to fit the other hub bolts. This resulted in the brake plates being slightly off-level. I had to make sure that the incoming brake lines still matched up with the brake cylinders when setting this up. With everything now in place, the new backing plates sit at about a 20 degree tilt toward the front, but everything is tight and secure.

As CindyL mentioned, I had to contact our local UHaul repair shop to locate a new brake hose and connections to make the connection between the surge brake unit and the line in the tongue that goes back to the brakes. After a lot of searching at hardware and parts places, I asked to talk with the head parts guy at the UHaul facility. In the past, they haven't really wanted to let me go in there, but I showed them a picture of the trailer and they were immediately intrigued by the trailer. The parts guy found two hoses of different lengths, so he ordered them both and they came in after about 2 weeks. It turns out I needed the shorter one, so I kept the longer one for back-up. I had to cut away a bit of the propane tank support tower to get at the connection, but I was able to put in the new hose, thus getting brake fluid from the surge brake unit to the system. (This is about 9 months after I installed the new brake assemblies.)

Next, I tried to bleed the brake lines but had trouble getting the surge brake unit on the tongue to move adequately. I tried the lever approach and hooking the Tow Vehicle to the hitch, but it was very difficult to get small movements on the hitch. It was getting to be winter, so I covered the trailer and waited for this spring.

In the meantime, I ordered the tool that CindyL pictured. This is intended for moving the surge unit and I finally tried it out yesterday. What had been a tough task was now simple! The piece acts as a lever that hooks over the pivot bolts on the moveable part of the surge unit. I took off the wheels, tightened up the brake pads to the drum (they had been left wide open), and bled the brake lines. After about 2 minutes of pumping the lever, the bubble stopped and I closed things up. Then, Cindy came out to work the lever and I spun the drums. As soon as she put pressure on the hitch lever, the pads grabbed the drums, stopping the rotation. Success! I finished up both sides, put the wheels back on, and tested again. This time, I spun the wheels hard, ran to push on the lever, and the wheels stopped right away. While they may need a little more adjusting following some actual driving, I think we have the brakes operational! Now it will be interesting to see the difference on the road, especially coming down hills and on quick stops. I also intend to fabricate a small piece of metal to keep the brake from engaging when I back up, since these are not free rolling assemblies for backing up.

Well, I think that's it. We'll let you know how it works on our trip to South Dakota in two weeks. It should be good to have the added security of the brakes on the interstates and in the Black Hills. While we've driven for 5 years without the brakes, it has always made Cindy nervous. Peace of mind is a good thing!
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:29 AM   #6
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Great news! I think you will find that surge brakes work just fine if given a little TLC. Do you have a way to keep them from engaging when backing up?
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Old 04-22-2012, 09:08 PM   #7
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I'm working on the backing issue next weekend. I think a wedge of metal or wood that doesn't let the surge piston compress when pressure is put on the hitch should do the trick. I'll let you know.
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Old 04-22-2012, 10:33 PM   #8
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I'm working on the backing issue next weekend. I think a wedge of metal or wood that doesn't let the surge piston compress when pressure is put on the hitch should do the trick. I'll let you know.
My old M101A2 army trailer had a pin that would fit through the housing of the master cylinder to deactivate the brakes while backing up.
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Old 04-23-2012, 12:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 841K9 View Post
My old M101A2 army trailer had a pin that would fit through the housing of the master cylinder to deactivate the brakes while backing up.
I would be worried that I would forget to take out the pin when I was towing. Then, no trailer brakes.
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Old 04-23-2012, 01:21 PM   #10
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Kevin would not forget that. He told me that he thinks that Uhaul may have done something to make it hard for renters to goof up the brakes.

How about other VT owners checking theirs for us? What do you have on your brakes (although we do have a different mechanism that the original. The information may help us to figure out ours though.)?


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Old 04-23-2012, 02:03 PM   #11
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Some have a mechanical lockout and on some it is electric, engaged by back up light current.

etrailer.com - Products surge lockout
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:11 AM   #12
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On the UHaul surge brake unit, the way to run "free wheeling" is to lift the piston cover plate to a vertical position. There is no pin to do this like on some other surge units. As CindyL said, I think this was to make it difficult for renters to run without brakes. The piston cover plate requires a great deal of leverage to pry up, so I carry a long pry bar to do this when needed. The large springs on each side of the unit provide so much tension that I've almost knocked myself down when the cover finally pops up. Putting it back down requires a good strong push with your foot and has an equally strong "clunk" when engaged. You don't want your fingers anywhere near it when opening or closing!
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Old 04-25-2012, 11:16 AM   #13
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Interesting. If you have trouble backing into an uphill spot, don't forget to check this.
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:15 PM   #14
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I got a piece of metal just the right size to fit between the hitch ball tightener and the main body of the surge unit. It keeps the moveable hitch from sliding back tp activate the braking piston. It will work for slow backing speeds into a camping spot, but I would want to back up real fast or up a steep hill or it could damage the hitch ball tightener. For those cases, I'll pop the cover plate up and deactivate the piston completely.
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