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!