RV Electric Brake Maintenance - Help - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 05-05-2011, 11:14 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bill Robison View Post
Hi John -
Judging from the responses coming in - it seems I did a terrible job expressing what I am looking for. I am a DIY guy and was hoping to hear from others who get greasy about 1) how they judge the quality of the magnet surface of the drum (armature surface) & 2) how DIY clean-up, 'dress' or resurface the armature surface of the drum.

Bill. you are going to spend a lot of money needlessly if you keep going to RV shops for your needs.

I don't have work done at RV shops - - I simply stopped by a local commercial trail place and an RV center repair shop to ASK how they address the two above questions. Sort of 'two heads are better than one' thing...

I bought an old Trillium 4500 to refurbish several years ago that had inoperable brakes. I replaced the entire brake assemblys. Both the interior surfaces of both drums were very rusty so I took them to a local brake shop and they resurfaced the curved area and what you refer to the armature surface. As I remember it cost about $20.00 a drum.
In the last 6 years I have refurbished and sold at least 7 older Eggs. I replaced or added brakes to 5 of them. The Trillium with the rusty drums was the only one that needed resurfacing. I would imagine the average of all the trailers was at least 30 years.

Now that's more what I was hoping to hear. How about those who have brakes in really decent shape - what do you do?

How many miles do you put on your car before you pack the bearings or turn the drums?

I grew up on a farm where we maintained all our equipment, as most do - as mentioned earlier, my dad was a Millwright and taught me mechanics inside and out - I have to respond to this one since a lot of folks may read these posts (which was also my original intent) who don't know much about brakes and bearings. I lived in an era when we DID clean and re-pack car wheel bearings, but today car bearings are totally sealed from the elements and are typically exposed to regular service, which tends to eliminate moisture and corrosion build-up inside the hub. Trailer brakes, on the other hand, are not sealed units and most are not used in regular service. While in storage or just sitting without being towed often, trailer brakes are at high risk of collecting moisture over time, which causes pitting and corrosion of the bearing cage and at times even the race. Not to mention how much oxidation (rust) forms on the magnets, drum surfaces and internal moving brake springs and levers. All of these are reasons it is difficult to compare car vs trailer brakes and why it is a really good idea to do at least an annual inspection, re-pack the bearings, replace the seals, grease the moving metal parts and generally 'clean-up' all friction surfaces.

I realize that if a trailer is not driven many lifetime miles the major brake components can have a life of 15-20 ...maybe 30 years, but not without TLC (including annual inspections) and replacing some parts along the way.

Please don't think I am contradicting you, since apparently you know what you are doing - this is posted for those who aren't aware why brake & bearing care is so important on a regular basis. If you tow in the mountains a watchful eye is even more important due to the extremes of heat and wear exposure under such conditions. Some people tow their camper 100 miles to park it at a local lake - - others tow 10,000 miles or more in a year under severe service needs. The care and maintenance required by each of these eggs won't necessarily be the same, but I'm afraid some folks on the board may not realize that to be the case? Be safe;-)

I appreciate all the input - let's hear from a few more guys and gals who get 'down and dirty' doing their own brake work ;-)

Bill, I'm 69 y. o, and have been towing something all of my adult life. I have towed boat trailers, stock trailers, TT's and car haulers.
At the present time I have a sailboat trailer, an ATV trailer and my Scamp. I'm retired so they all get used more than average.
I have lost one bearing and that was on a boat trailer years ago.
I do my own work. My Scamp has about 15000 miles since I checked the brakes and bearings 18 months ago. I just took a short trip with my Scamp. The brakes are working well and the bearings are cool so I won't check them this year. The only time I have had to replace brake shoes was on my 6 horse trailer and a boat trailer that was used exclusively in salt water.
I live in the Mountains and 99% of my camping is boondocking in the Sierra Nevada Mts. or the Mojave Desert in the winter. My favorite areas are about 25 miles on a 4X4 road.
I think new to towing trailer owners worry to much about brakes and bearings which takes away from enjoying the trailer experience.
If you get a little rust on the surface of the brakes while it is stored in the winter. A few stops will clean and polish the drums.
The only time I have ever had rust on bearing or spindle surfaces was on my boat trailer that was used in the ocean in southern Cal. It was caused by a bad seal.
My experience has been that your windows will leak before you lose a bearing or need brake work.
Routine maintenence is a good thing, just don't become obsessive about it.

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