Brakes on a Burro--delete 'em? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 03-19-2008, 10:21 AM   #1
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Steve Hilby's Avatar
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My sister's friend Karen has a 13-foot Burro, which I think might need an axle replacement. Although the Burro has (ancient) brakes, the wiring was screwed up, and the vehicle she uses to tow it doesn't have a brake controller anyway, so she's been essentially towing it brakeless.

When replacing the axle, it's very tempting, financially, to put on an axle without brakes--a brake-equipped axle is roughly $200 more.

I'd like to hear your opinions about putting a brakeless axle on the trailer.

Is there anyone out there towing a Burro without brakes? How's it working out?

Any hair-raising experiences which convinced you that brakes were absolutely essential?

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Old 03-19-2008, 10:34 AM   #2
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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Brakes on the tow save the brakes on the tug. My truck brakes are a lot more expensive to replace than the ones on my trailer. I consider that worth the investment.

Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:57 AM   #3
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Trailer: 2006 Scamp 13' towed with a 2005 Dodge Dakota 4.7l Magnum W/full tow package (over kill)
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Trailer brakes on a small trailer are a safety item as far as I'm concerned. The additional cost of putting brakes is well worth it. I've had one experience where the trailer started bouncing around (my fault, I hit a sunken grade too fast). The trailer brakes straightened the trailer out before there was serious problem. I don't know of anybody that's towed without brakes then added them that hasn't thought it was a good idea. Most will say it was well worth the money, including me.
Byron & Anne enjoying the everyday Saturday thing.
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:58 AM   #4
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Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
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I towed my 13 foot Burro for about a year without the brakes being hooked up. I thought it was just OK.

When I got around to wiring them up, and adding a controller, it was a night and day difference and I don't know how I managed without them.

Yes, I had two experiences which made me glad I had them.

the first was a hydroplaning incident where I actually used the brakes on the trailer to bring the CAR back into line.

The second was a coyote making a quick crossing in front of me and a panic stop happened. If not for the trailer brakes, the rig would have flipped, I am sure.

It's cheap insurance. Hook em up.
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:04 AM   #5
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Trailer: 1979 13 ft Trillium
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I'm suprised it is $200 more. I could have sworn my mechanic told me much less. I will call him again and ask. Maybe it would be worthwhile to get a couple more estimates. I agree with Donna, in the long run, it is a penny spent is a pound saved (is that how the saying goes?). My brakes on my TV run about $700 and I did it less than two years ago and I am at 50% already. When I replace my axle, I am definately getting brakes.

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Old 03-19-2008, 11:05 AM   #6
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Name: George
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Legally if the loaded trailer is more than 2000 lb you must have brakes in most US states or Canada. I think Burro could be close or above the 2000 lb threshold. During a panic brake situation you would likely consider way more then $200 for brakes.


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Old 03-19-2008, 12:33 PM   #7
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Name: Daniel
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I'd like to hear your opinions about putting a brakeless axle on the trailer.
If I was getting advice for someone else, I would definitely lean on the safety side. I wouldn't expect anyone to openly recommend not to have brakes installed nowadays, unless they've never used any. If you are tempted to go that way, I'd suggest that you try pulling a trailer with and without brakes and decide for yourself. Most that did get them installed including myself wouldn't go without. Also, getting a good brake controller is just as important.
Driving on parkways and parking in driveways.
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Old 03-19-2008, 01:34 PM   #8
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Surprised I haven't seen this suggestion, but a compromise might be to just get a new axle with the brake flanges (usually have to be added in the manf process and can't be added later; cost about $3!! but can't have brakes without them). Without the $3 flanges, she or subsequent owner has no change-of-mind in the future.

Get the brake-flanged axle WITHOUT hubs (standard hubs won't be needed and she already has brake hub/drums on the old axle), move the hubs after installing after-market brake assembly with shoes and magnets attached. Then get a controller, break-away switch and hook up the brakes.

Minimum, she should get a brake-flanged axle with standard hubs and salvage the drum/hubs from the old axle -- They are the expensive part!

I highly recommend she put brakes on her trailer -- They really make a difference. Six braked wheels stop better than four!

BTW, several years ago, I was looking at brake hardware and at that time Dexter was taking direct orders. Disregarding the shipping, it was less expensive to order an axle with brakes and DISCARD the axle than it was to just order the brake hardware. I double-checked that with the factory lady and she confirmed the pricing. Brake hardware through a third party was even more expensive.

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Old 03-20-2008, 12:33 AM   #9
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Name: Karen L.
Trailer: 1982 Burro 13 ft (My Burrito!)
Posts: 75
Thanks all for your comments! I remember reading this topic on the forum last year, & people seemed divided re: brakes! All your comments really make sense, and I especially liked Pete's re:
a more reasonable cost!! I'm convinced brakes are a good idea...Steve's been doing a great job on Burrito, & I know he saw all the comments, as he referred me here. I really trust his judgement & want everyone to know how much I appreciate his work!! See ya'll @ the rallies!! Karen

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