Dexter 4400 lb axle Bigfoot trailer brake issue - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-26-2017, 07:43 PM   #1
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Dexter 4400 lb axle Bigfoot trailer brake issue

Hi. This is a bit of a complicated post, sorry

I have a 2008 Bigfoot single axle trailer. 4400 lbs Dexter axle. A rare beast compared to the much more common 3500 lbs axle.

I want to upgrade to self adjusting brakes. Looking at the Dexter parts guide, the only difference I can see between the axles in running gear - bearings, brakes and drums - is the bearing set. No doubt the shafts on the 4400 lbs axle are a bit larger. Both axles use the same 10 x 2.25" brake set.

But the same parts manual says that Dexter's own self adjusting brakes don't fit their axles made before 5/2009. Arghh!

Does anyone know if Lippert or the made in China generic self adjusting brakes available from the likes of eTrailer in the US or Cerka in Canada will fit? I really want to get away from manual adjust brakes as it's a pain on this trailer as the shock absorbers block access to the star adjuster wheels.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-26-2017, 07:46 PM   #2
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I'd talk to etrailer.com as they have the technical knowledge. And, while you are at it, ask if they can ship from their Ontario warehouse, avoiding border brokerage fees.
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Old 03-26-2017, 08:25 PM   #3
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Thanks. I emailed them on Saturday evening. See what next week brings
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Old 03-27-2017, 12:48 AM   #4
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FR,

You might consider going to a 5200 lb axle. This is a very common axle, rugged and it has bigger brakes than the 3500 lb axle. It's my favorite axle.

You can set any of them up with differing spring packs too. So, if you talk to a trailer supply company you can tell them the center to center spring eye measurement, the weight of your trailer, etc and they can set you up.

Or, you could get new backing plates that bolt to your axle flange and match up to what you have or match up to the larger (5200 lb drums). If the standard spindle size for your 4400 lb axle doesn't match up properly, you can get different bearing sets to make it work.

All you need is knowledgeable guy who can match up what you have and what you want, etc.

PM me if you need a contact.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:19 AM   #5
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My impression of the original post is to get around the difficulty of adjusting the brakes. The axle on our Casita has brake drums that have an opening on the face of the drum, so adjustment is possible from the outside. Of course the wheel has to be removed, so extra work there. I've worked on plenty of self adjusting brakes on cars and light trucks, which adjust when they are applied when backing. Don't know about the electric trailer brakes.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:58 AM   #6
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mary and bob are right!

Yes, fundamentally the brakes are murder to adjust as the trailer has shock absorbers which are installed right over the adjustment hole on the brake backing plate. It is a rotten piece of design to be honest.

The other attraction of self adjusting brakes is that the brakes are always properly adjusted (!) and it eliminates a routine maintenance activity.

I'm really looking for someone who has installed self adjusting brakes on Dexter axles that are 10+ years old. Needle in a haystack perhaps?
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:15 AM   #7
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I looked into getting a 4400# axle when I replaced the 3500# axle on my Bigfoot about 4 years ago and was told by Dexter customer service that the 4400# was no longer in production. The only difference was a heavier tube. The hubs and spindles were the same. When I got my trailer, it did not have a Dexter axle. It had the original 1994 axle. Maybe ALKO, not sure, but the Dexter 10 inch self adjusting brakes I installed fit and worked well. I transferred the brakes and hubs to the new axle when I changed to a straight axle. I have had the Dexter self adjusting brakes now for 5 years and they work flawlessly.

I believe if you upgrade to a 5200# axle, you will need the 12" brakes, new wheels, and hubs. Since it would be easy to load a 17 Bigfoot to get the weight over 3500#, a 5200# axle would be nice.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:29 AM   #8
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I was looking at pictures of the Dexter self adjusting brakes on etrailer and can't really tell which direction the wheels have to be turning for them to self adjust. Looks like, and by description, it could be going forward. You can see the adjuster cable in the picture. They do recommend an initial manual adjust.
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:34 AM   #9
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Are you are you have a Dexter axle? My 2014 17.5 single axle Bigfoot is a Standens 4400 lb. axle from Standens in Calgary.

jack
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:40 AM   #10
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Also, if you're considering a new axle, you might consider a straight axle instead of the 4" drop axle you now have. The Bigfoots have low ground clearance with the drop axle (about 6"). This would eliminate the access problem for adjusting brakes. This is what I intend to do at some point.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:13 PM   #11
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Summing up

Guys

First this forum is wonderful! The level of activity here is great, much better than the Bigfoot owners' forum, which is regrettably rather quiet. Thank you for your posts. This reminds me of the Mercedes forum when we ran two 1980's Mercs. Nothing more expensive than an old MB.....

Here's where I'm at.

1. yes, the axle is made by Standens in Calgary, AB. I'm not sure if any bits are actually custom made by Standen and how much is integration of standard parts from Dexter and the like. It is a 4400 lb six bolt hub pattern axle with 10x2.25" brakes. Incidentally Standens are now fully owned by Dexter.

2. I'm not going to consider upgrading the axle. The Bigfoot has 13" alloy wheels and with the 12x2" brakes than come with a 5200 lb axle I would need new wheels and tires as well as running gear. Not worth it to me.

3. I am going to pull the drums and check out the brakes on a day that is not threatening rain and I am not working. if they are standard 4 bolt mount then there are several products that will fit I believe. Gives me a chance to check the drums and bearings for wear at the same time.

4. Standens can supply self adjusting brakes but their price seems very high.

5. Not impressed with etrailer customer service. Email sent 48 hrs ago not replied to. Called them today and gave up after 15 mins on hold to speak to their sales desk.

Progress! I'll update with pics once I have pulled the beastie apart.
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Old 03-27-2017, 09:13 PM   #12
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FRL001,

PM sent.
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Old 03-27-2017, 11:20 PM   #13
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Call Standen in Calgary and ask to talk to Brad in the shop. He has a ton of stuff to walk you through what you are doing and can send parts or recommend a shop to you where you are located.
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Old 03-28-2017, 05:35 PM   #14
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Thanks Ritchie and Amy: good info for me.

jack
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