Electric Brakes on a 13' Boler - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-22-2009, 03:53 PM   #1
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well, i have purchased and installed a Dexter axle on my Boler to replace the flopped out existing torsion axle. the new torsion axle from Dexter was ordered equipped with drum electric brakes.

along with the brakes i went ahead and ordered the P3 controller from Tekonsha.

well, now the wiring is completed, and brakes are adjusted per the recommendation of the Dexter website, where they are difficult to turn by hand.

at this point, i am still unable to lock up the trailer brakes.

i have done the adjustments from the starting voltage of 6.0 and wound it up to 13v. still no locking of the brakes. i have tried boost modes from no boost to boost setting of 3 and still no locking.

you can feel them apply, but it isn't as strong as i had expected.

those of you familiar with these electric brakes, do yopu expect that they just need to be bedded, or broken in for a while, and re adjusted?

i did confirm a good ground by running a wire from the brakes all the way to the tow vehicle battery, and there was no change from the frame mounted grounding.

i am guessing it is one of two things. either the brakes need to be broken in, or they are under sized for the trailer. they are 7" Dexter brakes.

any input on these brakes would be appreciated.

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Old 02-22-2009, 05:43 PM   #2
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having next to no (...read NONE) experience with these brakes, 2 thought come to my failing mind upon reading this.
1st foggy thought: ARE the brakes 'supposed' to lock up??
2nd foggy thought, maybe the brakes are too 'much' for the trailer (meant for a heavier trailer)??
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Old 02-22-2009, 06:01 PM   #3
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I put 10" brakes on my 13 ft Boler last year and put them through their paces. I had no problem getting them to lock up right away and then adjusting the voltage to get them where I needed for my particular load. After the initial break-in period I went through the adjustments again.

I am not sure but maybe the 7" are too small. On the other hand, if Dexter shipped them as a package then they should be a match for your trailer weight. You have probably already done so but maybe contact them.
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Old 02-22-2009, 06:51 PM   #4
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I could never get the brakes on my 13 to lock either, but they perform well and I had a couple instances where they were used in an emergency without error.

I have heard from others that they couldn't lock theirs either.

If you are positive they are adjusted correctly, along with your controller, I would have a tendancy to not worry about it. If you feel them grab aggressively while using the panic level, I bet they are just fine.
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:18 PM   #5
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thank you for your replies.

i guess i'l let this go for a bit and break them in nicely, re-adjust and go from there.

i'll give dexter a call tomorrow.

i think it is a 2500# axle with 7" brakes. i would think the brakes since coming installed on the axle would be able to stop it the way the manual says it will.

there is a clear difference with and without the brakes, so it is a benefit, regardless of being able to lock them up.

lhe thing with "locking them up" is the manual recommends you find where they lock up, then back off until they no longer do. that is where the voltage is supposed to be set.


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Old 02-22-2009, 08:19 PM   #6
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I could never get the brakes on my 13 to lock either, but they perform well and I had a couple instances where they were used in an emergency without error.

I have heard from others that they couldn't lock theirs either.

If you are positive they are adjusted correctly, along with your controller, I would have a tendancy to not worry about it. If you feel them grab aggressively while using the panic level, I bet they are just fine.
what diameter brakes are on your trailer, Gina?
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Old 02-22-2009, 09:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
thank you for your replies.

i guess i'l let this go for a bit and break them in nicely, re-adjust and go from there.

i'll give dexter a call tomorrow.

i think it is a 2500# axle with 7" brakes. i would think the brakes since coming installed on the axle would be able to stop it the way the manual says it will.

there is a clear difference with and without the brakes, so it is a benefit, regardless of being able to lock them up.

lhe thing with "locking them up" is the manual recommends you find where they lock up, then back off until they no longer do. that is where the voltage is supposed to be set.

Erik,

My trailer with the 10" brakes has a 3500 lb axle

http://www.flickr.com/photos/76boler...7604792637096/

I also noticed that I have the same brake controller.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:15 PM   #8
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According to the table in the Dexter Service Manual PDF (See below for URL), your two 7" magnets should be pulling 5 Amps -- Using the P3's very handy troubleshooting mode [Setup>Help>Troubleshoot>OK], you can get the current output right from the screen of the controller -- Clearly, if you are seeing only 2.5A, one of the magnets is not functioning and if a reading higher than 5A is seen, there is a short somewhere.

********************************

I currently have a Prodigy, but if I were changing it out for some reason, I'd likely get the P3 because of the Current feature -- It would only be about $20 more on EBay. BTW, don't sweat buying used from EBay (bidding on a used Prodigy is at only $26 on one right now) because both the Prodigy and P3 have Limited Lifetime Warranty -- Just take the bad unit into a dealer and they will swap it for a good unit.

I retrofitted 7"x1 1/4" brakes on my Dexter 2,200 lb #9 axle, with the loaded trailer at a scale weight of 1,700 lbs and am able to lock up the brakes per the controller instructions -- They are good for up to 2,200 lbs per pair.

You have the right brakes on the right axle for your Boler 13' -- Ten inch brakes start on the #10 axle (rubberable up to 3,500 lbs) typically used on the 16' trailers.

The P3 instructions (PDF download from Tekonsha) had this note regarding Lock-Up:

"2. WARNING The power should never be set high
enough to cause trailer brakes to lock up. Skidding
trailer wheels can cause loss of directional stability
of trailer and tow vehicle.

3. The power/Boost may need to be adjusted for
different load weights and road conditions.

4. Not all trailer brakes will lock up due to various
conditions. However, inability to lock up the
brakes generally indicates the need for an
inspection to determine the cause."


Here's the URL for the Dexter PDF for the parts breakout for the various flavors of 7" brakes; a similar PDF is available for the 10" brakes:

http://dexteraxle.com/i/u/1080235/f/6-8k_c..._in._Brakes.pdf

Note: I believe the two pages of 7"x1 1/4" brakes with 600-1100 lbs marked on the page edge are for the smaller #8 axle used on utility trailers, etc. -- I don't see any difference in parts numbers between the two sets and both are rated for the current axle maximum of 2,200 lbs.

Sadly, the self-adjusting feature is only available in the 12" brakes for larger trailers; the Nev-R-Lube cartridge bearing is only available on the #10 and up axles, with six-lug hubs and wheels (It would be really nice to have those bearings and not have to mess with grease again, just monitor for heat!).

Lots of good axle information on the Dexter site (www.dexteraxle.com); well worth the digging and down-loading.

Here's Dexter's Service Manual PDF for electric brakes, including troubleshooting:

http://dexteraxle.com/i/u/1080235/f/6-8K_S...Brakes_2-08.pdf

Once you have them working, I would seat the brakes and then redo the controller adjustments.

Dexter sez to seat the brakes by applying them 20-30 times at initial 40 mph, slowing to 20 mph and allowing sufficient time for brakes to cool between applications.

Additionally, Tekonsha sez:

"Always warm the trailer's brakes before setting the
power. Warm trailer brakes tend to be more
responsive than cold brakes. To warm trailer
brakes, drive a short distance (1/4 mile) at 45 MPH
with manual lever engaged enough to cause trailer
braking at a low level."

If all else fails, you might try pulling the trailer down a dirt or gravel road and locking the brakes with the controller lever, then examining your tracks on the road -- One side may not be working -- Be careful because if only one side is working, the trailer may try to turn the tow vehicle away from that side.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:50 PM   #9
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BTW, don't sweat buying used from EBay (bidding on a used Prodigy is at only $26 on one right now) because both the Prodigy and P3 have Limited Lifetime Warranty -- Just take the bad unit into a dealer and they will swap it for a good unit.
Pete,

I'm curious about the warranty. I looked on their web page, but it seems to be a bit tucked away. I see reference to the "Limited Lifetime Warranty**" but didn't see where the asterisks led. The main Tekonsha page mentioned that the warranty was only for the original purchaser, but I'm not sure if that applies to the brake controllers. Have you taken back a controller that you didn't originally buy and got a replacement? If so, do you think that was the official policy? Or were they just "nice guys"? This would be good to know for sure before potentially buying on eBay (me).

Side rant: The page doesn't display properly in Firefox, so I had to open it in Internet Explorer. Then it said to contact customer service for questions about the warranty. I guess I expect more from a company with such a highly developed set of web pages (although I understand that the brake controllers are very good).

Raya
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:49 AM   #10
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I wonder if the P3's proportional circuitry is preventing the brakes from locking up. i.e. you are not going fast enough and hitting the brakes hard enough to cause a lock up?

I have not had the opportunity to go through the recommended adjustments since installing mine last summer. I have the same configuration and just used the recommended initial settings. All I know is my Ranger stops better with the trailer and brakes now than it does on it's own.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:04 AM   #11
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RE:Locking up. I can lock up my Trillium brakes no problem if I dial my prodigy controller in too high. Shocked a few pedestrians (and myself) on my maiden voyage with the new setup - new tires made a pretty loud chirp
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:37 AM   #12
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Raya, as a matter of fact, I did have occasion to replace my first Prodigy, although I was the original owner -- I ordered it new from EBay (came in a UHaul box) -- It developed an early failure to boot properly, so I called Tekonsha and they explained that the warranty arrangement was to just bring it to any dealer for a swap -- No delay with back and forth mailing -- I did just that with no problems, no questions, no paperwork and no proof that I was original owner -- They just opened a new box off the shelf, removed the unit and swapped it for my defective one, which they then put aside for return to Tekonsha.

BTW, I encountered the same FireFox problem yesterday, downloading the OM, so sent an EMail to them and got a reply this morning saying they had passed it on to the IT department. I occasionally run into that problem with all sorts of reputable companies, so I have gotten in the habit of reporting it.

I find Tekonsha to be right up there with Fantastical Fan in terms of customer service -- They eagerly want to make it right -- In fact, this morning's EMail reply included an offer to mail the OM to me if I wanted!

Also, they maintain a comprehensive data base of the necessary wiring for all sorts of vehicles, including which color wire to hook up to (and which to avoid in the case of some ABS arrangements, like some specific models of Ford trucks) and they don't care if you are first owner or even an owner.

Roy, here are the set-up instructions for the P3 prior to setting Boost:

"Adjusting the Power to the Trailer
Brakes (Prior to setting Boost)
Once the control has been securely mounted, it is
necessary to set the power needed to stop the trailer
during a braking event.

1. Connect trailer to tow vehicle
.
2. With engine running set power (with Power
Buttons) to indicate 6.0

3. Drive tow vehicle and trailer on a dry level paved
surface at 25 mph and fully apply Manual Knob.

✓ If trailer brakes lock up:
❑ Turn power down using Power Buttons.

✓ If braking was not sufficient:
❑ Turn power up using Power Buttons.

4. Repeat Step (3) until power has been set to a point
just below wheel lock up or at a sufficient force as
to achieve maximum braking power.

5. Using the brake pedal, make a few low speed
stops to check the power setting. Trailer braking is
initiated and terminated via the stoplight switch.
When the brake pedal is released, trailer braking
will cease."
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Old 02-24-2009, 03:29 AM   #13
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Sorry for the short hijack, but this is too good not to pass on. Firefox users should get IE Tab - this allows you to use IE's viewer inside Firefox when you hit a glitch, so everything that works in IE then works in Firefox. Bloomin' marvellous: http://ietab.mozdev.org/

Andrew
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Old 02-24-2009, 04:51 AM   #14
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What a great idea! It doesn't look like they make a version for Mac OS X though. Rats But it sounds great for Windows people
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