How should a brake controller feel? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-05-2019, 06:42 PM   #1
Nik
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How should a brake controller feel?

My brake controller came with my 2001 Dodge Ram Diesel. It's a drawtite Activator 2. It does successfully bring my 21' 2007 Bigfoot to a stop. But when I let off the brake, just a split second before coming to that 100% stop there's a shocking jerk motion coming from the trailer. It's as if the magnets are holding 'as tight as they can' and when the brake pedal is let go they violently release from the hubs. It's not the least bit smooth. It happens the same at 20mph as ae 2mph.

The drawtite activator 2 is a really cheap, timed, controller. Q: I'd like to know if I should expect a smooth stop if I invested in a proportional 'pendulum' controller. OR does it sound like something is wrong with the brakes themselves?
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Old 08-05-2019, 07:32 PM   #2
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A proportional controller will vary the trailer breaking version according to how hard you push on the brake pedal. You can stop as smoothly as you want , manually tailor the output to match your trailer, and have a manual override lever to work the trailer braking independent of the tow.Tekonsha P2 or P3 models are hugely popular.
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Old 08-05-2019, 07:42 PM   #3
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All I can tell you is that with my Proportional controller braking is very smooth... its like the trailer is not there.. EXCEPT that I also feel a "jerk" just before we come to a complete stop. But it does not seem as bad as you describe. So I suspect that a Proportional controller will reduce that effect you feel, and also there seems to be no debate that a Proportional controller is the superior choice.
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Old 08-05-2019, 08:04 PM   #4
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Nik,

You definitely need to ditch the timed controller. What a ridiculous logic, to assume that all stops should be done in exactly the same way.

With a better controller, (I don't have any brands to recommend), you can likely adjust the "initial braking current", which is the amount of braking that occurs with the slightest brake pedal application. I like this to be just enough that I can feel them apply without jerking. Then you can set the max to just below a skid.

BTW, have you replaced your lift pump yet?
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Old 08-10-2019, 01:15 PM   #5
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Controller, Brakes, Pump.

Okay. A better controller it is. Put all new dexter self adjusting brakes and drums on all four wheels, too.



The injector pump was tested and replaced. A low pressure light installed on the dash. But the lift pump is still the original. The guys at Performance Wise Diesel in Denver convinced me to leave it.
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Old 08-10-2019, 01:55 PM   #6
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The injector pump was tested and replaced. A low pressure light installed on the dash. But the lift pump is still the original. The guys at Performance Wise Diesel in Denver convinced me to leave it.
Nik,

This is off topic, but if the lift pump goes out on a 24 Valve Cummins, it ruins the injection pump (VP44). The stock lift pumps ALL go out eventually, and may not last longer than 60,000 miles. Some even less. I'm afraid you got some bad advice.

I dissected the stock lift pump off my truck and was not favorably impressed with the quality. Basically, a cheap slot car motor that could disable the truck in a very expensive way.

A much better solution is a Walbro in-line, frame mounted pump with a block-off plate on the back of the filter body. These can last a very long time and Glacier Diesel, amongst others, has a kit for it. The kit I used had a threaded hole for a gauge that was handy for spotting a clogging filter.

Now, where were we? Oh yeah, brake controllers.
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Old 08-10-2019, 02:45 PM   #7
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You would love a Prodigy. If it makes you feel a jerk, either you haven't adjusted it correctly, or you are a jerk. Just kidding about that last part!
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Old 08-11-2019, 04:52 PM   #8
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Continuing trouble shooting on brakes and controllers.

Raspy: My solution to the diesel issues is to sell the diesel. It's pristine and 64,000 miles. Fire engine red, it started life in the Spokane fire department.



I attached an old truck that's equipped with a Prodigy controller. It's vastly smoother. Prodigy is good, you're right, Mike. Too bad this truck doesn't have the power to really pull this big a trailer. This was just a test.



BUT! I noticed that just as before I put on all self adjusting brakes, the brakes on the right side of the trailer, both front and rear axle are cold after a test drive around the neighborhood with plenty of braking. I test with an IR thermometer. Left side is about 160, right is 90. Both front and back, very consistent.



SO! First I'll check the wiring leading to the right side of the trailer. But does the signal to the brakes come through the 7 pin connector only at (2)? Only one circuit for all brakes?
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:07 PM   #9
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Nik,
One circuit for the brakes. Typically, the power lead goes down one side of the trailer. It connects to the brakes on that side, and feeds a jumper that crosses the trailer to run the other side. Sounds like your problem is with that jumper wire somehow.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:30 PM   #10
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Nik,
One circuit for the brakes. Typically, the power lead goes down one side of the trailer. It connects to the brakes on that side, and feeds a jumper that crosses the trailer to run the other side. Sounds like your problem is with that jumper wire somehow.

Thanks. I gotta crawl under there and take a look. It'll be interesting to see what it's like to drive with all four wheels braking.
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