Hybrids - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-23-2013, 05:37 PM   #15
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I'm a newbie with respect to trailer brakes, so I'm likely wrong, but...

My understanding of proportional controllers (or so-called pendulum controllers, though I'd be surprised if any modern ones actually still used a pendulum) is that they apply power to your trailer brakes based on the tow vehicle deceleration, regardless of the source of that deceleration. If you hits the brakes, or down shift, or drag your feet Flintstones-style, doesn't matter -- your tow vehicle slows down so the controller senses the deceleration and thus sends power to your trailer brakes.

If this is all there is, it means that on a down grade, if you hit the brakes to slow down the trailer brakes will come on. But if you ride the brakes down the hill (yeah, bad driver) maintaining a constant speed, the brake controller won't detect deceleration, so won't apply the trailer brakes.

Now, I'm not sure if the brake controller *also* watches your tow vehicle brake lights and applies braking to the trailer every time you touch the brake pedal... If it does, then riding your tow vehicle brakes down a hill at constant speed will mean that your trailer brakes are also on...

Could any one clear up that point for me? Does a proportional brake controller watch the tow vehicle brake signal as well as watching deceleration?
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:35 PM   #16
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Brian the out of the box thinking I was refering to was Keith's considering the Escape Hybrid's heritage and realizing he could tow his 2500 lb boat with the Escape instead of simply reading the 1000 lb rating and not considering using it as a tow vehicle.

Another marvelous attribute of the Escape Hybrid is you can turn the key to the on position with the trailer hooked up and the Escape's DC-DC converter sends power from the big 330V battery to the 12 volt battery and charges the trailer's battery - without running the engine.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
Does a proportional brake controller watch the tow vehicle brake signal as well as watching deceleration?
It does neither- the brakes are only activated electrically by the controller, by way of either stepping on the brakes or using the manual activation knob..

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Old 03-23-2013, 06:46 PM   #18
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Sheaves

Jack (Rabbit)

Most of the most popular hybrid vehicles including Toyota and Ford do not use sheaves, but rather a planetary gear system. Personally just beginning to understand it.

Honda uses a belt system.

Here's one of many links possible"


Toyota Prius - Power Split Device
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:25 PM   #19
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My wife has a 2010 Prius. I understand about the ICE, Norm. I think it's grand that it has more legroom than a Crown Vic, Brian. I'm sure it's a wonderful taxi. I'm also certain it would be an incredibly inadequate tow vehicle for a 1 ton trailer. But of course, no one is considering a Prius as a tow vehicle. I don't care about the bun one way of the other but there are meat and potatoes vehicles and others that aren't. And no free lunch.

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Old 03-23-2013, 07:59 PM   #20
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The highlander could be promising, although some have mentioned low mpg and high price.

The escape doesn't look to promising with a 1,000 lb rating. They put it there for a reason, who knows why...
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:10 PM   #21
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The escape doesn't look to promising with a 1,000 lb rating. They put it there for a reason, who knows why...
Exactly!

There is nothing inherently limiting about a hybrid system, but something in this particular model is apparently not up to handling sustained high loads. It could be cooling for one or more of the electric motor/generators or electronic controllers, for instance, but we don't know and thus don't even know what to watch for, let alone what could be improved to make this operation reliable.

It could even be that Ford just didn't think it was worthwhile to do testing under sustained load, and not knowing that it would be okay just set a low limit to be safe. Again, we just don't know.

I am always suspicious of someone else's "I did it and have no problems" report for two reasons:
  • it could be that problems are brewing and have just not killed the vehicle yet
  • that person's towing conditions may not be relevant to my towing conditions.

For examples of the latter effect, I note that
  • the famous/infamous Ontario Airstream dealer that hooks anything up to anything may tow these rigs many thousands of kilometres a year, but never goes anywhere but Indiana to southern Ontario... there are no mountains there, and
  • the sailboat that the Escape Hybrid owner is towing is as heavy as a loaded 16' travel trailer, but should have quite low air drag in comparison.
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:17 PM   #22
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Could the issue be that, hybrids are engineered to achieve high mileage and that towing never entered the equation and never will?

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Old 03-23-2013, 08:24 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
My understanding of proportional controllers (or so-called pendulum controllers, though I'd be surprised if any modern ones actually still used a pendulum) is that they apply power to your trailer brakes based on the tow vehicle deceleration, regardless of the source of that deceleration. If you hits the brakes, or down shift, or drag your feet Flintstones-style, doesn't matter -- your tow vehicle slows down so the controller senses the deceleration and thus sends power to your trailer brakes.
True... and some controllers do still use a pendulum, although it doesn't matter much.

Two details to note:
  • the electric controller only operates if enabled by the signal from the tug's stop lamp (brake light) circuit, so they won't go on unless the brake pedal is pushed, and
  • some controllers have a "boost" function which briefly applies power to the trailer brakes - not in any way proportioned to deceleration - each time the stop lamp signal appears.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
If this is all there is, it means that on a down grade, if you hit the brakes to slow down the trailer brakes will come on. But if you ride the brakes down the hill (yeah, bad driver) maintaining a constant speed, the brake controller won't detect deceleration, so won't apply the trailer brakes.
Maybe. The trailer is facing downhill, which a pendulum-type controller will interpret as slight deceleration (imagine the pendulum hanging vertically but the vehicle is a bit nose-down); an all-electronic controller with two perpendicular accelerometer axes might be able to tell that it is tilted rather than decelerating.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
Now, I'm not sure if the brake controller *also* watches your tow vehicle brake lights and applies braking to the trailer every time you touch the brake pedal... If it does, then riding your tow vehicle brakes down a hill at constant speed will mean that your trailer brakes are also on...

Could any one clear up that point for me? Does a proportional brake controller watch the tow vehicle brake signal as well as watching deceleration?
Yes, but braking is only applied without detected deceleration as part of the short-term "boost" feature which I mentioned above; some don't have boost, those with it can turn it off, and with any deceleration-based controller continually holding the brake pedal on without detected deceleration does not keep the trailer brakes on.

There is another type of proportional controller, which responds in proportion to how hard the tug's brakes are applied, regardless of deceleration. The integrated controllers now common in full-sized "heavy duty" (GM and Dodge 2500/3500, Ford F-SuperDuty) pickups measure the hydraulic pressure in the truck's brake system, so if you hold the brakes on descending the grade the trailer brakes will be held on - unless the designers were very clever about watching the speed as well, and decided to take this into account. I don't know, and don't have a ready reference source for the behaviour of these systems.


Of course, none of this has anything to do specifically with hybrids...
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:31 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Could the issue be that, hybrids are engineered to achieve high mileage and that towing never entered the equation and never will?
I agree that most hybrids are targeted at a market which will not tow, so it is not a significant factor in the vehicle design. A Prius is not intended to tow, but then neither is a non-hybrid Yaris or Corolla.

On the other hand, the GM light truck hybrids (with the Two-Mode Hybrid System) have the same towing capacity as the non-hybrid with the same engine (6100 pounds for the 1500 series); there are intended for light truck use, which is expected to include towing.
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:34 PM   #25
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My wife has a 2010 Prius... I think it's grand that it has more legroom than a Crown Vic, Brian. I'm sure it's a wonderful taxi. I'm also certain it would be an incredibly inadequate tow vehicle for a 1 ton trailer. But of course, no one is considering a Prius as a tow vehicle.
Agreed. I was just commenting on Norm's reference to the NYC taxi experience which showed that hybrid vehicles - under conditions unrelated to towing - proved reliable.
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Old 03-23-2013, 08:45 PM   #26
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Some of the most powerful tow vehicles are hybrids. They usually have names like "Union Pacific" or "Norfolk Southern" on them. Diesels powering electric motors. I'd like to see some diesel-electric cars here in the USA. VW is teasing us with talk of a diesel electric option on the CrossBlue SUV. I would love to see the Escape and C-Max uprated to tow my Scamp.
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Old 03-23-2013, 11:11 PM   #27
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Thanks for the info on brake controllers, Brian.
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:07 AM   #28
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Hmmm.. interesting.
While hybrids seem to be capable of some towing, I would think it would always be with limits. From what I have learned about hybrids they are best as city cars. They thrive by delivering fuel economy and performance in stop and go traffic. City mileage in a hybrid is unbeatable. Highway fuel economy is really only marginally better. New hybrids are also a bit like new diesels. If they don't burn much fuel they burn money directly through financing, tax subsidies, and the cost of repairs and maintenance down the road. If I was towing with a hybrid I can imagine it might be fine for trips of a couple weeks per year or so. But full or part time RVers? I have my doubts. Look how many full timers use diesels.
Recently I read a review of Volkwagens hybrid Jetta. It was especially revealing because VW makes a gasoline, hybrid and diesel model of the Jetta. All three otherwise identical vehicles were tested and the numbers crunched. The winner was of course the Jetta TDI, followed by the hybrid and last of all the gasoline model. The hybrid came second because of its city driving performance. The diesel was not quite as good in city driving as the hybrid but on the highway it was clear that diesel was the winner. Towing requires high torque for sustained periods of time. Thats what a diesel does. A hybrid can only produce torque for short periods of time with any real efficiency. Maybe hybrid technology will get alot better in time. Maybe the price of it will continue to fall. Maybe hybrid towing pioneers will forge a path to a brave new world. I am content to wait and see.
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