Optimum voltage setting for brake controller - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-06-2013, 05:00 AM   #1
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Name: Randy
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Optimum voltage setting for brake controller

...To all members with F.G campers equipped with electric brakes...Please share your experiences in voltage settings of your brake controllers. In what range is optimum case according to your experiences? My 1300Trillium will be on the road test in the next 5 hours for brake adjustment. I will post what value of mine ...and in what condition I apply. Thanks for all inputs.
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Old 07-06-2013, 07:14 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinh View Post
...To all members with F.G campers equipped with electric brakes...Please share your experiences in voltage settings of your brake controllers. In what range is optimum case according to your experiences? My 1300Trillium will be on the road test in the next 5 hours for brake adjustment. I will post what value of mine ...and in what condition I apply. Thanks for all inputs.
Brake controllers may need calibration, but if your controller cannot control automatically the amount of power required (voltage applied) for a smooth and safe operation, you should consider what is called a "proportional" controller which will adjust the braking power to the intensity required no matter the speed. Otherwise, the adjusment setting for highway speed will be too intense for city driving and probably not sufficient for an emergency stop. Calibrating a brake controller takes a few minutes, not hours... http://www.tekonsha.com/content/down...tion/N9030.pdf

I use a basic Tekonsha proportional controller (old discontinued model) that works perfectly with my Trillium 4500 under any road conditions.
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:04 PM   #3
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Martin, even the proportional ones need to be set up initially following the manufacturers instructions.

Randy, the #'s do not mean much across different platforms and brake wear. They are most helpful to you to track how your system is functioning over time or setting for different trailers.
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:17 PM   #4
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Every time I start off on a trip, or after loading/unloading my cargo trailer, I test my trailer brakes & calibrate as needed.

Find a flat empty stretch of road & get up to 20-30 or so. Put in the clutch if you have a manual. Hit the lever on the bottom of the controller all the way to fully engage the trailer brakes. The trailer brakes should promptly slow the tug & trailer to a stop.

Your first few times you should keep cranking up the voltage until your brakes & trailer tires lock up. Then drop the voltage a hair below lockup voltage. After your first few tries, you can get a good feel for maximum breaking traction and wing it a bit as long as they don't lock up.

A cargo trailer by its very nature has its weight (and resulting traction) changing all the time. Travel trailers don't vary as much, but it's still a good habit to get into & tests the brakes before you really need email.
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:21 PM   #5
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Takes 10 - 15 minutes the first time or 2 you do it tops. Then a minute, maybe 2 once you have it dialed in to the right ballpark & are use to your trailer & controller whenever you take your trailer out thereafter.
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:15 PM   #6
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Sometimes is the adjustment is determined by the road surface. I recently was on a gravel road and the when I applied the brakes on the truck the trailer wheels locked up. I promptly reduced the power to the brakes. When I got back on paved road I increased the power.
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:55 PM   #7
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Name: Randy
Trailer: 1980Trillium 1300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thinh View Post
...To all members with F.G campers equipped with electric brakes...Please share your experiences in voltage settings of your brake controllers. In what range is optimum case according to your experiences? My 1300Trillium will be on the road test in the next 5 hours for brake adjustment. I will post what value of mine ...and in what condition I apply. Thanks for all inputs.
Now, I am back. First of all, I should clarify myself to all forum members ab my first post..." In the next 5 hours, I WILL STARTING ROAD TEST for electric brakes of my Trillium...", instead of a whole previous sentence. I agreed, it just take minutes for setting voltages required at brake controller, but I actually did it for a whole...plus ONE HOUR with different road/brake situations, including emergency brakings. Like Martin said, brake controller did itself adjustment in case of emergency thru my tests...The following is my data for anyone with similar situation/camper for future references if interesting: 1/ Towing vehicle:Toyota Matrix wagon, rated towing capacity 1500lbs, 4-cylinders, 1.8 liter 2/ Trailer: Fiberglass camper model 1300Trillium 3/ Complete trailer weight assumed like in camping trip(with loaded big battery and bike rack at rear bumper for 3 bicycles is estimated at 1500lbs(max). This test is carried on with a cooler in the back bumper with jacks, wires, a steel block weighed 10lbs 4/ Road condition: city road with a lot of traffic lights, asphalt 5/ Average speed is 60kilometers per hour, including harsh stops 6/ tongue weight: 140lbs 7/ Trailer tires' pressure: under-inflated 30psi 8/ TYPE OF BRAKE CONTROLLER: Economy, Accu-Power Pilot, digital. And here is my results after at least one hour of adjustment and I considered is GOOD enough for real camping trip-Condition of ebrake pads and drums: BRAND NEW---RESULTS: Starting at 4volts as manufacturer instruction, I crank it up gradually and drive, fast/slow including harsh braking. In my case I read...at 6.8 volt is optimum case before wheels locked up and I could hear the sound of ebrakes' released and activated........During harsh brakings, indicator indicates self-adjustment at..7.8volts. FYI---Cheer. Attached is photo of hook-up b/t T.V and Trillium during tests, closely... levelled . Clearance from ground to T.V receiver is...12.3"" without trailer and 11.6'' with hooked up trailer. Welcome to all inputs and feedbacks. Cheer!
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:47 PM   #8
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TYPE OF BRAKE CONTROLLER: Economy, Accu-Power Pilot, digital.
The Pilot is just a timer-controlled device - it does not respond to how hard you are braking at all. You can adjust for the rest of your life, and it will never brake the right amount, although you might be satisfied with what it does - I wouldn't be. Rather than waste time, I would just get a proper proportional controller.
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Old 07-07-2013, 08:01 AM   #9
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The Pilot is just a timer-controlled device - it does not respond to how hard you are braking at all. You can adjust for the rest of your life, and it will never brake the right amount, although you might be satisfied with what it does - I wouldn't be. Rather than waste time, I would just get a proper proportional controller.
I fully agree with you Brian.
I think it is worth a quick recall for the benefit of many new owners who may waste their time chasing an elusive magic voltage that cannot be found.

The least expensive electric brake controllers are "time based". The longer you apply brakes, the higher the voltage applied on your brakes. There is a basic adjustment to perform, but no real calibration because such controller will never sense the amount of brake power needed. It simply responds to the amount of time you apply the brakes. Setting up properly to highway speed will overheat the brakes in city driving (I burned coils that way) and setting up for lower speed was not sufficient to help at highway speed. As you said Brian "it is a waste of time", it helps but either too much or too little, when it is not burned (only brakes on one wheel).

The only efficient and much safer type of brake controller is called "proportionnal" "inertia" or "pendulum" type. Such controller must be installed in the direction of motion at specific angle range to work properly. The least expensive versions require a simple initial calibration (what Thihn il likely to need) that you will find in the Tekonsha manual link I posted for instance. The most expensive models are sometimes self calibrating with a digital monitoring of brake intensity, but in my humble opinion, such high end model is only justified for very high loads (commercial and industrial applications, or equivalent very heavy RV).

My personnal conclusion: Using a time based controller is a waste of time and money, it is not efficient most of the time and often cause premature wear and failure of brake components that are not operating at proper intensity. It is a constant concern and distraction for the driver that must manually increase or decrease the basic adjustment as average speed increases or decreases. A basic proportionnal controller will provide a tremendously improved performance under any situations with minimal maintenance and the least distractions for the driver. Major brands are likely to last longer and make available some install kits that reduce the cost of installation by using existing car harness connectors. Digital display or LCD monitoring is more expensive, but probably not necessary.
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Old 07-07-2013, 10:09 AM   #10
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Interesting to learn this. Thanks for posting Martin.
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Old 07-07-2013, 11:20 AM   #11
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In years gone by I have towed with some of the old technology available prior to the proportional type being available. Can confirm that performance wise the proportional type controllers provides hands down a far better braking system than the time based controllers. Pretty simple set up as well. For the few dollars more that the proportional type controllers cost buying another type is really not worth it. I would not go back to using any of the older technology even if it was given to me free.
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Old 07-07-2013, 03:15 PM   #12
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For the few dollars more that the proportional type controllers cost buying another type is really not worth it. I would not go back to using any of the older technology even if it was given to me free.

You see, Carol, we do agree on some things!
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:38 PM   #13
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Name: Randy
Trailer: 1980Trillium 1300
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Thanks for all replies. This is my first ever experience in ebrake system. Thru this forum and inputs of all members, I learn more day be day. Just like when I first built my utility trailer, then it comes to FG camper all do it by myself, now I learn more in depth. This forum and it's members help me a lot in term of knowledge and I will continue to post more photos, topics ab trailer camper. In short, I love camper, especially F.G and my top choice is...Trillium. I might get another Trillium after this Trillium project with less time, more advance and better safety. Thanks for all. Cheer!
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:57 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Thinh View Post
I might get another Trillium after this Trillium project with less time, more advance and better safety.
One good thing about upgrading to a better controller is that it will work with any trailer with electric brakes - no need to upgrade each trailer, or to change anything in the tug (other than adjust settings) to switch trailers.
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