Snoozy brakes non-functional - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-21-2019, 07:33 PM   #1
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Name: Douglas
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Snoozy brakes non-functional

So I have about had it with the surge brakes on our Lil Snoozy. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

Some history: Last year I found out that the brakes were adjusted all the way out from the factory and would only function in a panic stop. A 14 mile 10% grade demonstrated that they wouldn't work even though I was "surge" braking repeatedly. I went to a brake shop and had them adjusted properly. The brakes will activate if the emergency cable is pulled or if the hydraulic piston is actuated with a long screwdriver. After th Ie brake shop visit I couldn't really tell if they worked or not because we never had a long, steep descent.

Last week we towed to WV. Before I left I jacked up both wheels and checked that both brakes just barely drug when the wheels were spun. We then had a panic stop in WV and I think I heard the trailer tires chirp. But on the descent from Spruce Knob (11 miles continuous, last 2 miles about 10%) I got to the bottom and checked the drums with my hand. They were cold. The 4Runner front brakes had the familiar hot brake smell and were radiating heat.

So what is going on? I am really frustrated to be unable to get the brakes to share the load on descents and also risk a TV brake failure. Plus the TV brakes will wear prematurely.
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Old 07-21-2019, 11:16 PM   #2
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It's been quite a while since I had surge brakes but two things come to mind. It's the rear movement of the coupler that determines how much hydraulic /pressure fluid is applied to the shoes. Have you checked the fluid level in the reservoir and is there any rust/crud etc keeping the coupler from easy movement? Might even need a flushing/cleaning of the lines. All guesses on my part Doug but it is a suggestion that you asked for .
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Old 07-22-2019, 06:52 AM   #3
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Dave, after the first incident, the first thing I did in the next town was buy a big wrench and check the fluid. All full and clear. The brake shop also checked it.

As for corrosion, all components are galvanized and not corroded. But, following up on your suggestion, I pulled the front cover off of the unit so I could see where the top of the hitch should slide back and forth through the surge brake housing. There is a bit of dust and dirt in the crack between the sliding parts. They clearly haven't slid in a long time. I guess the chirp I heard in WV last week was a 4Runner tire (ABS was active at the time).

This info raises another question. For those of you who have surge brakes, how often do you lubricate them? The Wesco (trailer frame manufacturer) operator's manual says to lubricate trailer components "occasionally." Under the section on brakes they don't mention lubrication at all.

I really appreciate the comments Dave.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:11 AM   #4
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Trailer: 2015 Lil Snoozy
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Originally Posted by Air Doug View Post
So I have about had it with the surge brakes on our Lil Snoozy. Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.

Some history: Last year I found out that the brakes were adjusted all the way out from the factory and would only function in a panic stop. A 14 mile 10% grade demonstrated that they wouldn't work even though I was "surge" braking repeatedly. I went to a brake shop and had them adjusted properly. The brakes will activate if the emergency cable is pulled or if the hydraulic piston is actuated with a long screwdriver. After th Ie brake shop visit I couldn't really tell if they worked or not because we never had a long, steep descent.

Last week we towed to WV. Before I left I jacked up both wheels and checked that both brakes just barely drug when the wheels were spun. We then had a panic stop in WV and I think I heard the trailer tires chirp. But on the descent from Spruce Knob (11 miles continuous, last 2 miles about 10%) I got to the bottom and checked the drums with my hand. They were cold. The 4Runner front brakes had the familiar hot brake smell and were radiating heat.

So what is going on? I am really frustrated to be unable to get the brakes to share the load on descents and also risk a TV brake failure. Plus the TV brakes will wear prematurely.
I'm following...I also tow a Lil Snoozy with a '14 Runner. Picked up my '15 LS in May and have only towed it a few hundred miles. I needed to have my rotors ground at 120k miles and thought it might be due to the trailers brakes not functioning correctly, or at all. I guess I'd better get to the brake shop.
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:00 AM   #5
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Name: Jack L
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Originally Posted by Air Doug View Post

This info raises another question. For those of you who have surge brakes, how often do you lubricate them? The Wesco (trailer frame manufacturer) operator's manual says to lubricate trailer components "occasionally." Under the section on brakes they don't mention lubrication at all.

I really appreciate the comments Dave.
Having owned several boats with surge brakes on the trailers, I can say I never lubricated anything but the wheel bearings. Most boat trailer maintenance is an afterthought for boaters. Surge brakes are pretty dependable in a wet marine environment so the surge components on your Snoozy, they should require little maintenance. I would lube the parts of the sliding components, but remember that grease will hold the dirt and might cause more problems. I would re check the function of the coupler and master cylinder function for a mechanical problem.

As an afterthought, is it possible that someone topped off the brake master cylinder with motor oil or power steering fluid. I have seen several brake systems totally destroyed by adding an oil to the master cylinder instead of brake fluid.
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:22 AM   #6
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[QUOTE=Air Doug

There is a bit of dust and dirt in the crack between the sliding parts. They clearly haven't slid in a long time. [/QUOTE]


This seems like it must be where the problem is.
Are you sure it's not binding, or is the reverse lockout mechanism is engaged, or is something overtightened. That mechanism needs to be friction free and ready to move back and forth

Look at the front of the master cylinder, under the boot if it has one, to make sure the piston isn't seized. I don't know how yours is designed, but if you can take out the rod that pushes on the piston, and then work the hitch back and forth, you can make sure that is free. Then push on the piston to make sure it is not stuck.
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Old 07-22-2019, 11:14 AM   #7
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Snoozy brakes non-functional

Doug, I suggest you call Wesco. They are the trailer (frame) manufacturer. Shaun Paylok promised me he will help any Snoozy owner in need. 803-600-4412
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:35 PM   #8
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I agree that you should contact the manufacturer. Your pivot bolt may be tightened too much or the piston seized. On our UHaul VT, I used a large tool shaped like a giant tuning fork to manually move the actuator back and forth to see if the unit was sliding and compressing the piston. The tool would hook over the pivot bolt and allow me to lift up to slide the hitch assembly back toward the piston. Of course, I sold the tool with the trailer and can't find anything similar online right now to show you.

If the actuator is frozen in place and won't budge, I would recommend some PB Blaster or similar sprayed in liberally along the mechanism sides where it should slide. A few light bangs with a hammer could work the penetrating oil into the tight places. Then, some taps on the end of the hitch could break the hold of the rust inside. Not too hard, though! You don't want to bend the ball receiver.

Hooking the trailer back up to the TV and having an observer watch the actuator when you back up with a slight jerk would tell you if the mechanism is moving on the pivot point, too. Good luck! And don't back in to anything!
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:38 PM   #9
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Good thoughts all, thank you.

Charlie, I have tried to call Wesco all day and the phone rings once then goes to busy. I will try Shaun at the number you provided tomorrow.

I don't know what a pivot bolt is but will find out and try to work the mechanism. I have actuated the piston with a large flat screwdriver and the brakes actuate that way.

Regarding rust or any other maintenance issues, this is a 2017 trailer with all galvanized parts and there is no rust nor should there be any other related issues. There is a 3 year warranty from Wesco but I need to know what the problem is. Worst case, I will drive to SC and have them figure it out.

Regarding the reverse lockout, it is my understanding that it is in the hub/shoe assembly and I have trouble thinking that both sides are simultaneously defective. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Again, I really appreciate all the feedback.

My next step tomorrow is to lubricate the hitch zerks and test the brakes under hard braking and see what happens.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:48 PM   #10
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Douglas,
Now that you know the piston is not stuck, and the brakes will apply if it is pushed, you are almost there.

Can you disconnect the push rod or whatever it is that pushes the piston, such that you can work the mechanism to see if it is free, or find the binding point? If you can do that, I think it will be fixed.
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:36 AM   #11
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Problem found but not yet fixed.

Raspy, you and Dave were right that the sliding mechanism was binding. I figured that being a 2017 model (Tie Down 660) and all galvanized, and made for boat trailers, etc. that it would be pretty durable but I guess it is an item that needs periodic maintenance. It is less than two years old with about 12,000 miles on it.

First, I greased the zerks that feed the rollers for the actuator. This brand doesn't have pivot bolts, just rollers. Then Roxanne noticed that the roller bolts seems pretty tight so that they might be squeezing the housing to the actuator body, so I loosened them a couple of turns.

Following up on Kevin's idea with the fork-like tool, I made a slot in a piece of 2x4 to fit on the ball hitch to protect it, then used a pry bar and chains attached to the trailer frame to push in the actuator. At first it wouldn't move at all then it broke free. After a few pry-and-release moves, the actuator moved in and out fully but with a lot of gritty noises.

My next step will be to pull the two roller bolts and clean and re-lubricate everything. I haven't been able to find the torque specs for the roller bolts so will try to call Tie Down.

Thanks again everybody for helping to figure out what was wrong.
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:46 AM   #12
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Here is a picture of the pry bar and chain setup to push in the brake actuator. The picture is at the "pushed in" position.
Attached Thumbnails
20190723_brake tool.jpg  
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:59 AM   #13
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Excellent. Glad you found it.

Now, just some clean up, some lubrication and the correct torque, and you are good to go.
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Old 07-23-2019, 01:11 PM   #14
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Glad to see you've found the problem! Your home-made device works just like the lever I was describing, too. Happy camping!
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Old 07-23-2019, 01:49 PM   #15
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If you can't get your hydraulic coupler working smoothly, Etrailer sells new units. Many of them are $200 or less.
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Old 07-23-2019, 03:50 PM   #16
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Raspy, I got 2 of your 3 items done. I took it partly apart and removed the rollers. Their interiors are pristine with a nice film of grease. (Considering how much grease I pumped in this morning with very little coming out, I wonder if they had much grease in them before.) I hit the space between the housing and coupler hitch (the part that slides back and forth) with PB Blaster and cleaned all the grit out. I put it back together and it works really smoothly.

Your third item is getting the bolts snugged up properly. I called Tie Down and left a message and am waiting for a response. Torquing won't work because the nuts are some sort of interfering thread locking type. Just a quarter to half turn too much binds the coupler hitch up but too loose lets it move up and down some. I'm not sure what the right balance is.
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Old 07-23-2019, 03:55 PM   #17
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Thanks, Jack L. Maybe there are brands that are more reliable and less prone to seizing up than this one. I would have to study that and even consider converting to electric. Right now I think I am really close to getting this one to work.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:02 PM   #18
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Raspy,

Your third item is getting the bolts snugged up properly. I called Tie Down and left a message and am waiting for a response. Torquing won't work because the nuts are some sort of interfering thread locking type. Just a quarter to half turn too much binds the coupler hitch up but too loose lets it move up and down some. I'm not sure what the right balance is.
Since the bolts are self locking, all you have to do is bring them up to near zero play and call it good. No binding is the deal. A bit of play is fine.

Take it for a spin and report back. Sounds like you're done.

Good job.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:17 PM   #19
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I am glad you got it going. I have electric on mine so I didnít have much info. Thanks Raspy.
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Old 07-24-2019, 12:21 PM   #20
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I did a test drive and the brakes are working. It is clear from the braking action that I can feel - something I have never felt before with the trailer. And the brake drums got hot. Also, there are greasy wear marks on the sliding parts where none were before. Taken together, I am pretty certain that this is the first time the brakes have worked.

Looks like the roller bolts were too tight, holding the sliding mechanism together. Now I can move the tip of the ball coupler up and down 1/8" which I could never do before.

Thanks everybody for all of your advice and for Roxanne for noticing that the bolts looked too tight.
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