Someone please explain trailer brakes - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-26-2010, 05:56 AM   #1
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<div align="left">Someone please explain trailer brakes, where they go, how they work, and how to attach them if the camper doesn't come with them. Before I got my Burro, when I talked with the guys at the Scamp factory they said I should get them if getting a new Scamp, but if I got a used camper without them, not to worry, I wouldn't really need them.
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Old 06-26-2010, 09:32 AM   #2
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Anne;
They go on the spindle behind the wheel.

They work by means of an electro-magnet which sticks to the drum when activated with power supplied through a brake controller mounted and wired into the tow vehicle. The controller is activated when the foot brake is pressed.

If your spindle has a backing flange already, then brakes can be added. Generally, tapered spindles take 10" brakes and straight spindles take 7" brakes. If there is no flange present on a torsion axle, the axle must be replaced to accommodate brakes. Don't panic! It's not that expensive.

Explore the following sites and find pictures and products, Look Here....


http://www.dexteraxle.com/faq_s

http://www.tekonsha.com/product/default.asp
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Old 06-26-2010, 09:45 AM   #3
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<div align="left">Someone please explain trailer brakes, where they go, how they work, and how to attach them if the camper doesn't come with them. <snip> not to worry, I wouldn't really need them.
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I'm a big believer in brakes, while safety is paramount, it's an economic issue. Tug brakes are expensive to replace... trailer brakes not so much. Stopping something that weighs 1/2 to 3/4 of a ton wears down tug brakes. I'd rather spend my money on camping trips, not replacing tug brakes. YMMV
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Old 06-26-2010, 12:33 PM   #4
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That seems a bit glib, coming from Scamp (unless they Knew you were going to be towing with a large truck) (which you are not).

For another explanation:

Trailer brakes on our eggs are usually "electric brakes." That's almost certainly what you would be adding (as opposed to hydraulic ones). They are a set of brakes that fit behind the wheels on each side of your trailer, and then wiring comes up to your tow vehicle through the plug you usually plug in with for your tailights (there is an added wire, and maybe a different plug, depending on what you have now).

Then, you have a "controller" unit mounted in your tow vehicle - usually somewhere under the edge of the dashboard where you can reach it while you are driving. Example is "Tekonsha Prodigy" if you want to Google it.

You get the brakes set up so that they work automatically, but then you *can* also apply them "manually" by using the controller.

So now, the trailer is helping to stop your whole rig from behind, instead of your wee car trying to do it all from in front, with the trailer "wanting" to come riding up on you, or worse, jackknifing around.

Unless you are mechanically handy, trailer brakes and the controller are probably something you would have installed for you. Which is not to say they are extremely difficult, but just that it's not something you just clip on and go. I think they would be very, very advisable for your particular TV/trailer combo though.

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Old 06-26-2010, 02:23 PM   #5
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This Popular Science article from 1969 explains the basics of electric vs hydraulic (surge brakes).

This article from 2005 explains the electric and surge again, but includes a newer type electric and hydraulic combined. Sometimes called electric over hydraulic. Though the article is meant for heavier trailers, reading the two articles will give you a pretty good idea of what trailer brakes are all about.

What the person at Scamp is saying is that many trailers were sold without brakes in the past but many now feel it is better to have them. In other words, get the brakes if available.
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Old 06-26-2010, 06:01 PM   #6
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Anne. Stop by and talk to a service manager at a local dealer who sells and services stock and cargo trailers. The electric brakes on our eggs are the same ones used on stock and cargo trailers. As this type of dealer specializes in small trailers, they will be able look at your trailer and explain exactly what will work for you. I think you will also find that they are considerably more reasonably priced than an RV dealer. In my experience.
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Old 06-26-2010, 06:06 PM   #7
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I'm a big believer in brakes, while safety is paramount, it's an economic issue. Tug brakes are expensive to replace... trailer brakes not so much. Stopping something that weighs 1/2 to 3/4 of a ton wears down tug brakes. I'd rather spend my money on camping trips, not replacing tug brakes. YMMV
I agree with you Donna. I guess the best analogy I can come up with is: No brakes on the trailer is like riding an old hub brake bicycle with only the one rear brake, then jumping on to a modern bicycle with brakes for the front and rear wheels. They both work, but with the modern bicycle you have a lot more control.
We really appreciate the brakes on the trailer when driving west from Alberta through BC. Those long downhill switchbacks through the mountain passes give the trailer brakes a really good work out. I think we would have worn out multiple sets of brake pads and brake rotors on our TV (2000 GMC Safari van) by now if we didn't have brakes on the trailer.
The other conditions where I note the benefit of the trailer brakes is the cities where you are travelling at 60-70 kph to keep up with traffic and having to come to a stop at an intersection. Without the brakes, you can definetly feel the trailer pushing you. With the brakes, I feel more confident and feel like I am less of a nuisance to the normal flow of traffic. The trailer brakes significantly reduce my anxiety and stress levels while travelling. Less stress = more pleasure. I am more relaxed and able to enjoy the camping part of the vacation.
If for some reason I had to replace the trailer brake system on Trillium 4500, would I spend the money? Without hesitation.
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