Switching from Surge to Electric Brakes? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-18-2007, 09:48 AM   #1
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We have a 16' UHaul Vacationer trailer that we purchased in late March. When I recently went to replace a blown tire, I pulled the drum off the hub and all the brake parts (shoes, springs, etc.) fell on the ground at my feet! Now I know where that odd noise was coming from!

The sealed bearing also appears to be making a bit of a grinding noise inside. Should this be replaced? Would UHaul carry this part?

Now to the brakes... Should I plan to switch over to electric brakes to replace the non-functioning surge system? Can it be done on the UHaul or would I need to put on a whole new axle? Do we really need the brakes on the 16 footer? It seems to stop well with our VW Eurovan, but we haven't been in any mountainous regions, either.

Thanks!
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Old 06-18-2007, 09:58 AM   #2
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Is the axle on this trailer rubber torsion or spring mounted.

If you are having trouble with both bearings and brakes, a new complete axle assembly with brakes and suspension is usually just as cheap as buying the brake parts alone. The biggest cost variable is finding a reliable source to install the new setup.

I would sure be looking at the pricing of going to a new axle assembly with electric brake system in your case.
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:00 AM   #3
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Oh, yes, I vote for the brakes for a 16' For one thing, it'll reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle's brakes and for another it's safer when you have to do a sudden stop. Lot of other reasons, but that's a good start.

There is no comparison between surge and electric. I've towed with both and electric brakes are way, way better IMHO.

Gina, didn't you add them to your small Burro?
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:08 AM   #4
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Mine already had them, but it was awhile before I had the tug wired up for them.

Yes... it's a different (And more gooder, safer, and comfortabler world with them)
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:24 AM   #5
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Kevin, your UHaul has a proprietary axle under it. I'd imagine that the parts are probably available from UHaul. I'd certainly price them first.

Were it me, I'd do as Charlie suggests and spec out a new torsion axle with brakes. A Dexter #10 axle installed with brakes will run you in the neighborhood of $700 if you shop well. You'll have the added benefit of having a common wheel bolt pattern and be able to buy your tires and wheels at any store rather than having to hunt down "Uhaul" wheels.

Good luck!

Roger
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Old 06-18-2007, 01:51 PM   #6
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Brakes on a 16' trailer? Absolutely. I assume the VT is over 2000 lb when loaded (and maybe even when empty). It is far too heavy for most vehicles to tow without brakes, according to manufacturer's guidelines. Even a full-sized GM pickup is only supposed to tow 2000 lb maximum without trailer brakes. Even legally, it would require brakes here in Alberta and some other jurisdictions, which is why U-Haul put the surge brakes on in the first place.
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Old 06-18-2007, 02:01 PM   #7
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I seems likely that whatever the make of the axle (it sure wasn't made by U-Haul), both hydraulic and electric brake assemblies are available; it is probably a Dexter or Al-Ko, but I'm just guessing. Still, there is lots of appeal in going to a currently common design, and improving wheel availability.

As we learned in previous discussions, and can see in the manuals in the Document Center, the axle cross-tube in the U-Haul CT has a welded bracket to allow it to be bolted to the tongue (which extends all the way back to the axle). If that the VT has the same design, a similar bracket would need to be added to the new axle assembly, if the whole assembly is replaced.

Even with a new axle, the hydraulic surge design could be retained, as this the hydraulic brake assembly is a routine alternative to electric from Dexter.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:22 PM   #8
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Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I'm leaving for a tech conference in a couple days, but I'll do some calling when I return. The local UHaul dealership was able to order new rims for me and they're beautiful... white and unspoiled! Perhaps they can order the other parts, too. It was a general comedy of errors to get them to understand that I needed parts for one of their old campers, but they got the job done. I understand one of the limitations of the surge braking system is that you have to disengage the brake system if you want to back into a spot. While not impossible, that is a small task in itself due to the tension on the brake "pedal". If I stay with the surge system, I'll probably need to replace all the brakes lines, too, in addition to the surge controller. It seems pretty filled with rust and other crud.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Do we really need the brakes on the 16 footer? It seems to stop well with our VW Eurovan, [b]but we haven't been in any mountainous regions, either.

Thanks!
Quote:
[b]Yes... it's a different (And more gooder, safer, and comfortabler [b]world with them)
Towing a 16' trailer in Gina's world without brakes is not fun!
Don't ask how I know this.
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:00 PM   #10
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Fred has been in Texas too long..

what the heck is you rambling about?
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