Trailer brakes in the real world? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-15-2012, 05:25 PM   #1
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Name: Darrell
Trailer: 13 ft Ventura
British Columbia
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Trailer brakes in the real world?

So far I've been towing my Ventura (probably 1500 lbs) with a full-size Ford van and a basic 4-pin trailer connector.

When I repacked the bearings the Ventura brakes looked like they have hardly ever been applied - little or no wear on the shoes and drums.

I brought the van to a hitch and towing specialist to inquire about having a brake controller and extra hitch wiring installed, and when I told him the type and weight of trailer he said the trailer's too light and the brakes will keep locking up. In the end, he said I'll get frustrated and disconnect them like 99% of the people do.

Perhaps he has a point, because last year I asked the owner of a new 13' Scamp if he had brakes on theirs and he said yes but now wished he hadn't.

I suppose the usefulness of trailer brakes varies with the capacity of the tow vehicle. In my tug and trailer combination the tow vehicle is quite understressed.

What are the other opinions and experiences out there?
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Old 05-15-2012, 05:38 PM   #2
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Name: Darwin
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What he failed to tell you is that the controller lets you adjust the amount of breaking so the wheels will not lock up. It also gives you a manual way of applying the brakes.

Everybody has their opinion and after towing all sorts of campers and trailers for the past 50 years, here's mine.

I prefer brakes on the trailer because it helps stop sway, assists in stopping, comes in handy on slick pavement (When the Tow Vehicle stops you can manual apply the brakes so the camper does not try to pass your tow vehicle.)
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Old 05-15-2012, 06:20 PM   #3
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Hook'em up... you'll like them. You already know how well your combo works without them, so I won't comment for fear of a wikilyching
If they are 7" brakes you won't need to worry about lockups even if you try, but they will really add to your towing pleasure, if they are 10" brakes, a good controller will eliminate the problems predicted.
Get a PRODIGY brake controller, once adjusted you should never feel any push again.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
I prefer brakes on the trailer because it helps stop sway, assists in stopping, comes in handy on slick pavement (When the Tow Vehicle stops you can manual apply the brakes so the camper does not try to pass your tow vehicle.)

Yes me too
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:40 PM   #5
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As with many things there's sometimes regulations that might be of concern. Here if you have electric brakes on your trailer you're required to have them operational. The size, weight of the trailer doesn't matter. If you get into an accident and the trailer brakes aren't operational it could be deemed your fault and your insurance could refuse to pay.
Good luck.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:46 PM   #6
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I think your hitch and tow specialist needs to go back to towing school.

Darwin gave you the correct solution.. a good controller which will allow no brakes to all brakes. You just set it for what you need and the instructions with the controller tell you now to do that. I use a Tekonska Prodigy P2 and don't leave home without it!
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:17 PM   #7
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Name: Eric
Trailer: Scamp 13
Michigan
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I have a 13' and agree it is a worthwhile investment especially as soon as any situation is not flat, ideal, and people act like too many people do. I use the prodigy also (newer model than some) and am also happy with it.
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:21 PM   #8
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If you are towing your 13 behind a Kenworth or similar, then brakes might be considered to be "optional" - otherwise, as has been said before, your under-dash controller can be adjusted to prevent lockup and you will be amazed at how much more secure and comfortable the towing experience is when the trailer has working brakes
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:23 PM   #9
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Name: Darrell
Trailer: 13 ft Ventura
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Well, so far it appears that everybody's happy with how their trailer brakes operate.

For legal reasons, at least, I guess I should get these things connected. I saw Reese controllers on the wall at the local hitch and towing shop. Any other brands (and models) to recommend.

BTW, I wired in the four-pin harness, but after crawling around with a flashlight underneath the back of the van I see a sheathe of wire that dead-ends as well as an open connector. Is it likely that the prewiring was done at the factory?

Many thanks for all your opinions.
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:34 PM   #10
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While it MAY be possible that some pre-wiring was done from the factory, (depending on the year of your van) it will not be a lot of help unless there is also the pre-wiring harness under the dash for the controller to attach to

According to what may appear to be a consensus of users on here. the best controllers to look at are the Tekonsha prodigy series (the 2 and/or the 3)

I love my Prodigy 3, but I've never used the 2 (but i heard really good things about the Prodigy 2)
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:42 PM   #11
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Prodigy 2 for me. Works great.
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:11 PM   #12
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Name: Darrell
Trailer: 13 ft Ventura
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
As with many things there's sometimes regulations that might be of concern. Here if you have electric brakes on your trailer you're required to have them operational. The size, weight of the trailer doesn't matter. If you get into an accident and the trailer brakes aren't operational it could be deemed your fault and your insurance could refuse to pay.
Good luck.
That's another thing I wonder about...does one's rig have to be compliant only for the state/province where it is licensed and registered, or, conforming to the laws wherever it happens to travel?
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:22 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
I think your hitch and tow specialist needs to go back to towing school.
Me too!
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Darrell O View Post
Well, so far it appears that everybody's happy with how their trailer brakes operate.

For legal reasons, at least, I guess I should get these things connected. I saw Reese controllers on the wall at the local hitch and towing shop. Any other brands (and models) to recommend.

BTW, I wired in the four-pin harness, but after crawling around with a flashlight underneath the back of the van I see a sheathe of wire that dead-ends as well as an open connector. Is it likely that the prewiring was done at the factory?

Many thanks for all your opinions.

Your money will be well spent acquiring the Prodigy vs the Reese brake controller. (Don't ask me how I know!)
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