Trillium 1300 braking system - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-21-2019, 12:18 PM   #1
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Name: Lisa
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Trillium 1300 braking system

Hi! We have a Subaru Ascent and are hopefully buying a 1975 Trillium 1300 this week. It does not have a braking system. I'm not sure of the weight of the vehicle but does anyone use this without a braking system? We would need to drive it home without one (around 2 hours, major highways).

Sorry I'm a total newbie with this stuff!! Thank you!
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Old 07-21-2019, 01:21 PM   #2
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To be safe, trailer brakes are strongly recommended. For the Trillium, if it has brakes, they would be electric. Look for cast iron brake drums behind the wheels and a 7 blade connector on the tongue. Then you need to have a 7 blade connector near your hitch receiver and install a brake controller on the dashboard or center console that is accessible to the driver.

If the Trillium doesn't have brakes, it is possible to add them if the axle has a square plate with four bolt holes behind each wheel.
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Old 07-22-2019, 11:46 AM   #3
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Lisa, there are several issues that you brought up and the first one is what is your tow vehicle towing capacity? That should be in the manual or available from the dealer. To tow an empty trailer like the 13 ft Trillium you should not need brakes, but you do need lights if driving at night and when the tow vehicle brakes come on. You can overcome this with the magnetic lights used by tow trucks that are available from auto parts stores but still require the correct connector on tow vehicle and proper installation on the trailer back bumper.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:13 PM   #4
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Hi! On our Subaru Ascent the tow capacity is 5,000lb. BUT...it says we need brakes on anything over 1,000lb. And I feel like a Trillium is a little more than that.

To be honest I don't even understand how brakes work.

Our hitch has something to plug in electricity and I thought that was the lights but maybe I'm wrong? SO new to all this...it's like another language to me.

Thanks!
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lisakmoser View Post
SO new to all this...it's like another language to me.

Thanks!

Maybe you should get a book like this and study it so you can ask good questions and understand the answers.
https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idio.../dp/002864171X
Updated and revised, this guide is for the more than 30 million Americans who are living the RV lifestyle and the millions of others who are thinking about taking the plunge. It provides the necessary information to get the most out of the RV experience, including basic facts regarding the different types of RVs, advice on buying an RV, driving tips, information on how to choose a campground, and much
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:24 PM   #6
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Lisa,

Yes the Trillium 1300 will be over 1000 pounds, probably closer to 2000 pounds fully loaded.

So based on your first post, you said that you would not have trailer braking when you pick up the trailer. So in that case you would want to drive carefully and keep safe distance from vehicles in front of you.

Concerning trailer brakes, as I mentioned in post #2, for your Trillium, if it has brakes, they would be electric. Look for cast iron brake drums behind the wheels and a 7 blade connector on the tongue. On your tow vehicle, you also need to have a matching 7 blade connector near your hitch receiver and install a brake controller on the dashboard or center console that is accessible to the driver. If the Trillium doesn't have brakes, it is possible to add them if the axle has a square plate with four bolt holes behind each wheel.
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Old 07-22-2019, 01:57 PM   #7
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If the Subaru Ascent is like all the other Subaru models, the factoring trailer wiring harness will be 4-pin which won't power brakes on the trailer. You will have to get a 4 way to 7 way trailer wiring harness and have someone wire it for you. In addition, you will need a brake controller which is what actually activates the trailer brakes when you press the brake pedal in the tow vehicle. There are many options for doing this kind of setup from a fully Wired brake controller to a controller that doesn't require a connection to the tow vehicle wiring. What you do will depend upon multiple factors including not voiding your warranty by splicing wires into the tow vehicles wiring harness.

I went with a product called the Autowbrake which hooks into the wiring of the trailer so all I had to wire on the Tow Vehicle was a power connection from the battery to the 4 pin to 7 pin trailer wiring harness I installed on my Crosstrek. This eliminated any possible warranty gotchas since I never touched any of the wiring harnesses in the Crosstrek. At some point I will be posing about what I did along with photos. I just haven't had time yet.
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Old 07-22-2019, 02:13 PM   #8
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Other options to get it home..
  • a flat bed tow truck ($$$$$) - Not a needed or good option really.
  • Friend with a beefier truck that can handle the brake-less trailer safely. ($ - $$$)
  • A delivery service that will tow it for you (like the freelancers that Scamp uses)

IMHO Once home you should find the best three trailer shops in a reasonable distance from you, have a long talk with them, including the tips you get here, and then pick the shop that gives you the warmest fuzzies (because they know what they are talking about and what they say makes sense and checks out).
Then let them install everything you need.

As for the brake controller, the AutowBrake might be the way to go.. Scamp is using it on some Subaru's because of some problem with a regular hard wired brake controller. No idea if that will apply to your car however. But I have doubts that you can add brakes on the existing axle anyway, so the question of which controller might be moot... so get some good local help to figure it all out.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:03 PM   #9
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Trillium 1300 braking system

Agree that with care and appropriate use of lower gears when climbing and (especially) descending hills you will be okay to pull the empty trailer home.

If the trailer does not have brakes already, look for a square mounting plate on the axle right behind the wheel. Itíll be at an angle with four bolt holes. If it has that, adding brakes will be straightforward.

If not, youíll need a new axle with brakes. Thatíll run about $800 installed, but not including the controller and wiring in your vehicle. An axle without the brake plate is probably older, and may well be due for replacement anyway. Torsion axles last around 20 years.

As said, get several bids for the work. They can vary wildly. Cargo/utility trailer shops are often good for this kind of work.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:23 PM   #10
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...
If the trailer does not have brakes already, look for the square mounting plate on the axle right behind the wheel. It’ll be at an angle to the ground with four bolt holes. If it has that, adding brakes will be fairly straightforward....
Its the square plate on the left.. As you can see, if the wheel was mounted it would be hidden and you have to get low and look under the camper on the inside.



As for towing it home, it helps to have some experience in addition to all the other things mentioned.. greater following distance, using low gear on downgrades, etc. Its up to you and your comfort level.
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Old 07-22-2019, 04:45 PM   #11
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Trillium 1300 braking system

Yup. I missed seeing the plate on my Scamp the first time I looked. As Gordon says, you have to get your head under the trailer to look at the back of the wheel.

Note the picture shows a leaf spring axle. Your torsion axle has no visible springs. Rubber inside the axle tube serves instead, but itís also the rubber that eventually wears out.
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Old 07-22-2019, 05:37 PM   #12
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While the steel plate means you can add brakes to your Trillium axle, I believe that would be a mistake with a 44 year old axle. The torsion axles on Trilliums and many other campers as well has a manufacturer's life span of 20 years. You are way past that mark.

It is more cost effective to just get a replacement axle that has brakes already installed on it. That is my plan with my 42 year old Trillium. Trailer brakes are always a plus, and in an emergency, you will be happy to have them. Until you have that situation, you may not miss not having brakes.
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Old 07-22-2019, 06:22 PM   #13
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While the steel plate means you can add brakes to your Trillium axle, I believe that would be a mistake with a 44 year old axle. The torsion axles on Trilliums and many other campers as well has a manufacturer's life span of 20 years. You are way past that mark.
...
Yes of course you are correct.. but only if your assumption that it is the original axle is also correct, which at that age is questionable.

It might well be a newer axle with brake mounting plates but no brakes. Which just reinforces my suggestion to get a good local trailer shop to look at it. They can evaluate the axle.
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:45 PM   #14
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Yes, easy enough to test if the rubber inside the torsion axle has any life in it left.
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