Ebrakes: are they worth it? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-28-2020, 07:40 PM   #1
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Name: zack
Trailer: scamp 13
California
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Ebrakes: are they worth it?

We are planning to get a new Scamp 13 and were wondering whether to spring for the $300 for e-brakes. We don't move it around a lot. Typically about 150 miles per month, but a lot of that is on steep hills and windy roads. Our tow-vehicle is a 2008 4WD 4Runner. On some drives down a hill near our house, I haven't noticed any difference when the electrical cable was not plugged in (it was not working for a week or so while I waited for parts) so that got me thinking: do I really need e-brakes?
Would love to get advice in that. Thanks.

PS. One a year or so, we might take it for a longer highway drive, about 250 miles at 60 mph.
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Old 06-28-2020, 08:18 PM   #2
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Have you made any panic stops on wet roads, or even on dry roads while on a corner? Have you gone down any long downgrades and held a trailer back with the tow vehicle to where the brakes faded? Have you ever had a trailer sway and get worse and worse with no way to stop it?

If any one of those things happens even once, $300. will seem like the best investment you could ever make.

Is it reasonable for the people in front of you, stopped on that curve I mentioned, expect you to be able to stop as quickly as possible?


If you cannot feel any difference with brakes vs no brakes, they are either not working, or the controller is not adjusted properly.

How many extra brake jobs on the tow vehicle, because it is stopping the trailer too, will equal $300? In other words, how long will it take for the brake upgrade to pay for itself?

How much is the extra safety worth?
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Old 06-29-2020, 03:26 AM   #3
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"Every trailer coach or camp trailer with a GVW of 1,500 lbs. or more must be equipped with brakes on at least 2 wheels..."

https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/trailer-brakes/
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:17 AM   #4
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Iowa
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Hands down, you NEED BRAKES! You owe it to yourself as well as the safety of the other folks on the road. Most likely your scamp, especially when loaded for travel, will exceed the weight in most if not all states that require brakes on trailers based on weight. If you EVER go through the mountains, brakes could save your life!
You should also consider re-sale. I'm sure that is not a major concern when your still many months from even picking up your new Scamp. However, sooner or later that day will come and your trailer will be much more attractive to potential buyers.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:45 AM   #5
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Name: bill
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Stopping - is it worth it?

Seriously, in an emergency panic stop situation, if the trailer and tow vehicle are not perfectly in line, the trailer will tend to swing wide. If it swings wide enough, you jackknife. A panic stop in a curve could be such a situation, I've seen it, with disastrous results (tow vehicle and trailer both totaled).

In a slow, gentle stop, not as critical. Of course, you never know when that panic stop will occur.
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:16 AM   #6
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Trailer: scamp 13
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I see what you mean

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Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
Have you made any panic stops on wet roads, or even on dry roads while on a corner? Have you gone down any long downgrades and held a trailer back with the tow vehicle to where the brakes faded? Have you ever had a trailer sway and get worse and worse with no way to stop it?

If any one of those things happens even once, $300. will seem like the best investment you could ever make.

Is it reasonable for the people in front of you, stopped on that curve I mentioned, expect you to be able to stop as quickly as possible?


If you cannot feel any difference with brakes vs no brakes, they are either not working, or the controller is not adjusted properly.

How many extra brake jobs on the tow vehicle, because it is stopping the trailer too, will equal $300? In other words, how long will it take for the brake upgrade to pay for itself?

How much is the extra safety worth?
I see what you mean. I drive very slowly, when I have a trailer, and I have never had a panic stop with the trailer. But that doesn't mean I never will. so I will get brakes and thanks all for your advice.

The thing that made me question it, was going down a very steep grade, 8% or so, and not being able to tell the difference. But that was at a uniform speed of about 8 or 10 mph. Is there a way for me to tell if the controller is working (without rehearsing a sudden stop? I mean the numbers look fine and make sense and it is a 2008 4R with tow package, built in controller, when I push down hard on the brakes it shows a digital number going way up. Back up lights and everything else works and it is a straight 7-wire with no adapters... How can I tell if the brakes are working?
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:58 AM   #7
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Name: Bing
Trailer: Sunland Express
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Brake or not to brake

I have all brakes on all my trailers and wouldn't EVER try towing without brakes. They has saved my butt on a couple occasions. Once when all lanes of traffic made a panic stop. Enabled me to control my stop and avoid hitting the car in front. Still had to grab a bit of shoulder but trailer on pavement saved the day. Other was when on slippery road TV started to go sideways. I hit the trailer brakes only and straightened out the TV nicely. Both these times was pulling a fiver.
Spend the extra $$ and get the brakes!
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Old 06-29-2020, 10:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by widgetwizard View Post
"Every trailer coach or camp trailer with a GVW of 1,500 lbs. or more must be equipped with brakes on at least 2 wheels..."

https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/trailer-brakes/



Simply put THIS IS NOT TRUE. Most states the limit is 3000lbs not 1500le=bs and Oregon law does not address weight at all only stopping distance.

That said there are many cases where trailer brakes are essential. I had one where traffic on a freeway was stopped just past the crest of a hill and on a curve. I had to make a panic stop the trailer brakes put the trailer behind me where it belonged and I stopped about 3' from the car if front of me.
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Old 06-29-2020, 10:34 AM   #9
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Trailer: 2004 13 ft Scamp Custom Deluxe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zack sc View Post
We are planning to get a new Scamp 13 and were wondering whether to spring for the $300 for e-brakes. We don't move it around a lot. Typically about 150 miles per month, but a lot of that is on steep hills and windy roads. Our tow-vehicle is a 2008 4WD 4Runner. On some drives down a hill near our house, I haven't noticed any difference when the electrical cable was not plugged in (it was not working for a week or so while I waited for parts) so that got me thinking: do I really need e-brakes?
Would love to get advice in that. Thanks.

PS. One a year or so, we might take it for a longer highway drive, about 250 miles at 60 mph.
I get your point. Small utility trailers almost never have brakes and when loaded they can easily outweigh a Scamp13.
In IllAnnoy we are required to have brakes if the trailer weighs more than 3000 pounds.


If I understand your question correctly, its not so much about safety, as it is a matter of whether the general benefit or value gained is worth the extra $300?
I think the answer really is "yes".


1] if you sell later, it will add value or could be a deal breaker.
2] trailer brakes reduce wear and tear on the TV.
3] much smoother when towing with trailer brakes.
4] More natural (no push) feel when stopping (more like when not towing).


All that plus the added security of shorter stopping distances with less effort and then there IS the added safety.
Of course the added safety aspect is more or less significant depending on the pairing of which TV with what trailer, and of course what driver.

Over all "Don't Panic" ....but buy the brakes.

You will like them and benefit from having them on your trailer.


PS I like them enough that I just upgraded from 7" to 10"brakes on my Scamp13D. I tow with a 2019 Ford Ranger which would do fine without them.


BTW, Brakes are now standard or included in packages on some Scamp13s so check before you pay.
I think all Deluxe and front bath trailers , but I'm not sure of the details.
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Old 06-29-2020, 10:41 AM   #10
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Name: John
Trailer: Black Series HQ19
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Originally Posted by zack sc View Post

Is there a way for me to tell if the controller is working (without rehearsing a sudden stop? How can I tell if the brakes are working?
You simply apply the brakes at the controller with the override lever or button. This applies the trailer brakes independently of the tow brakes. If they are working you will feel it. And if your trailer ever begins to sway uncontrollably, you do the same thing. Apply the brakes by hand at the controller.
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Old 06-29-2020, 03:51 PM   #11
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Name: Jann
Trailer: Casita
Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zack sc View Post
We are planning to get a new Scamp 13 and were wondering whether to spring for the $300 for e-brakes. We don't move it around a lot. Typically about 150 miles per month, but a lot of that is on steep hills and windy roads. Our tow-vehicle is a 2008 4WD 4Runner. On some drives down a hill near our house, I haven't noticed any difference when the electrical cable was not plugged in (it was not working for a week or so while I waited for parts) so that got me thinking: do I really need e-brakes?
Would love to get advice in that. Thanks.

PS. One a year or so, we might take it for a longer highway drive, about 250 miles at 60 mph.
This discussion was recently on this site with some great reasons for the brakes. The one I remember best was the person's trailer came off of the ball and he was able to stop the trailer slowly with the hand slide then slowly stopping the tv and getting off of the road safely. If he hadn't had brakes then he would have had to let the trailer ram into the back of the tv to stop it. No doubt causing a lot of damage to the tv and or trailer. Get the instructions on how to set your brake controller as each one is different. You should feel a slight tug when stopping but not a lot. We just got a new vehicle and controller and it is much easier to set than the last one which we never figured out completely in 3 years. We have a simple one that doesn't have the numbers on it, which I liked when we had one like that but this one has a light that goes from green to red when stopping. I set it in a few minutes time. So yes get brakes.
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Old 06-29-2020, 04:49 PM   #12
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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sure because then you have a trailer breakaway device if for some reason you uncouple.



Make a list of advantages


Make a list of disadvantages


Then make your own decision of what to do.
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:08 PM   #13
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k corbin View Post
...-
Make a list of advantages
Make a list of disadvantages
Then make your own decision of what to do.
Another approach:

Imagine that your local car dealer offers to sell you a cheaper model of you tow vehicle. He tells you he can save you a few hundred dollars by changing out the brakes so that the vehicle takes maybe 40% further to stop. Would you take that offer?

Because that is in effect what you are doing when you buy a trailer but dont include the brakes. The rig will require more distance to stop when towing vs. not towing. That might be OK. Then again a child might chase a ball into the street in front of you.
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Old 07-01-2020, 07:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Simply put THIS IS NOT TRUE. Most states the limit is 3000lbs not 1500le=bs and Oregon law does not address weight at all only stopping distance
He was quoting the rule for California, which is where the OP’s profile indicates he lives. Since the GVWR of a Scamp 13 is over 1500#, the rule applies.

Brakes are now standard on 13’ Scamps, so all that remains is to install the controller in the tow vehicle. Lots of good reasons to do so (beyond the legal requirement) have already been discussed.
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Old 07-01-2020, 08:25 AM   #15
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For what it’s worth, North Carolina any camper of 1,000 pounds or higher requires brakes.
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Old 07-01-2020, 10:23 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Simply put THIS IS NOT TRUE. Most states the limit is 3000lbs not 1500le=bs and Oregon law does not address weight at all only stopping distance.

That said there are many cases where trailer brakes are essential. I had one where traffic on a freeway was stopped just past the crest of a hill and on a curve. I had to make a panic stop the trailer brakes put the trailer behind me where it belonged and I stopped about 3' from the car if front of me.
As you noted, it depends on the state regulations. In NY, anything over 1000 pounds requires brakes.
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Old 07-01-2020, 12:14 PM   #17
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Name: Nicolas
Trailer: 1978 Boler
Almonte, Ontario
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My two cents which echo what has already been said: get the brakes since it is good value. I bought a new axle with e-brakes for the security that has been mentioned but also because the $300 CDN I paid far outweighs the $30 000 plus $8 000 that I could lose/need to replace after an accident and my insurance company trying to assign blame to me.
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Old 07-01-2020, 02:09 PM   #18
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IllAnnoy
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Mandate obviates function.
Fear obviates need.
Blame obviates responsibility.
I first buy what works, and what is needed to be responsible, then the legal part is met, like regulation, registration, and limitation.


As for sway...

A couple of years ago a semi ran us off the road onto the shoulder on a icy interstate.We experienced severe sway, bad enough that it blew out our bumper plugs and expelled our slinky onto the road.
I had traffic behind me on packed ice and snow, I reacted to the sway without touching the brakes (truck or trailer) Sway was corrected by controlling the truck.
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Old 07-02-2020, 02:05 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
I reacted to the sway without touching the brakes (truck or trailer) Sway was corrected by controlling the truck.
While that sounds nice, and is theoretically possible, it is not a reason to avoid brakes. And it is not something that can be taught in the same way that simply applying the trailer brakes can.

I drove out of an uncontrolled sway before and I got away with it by doing something I would never recommend.

Applying the trailer brakes is the best way to get out of that situation. In my case, it was rental utility trailer with several tons of weight in it, and no brakes. I'm sure it was heavier than S10 Blazer I was towing with. I got out of it, but it was a very risky method that could have gone way wrong.
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Old 07-02-2020, 09:28 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
While that sounds nice, and is theoretically possible, it is not a reason to avoid brakes. And it is not something that can be taught in the same way that simply applying the trailer brakes can.

I drove out of an uncontrolled sway before and I got away with it by doing something I would never recommend.

Applying the trailer brakes is the best way to get out of that situation. In my case, it was rental utility trailer with several tons of weight in it, and no brakes. I'm sure it was heavier than S10 Blazer I was towing with. I got out of it, but it was a very risky method that could have gone way wrong.
Thanks for your concern...

Applying the trailer brake on a bumper pull trailer can of course be effective when appropriate and not to be avoided.

The incident I described was of course NOT just "theoretically possible", since it did happen and was the only effective response to the incident.
Fortunately, excess speed or improper weight distribution were not at issue, as is usually the case where sway is concerned.


You make a good point, but lots of driving involves things which are more difficult to learn than simply applying the brakes in an emergency.
Applying the brakes in the aforementioned incident would have resulted in disaster , not only for us, but also for those behind us.
I am a firm believer in RV trailer brakes, in fact I just recently upgraded mine on my Scamp.


Of course you should not avoid using brakes when needed, any more than you should avoid any other element of control, like steering,lifting or accelerating.
The one thing which should always be avoided is Panic behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
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