Electric Brakes

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Electric Brakes

Postby ae6black » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:02 pm

I can't believe that I've towed this trailer all over the eastern US for the past 40 years without ever installing brakes. I've been pushed through two intersections when I had the trailer overloaded with roofing supplies and also one time heading down a hill into the intersection with it raining outside, all I had on board that day was a Old Town canoe. Both times simply could not stop. I just steered around the other vehicles in front of me and made it safely out of harms way. But Now that I am getting old, I"ve decided enough of just getting by with what I've always had. I was sitting by a campfire one day looking at my trailer that now has my TD mounted on top of it and thinking about the mobile home axle that I've gotten plenty of use out of over the years and how I've been keeping my guardian angels busy the whole time. With a mobile home axle and hubs, if you loose one mounting bolt on the wheel, the whole thing is going to go. Besides the safety issue and the fact that Mobile home wheels are notoriously out of balance and shake like the devil, the bearings and seals are extremely hard to match up and come by. I'd of been happy with just new hubs, but those mobile home axles are hard to match new hubs up with. So finally installing a dexter axle with brakes. I guess it's better late than never. If I'd of known that it wasn't going to be that big of a job I would have done it years ago. I have some twelve inch wheels with relatively new tires on them just sitting around from my old pop up. When the tires wear out, I'll upgrade to 13 inch wheels. Too soon olt, too late smart. But hey, I am still alive and still enjoying my time sitting around a campfire with some friends.

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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby elcam84 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:13 am

Glad you finally replaced that axle. I have seen way too many tires thrown off mobile homes. Luckily they ended up in the median or shoulder or there was no one in the oncoming lane. I knew a guy that was parked at a place off the freeway. While inside his brand new car was totalled by a mobile home tire... Very dangerous design and IMO should be phased out.

At some point I am going to replace the factory axle on my flat bed trailer with a torsion with brakes. Unfortunately adding brakes to the trailer is the cheap part the controller for the tow vehicle is the big cost.

Oh also have your trailer tires balanced. Few think it's needed but it really is.

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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby working on it » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:29 pm

elcam84 wrote:...At some point I am going to replace the factory axle on my flat bed trailer with a torsion with brakes. Unfortunately adding brakes to the trailer is the cheap part the controller for the tow vehicle is the big cost....
  • I've installed at least ten brake controllers in various trucks and SUVs over the last 25+ years, and have found them not as expensive if you do them yourself. I remember a friend paying big bucks at a U-haul, years ago, to have one put in his truck, so when I needed one, I opted to do it myself. It was a cheap time-controlled Reese unit (I don't remember the model or where I bought it) that I wired myself, using connectors and electrical stuff from a Hi-Lo auto parts store. I was never good at wiring under the dash, so this first attempt took me awhile, but it worked. After that, each install became easier.
  • My last install was at twilight, in the rain, as my wife was about to pull her 20-ft Puma travel trailer to Minnesota on a catastrophe insurance job, because her old Tekonsha suddenly stopped working. It wasn't a fuse, so I rushed to Tractor Supply, grabbed a Reese controller, and started to splice it into the wiring of the '98 GMC. I didn't like the way the previous owner had wired it into shared circuits, so I simplified it, so if my wife experienced problems on the road, a mechanic could easily trace the problem. Took about an hour, because it was raining and dark, and I don't fit under dashboards very well.
  • Though I've used mostly Reese-branded controllers over the years, due to widespread availability, I bought a Hopkins Impulse controller (at Northern Tool?) for my '04 2500 HD Chevy. There was a harness for the truck to hook up a brake controller (it was loose, in the glove box, to be installed by the user), that made the installation plug-n-play. The selection of controller location, and drilling and mounting the controller, took much longer than the wiring. Probably 30 minutes. Later, I installed the same controller into friends/family 's vehicles 4 or 5 more times (into Avalanches, Suburbans, and more 2500 HD pickups). They liked my controller, so I installed all of theirs the same way, each install in less than 15 minutes.
  • As for cost, I've never paid more than $60 for any controller, most being under $50. The new plug-n-play wiring harnesses (they were included with the GM vehicles) would've cost under $20 at GM (but even less from various retailers), so these installs were way less expensive than the U-Haul install of olden days.
  • my latest brake controller installs.png
    my latest brake controller installs.png (337.48 KiB) Viewed 457 times
    controller installation is cheaper and easier than in the past
  • 2013 HHRv,"squareback/simple" TTT, semi-offroad? 4x8, 2000+ lbs travel weight
  • featuring:
    • 3500 lb Dexter axle,
    • 27x8.5-14LT tires,
    • LED lighting,
    • A/C & heat,Optima AGM battery,
    • extended-run 2500w generator,
    • Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern
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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby dancam » Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:53 pm

I would second the balancing the trailer tires but also second that the braked axle is far more expensive than the controller. $20-$50 for the controller, super easy to install yourself and a 7 pin plug at the back. Got a picture of this trailer youve had for 40 years?

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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby elcam84 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:59 pm

I always used tekonsha controllers in the past on trucks and even with a discount they cost more than an axle with brakes. I pay around $100 to 140 for an axle kit with brakes depending on weight (i dont like their torsion axel though) but I have a factory here in town and get a hefty discount. Also add to the cost $15 for a connector at the back of the TV, wire to send power back there and some are best with relays etc.
On pick up trucks I haven't put in an aftermarket controller since they have them factory installed now. However the Ford one is a nuisance as it will often say your trailer is disconnected while driving down the road and yeah there is no trailer...

The TV for the home trailers is an SUV and I really should look at one of those lower cost units for it. Just has to be inertia based. My other issue is that I have nowhere to put the controller and mounting it to the lower dash IE 80s style isn't going to happen on a new car and It will be in the way. I'll have to see where I can find a spot for one or see about taking one apart and moving the adjustment pot and indicator to a remote location.

But that does force me to look at the others on the market as I really haven't much and I do see a few that look decent for the price and I won't be using it much anyway...

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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby dancam » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:25 pm

elcam84 wrote:I always used tekonsha controllers in the past on trucks and even with a discount they cost more than an axle with brakes. I pay around $100 to 140 for an axle kit with brakes depending on weight (i dont like their torsion axel though) but I have a factory here in town and get a hefty discount. Also add to the cost $15 for a connector at the back of the TV, wire to send power back there and some are best with relays etc.
On pick up trucks I haven't put in an aftermarket controller since they have them factory installed now. However the Ford one is a nuisance as it will often say your trailer is disconnected while driving down the road and yeah there is no trailer...

The TV for the home trailers is an SUV and I really should look at one of those lower cost units for it. Just has to be inertia based. My other issue is that I have nowhere to put the controller and mounting it to the lower dash IE 80s style isn't going to happen on a new car and It will be in the way. I'll have to see where I can find a spot for one or see about taking one apart and moving the adjustment pot and indicator to a remote location.

But that does force me to look at the others on the market as I really haven't much and I do see a few that look decent for the price and I won't be using it much anyway...

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Thats a really good price on an axle!
Im pretty sure ive seen that brand of brake controller under $100 when i was looking for mine. Check kijiji, craigslist. Was lots of used ones here for cheap when i was looking.
Mine went in the ashtray spot. Who smokes nowadays anyway?
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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby ae6black » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:07 pm

I just went to the local auto zone and bought a controler off the shelf. Had to replace my original one because I wasn't paying attention and wired it up wrong and blew it up. But considering I'd had the old one on three different tow vehicles, I don't think it was that great of loss. If I hadn't lost the instruction sheet that came with the first one, I'd probably still be running that one. Being in a hurry will get you every time. With this axle install I was quite disappointed that it came with bearings already packed. I like to pack my own. but because they didn't give me extra seals with the hubs I bought I went ahead and used as it was. This axle came with a grease fitting in the ends of the spindles. weird looking set up. the fitting is mounted off center of the spindle and grease apparently comes out near the inner bearing. So I pumped several times with my grease gun and hoped for the best after I put it together. I'll repack it next season just on general principles. does anybody know if they make a tool that you can use to pound the dust caps in with?

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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby dancam » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:10 pm

ae6black wrote:. does anybody know if they make a tool that you can use to pound the dust caps in with?

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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby elcam84 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:20 pm

ae6black wrote:I just went to the local auto zone and bought a controler off the shelf. Had to replace my original one because I wasn't paying attention and wired it up wrong and blew it up. But considering I'd had the old one on three different tow vehicles, I don't think it was that great of loss. If I hadn't lost the instruction sheet that came with the first one, I'd probably still be running that one. Being in a hurry will get you every time. With this axle install I was quite disappointed that it came with bearings already packed. I like to pack my own. but because they didn't give me extra seals with the hubs I bought I went ahead and used as it was. This axle came with a grease fitting in the ends of the spindles. weird looking set up. the fitting is mounted off center of the spindle and grease apparently comes out near the inner bearing. So I pumped several times with my grease gun and hoped for the best after I put it together. I'll repack it next season just on general principles. does anybody know if they make a tool that you can use to pound the dust caps in with?

Art
That's a dexter ez lube axle. Just grease it and go on. It works very well and will continually flush out the old grease when you pump in new stuff.

There is a dust cap tool. Goofy pliers with a hammer head on it. Never bought one as an ASE tech. Screwdriver to pop them off and smack them on with a hammer around the edges. If you are worried about denting find a piece of pipe that will fit and use that as a driver.

The axle price yeah it helps to know someone there but even the street prices are reasonable there.

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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby working on it » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:52 pm

dancam wrote:
ae6black wrote:. does anybody know if they make a tool that you can use to pound the dust caps in with?

Image
  • Yeah, me too. I sometimes get mad enough to use a sledgehammer on one...but usually I use a dead-blow hammer, or fit a large socket over it, or a piece of 2x4. A friend, with tools for every purpose, has a dust-cap-specific tool for his dust-caps (and a driver for every bearing size, as well).
  • dust cap driver tool.PNG
    dust cap driver tool.PNG (89.09 KiB) Viewed 321 times
    there's a tool for every job
  • If you're paying more for your brake controller than for your axle w/brakes...
    elcam84 wrote:I always used tekonsha controllers in the past on trucks and even with a discount they cost more than an axle with brakes. I pay around $100 to 140 for an axle kit with brakes
    then you may be overpaying for one, and skimping on the other one. In my experience, IMHO, Tekonsha is overpriced and just a status thing. When I convinced two of my buddies (lifelong Tekonsha addicts, with more years towing than I) to try the Hopkins Impulse unit I had on my truck, both let me install one on their new trucks (2006 and 2007 GMT-800 series Silverado and Sierra, like my 2004 Silverado), because mine was such a clean install. One, admitted that it worked just as good as the Prodigy on his older truck, but the other guy said that he liked the Tekonsha better (no reason given). but kept using the Impulse I installed. Why spend more than you need to?
  • But, concerning axles, I researched, looked over many manufacturers products, and chose Dexter, even over Rockwell American (of which brand I had previously installed two 3500 lb braked axles on my carhauler, seven years prior to the install on my TTT). I pored over their catalog, talked to sales reps, and discussed my order in length with a factory rep, when they suggested that my measurements were slightly off. When I received my Dexter, it was spot-on perfect, as the factory rep had promised, not even a quarter inch off, ready for installation. The Rockwell American axles were nice, but were rusty, and I had to repack the bearings, but the Dexter was perfect with a gloss black coating, as delivered, I paid about $300 for the R-A axles in '06 or '07, and $350 for the Dexter in '14, but the Dexter had EZ-Lube hubs added. I bought the 3500 lb axle for my little trailer, chosen over smaller 2000 and 2200 lb axles, because they just didn't have the same quality feel and heft that the Dexter axle had (I examined a sample at a trailer dealer, though not the dealer I used to order mine through). Better to get the best axle you can, and don't have to fix later, than to go with less capability and quality, and regret it. I had already been down that road before, so that's why I bought the best available (leaf spring axle = only type I considered). Brake controllers are easy to replace, if you make a bad decision, but axles (w/brakes, etc.) are not.
  • 2013 HHRv,"squareback/simple" TTT, semi-offroad? 4x8, 2000+ lbs travel weight
  • featuring:
    • 3500 lb Dexter axle,
    • 27x8.5-14LT tires,
    • LED lighting,
    • A/C & heat,Optima AGM battery,
    • extended-run 2500w generator,
    • Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern
  • 147697148333125895
  • 148599148106
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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby ae6black » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:27 pm

I guess I deserved the hammer picture. Never heard of the dust cap driver. Got one ordered. Thanks for the good advice!
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Re: Electric Brakes

Postby elcam84 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:51 pm

working on it wrote:
dancam wrote:
ae6black wrote:. does anybody know if they make a tool that you can use to pound the dust caps in with?

Image
  • Yeah, me too. I sometimes get mad enough to use a sledgehammer on one...but usually I use a dead-blow hammer, or fit a large socket over it, or a piece of 2x4. A friend, with tools for every purpose, has a dust-cap-specific tool for his dust-caps (and a driver for every bearing size, as well).
  • dust cap driver tool.PNG
    there's a tool for every job
  • If you're paying more for your brake controller than for your axle w/brakes...
    elcam84 wrote:I always used tekonsha controllers in the past on trucks and even with a discount they cost more than an axle with brakes. I pay around $100 to 140 for an axle kit with brakes
    then you may be overpaying for one, and skimping on the other one. In my experience, IMHO, Tekonsha is overpriced and just a status thing. When I convinced two of my buddies (lifelong Tekonsha addicts, with more years towing than I) to try the Hopkins Impulse unit I had on my truck, both let me install one on their new trucks (2006 and 2007 GMT-800 series Silverado and Sierra, like my 2004 Silverado), because mine was such a clean install. One, admitted that it worked just as good as the Prodigy on his older truck, but the other guy said that he liked the Tekonsha better (no reason given). but kept using the Impulse I installed. Why spend more than you need to?
  • But, concerning axles, I researched, looked over many manufacturers products, and chose Dexter, even over Rockwell American (of which brand I had previously installed two 3500 lb braked axles on my carhauler, seven years prior to the install on my TTT). I pored over their catalog, talked to sales reps, and discussed my order in length with a factory rep, when they suggested that my measurements were slightly off. When I received my Dexter, it was spot-on perfect, as the factory rep had promised, not even a quarter inch off, ready for installation. The Rockwell American axles were nice, but were rusty, and I had to repack the bearings, but the Dexter was perfect with a gloss black coating, as delivered, I paid about $300 for the R-A axles in '06 or '07, and $350 for the Dexter in '14, but the Dexter had EZ-Lube hubs added. I bought the 3500 lb axle for my little trailer, chosen over smaller 2000 and 2200 lb axles, because they just didn't have the same quality feel and heft that the Dexter axle had (I examined a sample at a trailer dealer, though not the dealer I used to order mine through). Better to get the best axle you can, and don't have to fix later, than to go with less capability and quality, and regret it. I had already been down that road before, so that's why I bought the best available (leaf spring axle = only type I considered). Brake controllers are easy to replace, if you make a bad decision, but axles (w/brakes, etc.) are not.
The local trailer company down the street here is owned by Rockwell now. They own several manufacturing plants now. I buy mine direct from them but I don't like their torsion axles. Back when it was quality trailer I bought allot from them back when you could buy an assembled 16' tandem axle trailer for $500... I doubt you could get a hold of a real rep as all they have are the counter sales guys and they handle that stuff.
Allot of their axles get stored outside as well. If buying a common axle I have no problem with their stuff but with torsion or really custom stuff... I do prefer dexter even though they are harder to get. Course the cheap trailer companies use dexter too, they must get a huge quantity discount to buy their axles.

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