Adjusting electric brakes - how much drag?

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Adjusting electric brakes - how much drag?

Postby TimC » Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:00 pm

I recently added electric brakes (7") to my TD #1. I have a question on setting the drag on the brake drums.

Instructions I have come across vary. One which seemed to make sense was to jack the wheel off the ground. Adjust with little to no drag of the pads on the drums. Then adjust until you have enough drag to stop the wheel from freewheeling after a spin. Theoretically, this sets the pads at the right place to give braking assist. I've done this twice with each wheel, increasing the brake pad drag on the drum each time. I can still turn the wheel by hand and have contact between pad and drum. Pads contact drum for the full turn of the wheel. After vehicle testing with a quick stop from 25 mph I hear the pads engage but I don't notice braking even with the controller (Curt Tri-flex) dialed up to maximum (9.9). I have no experience with brakes so I'm not sure it is enough assist

The other extreme of instructions (which I haven't tried) is to adjust the pads/drums to the point where I could not turn the wheel by hand. Then, when pulling they suggest adjusting the controller until I get brake lock-up. Then turn controller down until I am just short of brakes locking up. Seems kind of extreme. I just want the brakes to assist and keep the trailer in a straight line when hitting the brakes hard, correct? Any suggestions on how I can "feel" that the brakes are assisting?
Tim
Niagara, WI
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Re: Adjusting electric brakes - how much drag?

Postby working on it » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:58 pm

  • I've used both self-adjusting trailer brakes and non-self-adjusting. With the self-adjusters, I just apply enough controller power to just be able to use the manual control to slow down my tv when creeping forward in gear. I remember that reading (digital display) as my minimum, then I adjust the power upwards to be able to stop my truck from 15 mph, using just the controller and trailer brakes. The displayed reading will be my road setting. On my car-hauler, I would set it as I was just leaving home, with a full load, since I hardly ever carried exactly the same. Now, with my 2000 lb TTT, I just set it for the creeping stop, and leave it there, as my truck doesn't really need the help, with the TTT.
  • On the non-self-adjusting brakes, I tightened the star wheels just as on car brakes, where I could spin the wheel only one revolution prior to it stopping (if you do it this way, you might have to mount the wheel several times, to get the right setting-if you don't have a slot in the backing plate-). Once set, then the previous procedure is followed, to find the creep and road settings. You might find that you need higher settings, but this will get you into the ballpark.
  • With either type of trailer brakes, I always had the settings memorized (when I was towing daily or weekly), or marked on a card taped to the dash, for quick access. And, in case of an imperative emergency stop, I refreshed my memory on which way to turn the power adjuster on the controller, for max braking. Your adjustments seem a bit soft; I'd rather have too much braking than not enough, if I was towing heavy, but if you just want the brakes to keep the trailer from swaying or swerving when stopping, then just make sure that they are evenly adjusted, or not engaging at all (drum brakes are notorious for one grabbing and the other not -one of the reasons disc brakes took over for automobile brakes, years ago-). Good luck.
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Re: Adjusting electric brakes - how much drag?

Postby TimC » Mon May 01, 2017 3:08 pm

Thanks much. I will try one of those suggestions.
Tim
Niagara, WI
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