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Old 10-16-2016, 12:28 PM   #1
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Downhill speed control

Hello, a search for 'braking' did not show any links, so if they are there and you know them, please let me know to avoid repeating info already available.

The use of down shifting to break with the engine works fine with the car/truck, my question is about the trailer: this way of controlling speed does not activate the brakes, so the electric braking system in the trailer will not actuate. Correct?

That being the case, the momentum (especially downhill) of the trailer will be slowed just by the ball in the TV (with the help of the swaying control bars?), which is probably not enough to avoid jackknifing.

To activate brakes on the RV we need to either manually depress the remote and/or put pressure on the TV brake pedal. Locking the RV's brakes if slippery may call for disaster, so I suspect there is a good way to handle the slowing down (even braking) in challenging road conditions. Anyone with actual experience on this, bad or good?

I guess deploying a parachute from the back of the AS is not an option (sailing, at least we have a parachute anchor to heave to)

Thank you
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Old 10-16-2016, 12:46 PM   #2
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other thread re barking

Vitaver, I've been following this recent thread.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f439...ml#post1863747

Happy Trails
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:19 PM   #3
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I do not tow in "challenging" road conditions. On dry pavement or in rain on long descents I try to use as much engine and transmission braking as I can and use the brakes in pulses when needed. I try to apply the brakes before speed builds up. My two worries are catching the trailer brakes on fire from too much braking and breaking traction on the trailer wheels from too much braking.

On very slick descents I do not have a clue. I would try the same strategy as above at very low speeds and try to keep the trailer wheels rolling rather than locking and skidding. I would be traveling at speeds where sway is not a problem so would be happy to control the trailer speed with the hitch ball.
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Old 10-16-2016, 04:03 PM   #4
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If down shifting will not hold you back RIDE the brakes with light pressure. Stabbing them will generate more heat than lightly riding them and you will most likely lose your TV front brakes.

If light pressure will not hold you back reduce speed enough to shift down another gear.

You go down a hill in the same gear you went up it.
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Old 10-16-2016, 04:15 PM   #5
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I agree with Howie that light riding of the brakes generates less heat. But I do not do it that way when towing. I can control how much pressure I am putting on the TV brakes but do not know exactly what the trailer brakes are actually doing. So I pump to control the amount of time the trailer brakes are on. Even though that way generates a bit more heat I think there is less of a chance of catching a axle on fire on a long downhill.
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Old 10-16-2016, 04:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
I agree with Howie that light riding of the brakes generates less heat. But I do not do it that way when towing. I can control how much pressure I am putting on the TV brakes but do not know exactly what the trailer brakes are actually doing. So I pump to control the amount of time the trailer brakes are on. Even though that way generates a bit more heat I think there is less of a chance of catching a axle on fire on a long downhill.
Don't sit for a CDL license with that approach you will fail.
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Old 10-16-2016, 05:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
I do not tow in "challenging" road conditions. On dry pavement or in rain on long descents I try to use as much engine and transmission braking as I can and use the brakes in pulses when needed. I try to apply the brakes before speed builds up. My two worries are catching the trailer brakes on fire from too much braking and breaking traction on the trailer wheels from too much braking.

On very slick descents I do not have a clue. I would try the same strategy as above at very low speeds and try to keep the trailer wheels rolling rather than locking and skidding. I would be traveling at speeds where sway is not a problem so would be happy to control the trailer speed with the hitch ball.
I don't plan to drive under challenging conditions. Nevertheless, I prepare for them, as conditions change. If I can deal with them, it will make it for a safe trip.
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Old 10-16-2016, 05:53 PM   #8
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For me with my relatively light tow vehicle, I select the gear and the speed I want to descend at BEFORE starting the descent. That can mean knocking your speed right off and upsetting other road users, but it's a whole lot easier starting a descent slowly than it is trying to slow down during the descent. I've used that technique when towing through the White Mountains in New Hampshire (and other places) and it's served me well so far.

Yes, the TV and trailer will pick up speed during the descent but, as others have said, light pressure on the brake pedal, when required, is generally enough to prevent you picking up too much speed and to stop the brakes overheating.

I learned the hard way, of course, when I first started towing. I needed to go down a short but steep hill, in the dark, and underestimated the severity of the grade. I was going too fast and needed to haul everything to a stop halfway down; I stopped OK but the big cloud of smoke and the smell of burning brake liners came past me as came to a halt. No damage done but it was certainly a driving lesson!
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:31 PM   #9
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Cummings with exhaust brake ,works like a charm, You are better to use steady pressure on your brake pedal than to pump them, down hill in same gear you went up.. That's trucking over Montana passes....
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:52 PM   #10
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There is no doubt mountain descents are a challenge for the equipment and driver. The driver has full control, not the equipment. I'll take a chance and guarantee any long descent can be safely completed at 10 mph.

Overuse of the tow vehicle brakes or trailer brakes will overheat them, and they could "fade away" giving you much less braking ability. I saw a semi truck on Colorado I-70 shoulder last month with smoking hot brakes. Glad he got it stopped. Maybe his air brakes failed in some manner.

Disc brakes on the trailer significantly add to braking force available. Disc brakes tend not to fade as fast as drums. They are a good option on newer Airstreams.

I go down a long descent into Denver in the wife's vehicle in 3rd gear, 3000 rpm at 50 mph and hardly ever have to use the brakes.

I went down "Rabbit Ears" pass on CO 40 into Steamboat Springs with my diesel pick up and 8000 pound Airstream in 3nd gear at 3000 rpm at 45 mph and used the brakes very little. There are several curves on this descent. The diesel exhaust braking effect certainly helps. I did have quite a line of traffic behind me, and I pulled over when it was safe to do so. But I was in complete control all the way down.

If I'm lucky, I find a semi truck and follow him down the hill in the right lane. People in mountain states understand semi trucks need to go slow downhill for safety, and go slow uphill due to power limitations.

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Old 10-18-2016, 10:28 AM   #11
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Got my first taste of steep descent with a trailer two weeks ago on a drive to the west coast followed by a tour around Yellowstone. We crossed the Continental Divide several times in a matter of days. Dunraven Pass was our highest elevation at 8,859 ft. But the longest steepest descents were on the interstate. One hill in Montana had a 25 mph speed limit for trucks over 12,000 lbs. (Iím nearly 16,000 lbs.)

MrUKToad is correct. Select your speed BEFORE you begin the descent. What other drivers think of your speed is none of your business. Would you rather have them angry for getting stuck behind you, or think you are a fool for flying downhill too fast? If youíre going too fast, those who think you are a fool are correct.

I have a CDL with passenger endorsement, but was unable to be tested on steep hills since there are none in my area. Our recent trip put that technical knowledge to good use. The CORRECT way to descend is brake BEFORE the hill. Most major roadways will have a sign telling you 5, 6, or 7%. This will tell you what gear you need, and how much braking you will do. I learned that with my setup, 5% feels good at 50-60 mph, 6% 35-45 mph, and 7% 25-35 mph. At 6%, I brake to 35 before the hill, and put my 6 speed tranny in 3rd. DONT TOUCH THE BRAKE until the truck reaches 45. Then press the brake firmly (no jabbing) to slow the truck from 45 back to 35. Then take your foot OFF the brake while it slowly climbs back to 45.

If the truck races back to your top speed, you are in the wrong gear. Brake to the right speed, and downshift further. As long as you are not violating your redline, the scream of your racing engine is perfectly harmless, and using no more gas than you do at idle. (I had to reassure my alarmed wife repeatedly.)

Riding your brake lightly produces enormous heat with nearly zero benefit. The heat will cause brake failure without causing a fire. You wonít know youíve lost your brakes until you really need them. Jabbing the brakes could jackknife your trailer.

When descending at reasonable speed, the load PUSHING on your trailer hitch is the same as the load PULLING on your hitch when you are accelerating normally. When braking normally on a steep hill (ex. from 45 down to 35) your trailer brakes are engaged normally, and your load will remain straight.
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Old 10-18-2016, 10:53 AM   #12
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Am following this and previous threads about proper downhill descent methods.

In our Chevy pickup we have PRND321 and a Tow Haul button.

Don't understand this comment and have seen it previously: you go down the same gear you go up. Well I went up the hill in D/Drive....?
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Old 10-18-2016, 11:18 AM   #13
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Thank you, very good info. Two questions (for whomever can/wish to answer):

1. I have to bacK up my trailer, up my 100 yards driveway, which is one lane wide, curves up the hill to my garage. I was able to do this with my LR4 pushing up my FC27. I need a bigger truck and will go all the way to F350 to avoid regrets (dam, I wanted a larger one!) down the road. Question is about maneuvering the trailer up the driveway. A longer wheel base will make that maneuvering too difficult/impossible? I guess the longer, the larger the turning radius and considering the driveway is narrow (maybe 150% of the with of a car), what I did with the short LR4, is repeatable with a F350?

Thanks.
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Old 10-18-2016, 11:49 AM   #14
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Front hitch on truck, go forward up the driveway.
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