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Old 05-11-2005, 11:37 AM   #183
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Disc brakes.

We presently are making the disc brake conversions at the rate of almost two per week.

Disc brakes are superior to standard electric brakes on "any" size trailer, regardless of weight, for many reasons as Brett stated.

The actuator can easily be installed in the trailer, near the axles, either in an access compartment, or a closet. That also keeps it out of the weather.

Some additional wiring is necessary, but a detailed instruction manual is supplied with each actuator.

Conversion time on a tandem axle Airstream takes 10-12 hours, depending on the condition and floor plan of the trailer.

The initial cost for a disc brake system is much more than electric brakes. However, in time, far less repairs are required, and at a far less cost.

With the disc brake system, properly installed, using a top notch actuator, and controller, your rig will stop "ON A DIME".

Disc brakes will become, for many Airstream owners, a valued part of their lives, as it already has with cars and trucks.

They have become far more than "wait and see".

Andy
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Old 05-11-2005, 02:14 PM   #184
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pattersontoo
I know there are a lot of single axle Airstream and Argosy owners on here.
Some of them may be considering ordering their axle with disc brakes.

Lou,



You have asked good questions; let me do my best to address them in order.
  • Q: When would you consider using disc brakes on a smaller Airstream or Argosy?
A: Disc brakes will better the braking on a coach of any size.
  • What is needed to be housed in the trailer if you go with disc brakes?
A: The electric/hydraulic power unit is the hot ticket today. This is typically installed on the tongue of the trailer. It senses the signal from the brake controller mounted in the tow vehicle and sends a message to a circuit board that activates a hydraulic pump to apply braking pressure. Another option, although not quite as common of a retrofit on Airstreams, is to use a hydraulic surge coupler in place of the standard ball coupler. When the tow vehicle applies its brakes it activates a master cylinder (similar to a car or truck) contained in the coupler and applies braking pressure to the trailer brakes. This works off of forward momentum.
  • Q: What is the anatomy of a disc brake system?
A: 1. Electric/hydraulic pump (such as the Actibrake) or surge coupler.

2. A brake like kit (contains fittings, tees, houses, mounting hardware, etc.).

3. Disc brake calipers.

4. Disc brake rotors (could be integral rotors or non-integral).

5. Brake Pads.

6. Brake fluid.

This would cover the basics.
  • Q: Weight is an issue with the smaller Airstreams and Argosys. Do you need to add more weight to the trailer?
A: Drum brakes are heavy. Thus, even with the addition of the electric/hydraulic unit or surge coupler it is pretty close to the same weight plus or minus a few pounds.
  • Q: If you have to add equipment, how big is that equipment? Where would it go in the trailer?
A: The only real addition is the electric/hydraulic unit or surge coupler and brake lines. Typically this equipment is tongue mounted, with the brake lines being routed to the wheels..
  • Q: Is there any additional wiring that would be needed?
A: No wiring is required with a surge coupler (nor is a brake control). For something like the Actibrake, wiring is required, see: www.activetech1.com/actibrak/brakesystem/install-man04.pdf
  • Q: What is involved in converting a drum brake system to a disc brake system?
A: In addition to electric/hydraulic unit or surge coupler, routing of brake lines, removal of old brakes and installation of the disc brakes. I have personally seen this job take a skilled technician about 6 hours for a single axle and I would plan on one 8 hour day for tandems.



Hopefully this will address your basic questions. Perhaps I have even included the “Wisdom” that you desired .




Henry
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Old 05-11-2005, 05:07 PM   #185
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axleman
Hopefully this will address your basic questions. Perhaps I have even included the “Wisdom” that you desired .
Henry
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Thanks for the professional insight.
I know that you are limited in your ability to quote prices but what I want to know is what is the average cost difference to go with disc brakes over drum brakes? Will anyone see any cost effectiveness by choosing disc brakes over drum brakes?
Thanks for your time, Henry! I am sure that this is all information that will help some decide which system to go with.
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Old 05-11-2005, 05:30 PM   #186
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The cost of disc brakes over electric brakes, is obviously higher.

But the additional safety gained more than offsets the additional cost.

If not, then the auto manufacturers would not have switched to the discs.

Most owners that tow, have expressed the desire to having maximum safety
as primary and the cost of that safety to be far less than secondary.

All of our customers, so far, have asked "why not before?"

One of the good answers seems to be, "better late than never."

Justifying the additional cost certainly is up to each owner. But, most Airstream owners didn't blink an eye, when they found out the selling price of an Airstream.

Costs are relative.

Safety, is NOT!

Andy
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Old 05-11-2005, 05:55 PM   #187
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
The cost of disc brakes over electric brakes, is obviously higher.

But the additional safety gained more than offsets the additional cost.

If not, then the auto manufacturers would not have switched to the discs.Andy
Andy, do you know if anyone has experimented with an electric disc brake setup, that actuates in a similar manner to the drum brakes?
If one could be successfully, cheaply, and reliably, produced, it would be a simple matter to convert to electric disc. I visualize an electric, bi-directional motor mounted where the caliper piston is currently housed, with an auger type drive to apply the pads to the rotors. When you release the pedal, the motor would return to its "rest" position, and release the brakes.
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Old 05-11-2005, 06:01 PM   #188
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I have not heard of any such experiments.

It would appear to me, that the system you mentioned would have too many parts, compared to todays electrically activated hydraulic disc brakes.

Additionally, hydraulic disc brakes have more stopping power than electrics.

Disc brakes really cost about the same or a little more than electric brakes, but the large additional expense is for the actuator.

Andy
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Old 05-11-2005, 06:19 PM   #189
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Disk brakes have superior resistance to heat fade.

The pads are easier to check than brake shoes.

But do not lose sight of the fact that Airstream specifies the bearings be repacked every year. The rotor is coming off anyway in spite of how easy it is to check the pads.

The Hydraulic pump is a single failure point which purely electric brakes do not have. It has its own maintenance issues which offset whatever 'ease of maintenance' bonus points highlighted by disk brakes.

Yes, everyone should have disk brakes. But get them because they offer a higher safery margin in off-nominal situations, and not because they appear to be easier to maintain than drum brakes.

Just another opinion from the Internet
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Old 05-11-2005, 06:25 PM   #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by argosy20
I visualize an electric, bi-directional motor mounted where the caliper piston is currently housed, with an auger type drive to apply the pads to the rotors. When you release the pedal, the motor would return to its "rest" position, and release the brakes.
They exist, but are still in development, and very high end.
http://www.airforums.com/forum...2&postcount=44
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Old 05-11-2005, 06:43 PM   #191
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Originally Posted by markdoane
They exist, but are still in development, and very high end.
http://www.airforums.com/forum...2&postcount=44
Yes, that is what I had in mind. Instead of having a hydraulic pump, brake lines, brake fluid, rubber hoses, etc. just have the same two wires actuating a self-releasing electric motor that has an auger to multiply the forces exerted by the electric motor.
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Old 05-11-2005, 08:10 PM   #192
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pattersontoo
What the Axleman giveth so shall the Axleman taketh away!
Thanks for the professional insight.
I know that you are limited in your ability to quote prices but what I want to know is what is the average cost difference to go with disc brakes over drum brakes? Will anyone see any cost effectiveness by choosing disc brakes over drum brakes?
Thanks for your time, Henry! I am sure that this is all information that will help some decide which system to go with.
Lou,



Perhaps Mike B. from Post #177 below would be willing to share his quote with all of you . He is doing a tandem axle conversion from disc to drum complete! This could serve as a base line for others (and there seem to be many) that are debating this as a possibility.



Additionally, while the Kodiak disc systems are new to Airstream and some others this year our Kodiak relationship and knowledge spans 7+ years. You see they are used heavily in the marine industry and for good reason. The 12-volt electrical system will experience limitations, as will cast-iron brake drums, when submerged in water, especially salt water .



I hope that this helps.



Regards,

Henry
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Old 05-11-2005, 08:19 PM   #193
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
Argosy 20

It would appear to me, that the system you mentioned would have too many parts, compared to todays electrically activated hydraulic disc brakes.

Andy
Andy,



Just a note: disc brakes do not have to actuate electronically, the surge coupler requires no wires, or brake control for that matter. When the tow vehicle applies the brakes the trailer continues forward, which activates a master cylinder contained in the coupler that applies braking pressure to a disc system (very much like stepping on your car brake pedal).



Regards,

Henry
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Old 05-11-2005, 08:40 PM   #194
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axleman
Andy,



Just a note: disc brakes do not have to actuate electronically, the surge coupler requires no wires, or brake control for that matter. When the tow vehicle applies the brakes the trailer continues forward, which activates a master cylinder contained in the coupler that applies braking pressure to a disc system (very much like stepping on your car brake pedal).



Regards,

Henry
Henry, I have used trailers with surge brakes, the brake part works very well, but on two different trailers, the coupler seemed to contribute to a sway problem on a travel trailer, and a pop-up trailer. Boat trailers and Uhaul trailers with surge brakes have worked well for me.
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Old 05-11-2005, 09:02 PM   #195
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by argosy20
Henry, I have used trailers with surge brakes, the brake part works very well, but on two different trailers, the coupler seemed to contribute to a sway problem on a travel trailer, and a pop-up trailer. Boat trailers and Uhaul trailers with surge brakes have worked well for me.
Terry,



That’s good information. I have learned so much from Airstream owners and this forum. I believe that there is no substitute for experience. You have obviously towed a lot of different trailers. I was simply pointing out that there is an alternative to the electric/hydraulic set up.



Thanks for sharing,

Henry
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Old 05-11-2005, 09:59 PM   #196
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axle prices

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B
Hi All,
Henry and I spoke this morning and I firmed up exactly what I was going to order. Here is what I have ordered for a 1976 31' centerbath.
2)3700# torsion axle with camber, E coated
61.5" outside to outside mounting brackets, 80" hub face to hub face
High profile mounting brackets
22.5 degrees down starting angle torsion arms with shock mounts
12" Kodiak Disk brakes, E coated, 6 lug on 5.5" centers
Safe-T-Lube spindles
Actibrake electric over hydraulic brake activator
Brake line installation kit
Mounting bolts

Axis Products and Henry have been a real joy to work with and I would gladly suggest anyone who is thinking about replacing their axles give them the chance to quote you a price on your project.

Mike B
The prices for the above axles and parts are as follows.
2)Axles as described above $311.13 each, total $622.26
Mounting bolts $7.50
Brake line kit $100.00
Actibrake elec/hyd brake activator $500.00
Total cost less shipping or taxes $1229.76

I think this a very reasonable price for a high quality, state of the art axle with disk brakes and hardware package.
Mike B
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