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Old 07-30-2012, 04:14 PM   #1
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2012 Brakes / First Service

I had a flat a few weeks ago and when I had the trailer up on the changing ramp asked my wife to engage the trailer brake. I could hear it engage but could easily turn the wheel. I went in and adjusted the gain to 9A and tried again. I finally put it up past 12A and it held enough to get the lugs off. Normal is about 7A when pulling down the road.

I took it in for service today and explained the whole issue with the brakes, that I had to adjust the controller to 12A to get the one wheel to lock up enough to break the lugs and that when driving it appeared that only one wheel was locking up and could they check the brake adjustments. He asked how long I have I had the trailer and I said about 9 months, his comment was “don’t think A/S will warranty the adjustment”. I asked if the dealer does the initial adjustment prior to sale or if it is the factory’s responsibility. He said they jack up the trailer and pull the trailer breakaway switch and if the wheels lock up they are good to go, no adjustment is done.

I have waited nearly 4 weeks to get it in and when I said I needed it back by Wednesday he asked if I meant day after tomorrow and I said yes we have a trip planned for this coming Thursday. He said he did not believe they could get approval for the work that fast. Is this normal?
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:23 PM   #2
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"He said he did not believe they could get approval for the work that fast. Is this normal?"

I can't speak for all, but in my experience, this is not unusual. Sometimes it depends on the dealer. I'd like to think I got one of the good ones, bit it was like pulling teeth to get approval on some things. A six week wait for an appointment wasn't unusual either.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:43 PM   #3
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Brake Adjustments

I think brake wear and adjustments are on the owner,not warrantee but I could be wrong. I just replaced my brake pads and whole backer plates on my Safari 30 which had 66k on miles on them. They too were at the point of not grabbing however the magnets wore out before the brake pads. The brake pads were well worn, dont get me wrong but the magnets were down to the inner coil looking piece. I put the new brakes on and they needed the adjuster turned about 2 turns in 800 miles after the new install. (en route to Yellowstone from Houston). I have to say i am satisfied with the drum brakes, they work good, easy to work on and replace (cheap also). I have never owned the disks and while they certainly sound good everyone I have known to have them has had nothing but fits with them or the brake actuator (or weird wearing pads/rotors).

If you can change a tire you can adjust your brakes, easy. Read your owners manual.
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:02 PM   #4
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If you have disc brakes, you may have an issue with them. You will need to return the trailer to the shop that installed them, since Airstream no longer installs discs from the factory.
If you have drum brakes, DO NOT EVER USE THE BRAKES TO LOCK THE WHEEL TO CHANGE A TIRE!!!!!!!!!!!
You WILL burn out the brake magnets, and abuse is not covered under warranty.
Leave the trailer on the ground, and loosen the lug nuts before raising the wheel off the ground, and finish removing the lug nuts.
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:50 PM   #5
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Assuming you went to the Airstream dealer near you, I suggest you find somewhere else to do the work. Like Terry says, do not use the breakaway switch to test the brakes. If the dealer does this, that is further proof to stay away from them.

Around 2009 or '10 Airstream started putting self adjusting brakes on trailers. You should not have to adjust them once they are installed and adjusted initially. When adjusted properly, they do not lock like disc brakes or hydraulic brakes when the brake pedal is down. The wheels are hard but not impossible to turn. Basically, electric drum brakes are poor brakes.

If you want to adjust them, there are two holes at the bottom of the brake plate with rubber covers in them. I haven't taken the covers off to see how to adjust them, but they are Dexter brakes and you could call them and ask how to do it. But first, raise each wheel off the ground, have you wife push the pedal down, and see whether the wheel turns easily, has some friction or is very difficult to turn. My experience when I didn't have self adjusting brakes (all of my brakes have been replaced since I believe self adjusting brakes are better for safety) was that if they were adjusted to stop the wheel turning at all, they were adjusted a little too tightly. The proper adjustment meant very slight friction when turning the wheel with no brake pedal and more when the brake pedal was down.

I wouldn't turn up the brake controller as you want to know how they are adjusted during normal conditions.

Non-self adjusting brakes have to be adjusted often and with self adjusting ones they are re-adjusted every time you back up and step on the brake. So they should be adjusted to the optimum all the time. If they weren't adjusted properly at the factory, it is possible the dealer didn't do it either. They are supposed to do a final check of all those things on the trailer and they get paid to do it by Airstream. If they don't do it, they can get paid again (an interesting business model) by either the factory or you.

Test each brake yourself and see how they work. It is about the only way you are going to know whether it is correct. If not adjusted properly, maybe (a big maybe) Airstream would pay to have it done elsewhere. I think you are on your own and should find out from Dexter how to do this.

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Old 07-30-2012, 09:09 PM   #6
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The self adjusting trailer brakes are very different from self adj. automobile brakes. On a car you back-up aggressively and apply the brakes sharply and that will force the adjusting arm to ratchet the star wheel and tighten the brakes. You do that several times to do the adjustment. Now trailer brakes are a different animal. I don't know enough about them to explain how they work but they work while going forward somehow. Don't try the auto method on the trailer. Now, you can manually adjust the trailer brakes very easily. You have to do a manual adjust with the self adjusters when you install them anyhow. This method works for self-adjusting trailer brakes as well as manual.

Raise the wheel off the ground and make sure it will spin easily. with a brake adjustment tool ( a screwdriver may work ) you rotate the star wheel until you get the wheel to lock up. Back off 2 to 3 notches and move on to the next wheel. Do all the wheels uniformly and you're done. Go for a test drive to calibrate your brake unit.
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Old 07-30-2012, 09:33 PM   #7
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Roger, are there 2 star wheels on the self adjusting brakes? That would make it seem each shoe adjusts separately.

I thought they adjusted when backing, but so long as they adjust, that's good. I do go forward more often.

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Old 07-31-2012, 01:08 AM   #8
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Thank you all for the good information. I am not sure what is under the trailer and have not heard back from the dealer yet. I will call late tomorrow to find out and make sure it is ready for us to pick up late on Wednesday.

I will also identify the exact axle and brake setup in order to determine how to do a proper adjustment. I assume they are drum and they adjust the same as the 356B brakes I had on my Ghia before upgrading to full discs.

I am not sure who is responsible but don’t believe it was done by whomever it was. When I picked up the trailer in Portland after being on the ground for two weeks it had not been opened till I got there. Waited all day just to get on the road.

At this point I did not have much confidence in Windish RV here in Denver on my first visit just after purchasing it and I only had it waxed, but some of the initial comments/answers did not make sense then, no more than they do now.

As I have been thinking/saying out loud “I think I am on my own” and better off for it.

Probably the last time I take it in.

Thanks again, Howard
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Old 07-31-2012, 10:45 AM   #9
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Howard, am I to understand you bought the trailer in Portland, Ore.?

We found it best to take the trailer to the Airstream service center for warranty work. Sometimes they did more than they had to under warranty and gave me no hassles. Camping is free there and good wifi to pass the time. You can tour the factory. And you can go in the shop and see how things are going. We incorporated that trip in traveling to other places we wanted to go to, so it worked out well. Unfortunately there are no other dealers in Colorado anymore. Maybe it is Gresham's Law as applied to Airstream dealers.

We are all on our own too often. I thought of going to dealers in adjoining states, but decided the service center was the best option.

Gene
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Old 07-31-2012, 05:06 PM   #10
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Here's a link with videos on how to do the brakes, or adjust them... scroll down to the bottom. Good luck! Personally, I'd learn how to do them yourself, and save the $$.
Trailer Brakes Help Articles | etrailer.com
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:14 PM   #11
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I just got of the phone with the dealer. I quote "the factory instructed us to jack the trailer up and pull the the trailer breakaway switch. If the wheels lock up they are good. There is no adjustment" end quote.
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Old 08-01-2012, 04:42 PM   #12
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Not sure if this helps or not but I didn't think the brakes were working well on my '12 so I took it in and had them look at it. Turns out one of the wiring connections to one side wasn't firing. Even though the connection was shrink wrapped and looked perfect somehow it wasn't making a connection so the re-wired the connection and perfect.

And yes, it does seem like getting approval from AS is quite a process.
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:41 PM   #13
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I was told by a dealer that every item has to be approved by Airstream, though I think some routine items don't have to be. I followed up on that several years ago, and only vaguely remember the answer, so I could be wrong about routine items.

Our experience was that the warranty person at the dealer didn't argue for us, and things didn't get approved. I wrote to Thor about these items and they all were approved. If the warranty person doesn't care, or makes a poor case, you are screwed.

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Old 08-08-2012, 09:08 AM   #14
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C- hang in there ... you have likely addressed most every area that could fail on our AS TT. We firmly believe that the ASs really are built better than most other TTs - as we had the same experiences (and exasperation that you are feeling) with another brand we purchased several states away from where we reside (we learned that saving a few $$ is not as important as having our local dealer - it is hard to express the frustration in terms of dollars and cents). We took a HUGE lo$$ just to be rid of the other unit. We appreciate your analytical approach to these problems and have gained much insight into potential fixes for what might occur to us in the future. Although some have questioned it, we appreciate your patience through all of this mundane frustration. Been there!
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