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Old 10-26-2003, 08:28 PM   #1
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57 trailer with hydraulic brakes

Hi all, I am interested in a 57 20ft , single axle Airstream (don't know model just yet) that has the original hydraulic brakes.

What is involved in changing the brakes to an electric system. What would be the approximate cost?
Would this mod effect the vintage of the trailer?

Thx for any input.

The trailer is in regular use still.

Thx

Mariner
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1987 Avion 34V travel trailer (the other cigar tube).
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Old 10-26-2003, 09:36 PM   #2
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Mariner:

R.J. Dial changed the brakes on his 1957 Flying Cloud from hydraulic to electric. You can read about that process here:

http://www.vintageairstream.com/floy...tionindex.html

along with other good information answering questions you have yet to ask.
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Old 10-26-2003, 09:52 PM   #3
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If you are worried about the conversion hurting the value when you sell clean the old parts up (brake fluid is corrosive) and box them up. Installing is usually only about 10% of the work; 90% is finding the originals to install.

John
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Old 10-27-2003, 11:33 PM   #4
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Mariner:

Consider keeping the hydraulic system. I purchased a '77 31' with vac/hydraulics last year in Alberta; the seller said that the vac unit had been overhauled, but that parts were no longer available. As I have a diesel p/u, we both figured that changing the vac over to an electric actuator pump was the best route. I went to my local spring/axle/hitch shop, and they sold me the Carlisle Hydrastar actuator ($999 CDN). The seller was nice enough to rip out the vac, and hook up the electric unit (three-four hours and a little tube bending). The system works great! The brakes (four discs) are really powerful, and could hold the truck and trailer back on the 11% grades coming home over the Rockies. If you want further details on the system, let me know, and I'll post model numbers, etc.

Gary
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Old 10-28-2003, 07:21 PM   #5
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1992 34' Excella
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Gary, I read about your experience with the brake system on your 77. I am in the process of redoing the system on my 77 land yacht. I have read the manual regarding the troubleshooting on this system but as yet I am not sure where my problem lies. I have removed the booster and master cylinder from the trailer now and am in the process of rebuilding it. Most parts are Midland brake parts and I think can be found with A little work. I will know more after this weekend. If in the event that I run into a permanant road block, I would like more info on the system you put on yours as it still relies on the disc brakes which I like..
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Old 10-28-2003, 08:16 PM   #6
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Laurandwayne:

The vac system on my trailer worked well according to the seller, however, he said that the "main rod" that controls the vacuum chamber diaphram was re-machined during the overhaul, as he couldn't find a new one, and there were a few rust pits on the original. Because I have a diesel, I wasn't keen on relying on the truck's vacuum pump for stopping the trailer, and the seller wasn't totally comfortable selling the unit with a re-machined brake part--so it was a good choice to go an electric master cylinder (except for the cost!). Good luck with your parts search.

Gary
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Old 10-28-2003, 09:04 PM   #7
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Gary,

I had previously looked at a 1976 Airstream that had the same vacuum/hydraulic system. That trailer had a booster unit under the front couch. That trailer had its own vacuum pump sitting on the A-frame. Looked to be a bit of a lash up to me.

I too, am not comfortable with the vac/hydraulic unit. Nor am I happy with the idea of tapping into the tow vehicle's hydraulic system. That is where I thought that the electric system might be better - if it could be done without having to replaced the axles because of the backing plates etc.

Just checked out the Carlisle system that you have and it does look to be quite substantial. You happy with the performance (discs over drums=better, for me)?


I am still looking for a good condition, 24 - 30ft Airstream trailer in the BC, Alberta and Wa area's - anyone got a lead to one for sale?

Mariner
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Old 10-29-2003, 12:34 AM   #8
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Mariner:

I've had the A/S for just a year now, and have gone on a few camping trips in the area. The trip home last Oct., after purchasing the unit, was the biggest brake challenge, as I went through the Columbia Glacier area in Jasper Nat'l Park, and it is a "bit" hilly in places! The system HAD to perform there, because there were no services available in the park--it's pretty desolate up there. Not to mention the snow that was coming down! The brakes were amazing--very powerful and smooth. When I pushed the manual button on the controller, the trailer brakes would slow the truck/trailer combo (13,000lbs) with no problem.

There is a variable pressure valve on the Hydrastar, so the output pressure to the brakes can be tweaked depending on the weight of the trailer. Although the Hydrastar is a bit pricey (check the prices in Bellingham or Blaine, WA, if you're close to the border), I found it to be a very quick and effective way to update the disc brake system by 25 years. The spring/axle shop where I bought the unit stated that they install a lot of them on horse trailers, which is their bread and butter. Highly recommended (and I don't own stock in Carlisle!).

As far as A/S in this area--rarer than hen's teeth. This is 4x4 country, and everyone hunts moose, so campers rule! There is a big RV dealer in Calgary near the airport that handles A/S, but beware, as I made an earlier trip there (9 hr drive) to view a 1983 31' that the dealer said was "Excellent!". Well, the belly pan was almost hanging to the ground, so I was just a little ticked-off. Keep watching the RV Trader, and like publications. I almost had a deal on a 34' in Huntington Beach (beautiful!)--I was trying to calculate how to get there and back in a week--but the unit sold to the first guy who called about it (he was in Michigan). Good luck with your search.

Gary
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