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Old 09-13-2010, 09:03 PM   #1
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Actibrake failure, help...

I have had intermittent problems with my brakes since new with them grabbing but not locking up when lightly applying the truck brakes. It would happen at random times and usually clear up in a day and maybe not happen for quite a while. No one seemed to know why.
We have been on a long trip about 7000 miles so far and a couple of days ago it started grabbing again but it cleared up the next day. Today we made the trip from Coos Bay, OR to Diamond Lake RV Park (OR) and all was good all day until about a 1/2 mile before the CG I lightly touched my truck brakes and the trailer brakes locked up in a skid. Let my foot off and they released, touch the brakes they go to full lock again. I stopped and manually operated the Prodigy controller and it would read 0.5 but the trailer would go into full lock.
I pulled the trailer cord and got into the CG with it disconnected.
I read the posts on the recall but couldn't find anyone with this issue.
We are planning to go to Grants Pass on Wednesday as we are only planning 2 nights here so we can go to Crater Lake tomorrow.
I called AS but its after hours and will call them tomorrow, just not sure whether there is anything I can check here. There isn't anything around here....
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Phil

2007 27' FB Classic
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:18 PM   #2
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there is no mention of truck brand or brake controller brand...

any time the battery is disconnected OR drained, the controller must be RE introduced to the actibrake...

this sync/calibrate phase is important and not doing it can result it unpredictable input.

of course the actual brakes and lines and so on need to be inspected too...

a sticking caliper or piston or crimped hydraulic line could also cause this...

a cracked/loose pad is another possibility.

cheers
2air'
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Old 09-13-2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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Not to forget there is a "recall" on the actibrake. Brake fluid can get on the electronics and cause un-predictable results.
I am replacing my acti-brake before it fails. She is in the shop now getting new kodiak brakes and a carlisle actuator.
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post
there is no mention of truck brand or brake controller brand...

any time the battery is disconnected OR drained, the controller must be RE introduced to the actibrake...

this sync/calibrate phase is important and not doing it can result it unpredictable input.

of course the actual brakes and lines and so on need to be inspected too...

a sticking caliper or piston or crimped hydraulic line could also cause this...

a cracked/loose pad is another possibility.



cheers
2air'
Setup after at loss of controller settings wouldn't be intermittent.

Siicking caliper or piston would affect only one wheel.

Crimped line would cause slow apply AND slow release and would only lock up upon hard pedal apply and would be late relative to hard pedal apply.(may be one or all wheels depending on where crimp is)

Cracked pad (loose wouldn't cause lockup, unless it was ready to literally fall out) would affect only one wheel.

Are all wheels locking up?

I'm with the electronic failure within the actuator comment.
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:10 PM   #5
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just pointing out some of the many wayz the brakes may be inconsistently active.

yes it's possible a fluid leak is at the root, but the op essentially addressed that already with reference to the recall...

another common issue is a loose wire somewhere.

the grounding on these things needs to be very complete...

so a loose wire could give these symptoms...

and IF a wire is sufficiently loose the sync'n will also be squirrelly.

lots of poss'obill'oties...

cheers
2air'
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Old 09-13-2010, 11:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post
just pointing out some of the many wayz the brakes may be inconsistently active.

yes it's possible a fluid leak is at the root, but the op essentially addressed that already with reference to the recall...

another common issue is a loose wire somewhere.

the grounding on these things needs to be very complete...

so a loose wire could give these symptoms...

and IF a wire is sufficiently loose the sync'n will also be squirrelly.

lots of poss'obill'oties...


cheers
2air'
Good point. Both power supply and ground can and will cause intermittent and odd behavior of any electrical system function. However, considering the description of the issue (ie. premature and intermittent lockup) would imply an unusually high voltage application to signal more brake than called for by driver pedal input. Loose grounds or voltage supply on the high current (apply) side of the system would indicate less than desired brake apply, not lockup. Again, however, ineffective or intermittent power or grounds within the control systems (circuit boards of the actuator or the controller) could cause anything since we can't readily get info on propriatory board schematics.
But...since we know actuators have issues, and I know of no prominent issues with Prodigy, I'd start with the actuator.
This is a game of probabilities, likelyhoods, and behaviorial diagnosis, not shotguns.
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:20 AM   #7
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If not properly synced any voltage will cause the actibrake to go full on. It is programmed to do this. I know, by experience. Mine was not properly synced after the batteries were disconnected.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:05 AM   #8
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The TV is a 2005 2500HD Silverado (Duramax) with a Prodigy controller.
All the wheels are locking up, not just one.
Actuator is "synced" every morning we leave.
The trouble started after a full day of travel at the end of the day. At no time was the truck shut off or trailer disconnected and nothing unusual was happening prior.
I had mentioned previously that on random occasions the brakes would "grab" when I lightly touched the TV brake pedals. You could consider "Grab" to mean 50% of full braking and "Locked" to be 100%.
At either event the brake controller in the TV showed no more than 0.5 or 1.0 braking. under normal circumstances either would hardly be applying the brakes.
But the trailer actuator would just apply a force of maybe 3.0 for grab or full lock up. Again this would not show up on the Prodigy.
What did happen for an instant during full lockup was the Prodigy screen was flashing. I couldn't get it to repeat and I was a little busy at the time dealing with a skid to see what was on the screen. Prodigy does have a troubleshooter in which the screen will flash codes but I couldn't guess which it was.
Last night I tested as well as I could the TV system with a trailer emulator. Everything is clean and seems to be working fine. (I keep the plug connections clean)
After reading posts on possible bad grounds, I traced a (10 ga?) white from the Actibrake to a bolt/stud just to the left (passenger side) under the a-frame where the white is cut and joined with another white and a solid wire in a poor screw connector. I'm not exactly sure why this white was cut and grounded to the frame right there but it was all rusty and left exposed to the elements. I made a new ground and fixed the mess and temporarily added a separate ground from the battery to that point (from reading another post). Not sure what this will do or if it was the cause of the failure.
I know nothing about these electric hydraulic units and as another poster mentioned we get no electrical schematics to tell how they work. Electric brakes just fail to work if you have a bad ground, this one takes on a life of its own...
Even if I hook up and things work (this time) I'm still not sure if its fixed or just taking some time off like previously only to surface like yesterday. Its a bit scary considering all the winding roads and mountains we have been on in the past 3 months of this trip.
Chris Burch from AS has emailed me this morning with two people in service warranty to contact which I will and see where I go from here with it.
Thanks for all the input and if anyone has any other ideas, please let me know. We are off to Crater Lake today to visit. (with TV only)
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:06 AM   #9
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ok, good info...

reads like u r being very thorough.

cleaning up the ground was a good thing.
________

i don't use a prodigy, so this is mangled info...

my understanding is there are 2 approaches to setting the juice up.

1. full voltage at first impulse, with the gain control then used to adjust braking

2. LESS than full voltage at baseline, with the gain being used to increase voltage AND braking...

((perhaps another prodigy/hydraulic user can better splain this))

some shops use one approach to set up with hydraulic discs (vs electric drums)

and other shops use the same approach to either braking system.

it's hard to imagine that "0.5 or 1.0" would give FULL ON brakes unless the sync or voltage is wacky...

enjoy the deep cold lake in the sky...

cheers
2air'
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:03 PM   #10
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sutton rv is in eugene, or

Just in case you need an airstream dealer/service provider, Sutton RV is in Eugene, OR-not far from where you are and you can surely find a ph # for directions, advice, etc. Good luck.
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:40 PM   #11
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I did hook up this morning just to see if cleaning up the ground worked, it did not. I have a booklet for the actibrake unit and it shows on the basic electrical layout that it take in power from two sources. One to power the breakaway and one with a 30 amp fuse that says "harness +12V which is the black that feeds the circuit for the in cab controller. The strange thing is that I can pull the 30 amp fuse out and it makes no difference in operating the brakes. They operate the same way with going full power during any amount of braking.
What I am thinking is possibly there is a short in the board allowing power to be drawn from the breakaway circuit or maybe the breakaway circuit IS being activated..
I spoke with Airstream service/warranty this moring and they said they will work with any repair facility and if need be, overnight a new unit to them. We have an appointment with an RV place in Grants Pass tomorrow and AS said they will talk to them about how to test the unit.
I will post about the outcome.
Thanks for the ideas and help!
Phil
(Perfect day at Crater Lake)
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsteel View Post
I did hook up this morning just to see if cleaning up the ground worked, it did not. I have a booklet for the actibrake unit and it shows on the basic electrical layout that it take in power from two sources. One to power the breakaway and one with a 30 amp fuse that says "harness +12V which is the black that feeds the circuit for the in cab controller. The strange thing is that I can pull the 30 amp fuse out and it makes no difference in operating the brakes. They operate the same way with going full power during any amount of braking.
What I am thinking is possibly there is a short in the board allowing power to be drawn from the breakaway circuit or maybe the breakaway circuit IS being activated..
I spoke with Airstream service/warranty this moring and they said they will work with any repair facility and if need be, overnight a new unit to them. We have an appointment with an RV place in Grants Pass tomorrow and AS said they will talk to them about how to test the unit.
I will post about the outcome.
Thanks for the ideas and help!
Phil
(Perfect day at Crater Lake)
A very good and logical conclusion. I wish we knew more about the circuit board schematic. The thing that confuses me is: if you are getting 12 V through the breakaway switch causing unregulated voltage, and lockup, why wouldn't you get it while the pedal is not applied?
The circuit board must need an input from the blue wire to turn on...perhaps a power transistor?????? Anyway, you have uncovered a valuable nugget of info. If you have apply voltage with no power to controller, there appears to be a 12V short to 12V brake apply circuit. Thanks for your info!
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:38 PM   #13
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I scanned and attached a pdf of the electrical hookup. The top diagram shows the 30 amp fuse I was referring to. But your right, the in cab controller is telling it to activate whatever circuit its activating.
Phil
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Acti-Brake electrical hookup.pdf (369.2 KB, 55 views)
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:32 PM   #14
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My break away switch gets it's power from the 12 volt line which gets power from the coach battery AND/OR from the 12 volt power line from the tow vehicle when the umbilical 7 way plug is connected. If the break away stitch is applying the brakes, then the pin is pulled. The posted diagram looks like Acti-Brake's diagram, not Airstream's wiring diagram.

Is this the Acti-Brake replacement? Or is this the recalled Acti-Brake?

This is probably a 10 minute diagnostic issue with a 7-way tester, a multi-meter, a jumper light, and a small battery charger. Is the tow vehicle controller compatible with Acti-Brake? I understand not all are.

My Airstream is an antique with electric brakes. My other two tandem trailers also have electric brakes (which I like). I've never owned an Acti-Brake. I may never want to.

I hope you're able to resolve your issue in a good way. If you can't fix it yourself, I hope you have it towed by a service truck and don't tow it without brakes or with bad brake function.
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