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Old 01-20-2011, 03:55 AM   #1
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Brake controller for an '82 Avion 34V

Is there a practical way to test my brake controller without the trailer?

I am curious if the Avion's require anything special as far as the TV's brake controller. Or will just about any aftermarket brake controller do the job. The trailer is an '82 34V (six brakes). My TV (a 98 Chevy 3500 crew cab) came with a brake controller installed, and it looks like aftermarket (not OEM). The LED on the controller glows when I mash the brake, but I don't know if it's working beyond that.

I am picking up the trailer this weekend (200 miles away) and I'd like to know that my controller is working properly AND configured for the Avion. BTW, the trailer plug on the TV is the big round (7-pin?) type, same as the Avion from what I understand.
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:01 AM   #2
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In order to check the controller, simply connect a 12 volt test light to the output lead on your tow vehicle umbilical plug, apply the controller, and make sure the test light lights. All you should have to do is make sure the controller will actuate 6 brakes.
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:17 AM   #3
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Ditto for checking the controller. The wiring should be the same but that's not always the case. The PO could have it wired "Their way" instead of your way.

We tow our Airstream and Avion using a Prodigy controller and have had no problem.

I could not find an 89 Avion owner's manual but here's a link to for the 86 model year that may be of some use to you.

http://silveravion.com/downloads/mai...ETE_manual.pdf

Be sure to carry some tools and a circuit tester just in case you find things aren't quite the way you expected.

Congrats on the Avion.

Kevin
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
In order to check the controller, simply connect a 12 volt test light to the output lead on your tow vehicle umbilical plug, apply the controller, and make sure the test light lights. All you should have to do is make sure the controller will actuate 6 brakes.
Uh oh. I can do the test light no problem (tiny puncture wounds notwithstanding), however, I don't (yet) know about the controllers ability to control a herd of six brakes... never thought about the quantity making a difference. So does that mean the six brakes will put more load (amps?) thru the controller, as opposed to 4 brakes or 2 brakes?

I will see if I can find a name/model number on the controller and google it. (do they still say "google it?" Am I supposed to stick "app" in there somewhere when I say that now? I can't keep up these days)

Thanks you guys for the info and also the Avion schematic.
I will report back my findings. I hope this does not mean I will have to buy a controller the size of a toaster or something.
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Old 01-20-2011, 01:43 PM   #5
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Most of the inexpensive controllers are only designed to run two axles.

I like to test brake wiring with an extra sealed-beam headlight bulb so that there is more current flowing than with a test light. You catch more problems that way.
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Old 01-20-2011, 02:30 PM   #6
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Makes sense on using the headlight.

Okay the brake controller is a Redline p/n 7746 (possibly a 1999 unit, based on a revision number on the case. Truck is a 98, so it could be.). I can't find anything on the web for this particular part number.

It's about the size of a radar detector, like every other controller I've seen in older trucks. It has one bi-color LED (glows red when you're braking, green when you ain't), a manual control slide thing, and little wheel/knob thing you control the power/force with. It does send juice to a pin in the receptacle when you press the brake, but I have not yet determined if it is the correct pin, but at least I now know it's connected back there and getting a signal.

So, what do I do? What happens if it's only rated for one or two axles and I'm mashing on 3? Will the brakes work less than they should, or not at all? Or will it just let all the smoke out of the controller?

I was surprised I couldn't find any info on this model on the net. It looks a lot like Redline's current model TA1000, which is rated for 1-2 axles. Link to photo here: http://www.gooseneckpopuphitch.com/f...%20control.jpg
Not very encouraging.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 01-20-2011, 02:44 PM   #7
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[reply to now-deleted post?]

Well-designed controllers measure the load and warn you if it's too much when your first apply the brakes. (Mine does this)

Average controllers will shut off if there is an overload leaving you with no brakes and then work again when they cool off.

Cheap ones? Who knows, important parts might burn up leaving you with no brakes and no quick way to fix them.

If you're planning on towing a 34' with any regularity I would suggest a Maxbrake. Yes they're expensive. Yes they're more work to install. Worth it though.
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Old 01-20-2011, 02:53 PM   #8
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I have towed a 3 axle trailer since 1992. I have always used Tekonsha brake controllers rated for 3 axles and have never had a problem.
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Old 01-20-2011, 03:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
[reply to now-deleted post?]

Well-designed controllers measure the load and warn you if it's too much when your first apply the brakes. (Mine does this)

Average controllers will shut off if there is an overload leaving you with no brakes and then work again when they cool off.

Cheap ones? Who knows, important parts might burn up leaving you with no brakes and no quick way to fix them.

If you're planning on towing a 34' with any regularity I would suggest a Maxbrake. Yes they're expensive. Yes they're more work to install. Worth it though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverhobby View Post
I have towed a 3 axle trailer since 1992. I have always used Tekonsha brake controllers rated for 3 axles and have never had a problem.
Thanks, Jammer and Silverhobby. Actually, I am just trying to get it home this weekend from 200 miles away. Nevertheless, I called the local "truck stuff" guy a few minutes ago, and he will supply and install a 3-axle controller and new properly wired receptacle (mine isn't) for about $160 bucks. I don't know if that's a good price, but it sounds to me like cheap insurance for this trip. I want to bring me and the Avion home in one piece, and I'm not sure I could find another 34V in such good shape, not at the price I paid.
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:03 PM   #10
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$160 installed seems like a heck of a deal if it's reputable brand stuff. A 34V is no lightweight, so properly functioning brakes are very important. I'd research the deal just to make sure.

Kevin
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:44 PM   #11
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Can you borrow a "megger" to check out the wires?
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Old 01-20-2011, 08:59 PM   #12
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KEVIN
$160 sounded like a good deal to me, too. I don't know the brands, but the guys doing the work have been in business along time with a good reputation. Their main business is pickup truck add-ons and accessories, and a lot of that is hitches and towing stuff. We'll see how it goes.

JOHN
If by "megger" you mean a megohmmeter I no longer have one of those. If you mean an ohmmeter/VOM, I've got a Fluke around here somewhere, collecting dust most of the time, but handy when you need it. I must admit that i do try not to need it too often these days.

When I was inspecting the receptacle on the truck, it looked pretty beat up, broken cover, cracked case, etc. (it is a '98, after all), and since the $160 quote includes replacing and wiring it, too, I'm just gonna let'em have at it.

Darn. Another 40 bucks and I'll have spent seven grand between the TV and the trailer.
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Old 01-20-2011, 09:40 PM   #13
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Hope it goes well. Our Avion is a wee bit smaller...and older but we sure enjoy it.

Join us for a rally if and when your schedule permits.

Good luck,

Kevin
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Old 01-21-2011, 02:57 PM   #14
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Update!

Well, today I got the new brake controller installed -- the one where they estimated $160 for purchase/install a 3-axle controller and new 7-pin receptacle.

They completed the job in about an hour. The total price, to my happy surprise was $141.95 including tax. Because of the price -- even lower than they initially told me -- I immediately thought to myself that I might have just gotten the lowest quality controller on the planet that will do the job.

I don't know, you guys tell me... here's what they installed:
(from the retail package)

Draw-Tite Activator II (#5500)
for 2, 4, 6, & 8 Brake Systems
- 100% Solid State
- Multi-function Digital Display
- Adjustable to Show Output & Sync Settings
- Shows Brake Overload or Short Connection
- Lifetime Warranty


(my receipt shows $89.95 for the controller, $10.95 for the 7-way plug, $35 labor and $6.05 tax = $141.95) Online I see the controller for $79.95, not unexpected.

So, good one, or not so good? Of course it sounds good to me, but I really don't know poop about controllers. I would imagine that at worst it should at least get me and the Avion home..

Comments?
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