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Old 06-05-2005, 09:23 AM   #1
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Brake controllers

Recently bought an 05 Classic 30 with the upgraded axles and disc brakes. The AS dealer installed a Prodigy brake controller, but the Prodigy manual says they are not designed for hyraulic/electric brakes. I emailed AS, the AS dealer, the makers of Prodigy and the people who manufacture the brakes. Bottom line the Prodigy manufacturer said they had not tested them and couldn't recommend them. AS and the AS dealer said the Prodigy would work fine based on their conversations with brake manufacturer. Finally, the brake manufacturer contacted me and they have been fantasic so far. They said the Prodigy would work, but they had found the Prodigy performance to be sporatic. They are currently testing the Hayes Genesis and asked me if I wanted to try one and give them feedback on the performance. They suggested that in the meantime, that I set the boost on the Prodigy at 0. These brakes are supposed to be progressive, but my experience has been that they are slow to grab, but when they do come on, they come on too hard. I can't find a happy medeum. Has anyone experienced these new dic brakes yet that can give me some advice?

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scotthopkins@tampabay.rr.com
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Old 06-05-2005, 02:44 PM   #2
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hi scott

been using the new discs about 5 weeks now on a 34. i have a ford sd 250 with built in brake controller and had the same "compatibility" issues until airstream called ford and confirmed the 2 would work together. i really like the built it system that's based on brake fluid/cyclinder action as opposed to brake pedal movement.

as a recall an aftermarket/add on controller is available that works by the same methods/approach as the ford (maybe they even supply ford the oem bits) but costs more than the more common brake pedal systems.

i spent about 2 hours on 2 separate days following the brake set up method of driving at 20-25-30mph and increasing the trailer brakes boost just to the point of smoking/lock up the wheels.....you want the boost set to just under this point. finally decided on a boost reading of 7.5 and this seems to be working well now. of course with your brake controller/tv combo, the number will be different but determining the correct level is still done this way. also as the pads wear on the tv and trailer you might need to recalibrate.

i've noticed when the brakes are applied for the first time during a drive (after the trailer has set for a few days) they seem slow to grab but for the rest of the drive work well. i suspect this has to do with a surface film on the discs or rotors that is removed during the first pedal application.

i really do like the discs....they are so much better than drums with regard to fade and stopping power. modulation, or the progressive application of braking power is another matter and this can be a challenge to dial in and depends alot on the mass of the tv compared to the trailer, the condition of the tv brakes, the type of tv brakes (are they all disc or rear drums) and taking the time to "teach" your foot/leg to appy pressure to the pedal correctly......and of course the brake controller.

i'm clueless with regard to the "brake pedal" systems but can't imagine that type of system working as well with the new hydralic discs as a controller based on the more sensitive fluid pressure/plate approach.

others will i'm sure correct my preceptions.

i'd suggest spending a little more time at adjusting the controller as described but if you still aren't happy with the braking after doing this, go back to the dealer and have them drive your rig while you ride along.

brakes are too important.
make sure they are performing correctly.

cheers 2air'
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Old 06-05-2005, 03:44 PM   #3
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2air, I have a 1995 Ford F250. Do you have any info on the aftermarket brake controller that uses the fluid cylinder action ? If not, I am sure I can search the net for it. I am interested in swapping to that as I don't care for the delay that I get from the pedal actuated system. My TV brakes start to activiate before the brake lights come on and that is enough delay to be annoying. I may need those few extra seconds someday !

Chris
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Old 06-05-2005, 04:04 PM   #4
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Scott.

We have made dozens of Disc brake conversions.

Each time the tow vehicle was equipped with a Prodigy, we had a soft, slow response disc brake system, that to us was unacceptable.

We changed out the Prodigy's, with the Hayes Genesis or the standard Hayes Energizer, and obtained equal high performance results with the disc brakes, with both.

There may be other controllers that work equally well, but we have not as yet tried them.

Andy
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Old 06-05-2005, 05:29 PM   #5
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Scott ...

Get the BrakeSmart controller ... it will work with your system.
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Old 06-05-2005, 07:30 PM   #6
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and... the Brakesmart is an amazing thing. Works great!
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Old 06-05-2005, 09:09 PM   #7
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Active Technology Tech bulletin

I have a new classic on order and I asked the question will the Prodigy work with this system. I was faxed a Tech bulletin ATI-TB101 from Active that states that the Prodigy will work with their system. I guess they have changed their minds. Keep us updated. I don't take delivery for another 3 weeks.

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Old 06-05-2005, 09:19 PM   #8
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You have 3 choices if you do not have the '05 Ford Super-Duty with integral brake controller:

1) BrakeSmart

2) BrakeSmart

3) BrakeSmart

Both the new Ford SD & BrakeSmart controller's use a sensor (designed for ABS systems) linked to the master cylinder to directly & proportionally control trailer brakes. The BrakeSmart controller was originally designed for use with disc brake equipped trailers.

Four friends & I have made the change to BrakeSmart over the past year, this is the way brake controllers should work period. We've had no negitive comments about performance & a lot of praise. (Cost, approx. $350.00. IMHO, worth every penny!)
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Old 06-05-2005, 11:45 PM   #9
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hi chris

i'm no brake "smart" person so my post here is not from an expert....

recently ford released an aftermarket/retro fit of the tow command system....i think it is only compatible with late 04 and and 05 trucks that didn't come with the optional package....so that doesn't help you much.

there are at least 2 makers of master cyclinder activated brake controller kits, the brakesmart system mentioned in this tread and another who's name excapes me now (i'll think of it when i'm sleeping no doubt) if i recall correctly it's this other company that helped ford with the current design, but the brakesmart system looks like a really good setup and the price is right.

the delay you experience with your current setup could happen for at least 3 reasons....
1. the brake controller is inherently slow to react based on design
2. the brake controller needs to be better adjusted
3. your trailer brakes have so much less stopping power than the tv that you experience the delay dispite properly adjusting the controller.

does your trailer have drum brakes? have they be serviced in the last 1-5 years? do they have enough braking capacity for the trailer given improvements that may increase weight? you have a 60s trailer right?

how are the pads on the 95 sd? this model year had good but not great brakes given the size of the truck and the brakes were somewhat prone to fade as they heat up, so make sure you have good pads and rotors and fresh fluid. if the truck itself still has less than ideal stopping power, consider an aftermarket brake kit for the ford. there are lots of options with bigger rotors and pads that will stop that truck much faster than stock.

back to the trailer....just looked over your pictures; looks like you are doing a major renovation/repair with new sub floors and so on. if you are also considering up grading the trailer to disc brakes (like with the system inland/andy offers) then it might be best to delay getting a new controller until after the brake upgrade is decided.

there was a good article on controllers in trailer life in 03? and some of their old stuff in available online. also here's one of many great threads on this issue:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ake+controller

if you search the topic you'll find lots of good info and loads of passion by owners of several brands.....and it's too bad an owner can't try several before buying one.

good luck with that remodel.... what you've photoed so far looks great.

cheers
2air'
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Old 06-06-2005, 12:46 AM   #10
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Thanks ! I will look into the brakesmart controller. I had a 1965 Aristocrat TT with drum brakes. I have only towed the AS to my house so far, I noticed the same lag with it, however. I did a complete overhaul of my brakes on the 95 TV. ( springs, new fluid, calipers, turn rotors/drums ) I also replaced the switch at the brake pedal. That made a little difference. My p/u weighs in at 6700 lbs. Thats a lot to stop w/o the AS attached. I have already purchased my new axle. So I will stick with drum brakes there. I will also look into getting new rotors for the Ford. I know that the rotors of this year are suspect because of their thickness or lack thereof. Thanks again all !
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Old 06-06-2005, 02:25 PM   #11
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Called Active Tech today

Scott,

Like you say they are very nice people to deal with.
I asked specifically about the Prodigy brake controller and was told that
most work just fine. In fact the Prodigy brake controller is what each unit is
adjusted with before it goes out the door. That tells me that in most installations Prodigy will be OK. The Active Tech stated to make sure everything is in Sync do a test with the manual brake lever and have someone listen to the Active brake. By listening to the noise of the active brake it should increase in intensity as the lever goes from min to max. If it comes on full blast then the units are not in sync and a tech must sync them for you. I was told as long as the Battery in the Trailer is not disconnected they will stay in sync. The new Hayes Genisis you were referring to
sounds good also with a few more advantages. Anyway for what its worth I am going to give the Prodigy a test drive when that Classic shows up.
I am sure the above information is not definitive as to whether its working properly or not but it makes sense to me.

Pappy
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Old 06-07-2005, 01:48 PM   #12
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Thanks Andy. I received many responses, but none as convincing as yours. Activetec is sending me a Hayes unit to replace the Prodigy.

Thanks again.

Scott
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Old 06-07-2005, 02:12 PM   #13
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Pappy;

Read what Andy from Island RV had to say. I am going to change over to the Hayes controller.

Enjoy your new unit.

Scott
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:53 PM   #14
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Now available

If you been waiting to get a Brakesmart controller, they are now available at

http://www.drperformance.com/index.html

Price isn't cheap: $435 out the door not the $295 on the website. That's what I was told today when I inquired about getting one.
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