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Old 10-06-2015, 04:29 PM   #15
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New brake combinations not only have the self adjusting going backward, but there are some new ones that adjust automatically going forward. Jackson Center put them on for us while we were getting entire axle assemblies. For the first time since we bought our preciously owned AS in 2009, the brakes work the way they should. We were however caught on the road when the old brakes quit working, in the WV mountains, and it was a dangerous scary ride in the rain to JC. Since it was raining we kept it in 4wd and kept our speed very moderate, but it is an experience we never wish to do again. If it ever does happen again, I'm pulling over, calling my Good Sam Road Service and having it towed or flatbedded to JC. Go to JC or a trusted dealer and have them take it apart and test it. It could be worth your life, the life of a loved one, or an innocent fellow motorist or pedestrian.
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Old 10-06-2015, 05:45 PM   #16
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Interesting thread !

I sometimes wonder if I have a problem with my trailer brakes, as they don't seem as effective as those on the previous SOB trailer I owned - mind you, that was a much smaller and lighter trailer. If I set the gain too high, it was easy to lock up the trailer wheels at low speeds.

Certainly not so with the 30' Airstream, even though I run with the gain at maximum.

I know I did have some broken magnet wires at one point, but have fixed them.

Last time we used the trailer, I jacked up all the wheels one by one, spun them, and had my wife apply the truck brakes - all trailer brakes were functional, but how much??

Every time I repack the bearings, I do check the condition of the brakes and all looks good - I can tell from the drums that they are working, and I can tell from the witness marks (wear indicators) on the magnets that they are not worn out. I also adjust them so they are almost on the point of dragging when I repack the bearings.

With the info on this thread, I will check the current draw and resistance next time I look at the brakes.

My impression is that the work but are just not all that effective. Luckily the truck's brakes are good and strong! I suppose one of the advantages of a larger tow vehicle - but I still want the get the best out of the tailer brakes!

Brian.
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Old 10-07-2015, 05:42 PM   #17
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You could do the easy test first. Hook up, pull out your brake away pin and try to pull away. That will eliminate any consideration with adjustments to your controller or truck wiring. If you get no braking, adjust your brakes. First you already have to know how to complete that job, ask someone, or get it done by a shop. Basically you're prying off the oval shaped rubber cover on the back of your brake plate then tighten up on the brakes until you can't turn the wheel any more. Then back off 6 or 7 clicks, whatever it takes to roll free. Frankly, a whole new self adjusting brake assembly is fairly easy to install. Unlike car brakes, Dexter has figured out how to make them self adjust by driving forward or backwards. If you install them yourself, do not satisfy your curiosity about how they work by sliding the magnet back and forth. Just put them on without screwing around with them.
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Old 10-10-2015, 07:51 PM   #18
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Well I did all of the tests today. Found one brake with the wires ripped off under the wire nuts. I got between 3.4, and 4.6 volts at each wheel with the brakes applied on the tv. Should the wheels each differ at all much less that much? When ever my other half applied the brakes, I could hear a slight hum at each wheel. I tried adjusting the brakes, with absolutely no difference- wheel would spin with brakes on and adjustment just backed off from tight. I tested the volts at the trucks trailer plug receptacle, and it was always 6.46 volts. Is that right? I tested this several times. Even had the person in the truck do slight to severe braking. It was always from 0- 6.4. I know how to do cars hydraulic brakes, but these electric brakes are a learning experience for me. I gotta take this ( slowly and carefully) to my local Airstream dealer if I cant feel confident that I got this. I sincerely appreciate any ideas about what I can expect to hear from them.
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Old 10-11-2015, 06:22 AM   #19
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Since you found wire nuts, did they show any corrosion? Might want to disassemble each and inspect the connection?

A tool that I use frequently is an IR Temp gun. What I would do is shoot the drums at the same spot and look for consistency. Braking makes heat, no heat no braking.
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Old 10-11-2015, 07:44 AM   #20
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danjoe91, which dealer do you use? subfan1 recently recommended this shop in Bellflower (for an awning installation):

Airstream Trailer and Motorhome Service Center - Bellflower, CA

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f516...ml#post1694117

Sorry I don't have any specific feedback for your problem, as I have always gone to a dealer/shop with any brake/axle problems.

Good luck.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:59 AM   #21
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I found no corrosion under the wire nuts. The back of all the brake plates look shiny and clean. No rust or grease anywhere. When I first got the trailer, the wire nuts were hanging exposed, so I wrapped them in electrical tape. I am suspecting the magnets are not doing their job. ( Even though I hear a hum at each wheel when the brakes are applied) .I just had the bearings replaced, (at $395.00) so I am upset that they have to come back out just to look at the brakes and magnets. We had been considering replacing the axles next year, so any money I would pay now would just be to use the trailer until then. My nearest dealer at about a 35 minute drive is Los Angeles Airstream in San Gabriel, CA. As I have done everything else my self on the trailer, I have only taken it to the dealer once- for a new A/C unit and the bearings. They were nice to deal with, and seemed reasonable enough on the work.
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Old 11-13-2015, 09:10 AM   #22
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Danjoe91

Just curious - did you ever find the problem?

I have just started doing some tests on mine as I don't believe my brakes are working properly. As in your situation, I get some braking, but very minimal.

My trailer is not stored at the house so I need to go back to it and do some more tests. I have just made up a trailer connector adapter that will allow me to easily introduce an ammeter and measure current flowing to the trailer when applying the truck brakes but haven't had chance to try it yet.

What I did so far .......

(1) Trailer is parked in the storage yard on a very slight incline. I hooked up the truck and then let the combination roll slowly down the incline. I applied the brakes manually from the truck (max braking applied) the trailer brakes did apply and stopped the truck and trailer but not at all in an aggressive way - certainly the trailer wheels did not lock up.

(2) with the trailer disconnected from the truck, I measured the resistance of the brake circuit at the trailer connector - measured a little over one ohm that sounds about right for 4 magnets connected in parallel.

(3) I pulled the breakaway switch pin and measured the current flowing to the brakes and read 12.5 amps which sounds right.

I should have then tried moving the trailer with the breakaway pin pulled to see if the trailer wheels were locked (I park on gravel). I didn't think to do that at the time and will do so next time. If the wheels are locked that would seem to indicate that the wiring to the magnets and the brake adjustment is ok.


Next test I will do is to hook up the truck and measure the current flowing from the truck the truck brakes are fully applied - if all is well, I believe it should be about 12 amps. If not, that will lead me to check two other things ......


(A) I will replace the trailer side connector on the umbilical cord. When I cleaned the contacts to bright brass with a needle file to ensure good contact, I did note that particularly on the blue brake wire, the contact strip was broken on one side and so maybe not making good contact - seems a possible culprit.

(B) If I do (A) and still no success, I will be suspicious about the integrated brake controller in our GMC pickup.

I know these controllers do not work with disc brakes unless you modify the system to trick the controller, but I do not have disc brakes.

I have had trouble with the integrated brake controller giving repeated "Service trailer brake system" even when no trailer was connected. After three visits to the dealer and $750 spent for them to trouble shoot this, they have replaced a relay in the system and reprogrammed the control module. They claim all is now working fine, and indeed I am no longer getting the warning messages, but is the system working? Who knows!

I'd sure like to get this fixed before our next long trip early in the new year.

Now that I am zeroing in on this issue, I am thinking maybe my trailer brakes have never been working properly since I got the truck and trailer about 6 years ago! Maybe my truck has always been doing virtually all of the braking. Certainly I have never had the trailer brakes lock up and I always run the gain at 10 !!

On our previous SOB trailer and aftermarket brake controller in another truck I had no problem getting the trailer brakes to lock if I applied too much gain.

Brian.
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Old 11-13-2015, 09:38 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Danjoe91

Just curious - did you ever find the problem?

I have just started doing some tests on mine as I don't believe my brakes are working properly. As in your situation, I get some braking, but very minimal.

My trailer is not stored at the house so I need to go back to it and do some more tests. I have just made up a trailer connector adapter that will allow me to easily introduce an ammeter and measure current flowing to the trailer when applying the truck brakes but haven't had chance to try it yet.

What I did so far .......

(1) Trailer is parked in the storage yard on a very slight incline. I hooked up the truck and then let the combination roll slowly down the incline. I applied the brakes manually from the truck (max braking applied) the trailer brakes did apply and stopped the truck and trailer but not at all in an aggressive way - certainly the trailer wheels did not lock up.

(2) with the trailer disconnected from the truck, I measured the resistance of the brake circuit at the trailer connector - measured a little over one ohm that sounds about right for 4 magnets connected in parallel.

(3) I pulled the breakaway switch pin and measured the current flowing to the brakes and read 12.5 amps which sounds right.

I should have then tried moving the trailer with the breakaway pin pulled to see if the trailer wheels were locked (I park on gravel). I didn't think to do that at the time and will do so next time. If the wheels are locked that would seem to indicate that the wiring to the magnets and the brake adjustment is ok.


Next test I will do is to hook up the truck and measure the current flowing from the truck the truck brakes are fully applied - if all is well, I believe it should be about 12 amps. If not, that will lead me to check two other things ......


(A) I will replace the trailer side connector on the umbilical cord. When I cleaned the contacts to bright brass with a needle file to ensure good contact, I did note that particularly on the blue brake wire, the contact strip was broken on one side and so maybe not making good contact - seems a possible culprit.

(B) If I do (A) and still no success, I will be suspicious about the integrated brake controller in our GMC pickup.

I know these controllers do not work with disc brakes unless you modify the system to trick the controller, but I do not have disc brakes.

I have had trouble with the integrated brake controller giving repeated "Service trailer brake system" even when no trailer was connected. After three visits to the dealer and $750 spent for them to trouble shoot this, they have replaced a relay in the system and reprogrammed the control module. They claim all is now working fine, and indeed I am no longer getting the warning messages, but is the system working? Who knows!

I'd sure like to get this fixed before our next long trip early in the new year.

Now that I am zeroing in on this issue, I am thinking maybe my trailer brakes have never been working properly since I got the truck and trailer about 6 years ago! Maybe my truck has always been doing virtually all of the braking. Certainly I have never had the trailer brakes lock up and I always run the gain at 10 !!

On our previous SOB trailer and aftermarket brake controller in another truck I had no problem getting the trailer brakes to lock if I applied too much gain.

Brian.
Brian.

All your tests were proper and good, almost.

If you put 4 magnets together in parallel, on a work bench, you would get the same results.

Older electric brakes, must be adjusted quite often. You did everything, except that.

The proper adjustment is simple.

Grab the tire with your thumb and middle finger. Adjust the brakes until you have a fair amount of resistance pulling the tire thru a partial turn.

I think you will find that adjustment will solve your brake issue.

However, there is one more factor that must be addressed, if the proper adjustment does not solve the adequate braking issue.

You then pull one drum and look for "glazed shoes". If you find them glazed, you must sand them to remove the glaze with 120 grit or so sand paper.

That then, would complete everything that you could possibly do to correct the braking.

A new brake product today, is "self adjusting" electric brakes. Everytime you back up the trailer and hit the brakes, they "self adjust", keeping the braking as close to 100 percent as possible.

The nice thing about the self adjusting backing plates, is the cost. They cost far less than the cost to replace the brake magnet and shoes.

Keep that in mind when your brakes get to that point. Some owners however, are replacing them because they are tired of the frequent manual adjustment necessary to keep the brakes at or near 100 percent.

How about, for the benefit of others, making another post after you tried the above suggestions.

Thank you for posting the detailed testing you already have done. The only problem is that not to many owners have an "ohmmeter", or understand what an "ohm" is. But, that's a very easy thing to learn.

Andy
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Old 11-13-2015, 12:07 PM   #24
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Close as I found for the symbol for Ohm. That should clear it all up.
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Old 11-13-2015, 02:49 PM   #25
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Thanks for the extra tips Andy,

I had adjusted the brakes about mid- summer when I was checking the wheel bearings for grease (didn't do a full repack as everything looked good.)

For this reason, I didn't think that maladjusted brakes were like a problem - however maybe my technique was not good.

With the wheels spinning free one by one, I tightened to the point that they were dragging hard, then backed off to the point that I just could hear the slightest drag but didn't feel significant resistance. Now I'm thinking that perhaps the point of hearing the slightest drag might have been the magnet on the inside face of the brake drum rather than the actual shoes dragging!

When I go back out to the storage yard where we keep the trailer, I will take my lynx levelers and have another go at adjusting them!

Whenever I pull hubs to repack, I always ahem a good look at all brake comments and didn't notice any glazing of the shoes - I have always had a hobby of tinkering with old Brit sports cars and know what glazed she's look like.

There was a small amount of brake dust in all the drums and the drums (inside) were bright and did not show any rusting on the shoe surface, so it seems they were working to some extent - but to what extent? It seems they are only providing minimum braking effort, so something is amiss


I am still somewhat suspicious of the blue brake wire hole in the trailer connector where the brass strip is missing from one side of the hole.

Maybe it is not gripping the "blade" of the truck connector as well as it should and I am therefore not getting a good firm low resistance connection when I plug into the truck.

I do now have a new trailer 7 pin connector on hand and plan on installing it to replace the damaged one next time I go out to the trailer.

As well, I'm not really sure how much to trust the integrated brake controller in the truck.

When I bought the truck it seemed a good idea to have the integrated controller, but in hindsight I think I'd prefer to just have a regular aftermarket controller that I could deal with myself!

The one in the truck is fairly sophisticated but somewhat complex, and it seems not easy to troubleshoot without special diagnostic tools, and judging by the $$$ I have spent on it at our local GM dealer even they don'tt have an easy time dealing with it! I could have bought several aftermarket controllers for what they have charged me to (Hopefully) ensure it is now working properly!

Checking current flow and voltage from the truck to the trailer under max braking effort both manually and also with the brake pedal - as I intend doing - should let me verify that it is working ok!

Fun and games!

I hope to get back to some further testing it in the next week or so before the weather up here turns miserable and the white stuff begins to fly, and if so, will try to report further on my escapades!

Many thanks again for you input - always appreciated!

Brian.










Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Brian.

All your tests were proper and good, almost.

If you put 4 magnets together in parallel, on a work bench, you would get the same results.

Older electric brakes, must be adjusted quite often. You did everything, except that.

The proper adjustment is simple.

Grab the tire with your thumb and middle finger. Adjust the brakes until you have a fair amount of resistance pulling the tire thru a partial turn.

I think you will find that adjustment will solve your brake issue.

However, there is one more factor that must be addressed, if the proper adjustment does not solve the adequate braking issue.

You then pull one drum and look for "glazed shoes". If you find them glazed, you must sand them to remove the glaze with 120 grit or so sand paper.

That then, would complete everything that you could possibly do to correct the braking.

A new brake product today, is "self adjusting" electric brakes. Everytime you back up the trailer and hit the brakes, they "self adjust", keeping the braking as close to 100 percent as possible.

The nice thing about the self adjusting backing plates, is the cost. They cost far less than the cost to replace the brake magnet and shoes.

Keep that in mind when your brakes get to that point. Some owners however, are replacing them because they are tired of the frequent manual adjustment necessary to keep the brakes at or near 100 percent.

How about, for the benefit of others, making another post after you tried the above suggestions.

Thank you for posting the detailed testing you already have done. The only problem is that not to many owners have an "ohmmeter", or understand what an "ohm" is. But, that's a very easy thing to learn.

Andy
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Old 11-13-2015, 10:22 PM   #26
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A couple weeks ago as leaving a campground, the trailer brakes "hesitated" before working. Problem either mechanical or electrical.

Found problems.. / solutions
1- bad connection from truck to brakes (blue wire) inside umbilical. / Replaced umbilical
2- poor ground on trailer / cleaned and replaced grounds
3- low voltage at brakes poor contact inside "breakaway switch / sprayed with CorrosionX and operated 20 times. Voltage correct
4- poor connections at axle / replaced axles AND self-adjusting backing plates (from Andy) using MARINE grade crimp connectors which melt and fuse when heat applied
5- worn brake magnets / new magnets came with self-adjusting backing plates
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Old 11-14-2015, 07:36 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwf View Post
A couple weeks ago as leaving a campground, the trailer brakes "hesitated" before working. Problem either mechanical or electrical.

Found problems.. / solutions
1- bad connection from truck to brakes (blue wire) inside umbilical. / Replaced umbilical
2- poor ground on trailer / cleaned and replaced grounds
3- low voltage at brakes poor contact inside "breakaway switch / sprayed with CorrosionX and operated 20 times. Voltage correct
4- poor connections at axle / replaced axles AND self-adjusting backing plates (from Andy) using MARINE grade crimp connectors which melt and fuse when heat applied
5- worn brake magnets / new magnets came with self-adjusting backing plates

Thanks for the info.

Where did you find the ground connection?

Ensuring good ground contact is probably a basic thing I should just go ahead and do in an effort to improve braking. Couldn't hurt.

Seems there are multiple grounds on my trailer.

I see at least two separate ground wire connections close together at the frame near the front of the trailer, and another one at the frame near the back of the trailer. looks to be a heavy gauge bare solid copper wire bolted to the frame.

Brian.
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Old 11-14-2015, 08:46 AM   #28
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From what I read from Dexter the self adjusting brakes work in BOTH directions. The increment of adjustment is greater while in reverse BUT they do adjust while braking in forward direction also. I had a similar feeling of less than full braking when I installed them last spring. Apparently I failed to adjust them tight enough the first time at installation. Since it was hot and I was getting tired I thought it was less than adequate connection at the wires. I went back in and re-checked the connections and made a better adjustment to the shoe contact and all is much improved. I tightened the shoes until they stopped turning than backed off 3 clicks. The test drive proved that there was much better braking.
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