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Old 09-16-2010, 06:39 PM   #1
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brakes dragging? can't figure it out

we usually only haul a few times a year. the last time we hauled our brakes were dragging a bit, but i applied the brake once, and it stopped and worked flawlessly the rest of our trip. now i'm on my way from outer banks to kansas, and i'm having the same brake drag issue, but it's not going away. the brakes are new (installed new axles/brakes 3 years ago) and we've examined the wiring a dozen times over, but without an idea of what to look for, we're kinda searching blind.

its just a little drag, not as if the brakes were applied all the time... and they work. its just enough to kill our gas milage :-/

can anyone give us a clue what to look at/for to solve this? or maybe even point us at something non-brakes (i just assume brakes because of how it feels)


Thanks
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Old 09-16-2010, 06:56 PM   #2
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The best thing to do is jack up one side at a time and by hand spine each wheel. If you can spine the wheel by hand and little force there is nothing wrong. There are 2 thing in the brakes that will drag. The magnets are held against the armatures by a very light spring. This drag will not retard the brakes at all but you may hear it. The second is the shoes against the drums. This is also common and often only during a portion of the rotation. Again if you can spin the wheel without effort it OK.

Now if you have to put some force into spinning the wheels they may be adjusted too tight. if you have a brake too or a flat screwdriver you can adjust them. While the trailer is jacked up remove the oval rubber plug at the bottom of the backer plate. With a flash light look in that hole and you will see a Star Wheel on a threaded bolt. Note the thread direction on the bolt and turn the star wheel to expand the bolt while turning the wheel. The wheel should stop in a few clicks of the Star Wheel. now back off on the Star Wheel 3 or 4 clicks. The wheel should again be easy to turn, it may touch a a high point but should turn easy by hand. If you can do this the brakes are now adjusted.

If for some reason you have to back off more than 4 clicks the drum may be out of round or some other mechanical problem is the brake system.

Now it is common for any brakes system to brake very hard for the first couple of applications after the trailer has sat for a period of time. This is just the reaction of rust on the drum surface and will ware off in 2 or 3 application. So if you are attempting to adjust the brakes after the trailer has sat for some time it may be helpful to drive it around the block before you adjust.
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:10 PM   #3
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Before tackling the mechanics of the brakes, check and make sure that the brake controller is not leaving a small voltage on the brake line at all times.

Ken
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:12 PM   #4
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If the brakes are really dragging, The drums, hubs etc. should be too hot to touch. A little warmth is normal. I have measured mine to run about 20 degrees above outside summertime temperatures under light use.
The dragging sounds Howie talks about are normal..
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:17 PM   #5
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we're on day 2 of our trip. its not getting any better we've jacked both sides, one at a time, and hand turned the wheels. no dice. altho thanks for the info of testing the brake controller for current. if it's putting a constant current, what's the solution to that? new controller?
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katzklaw View Post
we're on day 2 of our trip. its not getting any better we've jacked both sides, one at a time, and hand turned the wheels. no dice. altho thanks for the info of testing the brake controller for current. if it's putting a constant current, what's the solution to that? new controller?
I not familar with many controllers, but I would guess that could be an adjustment issue on some. It could also be possible that the manual braking lever on the controller is not springing all the way back when released.

Ken
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:48 PM   #7
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Hi katzklaw,

You say new brakes three years ago. If you'd have written that you just towed after installing new brakes, I'd say the brake back plates are installed backwards. I understand that'll do what you describe. If you run out of ideas, pull one wheel and drum and note which direction the magnet arm connects, front or back. Post a picture of the plate if you can with the front of the coach noted with the picture. At least we might be able to eliminate one obvious solution from the table.

Gary
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Old 09-16-2010, 07:52 PM   #8
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Before you say it is the controller, unplug your trailer from the vehicle. It can't be the controller then. It could be a leaky break away switch. Have you checked it lately?

Thomas
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