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Old 11-17-2012, 05:45 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Nashville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 12
Brakes: from Vacuum Disc to Electric

Hi.

This is my first post on the forums. I'm steward of a 1978 31' Sovereign Excella. I've been deep into vintage Airstream 101 for the past 49 days. Am in the home stretch of this first intensive course and have learned that, in order to properly tow, that I really should switch out the old vacuum disc brakes to electric. So... here's my question:

Does my trailer 1978 31' Sovereign Excella with Vacuum Disc Brakes have a 5 bolt flange at the end of the axles?

Please say yes. If I do have 5 bolt flanges, I will not have to replace the axles.

For those of you who will ask, I do not intend to travel regularly with this trailer, only to tow it maybe 3 times per year.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:27 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SuzairMcD View Post
Hi.

This is my first post on the forums. I'm steward of a 1978 31' Sovereign Excella. I've been deep into vintage Airstream 101 for the past 49 days. Am in the home stretch of this first intensive course and have learned that, in order to properly tow, that I really should switch out the old vacuum disc brakes to electric. So... here's my question:

Does my trailer 1978 31' Sovereign Excella with Vacuum Disc Brakes have a 5 bolt flange at the end of the axles?

Please say yes. If I do have 5 bolt flanges, I will not have to replace the axles.

For those of you who will ask, I do not intend to travel regularly with this trailer, only to tow it maybe 3 times per year.

Thanks in advance.
Why do want to grt rid of some great brakes?

Some parts are still available for them.

You can replace the vacuum actuator in front with a new style that does not need a vacuum supply.

Disc brakes are far superior to regular electric brakes any time,any where.

Don't let someone talk you out of them.

Andy
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:03 PM   #3
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1979 23' Safari
1954 29' Liner
Orange , California
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You don't need to switch to electric drum brakes, just install a new electric/hydraulic actuator. Leave the discs on, they are better brakes.

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzairMcD View Post
Hi.

This is my first post on the forums. I'm steward of a 1978 31' Sovereign Excella. I've been deep into vintage Airstream 101 for the past 49 days. Am in the home stretch of this first intensive course and have learned that, in order to properly tow, that I really should switch out the old vacuum disc brakes to electric. So... here's my question:

Does my trailer 1978 31' Sovereign Excella with Vacuum Disc Brakes have a 5 bolt flange at the end of the axles?

Please say yes. If I do have 5 bolt flanges, I will not have to replace the axles.

For those of you who will ask, I do not intend to travel regularly with this trailer, only to tow it maybe 3 times per year.

Thanks in advance.
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1973 Dodge W200 PowerWagon, 1977 Lincoln Continental, 2014 Dodge Durango
1979 23' Safari, and 1954 29' Double Door Liner Orange, CA

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Old 11-17-2012, 08:05 PM   #4
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1978 31' Sovereign
Nashville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 12
Well.... Thank you both. This was the original idea - to add a new electric/hydraulic actuator. I am currently in Asheville, NC and need to be towed to the beach in South Carolina on December 1. Not knowing ANYTHING about brakes (although I read several articles online), and not knowing what condition the 1978 brakes are in, I spoke to the recommended local shop and also Out of Doors parts and service department. I really can't remember how the conversations unfolded but the outcome was that changing them out to electric was best solution. I think it had something to do with what parts were still available.

In any event, if you all could recommend what new electric/hydraulic actuators are available and from whom and also what issues might need to be addressed with disc pads, cylinders and fluids, I'd be very grateful. I don't mind admitting my ignorance and need all the help I can get.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:39 PM   #5
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1993 21' Sovereign
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I don't think very much of the hardware is available any more, and the last time I checked, the brake pads were $65 EACH. You have eight pads on the trailer. Then there are the metal lines and rubber hoses that should be looked over very carefully. What shape are the rotors in?
I just did a disc to drum conversion a couple of weeks ago, and we ended up changing the entire axles. It only cost a couple hundred dollars more to do that than install new electric drum parts on the old axles.
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Old 11-17-2012, 10:03 PM   #6
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1977 31' Sovereign
1963 26' Overlander
1989 34' Excella
Johnsburg , Illinois
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Old disks vs modern electrics

I have a 77 that had disks, when they worked, they were great, but they frequently failed. Almost no service agencies on the road knows how to fix the old systems or have parts in stock. I got tied up on the road waiting for UPS to deliver parts from the west coast and doing the work myself. Then I had the caliper holding bracket break on one wheel scattering part all over the road and resulted in no brakes on any wheels. Analysis showed there was a fatigue crack that formed in the weld in the bracket. Looking at the other three I found two more with cracks and in the process of failing. It is a poor design that was never fixed. I switched out to electrics and bought new drums. I can set them to go into a full skid, if I set the controller high enough, which tells me they can exert as much braking force as any disk brake. True they might fade faster under frequent braking than disks, but that is not the way a trailer is used. Buy the new self adjusters and you will not need to bother with them until the bearings need repacking.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:36 AM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
Nashville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Thanks for the last 2 replies...which bring me back to my original question:

"Does my trailer — 1978 31' Sovereign Excella with Vacuum Disc Brakes — have a 5 bolt flange at the end of the axles?

Please say yes. If I do have 5 bolt flanges, I will not have to replace the axles.

For those of you who will ask, I do not intend to travel regularly with this trailer, only to tow it maybe 3 times per year. "

Can anyone tell me for sure about the bolts on end of flanges, please?

I do understand about superiority of disc brakes but all of the parts, lines and fluids are in question as nothing has been inspected since 1978.

Suzanne
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzairMcD View Post
Thanks for the last 2 replies...which bring me back to my original question:

"Does my trailer 1978 31' Sovereign Excella with Vacuum Disc Brakes have a 5 bolt flange at the end of the axles?

Please say yes. If I do have 5 bolt flanges, I will not have to replace the axles.

For those of you who will ask, I do not intend to travel regularly with this trailer, only to tow it maybe 3 times per year. "

Can anyone tell me for sure about the bolts on end of flanges, please?

I do understand about superiority of disc brakes but all of the parts, lines and fluids are in question as nothing has been inspected since 1978.

Suzanne
Suzanne,

Yes, the axles on your Airstream were designed for 12 inch brakes.

Therefore the brake flange does have the 5 mounting holes.

Please keep in mind, that a typical dealer does not want to deal with your disc brakes, because they don't know how, or where to get the parts.

They are easy to repair and many of the parts are still available from us.

The cost to replace the disc brakes with regular brakes, typically exceeds that of the cost to upgrade the disc brakes you now have.

As a suggestion, ask the dealer for a bottom line costs for that change over, before you commit to doing it. Post that information and see what kind of feedback you get from others.

That, doesn't cost anything.

Andy
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:08 AM   #9
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1977 31' Sovereign
1963 26' Overlander
1989 34' Excella
Johnsburg , Illinois
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6 lug aluminum wheels

My 1977 International 31 ft. Sovereign has 6 lug aluminum wheels. I do not know what your 1978 has.
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Old 11-18-2012, 08:14 AM   #10
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzairMcD View Post
Thanks for the last 2 replies...which bring me back to my original question:

"Does my trailer 1978 31' Sovereign Excella with Vacuum Disc Brakes have a 5 bolt flange at the end of the axles?

Please say yes. If I do have 5 bolt flanges, I will not have to replace the axles.
Yes. 12" backing plates and drums will fit right on with no problem. You will just need to run wires up front to make them work.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:37 AM   #11
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1978 31' Sovereign
Nashville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 12
Thank you, both. Overlander63, I especially appreciate your response. So, I can tell the mechanic that the 5 bolt flange on the axles will fit right on. Not ever wanting to assume anything, I will mention the wires that need to be run up front although he probably knows that.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:24 AM   #12
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1977 31' Sovereign
1963 26' Overlander
1989 34' Excella
Johnsburg , Illinois
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,941
My 12 inch brake backing plates had 5 lugs and bolted on without an issue. The drums from Dexter had 6 lugs for the wheels and fit the aluminum wheels that came with the trailer. I used stranded 10 gauge wire to make the connection to the connector. I ran the grounds from each brake back to the connector also. Total time about 3 hours.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:22 AM   #13
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1978 31' Sovereign
Nashville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 12
Thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and knowledge. You've been of great help. Now... into the shop!
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