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Old 03-09-2016, 07:05 PM   #1
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2002 30' Classic S/O
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Classic 30 Brakes - Is this normal?

Our previous trailer was a 2001 Safari 25, GVWR 6300#. It was equipped with 4 sets of 12x2 Reliable brand brakes. It would lock up the wheels on any setting over about 6.5 on the integrated brake controller in our 2013 Ram 2500 set on light electric.

We recently traded it in on a 2002 Classic 30 Slideout, GVWR 9100#. It also has 4 sets of 12x2 Reliable brand brakes. It would not lock up the brakes with the gain set on 10. I remembered that the controller had both light and heavy settings so I changed it to heavy. Still, set on 10, the brakes will not lock up at any speed. When driving, I can feel the brakes when I operate the manual control, but they are not nearly as strong as the brakes were on my Safari. While the trailer is much heavier (50%), the combination of trailer and truck is only abut 25% heavier and there is WAY more difference in the braking power than 25% when I use the trailer brakes alone to stop the combination.

I pulled one drum and inspected the shoe thickness ( I should have, but did not, check the shoe surface for grease or glazing). I have adjusted all four brakes to the point of not being able to turn them by hand and then backing off until there is a slight drag.

I have tested the current draw and it is reasonable, close to 12 amps. I have tested the brakes by pulling the pin on the breakaway switch and I can not turn any wheel by hand.

After adjusting all 4 brakes and changing the controller to heavy electric there was essentially no change in the apparent stopping power of the trailer brakes.

Is this normal? I was always comfortable with stopping the 25; the brakes were so good it seemed like the truck stopped almost as well with the trailer as without. The 30 is much worse.

Thanks,

Al
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Old 03-09-2016, 08:50 PM   #2
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In my un-professional opinion I would think there would be a setting on the brake controller that would lock up the trailer brakes. Or that you could lock up the trailer brakes while coasting with the TV at say 25MPH or less.

Again I could be incorrect and the last set up I had I could do that.

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Old 03-09-2016, 09:36 PM   #3
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The trailer brakes on our 2016 30' Classic were very week, even with the brake contoller at 10 until the brakes really wore in after a couple thousand miles. I still do not feel that they are as strong as on our last Airstream. Still cannot lock them up at speeds below 25mph, but they definitely produce stopping power.

One of the differences is trailer weight. The Classic is much heavier than our previous Airstreams, by well over over 1000 lbs. More weight produces more friction at the tire to road interface, making it harder to skid the tires.

Another issue might be the 16" Michelins on the Classic vs. 15" Marathons on previous Airstreams. The contact patches might be larger and the compound might grab the road surface better. It's still a bit of comparing apples to oranges. Too many variables changed to know which made the biggest difference.

Might be the same for you going from the Safari to the Classic.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:27 PM   #4
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Thanks Joe,

I could jerk the truck with the trailer brakes on my Safari 25. With the Classic 30 I can tell I applied brakes, but I'd say the stopping power is less than half, probably more like a third or a quarter of that from the 25. I upgraded to the 16" wheels and tires on the 25 and moved them to the Classic, so the only real change here is the weight of the trailer.

We are at the Cajun Country Caravan. When I get home I guess I'm going to have to pull the drums and have a look at the surface of the shoes and inspect the magnets closely. I just don't want to spend several hundred dollars to find that nothing has changed.

Al
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:56 PM   #5
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We had the brakes on the Classic checked during our first Warranty stop at the Aistream factory after the trailer had only about 100 miles on it and the current to the magnets was correct, but the shoes and magnets were clearly not yet worn in. Haven't examined them since they started working better, but I can attest to poor stopping power before they wore in.
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:47 PM   #6
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Al - not normal. My 28' SO weighs somewhat less than your thirty footer but it is clear when the brakes are applied; I can chirp the trailer tires on asphalt and tug the truck (2011 Ram 2500 HD Crew Cab 4x4) with my integrated stock controller set at 8. However, I did notice that it took many stops (two weekend trips into the mountains) before the shoes fully seated after the last brake job. I replaced the backing plate and all components as a unit, turned three drums and replaced the other drum which had a crack.
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Old 03-10-2016, 04:23 AM   #7
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Note: In the "old days" when all cars had drum brakes, as part of a brake job, the brake shoes were "arc ground" to match the diameter of the newly-turned brake drums. This insured that full contact was made between the shoes and drums. And, even then, it took a few hundred miles for the shoes to wear-in.

I haven't seen any arc-grinding machines in several decades, so the only way to achieve full contact between new shoes and drums is to continue using them until the high spots are worn down on the brake shoes. Until then, stopping power will be less than optimum.
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Old 03-10-2016, 06:00 AM   #8
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Try pulling the breakaway switch, and moving the trailer with the truck. If it won't move, the deficiency is beyond that switch.
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Old 03-10-2016, 09:59 AM   #9
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I asked the same question when I was at JC last fall with my 2015 Classic. Had them check all 4 brakes and everything was up to spec. Discussed the difference between the lockup on my previous 2014 FC and the 2015 Classic. Consistent answer I got was don't expect the Classic to have the brakes lock up. Set controller as high as it will go. My take away was that the weight/mass difference just doesn't lend itself to lockup.

All that said I have braked hard with my GMC 2500 Denali Duramax and have had no problem getting quickly stopped. Results would be different based on your tow vehicle setup.

Did ask a ball park price on a change over to disc brakes. I think at JC it was in the $4000 range but could be wrong.
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Old 03-10-2016, 11:55 AM   #10
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We have a 2000 Excella 30'. My brakes will lock if I have the controller set too high. My previous AS was a 25' Safari, the brakes responded almost the same as the 30' Excella. Just my $0.02.
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Old 03-10-2016, 11:56 AM   #11
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I have an older 30' Classic and lighter than you trailer. I can now get good braking power but no lock-up. I have a top of the line Max-Brake controller. It was really bad when I swapped in new backing plates. I went so far as to replace the main trailer brake wire with 10 guage to just before the axles and then 12 guage to each wheel. This helped a little. The best thing was to get some stops put on the brakes and keep them adjusted properly. My trailer has manual adjusting brakes.
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Old 03-10-2016, 11:57 AM   #12
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This is not a value documented observation but it goes back to a law of physics somewhere. Braking makes heat from friction. Get an IR temp gun and read the drum temps. I don't have a value to expect depends on how much braking you have done in that last few miles or so.

What to look for is uniformity, all drums roughly the same temp. Cold drums compared to a hotter drum are not contributing to braking. And a really hot drum deserved inspection.
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Old 03-10-2016, 12:02 PM   #13
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Al,
If your running a hitch like the Hensley or Propride you can tell if the brakes are evenly adjusted by watching how the front trailer reacts when coming to a stop. It will go to the side with the highest braking power.
GC - that's a great idea to check the drum temperature with an IR temperature gun after a stop. I have used this tool in diagnosing poor braking.
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Old 03-10-2016, 12:20 PM   #14
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Heavier trailer with the same brakes as the lighter trailer.... My 31 classic brakes work well, never had them lock up, and they are self adjusting, they seem fine..
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