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Old 10-18-2013, 01:06 PM   #1
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1978 31' Excella 500
Hope , British Columbia
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Post Connecting Hydraulic Disk Brakes on 2008 GMC Savana

I just purchased a 1978 31 Foot Airstream Excella 500. I purchased this unit down in Mexico from an American and understood at the time that the trailer brakes and other things would be an issue. It is almost impossible to get anything shipped to where we are located, but there are auto parts stores here. My problem is that I have been told that the my towing vehicle (2008 GMC Savana 3500 15 passenger van) does not have the vacuum system necessary to connect the air hose to. (It uses a different system for boosting the brakes with fluid from the power steering or something) I understand that there are various options available to me such as electric over hydraulic controllers, or changing out the axles or wheels with different brakes. I am wondering if there is an option whereby I purchase an auxillary vacuum brake booster pump that connects to the battery in the TV and gives me the vaccum connection I need. If this were possible, I might be able to actually get the part here where I am. (In a little place called San Lucitas - we are missionaries)

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am looking for a low cost option that will get these brakes working.

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Old 10-21-2013, 05:00 PM   #2
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1966 26' Overlander
Phoenix , Arizona
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You don't want to share hydraulic or vacuum systems between your TV and your trailer.

If you have vacuum activated hydraulic trailer brakes, you would want a vacuum pump on the trailer to activate your trailer brakes. Then you would control that vacuum pump for trailer brake opperation.

Connecting TV engine vacuum to the trailer brake system would invite total brake failure should there be an issue in one of the systems like a leak. If the systems are isolated (trailer from TV) then a failure in one system means you have limited brake opperation however not a total loss.

What I think you are saying you have is -
A TV that uses hydraulic pressure from the PS pump to boost brake operations
A trailer that uses a vacuum signal to control hydraulic disc brake operation.

Airstream used a hydraulic brake system on some units more as an option over electric brakes. The durability was not the same as electric brakes from what I know. Conversion to electric trailer brakes would be spendy the short run and EZ to fix in the long run. (or out on the road) This decision is going to be based on how much you move the trailer and exposure to breakdowns. Likely you could find parts locally to make the trailer brake conversion to electric as this is very common. (Loaded backing plates and drums with some wiring to a trailer connector) The hydraulic brakes are uncommon and locating parts for repair will have it's issues.

1966 Mercury Park Lane 4 DR Breezeway 410 4V, C-6, 2.80 - Streamless.
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